Microsoft: you won’t be using that Qwerty keyboard forever

Microsoft's chief envisioning officer Dave Coplin believes that the days of using a Qwerty keyboard to interact with computing devices are numbered.

In an interview with the UK's Evening Standard newspaper, Coplin stated that it was bizarre that today's workforce was still relying on technology invented in the 19th century.

Coplin mentioned the Qwerty keyboard as one of those technologies that is a "sub-optimal design".

If you thought that Coplin was referring to keyboards with different layouts, then you are wrong. Instead, he made the point that other input technologies such as voice or gestures would take over.

We’re looking at technologies now like voice and gesture recognition, and facial tracking that may make the keyboard redundant.

Mr. Coplin, who works on Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana, believes furthermore that computing will become a full body experience like in the 2002 movie Minority Report.

No Qwerty keyboards anymore?

das keyboard model s professional

Technology has without doubt introduced new ways to interact with machines in recent time. Advancements in voice recognition have made -- basic -- voice interaction with the computer a thing.



Then there is virtual reality and gestures that play a bigger role in certain applications, and of course AI that is put as a stamp on anything these days.

While it is certainly true that the ride moves towards keyboard-less controls for certain activities, we are far from reaching a Star Trek or Minority Report like interaction with computers and electronic devices.

Assistants or AI may help you with basic tasks such as finding the nearest restaurant, picking up an Uber or booking a flight, but they are fairly limited when it comes to more complex tasks.

Read also:  Microsoft To-Do: the end of Wunderlist

Ever seen someone code a program by voice or using gestures? What about editing a photo in Photoshop, using a CAD program, or writing a response to a blog post?

Of those examples, only the latter is somewhat realistic but it still requires manual editing to correct transcription errors.

There is another issue that needs to be addressed in this regard. Imagine that what Coplin said was true. Phones come without keyboard anymore because it is not needed. Now imagine being in a place with a lot of people who all talk to their phones at the same time, and get responses from their phones as well.

Has anyone ever thought about this as an issue that needs to be addressed before the new technology enters mainstream?

I honestly cannot see this happening in the next ten years unless some breakthrough tech is invented. Maybe something that taps right into your brain as it would do away with voice, gestures and all other forms of interaction with devices.

Now You: What's your take on Microsoft's prediction?

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Microsoft: you won't be using that Qwerty keyboard forever
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Microsoft's chief envisioning officer Dave Coplin believes that the days of using a Qwerty keyboard to interact with computing devices are numbered.
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Responses to Microsoft: you won’t be using that Qwerty keyboard forever

  1. Anonymous September 28, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

    Although alternative inputs will grow overtime, the keyboard, especially the QWERTY version will be around for a very long time, regardless of what some youngster at Microsoft thinks. He needs more experience before making foolish forecast.

    • HolyBatCave September 28, 2016 at 8:07 pm #

      Well he works on Cortana. 'Nuff said.

    • Mikhoul September 29, 2016 at 4:07 am #

      500% with you πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

      It's sound like the one that were predicting that pencils and books will no longer exist in 2000, those are living in a closed tech bubble at Microsoft. M$oft is completely disconnected of their users and from the REAL world.

      Proof of disconnection: Windows 10 - Windows Apps Store - Microsoft Surface and the defunct Microsoft Lumia

    • Heimen Stoffels September 29, 2016 at 11:10 am #

      Youngster? Not enough tech experience? What are you talking about? Dave Coplin is not a youngster, by far. I can't really find his exact age but on photos he looks like he's 43 or so and according to his LinkedIn he has over 25 years of tech experience. You can't have that look and so many years of experience if you're a youngster.
      Feel free to disagree with the kind of experience and what he things and stuff but as you can see, he's definitely not a youngster.

    • Parker Lewis September 29, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

      #Ageism

  2. techvet September 28, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

    It sounds like we should get rid of all wheels ASAP, since that is old technology that's been around for thousands of years.

    • sekoasa September 29, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

      Best humor this morning !

    • Quick Brown Fox October 4, 2016 at 12:40 am #

      Great comment!

    • Froyton October 4, 2016 at 1:33 am #

      I was going to make a similar comparison but this one is way better. Kudos!

  3. Yuliya September 28, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

    And what? Wake the entire house in the middle of the night the moment you type something? Or write at the snail's pase using gestures nonsense? No wonder Windows became the garbage that it is today with such people working at Micro$oft. Somebody should inform him that he's using a 19th century invention to get from home to work. Get on with the times gramps, use the teleporter like everybody else does nowadays.. sigh

  4. Earl September 28, 2016 at 6:02 pm #

    Try to imagine human civilization without the written word. I think that's where he's trying to go with this. (I think he's nuts.)

    • Andrew September 28, 2016 at 6:35 pm #

      Well... humans did survive and progress before the written word was invent :p hence why most stories/legends were passed word of mouth :p

      • Tom Hawack September 28, 2016 at 6:50 pm #

        Writing was on its way. Now, I have no idea if writing is as natural as speaking, I know there is a specific region of the brains handling speech, I don't know about writing. Did humanity invent or discover writing? Seems to me writing was invented, first to leave a testimony, to throw the will of the speech, the verb over time, for posterity ... this is interesting.

      • Dave September 29, 2016 at 12:06 am #

        There is a specific part of the brain for writing too, and one for numbers. Unsurprisingly, we're hard-wired to be how we are.

      • Earl September 30, 2016 at 7:20 am #

        @Andrew: Survive? Yes. Progress? not so much.

  5. D. September 28, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

    I wonder if this is the same one that loved the touch screen monitor so much thinking everyone would have one by a certain period of time...wrong!

  6. Tom Hawack September 28, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

    - Windows, block all tracking
    - Sir, no offense but I am not entitled to block Microsoft tracking.
    ...
    We don't speak as we write, fortunately, even if some do (speak like a book)! There's a different tempo for writing unless a grocery store's list.

    Predictions in the past have often failed and often the world unfolds in an unattended, surprising way. I have no idea of the development of speech recognition, one can imagine anything and imagination and its plausibility are nourished by knowledge of course; should I know what I ignore that I would maybe imagine more, elsewhere. But right now, as I am, no idea. Not too excited either. I'm already loosing the relative quality of my handwriting's calligraphy with keyboards, I dare not imagine (again) what I'd loose of the little of syntax and rhetoric I hardly manage should I abandon writing.

    But, but, but ... having a robot clean up, cook and proceed to all these annoying tasks, privilege of those of little wealth, having the job done with a "Robot : T-Bone with my best Bordeaux tonight" would be helpful :)

  7. Mystique September 28, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

    From the same company that brought you Windows 10 now comes... Death of a Keyboard! :Rollseyes:

    How many jackasses have we had to endure over the years claiming that the mouse is dead also. Pure Rubbish!
    I remember when the Kinect was a thing and people were claiming that this was the future of computing... waving your hands around like a lunatic, building up a sweat whilst achieving little... yep it totally sounds like the future alright.

    Microsoft has been trying to overreach its bounds for years now rather than focusing on the present, I guess that's why we have a lot of half-baked concepts that are actually impractical and rubbish... Metro anyone... tiles? GARBAGE!

    Windows 10 OS is like if you were to eat a bunch of lines of code from all versions of windows and threw it all up... Windows 10 is OS Vomit!

    Microsoft seems hell bent on merging mobile technology with desktop computing which in itself is a fallacy. I get that they want to jump on the future bandwagon and make ridiculous claims because everything they do these days just seems like such a reach.

    • D. September 28, 2016 at 11:49 pm #

      @ Mystique, I think you said the correct words that Microsoft is hell bent on merging mobile technology with desktop computing. That start menu was just a taste of more to come as time goes along. It just depends on how much push back there is each time and on what.

  8. Andrew September 28, 2016 at 6:38 pm #

    I wish he was talking about different keyboard layouts though. That would be fun. the only reason why qwerty is popular is because it's pulled from typewriters where the keys were laid out to prevent jamming. I believe I read somewhere that if the keyboard was laid out in alphabetical form then it would be more efficient and easier to learn.

    • Mystique September 28, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

      You are absolutely correct Andrew. I guess it just further pushes the point though that the keyboard has been good enough even in its less efficient layout. ;)

    • George P. Burdell September 28, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

      The original QWERTY keyboard was indeed designed to slow people down, so that the linkages inside a mechanical typewriter could strike the paper and return home in time for the next key press.

      Now that each electrical key is just as fast as another, any keyboard layout works fine internally. It's a question of what you are trained on from youth, and also whether you bother to increase your typing productivity in words per minute.

      Every Windows machine comes with several alternate keyboards built into the software, and not just for different languages. On W7 look at Control Panel > Region and Language > Keyboards and Languages tab. The best known English language finger speeder upper is the Dvorak keyboard.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard

      If you tell Windows to use an alternate layout like Dvorak, you can pry off your key-caps and shuffle them around, or you can learn to touch type without looking at the keyboard. You can also buy a keyboard already set up for Dvorak, or buy stickers to paste over your existing key caps so you don't have to pry the caps off.

      Personally, I think keyboards will be around a long time, but alternatives will keep arising. Time and experience will pick the winners. After everybody now using QWERTY keyboards dies, then a new regime can run the world some other way.

      • Heimen Stoffels September 29, 2016 at 11:15 am #

        I've tried to learn Dvorak before and would love to start learning it again 'cause it's so much better but my BlackBerry Passport doesn't support Dvorak :( So I can use it on my laptop which I also spent quite some time a day on. But I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable nor if it would work to switch b/w Dvorak on my laptop and QWERTY on my phone...

      • Mystique September 29, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

        All the keyboards I have used tend to have a little ridge on the bottom of the F and J keys, these are there for a reason and designed to be your base hand positions.
        If anyone has ever trained in touch typing they may be able to explain it better in more detail however these key buttons are centric to your ability to type without looking at your keys.

        It's a matter of training and use when it comes to any type of keyboard be it QWERTY or otherwise.
        It's highly unlikely that the keyboard will be effectively replaced in my lifetime or the next.

        I certainly would approve of motion and gesture detection for windows if it allowed me shutdown my computer by giving it the middle finger, it seems like a perfect departure when I leave the windows 10 experience each time. :D

        The more I read the entire article and comments the funnier and better they become. :D

  9. T J September 28, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

    "Mr. Coplin, who works on Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana, believes furthermore that computing will become a full body experience like in the 2002 movie Minority Report."

    I think that comment says it all. Perhaps Coplin believes that we should turn our PCs on by rubbing our bums on the screen. :)

    • Mystique September 28, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

      Well in his defense if its windows 10 you should just rub your bum on the screen anyway just to show your approval of the experience to which you are about to be a part of.

      • Bobo September 29, 2016 at 3:06 am #

        You just won the inturweb! =)

    • A different Martin September 29, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

      Perhaps Coplin believes that we should turn our PCs on by rubbing our bums on the screen.

      I'll have to try this on a Windows 10 touchscreen computer at the local Microsoft Store.

  10. Corky September 28, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

    Maybe someone should tell this Dave Coplin chap how we're still using devices that were invented 8000 years ago, and how we still use that invention for a good reason, no ones reinvent the wheel because it works.

    • Mystique September 28, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

      I wonder when Microsoft is going to announce the end of screws considering they are old now and in such and such movie... GAH!!

    • Heimen Stoffels September 29, 2016 at 11:16 am #

      If no one reinvented the wheel then how come we have alternate keyboard lay-outs like Dvorak, for example?

  11. party chief September 28, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

    I am in total agreement with Mr Brinkman.
    With my new devices or OS's the work flow proceeds as thus.
    1. power on.
    2. disable Cortana/Siri
    3. disable tracking.
    4. disable auto complete.
    5. disable spell checking.
    6. begin the merciless un-install of pointless programs/apps.
    7. enjoy the freed up clock cycles/bandwidth.

    I feel more thought went into the qwerty layout than did into Cortana. It is after all a letter layout designed to be used efficiently by human hands writing english, which is why it is qwerty and not abc.

  12. pHROZEN gHOST September 28, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

    Did this information originate at The Onion?

  13. RG September 28, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    Kind of funny that all the comments in this article 'blame' MS. He happens to be working there but what he has said is hardly a MS vision of a future, it is much more commonplace to look at those other things like gestures. Keyboards are poor devices imo, doesn't mean gestures or others will be better, but keyboards will need to be replaced somehow if you ask me.

    • Gary D September 28, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

      With ideas like this, I don't think Coplin will be envisioning much more at MS. Has he been over indulging on cannabis cookies ?

  14. meepmeep September 28, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

    I agree with Microsoft. The keyboard replacement will be steam powered and require a crew of three.

    • T J September 28, 2016 at 7:12 pm #

      @ meepmeep

      STEAM powered !!!! That's too futuristic. How about a crew of galley slaves with Coplin beating the drum to keep the rhythm going :)

      Off topic. Do you know that Road Runners can run at 25 mph while Coyotes can run at 40 mph for miles. Poor old Road Runner, no more blowing raspberries at Coyote.

  15. Tim September 28, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

    This line from the article was actually my thought too:

    "Assistants or AI may help you with basic tasks such as finding the nearest restaurant, picking up an Uber or booking a flight, but they are fairly limited when it comes to more complex tasks."

    The first problem is that in a work environment depending on the job, noise can be too distracting. If your job entails thinking and concentrating and solving complex problems for example, having multiple co-workers talking aloud to their devices all day long would be a nightmare. It will be continuously interrupting people's train of though.

    Then there's the privacy and confidentiality side of things (besides searching from porn). A manager 'dictating' an employee report for a Personnel Department, probably won't be very well received with everyone listening in. Likewise a receptionist as a doctor's surgery...

    Then from a usability point of view, imagine a computer programmer trying to do his job without a keyboard. In addition, with any professional use of a PC, the keyboard isn't merely used for typing words, but also for using keyboard shortcuts to get the job done more efficiently. Even for a digital artist in an art department for example, although a pen is used (as well as a mouse), usually the pen is used in one hand whilst the other hand is using keyboard shortcuts to switch tools, change the operation of tools, etc. and it's in use all the time.

    I think this guy has got this wrong, just like when they said the mouse/pen would be replaced with touch screens, without any consideration of the ergonomics of purely using a touch screen all day, every day to work on. Maybe for basic and short burst tasks the keyboard can be replaced, or maybe the keyboard as we know it needs to be redesigned to make it more standardised across multiple languages, etc. But for professional use of a PC, I can't see the keyboard being replaced with anything else other than something that resembles... uhm, a keyboard.

    • party chief September 28, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

      Good point Tim.
      I do land surveying (in USA ) which is a CAD intensive environment with an esoteric language. I would be lost without my keyboard/keypad at the office or in the field. My Carlson field controller has a touch screen AND a keypad which is really working out well for CAD drawing, menu selecting and point naming. There is an ongoing attempt by some survey equipment manufacturers to transition to "on-screen" keyboards, to eliminate keypads and squeeze more profit out of them ( they are not cheaper ) but they are useless in the field.
      Come to think of it, the first accessory I bought for my Dell Venue tablet was a Blue Tooth keyboard because the "on-screen " version sucked so bad. Apple on the other hand gave me no problems on the iPhone so I DO know how to use one.

  16. meepmeep September 28, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

    @ T J
    Tortoises can be very tasty.

  17. Nebulus September 28, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

    Pure stupidity. I don't know why people like this are getting any internet or media attention in the first place.

  18. jiri74 September 28, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

    I think that Microsoft coders have already stopped using qwerty keyboards. That would explain "rapid" development of OS, apps, OneDrive etc.

  19. Rick September 29, 2016 at 2:49 am #

    Well i would love to code without a keyboard, just yelling at my system, making moves all around in front of my desk.
    It wont actually change much if you ask me.

  20. mulzzy September 29, 2016 at 4:14 am #

    Oh please....not anytime soon...!!

  21. A or B, not C. September 29, 2016 at 7:16 am #

    Dave Coplin has also done away with the toilet bowl.
    .
    Coplin: ......."Cortana, please delete files from my bowels n bladder into the Recycle bin." ...*Poof.!*

  22. Chryss September 29, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    Speaking from a novelist's perspective, I can say speech-to-text is absolutely NOT the useful keyboard replacement one might think it would be. Try 'writing' dialogue, for example, with Microsoft's speech-to-text software. All that time you're supposedly saving will be spent on grammatical editing.

  23. Ann September 29, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

    According to Microsoft you won't be using those Mac's in the future

  24. gotrek September 29, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    Has anyone here read a sci-fi book by Orson Scott Card "Speaker for the Dead", a continuation of "Enders Game" (in cinemas last year)? There was an intriguing concept of human-machine communication, that strike me when I was a kid reading that book. Main character communicated with an AI using subvocalization and a mic (or a throat sensor?)/ear phones. Would this solve noise issue? Seemed like sci-fi 20 years ago, but now I guess it's possible (except AI of course). And let me add, it perfectly fits in to a computer geek portfolio of oddities - person who whispers all the time, with that empty brainwashed look on his face:)

  25. A different Martin September 29, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    So long as there's a need to compose text without disturbing other people and without revealing what you are writing, I don't see the keyboard going away for a long time. Back in the 80s, I had a blind classmate who dictated class notes into a facemask contraption and that seemed to work pretty well, but it was bulky. Besides, even really good speech-to-text software is just not as efficient as typing. Here's a good example from a punctuation challenge I remember from childhood:

    Punctuate the following sentence:

    Smith where Jones had had had had had had had had had had had the examiners approval.

    The solution (using American punctuation) is:

    Smith, where Jones had had "had," had had "had had"; "had had" had had the examiners' approval.

    Try composing that in your mind and dictating it, or going back and correcting it via dictation. I guarantee you'd be driving to the sketchy part of of town in the wee hours of the morning to buy a black-market keyboard from a shifty-looking guy in a raincoat. ("Uh, got any 'boards?" "You from Microsoft?" "No!" "You got a bridge pass on your windshield." "Look, I drive over to the Eastside sometimes. I like the burgers at Wibbley's, in Bellevue" "You sure you don't eat at Fatburger, in Redmond?" "No! I swear I'm not from Microsoft! Just sell me a keyboard already!")

  26. kalmly September 29, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

    Just like Microsoft. They decide what you need and what you don't. I will not be surprised when Windows 10 users wake one morning to find their keyboards inoperable.

    • A different Martin September 29, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

      HP will sell keyboards that circumvent the Microsoft block, but they'll only work if you're wearing genuine HP nail polish.

  27. Parker Lewis September 29, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

    What is a keyboard ? The ability to edit raw text. Will the need to edit raw text go away ? Very unlikely. I would say never but I'm not Nostradamus.

    So as long as there isn't a more convenient way to edit raw text, the keyboard will survive. But that doesn't mean the need to use one won't become rarer as time passes.

    A secondary use of keyboards is shortcuts. I think AI can take over here, at least for normal people. For professionals who need efficiency when working with a program, only the program developer can decide if and how AI can be implemented, and they aren't likely to bother unless a trend happens that demonstrates clear superiority of such a UX.

    Data mining took over because it demonstrated clear superiority, not because of hype. It has to be the same for AI agents to succeed.

  28. John September 29, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    I rather type then go talking or gesturing to the computer. It would way too often leave behind a gestured "F U" comment on stupid stuff.

  29. jern September 29, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

    When I have to take dancing lessons to run my computer effectively - I quit.

  30. Wayfarer September 29, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

    I'm in my sixties. If I had a penny....

  31. A41202813GMAIL September 30, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    Hope All M$ Jerks Start Volunteering To Travel On The Drivers Seat Of The Incoming Self Driven Delivery Trucks - Also, Without Both Steering Wheel And Brakes, Of Course.

    XPOCALYPSE FOREVER !

    ---

  32. beemeup4 September 30, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

    Coding by voice? We already know exactly how that would work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzJ0CytAsec

  33. Clean Harry October 1, 2016 at 12:25 am #

    The Onion already did it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BnLbv6QYcA

    • A different Martin October 4, 2016 at 2:40 am #

      Thanks for linking us to the Onion's Macbook Wheel video. I'd never seen it before, but it's a classic.

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