Microsoft Was Working On Its Own Touch Bar Before Apple’s MacBook Pro

If you are wondering that Apple is the first company to reveal the OLED-powered keyboard display called the “Touch Bar” in its newly launched MacBook Pro series, you may want to think again! Apparently, Microsoft has been investigating the use of its “Adaptive Keyboard” for more than 15 years now.

Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group has a webpage explaining how the company has considered the use of “adaptive hardware” over the years. This idea struck Microsoft back in 1999, involved PCs that could display dedicated action keys and hide the irrelevant keys for a given application, application mode, and application state. Steven Bathiche, Director of research in Microsoft’s applied sciences group spent years investigating keyboards that changed their function keys and actions based on the applications on the screen, as reported earlier by The Verge.

Finally, in 2009, Microsoft finalized its research and described it as an “Adaptive Keyboard.”

Writing about the project’s progress in 2009, Microsoft said, “The research team investigated how touch experiences might be effectively integrated with keyboard input. This prototype has a large, touch-sensitive display strip at the top with the display continuing underneath the keys.”

However, like the Touch Bar, Microsoft’s touch screen could act as a contextual quick-launch bar for certain application functions as well as a way to recall recently-opened documents and photos.

But there are a few important differences between the Adaptive Keyboard and the Touch Bar. Firstly, Microsoft reserved physical function keys, which along with the other mechanical keys on the Adaptive Keyboard, change in special circumstances. For example, lettered keys can change to slide animation tools while editing a PowerPoint presentation displayed on screen. Secondly, Microsoft’s touch area displays much larger icons/photos, making it easier to interact with.

Ultimately, Microsoft decided not to develop the Adaptive Keyboard technology. “We did not build computers back then,” explained Bathiche, who co-created the Microsoft Surface. “When we did start, we made computers with touch screens.” Whether or not will Microsoft deliver a Touch Bar in the coming years remains to be seen.

Source: The Verge

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