About a week ago Apple launched their new MacBook Pros that came with a new hardware feature called Touch Bar, which is basically an OLED touchscreen strip that replaces the function keys. It sounds almost revolutionary, but as it turns out Microsoft had explored the idea way back in 2009 but ultimately decided against it.
This is according to Steve Bathiche, the manager of the Applied Sciences Group at Microsoft, who tweeted out a link to Microsoft’s website in which it details some of the concepts and prototypes that Microsoft had worked on over the years. One of those concepts was introducing a touch-sensitive display strip on the top of a keyboard, and that idea was cooked up way before the new MacBook Pros were ever announced.
According to Microsoft, “More recently, 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.” When asked by The Verge’s Tom Warren as to why they did not make this idea a reality, Bathiche said that was because back then, they did not make their own computers.
He also adds that when they did get around to making their own computers, they decided that touchscreens were a better idea. Of course it’s still too early to tell if Apple did the right thing with the Touch Bar, or if Microsoft’s full touchscreen approach is a better idea, but in the meantime what do you guys think?