If you've been running the Windows 8 Developer Preview on a touchless PC, you know just how much fun it is to mimic simple touch gestures with a mouse. Bringing up the Charms Bar on the right, for example, is as simple as hovering your mouse over the Start button in the lower left, then making a mad dash to the right to click on the proffered charm before it disappears -- if you're lucky. On many touchless machines, that doesn't work and you have to press Windows Key+Shift+C to get the Charms Bar to appear at all.
Let's hear it for intuitive.
Now comes word that Microsoft will improve mouse support for the Metro interface in the forthcoming Windows 8 beta, apparently dubbed the "Windows 8 Consumer Preview," due at the end of February.
Windows enthusiast site TechRadar posted details about Windows 8 mouse-and-pointer substitutes for tap-and-pinch gestures that the touch-enabled universe will take for granted. Although TechRadar doesn't credit a Microsoft source by name and details about the next beta remain closely guarded state secrets, the report seems credible. They match up with screenshots of unreleased builds that leaked last month. Semantic Zoom with a mouse (see below) was part of Tami Reller's Windows 8 demo at CES a couple of weeks ago. How TechRadar found out about the rest of the mousabilities isn't clear.
With that caveat, here are the new, improved mouse-enabled gestures said to be upcoming in the Consumer Preview:
Semantic zoom: Windows 8's new pinch-to-zoom-out gesture for the entire Metro tile area can be replicated with a mouse click in the far-lower-right corner of the screen. (I'll rant about the phrase "semantic zoom" at a future date; suffice it to say that Windows 8 uses the well-defined UI terminology in a decidedly odd way.)
If you're using the Developer Preview, there's a right-scroll button at the far lower-right corner of the screen, to make it easier to scroll the Metro tiles right. Apparently the Consumer Preview will put a new button to the right of the right scroll button: Click on that button and you see all of your tiles lined up, ready to be clicked and dragged to new locations, or lassoed and given a group name.