Making Microsoft's Surface Pro work as a better tablet

Published on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 By Brad Wardell In Personal Computing

I love my Surface Pro.  It doesn't always love me.  This Summer, a firmware update caused the keyboard cover connector to not work anymore which forced me to use the Surface truly as a tablet.  It wasn't...a good experience.

While I wasn't a fan of Windows 8, it was a pretty decent touch OS.  Windows 10...not so much.  A big part of the reason Windows 10 isn't good for touch is that it doesn't use the screen edges well.

Windows 10, by default, has these touch-based shortcuts:

  1. Swipe from left: You get a very cluttered desktop / app manager (3 x 3)
  2. Swipe from bottom: nothing (no standard use in apps)
  3. Swipe from top: Nothing (will close apps if they're running)
  4. Swipe from right:  Notification Center

That's pretty weak.

Compare that with an iPad:

  1. Swipe from left: Brings up your gadgets / reserved for apps
  2. Swipe from bottom:  Return to home screen OR bring up a nice 3X2 list
  3. Swipe from top:  Notification Center
  4. Swipe from top right:  Quick settings
  5. Swipe from right: (reserved for apps)

The Surface Pro, like all touch devices, has an interesting, not well known feature: The touch sensitive area is bigger than the display area.  You could assign areas outside the display area to have functionality.


TouchTasks lets you define zones at the edge of your touch screen to do things.  Stardock even includes a few custom applets as examples but it's purpose is to let people decide what they want to do with it:

For example:

Here I have it set up so that if I tape in zone 4, it will bring up a big friendly quick launcher.  But I could just as easily have set it up so that it just launches say OneNote or define a custom hot key on Windows or bring up the Windows start menu or bring up recent documents or basically anything else you might want.

For my use, I have the Start menu to let me go through all the stuff I might need so I have begun to clean up my Surface Pro a bit:


For v1.0, we are mostly testing the waters in seeing how much interest there is by Windows users to make Windows 10 work better as a touch only device.    A lot of other accessibility options could be added in here such as Search or Cortana or a Widget panel.  

I suspect I'm not the only person who would like to see Windows 10 made into a better touch-based OS.  

You can download and try TouchTasks yourself for free.  Just remember to touch outside the display area!