Touch-screen devices are everywhere at TechEd, and outside of individual interaction with portable systems one use that is being promoted is as gigantic planning devices: whiteboard replacements with the added ability to easily drill into data. It's a tempting vision, but how quickly will we buy into it?
I've frequently argued that Windows 8 makes keyboards and mice second-class citizens compared to the touchscreen, but that's not such an issue in an environment where the conventional model is to use a text and a whiteboard (or butchers' paper) instead. There's a small and paranoid part of me that thinks that approach is cheaper and less prone to damage, but if we pursued that line of thinking too far we'd all end up ditching our smartphones and retraining on the abacus.
During today's keynote, Microsoft executives Quentin Clark and Eron Kelly emphasised how large touch-screens made it easier to do drill-down analysis combining Excel as a front-end with sophisticated SQL Server back-ends. The demonstrations included showing where TechEd attendees came from, which cities tweeted the most and who had the most unusual job roles.
It looked impressive, and once I set aside my naturally cynical reaction of "I bet the person who typed in that data wouldn't have been half as productive with no keyboard shortcuts available", I could see the potential for brainstorming and data analysis. Would you be tempted? Tell us in the comments.