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Macallan: an impressive Windows Phone-esque tablet UI



Touch-friendly user interfaces for Windows 7 seem to be all the rage lately. The latest is an overlay from UI Centric codenamed Macallan, which has nothing to do with Macs and looks highly reminiscent of Windows Phone 7 minus the tiles.

Per the press release from UI Centric, Macallan was “designed from scratch specifically for tablet/slate form-factor devices”. While the font and use of large-sized words smacks of Windows Phone 7, the underlying experience does appear to be significantly different.

From the video demo (below), we can see access to videos and the calendar, as well as Hulu on the web in full screen. Scrolling is done with a slide of the finger across the screen, rather than across a scrollbar. That earns them one gold star from me, and the big, finger-friendly, on-screen keyboard earns another. Also noticeable is the taskbar-type area at the upper right corner only takes up that one corner, rather than taking up the whole top edge with a bar. Returning to the home page is done by dragging a finger from the upper right corner in a “tear-off” page effect.

Macallan is easily the most attractive touch-friendly UI overlay I’ve seen for Windows 7 thus far. I like that they’ve taken the opposite track from the “cram everything you can into the screen” approach. The open space and clean look gives an impression of calm. Just show the user the most immediate stuff up front and if they want to see more, they’ll scroll for the rest.

They intend to offer this UI overlay under a license to hardware makers for both Windows 7 or Windows Embedded Compact 7 with the first such device to debut in Q3 this year, details pending. Unfortunately that means you won’t be able to install this on your existing touch tablet. Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing this interface hit the street soon.

Via Liliputing and MobilitySite



  1. Tim

    08/02/2010 at 7:17 am

    A feature–well really just a detail–that doesn’t seem to be getting coverage is the similarity of their menus to the Zune/WP7/Media Center design. I definitely think that just that detail can help the UI be more widely accepted, as it looks more like an integral part of the ecosystem than a third party piece.

    • aftermath

      08/02/2010 at 8:34 am

      Ding, ding, ding… Somebody gets it. You undersold your point, Tim, and should speak up. This is a great part of the Microsoft UI that should be promoted and built on, and it already works well with touch. Windows is filled with details like this that get overlooked, and the usefulness of them go unappreciated because most people haven’t used a real Windows Tablet PC that offers touch. In fact, Window 7 works well with touch already, and these “UI” tweaks miss the point. Tablet PCs and consumer touchscreen slates, like the device depicted in the video, are not mobile phones. GUI overlays on mobile phones were useful to the extent that they softened the transition from stylus-based to finger-based input and necessary to the extent that the devices were resource constrained with their tiny screens. No such constraint exists here.

      As for the UI depicted in the video? Finally, somebody has figured out what to do with all of the extra screen real estate offer by larger form factor devices: waste it!
      Seriously, I get that the screen was touched during the demo, but at the heart of it this is a small screen UI ported to a bigger screen. Not only is it a waste of space, but it’s an ineffective use of touch. If you’re happy with an interface like this, just stick to smaller devices. Else, if you want to see how touch can be really useful then try managing files in Windows explorer with multiple selection using tablet extensions on a touchscreen in Windows. It’s easy. It’s intuitive. It’s functional. Sadly, it doesn’t look like a pre-school toy, but it doesn’t need to either.

  2. Sheila

    08/02/2010 at 7:53 am

    For a tablet, this is the type of interface I’m looking for!!

  3. ckjordan

    08/02/2010 at 12:39 pm

    i am sold out, just what i am looking 4.

  4. Osiris

    08/02/2010 at 8:09 pm

    This would likely be a UI approach that would win over consumers to tablets, however alot of commentors on the various sites want this as an overlay to a Win7 tablet, which is just bemusing.

    As overlay its just taking up resources and running in an environment in which you would have to leave it from time to time anyway, in which case you are still faced with the current situation.

    As a standalone then yes its good, but I cant help but feel the real lesson here would be for MS to port this sort of style to a WP7 tablet. I mean the video shows no features which would not be on a WP7 device anyway.

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