Mirabyte FrontFace is a touch friendly replacement for the default Windows shell that attempts to make Windows XP, Vista, and 7 easier to navigate on a touchscreen tablet style computer. I took an early build for a test drive this summer, and the software was still obviously a work in progress. For instance, while there was a space for arranging home screen widgets, there were no widgets available.

Mirabyte recently launched a new community preview of FrontFace, and it now supports widgets, including clock, calendar, Wikipedia, and news widgets. The team has also improved startup times and added some pretty basic features to the web browser including bookmarks and search.

There’s also now a button you can press to flip between the normal Windows user interface and FrontFace.

Overall, FrontFace seems to be a handy tool for making it easier to launch and navigate through applications on Windows devices with touchscreen displays. While the software includes a built in web browser and several other tools, you can still run any Windows app you like by clicking on the Start Menu tab to view the Windows start menu. But flipping between running apps, opening and closing apps, and perform some other functions is a bit simpler with FrontFace.

That said, it still feels a bit like window dressing. Windows 7 actually includes touch friendly features such as support for multitouch gestures and kinetic scrolling using Internet Explorer. But many third party apps don’t really support touch, which makes touch-based navigation a bit hit or miss. Still, I suppose for some people FrontFace could improve the experience a bit.

You can check out a few more screenshots after the break, or download the latest community preview yourself from the Mirabyte web site.

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One reply on “Mirabyte updates its FrontFace touchscreen UI for Windows tablets”

  1. The “window dressing” quality is my biggest problem with this too. Any manufacturer who plans to load this on top of a Windows 7 slate or tablet needs to sit back and carefully think about which is going to HURT user experience more: plain Windows 7 with all of its real and perceived issues relating to finger+passive digitizer input or the interface inconsistency of having a “window dressing” running on top of the actual operating system.

    Overlays like this will probably find a home on devices with the lowest quality digitizers. Their services will be most needed there, and since those devices will be a little cheaper, perhaps the discontinuity of user interface can be overlooked.

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