The on-screen keyboard in Windows 7 is a giant leap forward

This entry originally appeared on my disability blog, I hate stairs.

I was helping a friend with a printer problem earlier today which gave me the chance to use Windows 7 for the first time. I have been an Applehead for about three years. The last version of Windows that I used on a daily basis was Windows XP. As much of an Apple fanboy that I am, I admit Windows has always had a better built-in on-screen keyboard than Mac OS in as much as you can call Mac OS’s Keyboard Viewer an on-screen keyboard. That thing is not suitable if you are going to be typing via a mouse or switch. Personally, I use KeyStrokes, an on-screen keyboard for Mac. It’s great, but it’s also $299. If you have a disability, you don’t necessarily have that kind of cash laying around. Probably because you spent it on a $400 accessible spoon or something of that sort (because an angled spoon is high tech!). Okay, seriously, KeyStrokes is worth it but not everyone is in a position to buy it. My brother’s stance on the discrepancy in virtual keyboards between operating systems was succinctly summarized when he wrote:

Windows comes with a free Onscreen Keyboard that works perfectly. Surely Mac wouldn’t let themselves get beat out…

Now Windows is getting even further ahead of Mac in the on-screen keyboard game. The new keyboard has an improved look and feel. It is resizable. And, possibly the biggest change, it has text prediction built right in! There is one catch. Prediction isn’t included in the Home Basic version of Windows 7. Still, this is huge, especially when compared to Mac’s Keyboard Viewer. But don’t take my word for it. See the new keyboard in action: