Do you want to switch to tablet mode?

I don’t know!!!

Sometimes, but not always, I will get this message asking me to switch to tablet mode. Exact text:

Do you want to switch to tablet mode?

This makes Windows more touch-friendly when using your device as a tablet.

(options dropdown) Always ask me before switching

Yes/No

The dropdown offers one more option: Remember my response and don’t ask again.

Context

I am using a tablet called Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (overall a bad choice), running Windows 10. The message is tricky and does not show up consistently. I often get it when I dock my tablet on its docking station; that is, when I want to use the Surface as a desktop computer. I also see the message when I use the tablet’s detachable keyboard.

There is also a hidden feature in the message. A part of the message is a hotspot – a click or tap opens the Tablet mode settings. I am not sure whether the hotspot is located on the title (the question) or the body of the message.

Problems

  1. This message asks me to make a decision that looks like a permanent one likely to have durable consequences over how I use my computer. Unfortunately, there is no sufficient information for me to make that decision. I have no idea what tablet mode means or how Windows changes to become “more touch-friendly”.
  2. The message shows in the wrong moment. I usually see it when docking the computer; that is, when I intend to use the computer in desktop mode – connected to an external keyboard and two monitors. Thus I do not see the logic of the designers – I guess, it is a bug that I see the message.
  3. The message, and the whole interaction, is not predictable. I am never certain whether I will see it or not.
  4. No control. There is no visible way for me to switch tablet mode on and off. Even if I find a way to go to the settings, I cannot switch – the Tablet mode option is disabled.
  5. I do not know who is showing the message, the tablet or Windows (not that it really matters in this case).
  6. Oh, and it does not work. There is no visible difference between selecting Yes and No. I have also tried selecting the Always ask me before switching option or the Remember my response and don’t ask again option. No change, I keep getting the message.

Fix

Design for humans: Fix the logic – there must be two distinct modes: tablet and desktop and a clear switch between the two; preferably on the task bar. Do not show the message unless users ask for it – use some animation of the switch to indicate that the user’s attention is required. Provide a clear example of what users should expect from the two modes; a side-by-side comparison will work well. Finally, in the settings, allow users to instruct windows to automatically switch to tablet or desktop mode when docked or undocked and when the keyboard is attached or detached.

15 February 2016 | Surface Pro 3

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