Day 3: The annoyances of the no-zoom tablet

Lincoln Spector

By now, I’m pretty comfortable now with Windows 8.1 — as long as I ignore that it’s Windows 8.1. With StartIsBack (site) installed, I can pretty much convince myself I’m using Windows 7.

(In fact, this morning I forgot that the Start menu isn’t built into Win8. When I right-clicked the taskbar to change a Properties setting, I was momentarily shocked not to find the Start Menu tab.)

It’s when I remove the tablet from its docking station that the Modern world of Windows raises its revolting head. One particularly big problem: There’s no convenient way to zoom in on the screen information.

If the text on an iPhone, an iPad, or any Android device is too small, you simply touch the screen with your thumb and forefinger and spread your fingers apart. The image zooms in — quick, convenient, and intuitive.

Not so with Win8 Metro/Modern interface. There’s no convenient way to zoom in or out. That’s not so bad with apps, which generally display decently sized text, but it’s horrible when you’re trying to read a webpage. On the tablet’s relatively small screen, the desktop-based browser displays print so small it should come with a health warning.

Yes, most browsers have ways of zooming in — clicking, for example, the Ctrl + key combo. Well, you can if you have the keyboard handy. Other methods for zooming a browser window also require either a keyboard or a mouse.

On the other hand, I have to praise Twitter’s Metro/Modern app. When you click a URL in a tweet, the page comes up in a browser built into the app. And guess what? It supports the same two-finger gesture that Apple and Google use.

UPDATE: A Facebook friend, who’s also a Microsoft employee, pointed out something I missed: The two-finger zoom trick works with the Windows 8.1 version of Internet Explorer.



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Lincoln Spector

About Lincoln Spector

Lincoln Spector writes about computers, home theater, and film and maintains two blogs: Answer Line at PCWorld.com and Bayflicks.net. His articles have appeared in CNET, InfoWorld, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other publications.