A few days ago, I switched to a Windows notebook as my primary workstation. Being a Mac user for over a year, there were a bunch of features I missed on the new laptop. However, the one which continued to bother me every single minute was the fact that unlike Mac, Windows’ shortcuts are split between the Windows and Control keys.
Mac, on the contrary, treats the Control as a secondary key for shortcut combinations. The Command button is instead employed for nearly every quick action like multitasking, copying content, and more. Since Microsoft only brought a Command counterpart (the Windows button existed before too but wasn’t as widely used) to its operating system with the Windows 10 update, there’s a glaring divide between the two keys.
For instance, to fire up the multitasking view, you’ll have to press “Windows + Tab”. But for copying a piece of text, “Control + C”. The issue is not that Windows computers have two primary shortcut buttons. No, it’s the fact that Microsoft has left a ton of empty slots behind. What I mean by that is Microsoft can easily crown either one of them as the chief key because both of them are not reserved all the time. Ctrl + C lets you copy something, Windows + C does nothing. Windows + Tab opens up the multitasking view, Ctrl + Tab does nothing. You get the idea.
There is a clear differentiation between these two type of shortcuts. From what I can perceive, the Windows key is for the new Windows 10 shortcuts like triggering the notification center. On the contrary, the Control button is for the legacy shortcuts. And there’s a good reason behind that. Windows 10 was supposed to be the modern OS which didn’t force the user to learn fresh elements. If they wish to continue to employ the software how they always have, they can do so without worrying about new features getting in their way.
Therefore, while it’s conspicuously logical for Microsoft to hand the control of everything to the Windows key, the company is stuck at a critical paradox to avoid disappointing longtime customers like what happened with Windows 8. In addition to that, it also allows the company to create more shortcuts without forcing the user to remember lengthy combinations. For instance, Windows + A pulls out the notification center, while Ctrl + A selects everything on the screen. There’s also the keyboard layout every Windows PC maker ships on its machines. It comes with two control keys and only a single Windows one. Switching to the Windows key would also mean altering this arrangement.
However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t ever make the transition. I’m sure people don’t check the notification center as much as to justify a two-button shortcut. The most obvious way out of this conundrum is to just add an optional switch for users who prefer a more coherent approach. Perhaps, a couple of years down the road, Microsoft will eventually make the jump but until then, I’ll keep accidentally pressing the Windows key to copy.