Can Your Mac Do This? No Can Do

Windows 8 is not the hit that Microsoft had hoped for.

It’s had lukewarm reception with tech analysts, when it was released┬áPC sales declined, it’s forced Microsoft to scale back its hardware ambitions and, most importantly, Synthtopia readers have greeted it with a collective ‘meh’.

So, why are we still talking about Windows 8?

Windows 8 may not be a mainstream hit, but we think it still holds unique promise for electronic musicians. It performs better than WIndows 7, and its support for multi-touch on ‘generic’ hardware opens the door for new types of instruments and music apps.

Rob Fielding, who’s behind several iOS instruments, is one of the developers exploring the creative potential of Windows 8. Here, Fielding demos a multi-touch microtonal instrument, running on a giant WIndows 8 touchscreen.

Fielding’s instrument is an early prototype, but it demonstrates the potential for Windows 8 to let developers create instruments and apps that would be impossible on other operating systems.

Check it out and let us know what you think. Do you want to see other developers explore the potential of Windows 8 for music apps?

via rrr00bb:

I got basic fretting (loose fretting… it won’t completely prevent quartertones, etc if you play them exactly), and legato rules. I am back to the ChucK engine while I get better acquainted with SuperCollider coding. This is just a Windows 8 based OSC controller. It works running into ChucK or SuperCollider

62 thoughts on “Can Your Mac Do This? No Can Do

        1. Windows 8, like all current touchscreen bs, looks like ass…
          ~ but i’d rather that then a computer’s os that takes up the majority of your processing power, and is ready to drop their clientelle, after 2 years, literally. I’ve had 8 year old pc’s run much better then 1 year old macs, after an os update.

          1. Im IT professional dealing with macs and win based pcs daily. What you wrote is complete bullshit. People fed up wit Windows is the main reason why they choose to go for Mac. Mac is less resources hungry than Win. If your 8 year PC was running faster than 1 year Mac after update. Reason might be that you screwed up the system. I daily deal wit people that blame computer for their own fail and make me repair it.

      1. Thing is though goode apple and the music dev’s including rob fielding have already been doing this, albeit on a smaller screen, microsoft is late to the party. However you seem like one of those people that’s on every ios thread, putting the platform down and calling it a toy.

        The main advantage windows has is a larger space to work with, which is like the advantage of a full sized keyboard over my remote sl 37 for example. I like what both platforms are offering and use both for music, I just prefer the audio and midi capabilities built into osx more, software selection on the windows side, I have to configure and download extra software for windows like rtpmidi and asio for all to get it on the same page as my macs come out of the box.

        Ios is limited in many ways but it has been a revolutionary platform for touch musicians, I’m excited to see what pops up on the windows side and when apple finnally releases a touch imac, macbook or larger ipad.

        1. >The main advantage windows has is a larger space to work with, which is like the advantage of
          >a full sized keyboard over my remote sl 37 for example

          I don’t buy the “big is better” yet. Like in the setup above… go ahead and play that with your arms straight out for 20 minutes and I guarantee you will have arm and wrist strain, if not a minor injury.

          1. For some things having extra space is a bonus, other times portability is what’s needed, I didn’t intend my comment to come across as bigger is better, was pointing out the difference between the approach’s and the main advantage for me that windows has, ie choice of screen size outside of small, mini and micro.

            Apple has a patent for a touchscreen imac from 2010 with both osx and ios, lenveno released something similar a year or so later, both solve the problem of touching a vertical surface by being able to fold down, sometimes though I’d like the extra space to work with and as I’m used to both platforms which ever tool suits my needs at the time gets used.

            But I would prefer a multitouch imac as the catalogue of music apps on ios is very inspiring, windows is just picking up steam, apps wise. I’d like ios to get more osx features or osx get multitouch support and a bit of optimising. Both windows 8 and ios have trade offs, but together in my studio they could make sweet, sweet music, until multitouch osx arrives, then I’d shun them both.

  1. How’s MIDI and audio on windows 8? One thing that adds value to osx is that you have flexible MIDI routing built in and audio is good with the generic drivers. Things like network MIDI are very convenient.

    I’m thinking for a screen of that size (and higher power requirements/shorter battery life?) I’d want to send control data to another computer.

    Or is it possible to divide the screen? Splitting it down the middle to recognize gestures from each hand would be cool. I’m thinking that the same gestures from different hands to perform shortcuts might be a really fun and natural way to work. It’d be easier to manage than obscure shortcuts, but would give you the same quick access.

    I guess what I’m wondering: Is windows 8 touch easier to program for than iOS, even when using MIDI and audio AND when using it to interact with iOS devices?

    Frankly, once the wiz bang aspect of touch screens wore off, I find that they are fantastic for gestures and seeing data at the same time, but really crap* for interacting with and picking out small on screen elements.

    * it’s better than the mouse for some things, but not when compared to actual tactile feedback from hardware.

  2. The german YouTube channel MusoTalk just recently released a video about the touch screen support of Windows 8 in combination with DAWs (Cubase and Studio One). Although there are still some issues to be solved, it already looks quite neat:

  3. please, if you even suggest that that Macs are JUST computers!
    you need to watch what you say.
    Mac users are very sensitive about any suggestion that any other computer in the world is possibly as good or better than a mac.

    as we all know, Apple makes the best computer in the world. Period! They are magic and not overpriced at all.
    If fact, only apples can run OSX software so this makes them even more magic and special.

    STOP POSTING STUFF ABOUT PC! They only have 70% of the market!

    ( ?┬░ ?? ?┬░)

    1. So the debate is over and Microsoft wins? Who has the bigger touchscreen was the final factor in the decision? Wow I hope we’re really choosing the better product and not just going with the bigger one because we’re compensating for something!

    2. All the music profesionals I know have Apple except one that is running cracked software. Al the office rats I know have windows and yes office rats is the majority.

    1. Thanks for sharing this!

      This is one area where Microsoft is indisputably ahead of Apple. There’s nothing like this on Macs and it doesn’t even seem to be on the horizon.

      That said – Microsoft made a mistake trying to force the Metro interface on users. The dual-interface aspect of Windows 8 is still slowing me down, and must be completely confusing to your average joe.

      Windows 8 will probably be one of those releases that ends up being more for the gear-heads, and then they’ll smooth out the bumps with WIndows 9.

  4. The only “problem” is that Microsoft has constantly exhibited an utter lack of imagination, which is part of why each new OS comes with a seemingly increasing number of groans. MS designs from the hardware OUT. Apple designs from the user IN and MS *still* can’t figure out the model. I have my own issues with Apple, but clunkiness has rarely been one of them. I no more condemn you for using a PC than I would condemn you for choosing a Yamaha over a Nord if it sounds right for YOU. I simply decline to take on a tool that has such a bad history. Solid performance talks, ballyhoo walks. BTW, the touch screen looks inspiring. If Apple will offer a large-screen pad instead of those damned mini-things that all but require a stylus, I suspect it’ll take off.

  5. Err, sorry, I slipped. Ballyhoo talks, but solid performance walks. I may need to write L and R on the tops of my shoes so I get ’em on the proper foot the first time.

  6. What is Windows only about this? Why couldn’t I plug a touchscreen monitor into a Mac and do the same thing? I can us a Cintiq. I can connect multi-displays. If fact I’d only do this with a secondary display. One that I considered a dynamic instrument interface instead of a regular monitor. Otherwise I’d fe serious fatigue moving the monitor back and forth switching from touch use to editing use.

    1. Thats exactly the point. If users show they want to pay for huge touch screens, then Apple will do it faster and better anyway. So let the bleeding edge vote with it’s dollars, or not.

  7. I made this video. I could just as well used MIDI, and had Ableton running in the background, etc. it is just an OSC based controller, driving a ChucK script and SuperCollider scripts. The main problem so far is I would need an ARM build of ChucK or SuperCollider to run it on that. The main beauty of using OSC and an audio language is that you just build a controller, and let users make whatever synth and effects units they want. SuperCollider in particular is well suited to be the equivalent of a widget set for making audio apps… Sequencers, instrumets, reverbs, etc. instead of having multiple apps generate audio, you have just one real-time critical app doing audio composting.

    1. Exactly.

      Not sure why the Mac users are getting defensive, because you could apps like this as a front end to your Mac apps just as well as your Windows apps.

    2. Some guys managed to get an ARM build of the Csound language onto iOS, is there any potential for that to be applied to the windows RT world? That could be the way with the most potential, although I might be a saying the programming equivalent of ‘oh you’re from Brazil? I have a couple of friends who speak Spanish.’ But if any of the major idiosyncrasies of programming for ARM are common between the two, there could be some possibilities there.

      1. I have looked at CSound. I know that at some point it was a standard in sound design, but it’s very much oriented around offline score rendering and MIDI input. It doesn’t have the rich programmable structure of environments like SuperCollider/ChucK, or even Pd. But what is most important is that CSound is not built around OSC. SuperCollider is totally designed around OSC in every possible way.

        As useful as MIDI is for some scenarios, MIDI is nothing but a nightmare for string instrument type controllers (because of MIDI’s note rather than frequency orientation). By contrast, I went from no code at all to a really basic 10 finger controller sending OSC packets to ChucK in a few hours. OSC is a very very vague standard (like saying that you will standardize on 1’s and 0’s almost) because it has no inherent semantics. But, with synth environments where the front-end is fully programmable, it’s a great fit for what I need to do. Adding new sliders/controls or adding a new degree of expression can take mere minutes to have it written into the controller (windows C# code) and the synth (ChucK,SuperCollider).

        1. It’s funny that you mention how vague the OSC standard is, I never quite understood how it fit into the whole scheme of things. I had a vague notion that it was some sort of potential MIDI replacement, but I never thought that it might be closer to machine level, which is actually a very awesome thing to think about. I guess I’m going to get started with either ChucK or Super Collider.

          This also raised a couple of questions for me. If OSC has no semantics, then all I can figure it would be is a set of guidelines for the syntactic structure the data would have to have in order to be received properly. That being said, if it is as basic as I think it is in terms of the kind of data being sent, wouldn’t it be possible to send large sets of commands very quickly on very limited processing power, assuming the screen has a dedicated graphics processor?

          If this is the case I’m guessing that OSC controllers running on something like a Raspberry PI might actually be possible, and inexpensive, especially if touch screens become more standard. I may be stretching here…

          1. Actually, upon second thought, it never occurred to me that multitouch monitors are not plug and play and probably require a decent amount of processing power to even implement correctly…

            I guess I have some searching to do.

  8. FFS, a tool is a tool, who cares who makes the damn thing, as long as it gets your job done? People who are rabid on EITHER side of the OS fence have too much free time on their hands, or need to be part of a herd. Know how to use both a Mac & PC = get more work.

    Touch has potential, but like others have said, it’s not all that handy yet for actual productivity.

    Seems to me this article was more flame-bait than anything else…

  9. I’d like to propose that we just ban all comments on the Mac-Windows divide that have more inflammatory remarks than substantial content. I feel that as a music-centered community, we should try to be open to new means of musical creation even if it doesn’t have our favorite logo on it. I’m not saying we need not be critical or skeptical of new platforms, quite the contrary, but I think we should temper our gut instincts with hard data rather than waste our time bitching. We’ve all had computer issues and experiences that have shaped how we have formed our own personal infrastructures, and I bet that these experiences could be used to inform a damn good dialogue about where the technology could go, rather than a bunch of whiny remarks.

    1. “…experiences that have shaped how we have formed our own personal infrastructures…”

      Well said. I converted from Windows to Mac some years ago during my schooltime when I simply did not want to deal with driver problems anymore and just wanted a fixed computer system, similar to a gaming console: no customization but also no problems.

      I’ve already spent too much money onto Mac-specific hardware and software to change back again, but I still think that e.g. Windows 7 is a really good operating system. I think that all of these operating system battles are plainly childish.

      Everybody chose his/her OS for certain reasons and every OS has its advantages and disadvantages. Religious OS wars don’t serve any purpose.

    2. What can I say? A large number of people are simply mesmerized by Technology Fight Club. If you cannot get laid, call someone online an utter berk for liking a piece of tech you dislike for some reason. Girls go wild for that:P.

  10. Does the screen just use X and Y, or is it pressure sensitive, XYZ? If its not pressure sensitive then I really don’t see the point. I would rather have more expressive control at my fingertips with something like the QuNeo or an Eigenharp, rather than invest in a new OS/screen. I use both osx and windows in parallel off a mac mini. I use osx for Live and windows only for rendering vocaloid samples.

  11. I like the fact that there are touchscreen devices available with a full operating system, because the smartphone trend seems to be limiting functionality for profit. I don’t see having a curated set of software like the app store as something that’s gonna lead to more creativity (either in music or in the apps made with them). The appeal of using a computer to make music, for me, is I can stick a lot of stuff together and build what I don’t have pretty much for free, and iOS seems too limited for that.

    I’m not trying to pick a side though, I’m typing this on an Apple laptop, and I’d love to see some William Gibson-esque future where brands are obselete and I can just grab a $5 used phone at Goodwill, wipe the hard drive, install some random open-source OS nobody’s heard of, and do everything I’m doing now. Wouldn’t that be more fun than dealing with all the iPhone licensing and dongles JUST to be able to use a touchscreen?

  12. There’s already a name for the condition that arises from extended touch-screen use at this size: Gorilla Arms. Ouch! If you thought Texting Thumb or Tennis Elbow were painful, stay tuned! Once about 50k users have complained to a doctor about it, you’ll see it as a cover article in Time magazine. Perhaps Apple is considering a design that alleviates part of the syndrome. Perhaps I will also defiantly stock up on QWERTYUIOP keyboards and mousies, because I have things to do that preclude wrestling with a new approach this early on. I’ll convert when the main bumps are ironed out. Its all very shiny, but by now, more of us have learned that the bleeding-edge generally irons itself out in the 4th or 5th incarnation. The first gen almost always smells like toe jam.

    1. You are right to some degree. This particular workstation doesn’t let me tilt down far enough, so my wrists are highly bent trying to get into the proper screen position; it makes me pause when I play. I just need about 15 more degrees of flattening it out for it to be comfortable.

      But, as far as “gorrilla arm” goes, it’s actually not going to really be any worse than working with the iPad (presuming you can tilt it flat enough). Of course, you have to move your hands farther away to rest on the edge, but on the iPads you don’t have your fingers on the screen any less. The only real problem with this screen is just that it’s not quite as fast as the iPad or Surface screens, which means that vibrato is somewhat lost when you play, and there is more latency. But this isn’t the only large touchscreen out there, and you just need to build it for Windows8 x86 once, and then you can go try this out on better screens.

      I hear that the Sony Tap 20 is good for what I am trying to do.

  13. People often mistake Apple’s MO… Apple seems to truly believe in “Better, not first”… And this philosophy works well for them. I will wait until Apple gets this right… Oh… Yeah… They did… The iPad… And it is a good size to go places with… Say good bye to “desktop music production”…
    Seriously… What separates this from the Cantor and Geo Synth… Oh… That is right… The Windows boys can finally play around… Really?! This is nothing new… Just new surroundings…

    1. Thanks for demonstrating once again the sort of vapid, unproductive, waste-of-my-fucking-time comments that I was talking about earlier. The use of all those ellipses was also super effective…

  14. iOS is OS X. OS X has had touch capability for many years now. Apple will release a touch Mac eventually. Probably about the time the lines between handhelds, portables and the desktops blur to the point that there isn’t any separation between them anymore.

  15. i’ll get back to being excited and even remotely considering a full touchscreen, when at least pressure sensitivity or even better, haptic feedback is being implemented.

    which company it implements – i couldn’t care less.

    all of them produce under shit conditions, solely aim for profit and apparently do a nice job, keeping us busy pickering about it, gaping for their latest throw, that is foreseeably redundant.

  16. What is all the fuss about. Look at Surface. Do you know any musician that uses it?????? Touch capability is not enough. You need proper apps for that. Jordan Rudess has all his synths on IOS for quite some years. He made that available for Win 8 now. That kind of app is much more usable on smaller IPad than on a big screen where u have to switch between DAW and touch app. Look how they incorporated touch in Logic. Its seamles workflow between touch instruments control and DAW.

  17. I can touch control my mac with the very similar app. I can do it using my Ipad wirelessly. I control whole DAW with it and switch between plug ins. I tried touch enabled lenovo desktops. It is not really ergonomic that much. My hands hurt holding them there after some time of work. Look at graphic designers. They use Wacom Cintiq and dont draw on PC touchscreen. IOS and Wacom have it figured out. I dont need to touch my desktop icons. I need to use touch for creative work. Windows is far behind for that even after WIN 8

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