All of the operating systems borrow from one another from time to time with slight variations to avoid legal troubles. Typically, this is a net benefit for everyone as users across the platforms get to enjoy the best ideas bubbling to the top.
However, some Windows users may question whether that is the case this time around with Windows Latest reporting on a new leak suggesting that Windows 10 will soon adopt support the "Wonder Bar," a feature originally slated for release on Windows 10X that resembles the often derided Touch Bar on MacBook Pros (via TechRadar).
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There are certainly some differences, the Wonder Bar won't be dependent on a second screen, opening up considerably more possibilities than the minuscule height of the Touch Bar. However, the basic concept of contextually relevant buttons and shortcuts that appear above your keyboard certainly seems pretty similar.
So how will it work without a second screen? This takes us to the appearance of a dedicated Wonder Bar button on upcoming keyboards from Microsoft. Windows insider Gustave Monce asserted that this was the purpose of a new button that The Verge's Tom Warren identified as a dedicated emoji key when sharing a photo of a keyboard posted by leaker WalkingCat.
That's actually the wunderbar key, same icon you can see on 10X and the new upcoming touch keyboard in build 20185 and higher, behind a velocity flag. I don't think it's purely emoji, it will probably launch the wunderbarAugust 18, 2020
As Windows 10X was specifically going to be designed for dual-screen devices, the Wonder Bar was an easy concept to understand. With that hardware the bar would live on the second screen similar to implementations we've seen on Windows 10 laptops like the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15.
On touchscreen laptops like the Surface Pro 7, the Wonder Bar may also simply take a spot above the virtual keyboard, but for more traditional laptops if the feature is to see any uptake it needs a quick and easy implementation and a key to summon it would certainly fit the bill.
One of the primary complaints with the Touch Bar is that many developers and Apple itself frequently seem to ignore it or put minimal effort into ensuring it's delivering useful and relevant shortcuts or commands. Unless Microsoft is going to throw considerable weight behind this effort, it is unclear how it would combat this same problem.
For now, we will keep our eye on the rollout of the Wonder Bar if it does arrive on Windows 10, as there is certainly value to the concept. It is the implementation that has fallen down for Apple's Touch Bar and without the dedicated hardware to support it, there is plenty of reason to believe the Wonder Bar will suffer a similar fate.