Touch Bar on new MacBook Pro will show function keys when using Windows via Bootcamp

By , Oct 28, 2016

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Apple yesterday unveiled the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, a completely redesigned, thinner machine that shifts away from traditional computer ports in place of Thunderbolt 3 and replaces the function key row of the keyboard with a new versatile Touch Bar that dynamically changes based on the app you’re in.

So that might raise the question: what happens when you boot into Windows on your MacBook Pro with Bootcamp?

The Windows operating system makes use of the function (F1-F12) keys for a myriad of tasks, and one might go off on a tangent and say they’re used more on Windows than they are on macOS.

No matter how much controversy said tangent might cause, it goes without saying that Windows users need function keys too and the Touch Bar certainly raises come confusion about how users will access them when it’s is supposed to offer a dynamic experience across your apps and operating system.

Fortunately, an answer from Apple‘s head of software engineering, Craig Federighi, has already surfaced just one day following the unveiling. MacRumors shares the following response in reply to the question:

“Craig, am I correct in assuming that the Touch Bar becomes a row of visual function keys when using Windows with Boot Camp?”
Federighi: “You are indeed!”

So there you have it. The answer really couldn’t be much clearer.

When running Windows on a Bootcamp partition on the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, the Touch Bar should display function keys, and perhaps even an Esc key, instead of anything else just like a regular keyboard. Users can then tap on the touch surface to invoke their function just as striking a keyboard key would.

A good point that this brings up then is how users will change the display brightness and volume, which were typically done with the keys across the top of the keyboard. Chances are, the Touch Bar will either have some brilliant way of making the experience feel similar to current Mac keyboards, or users will have to use the Windows task bar settings to change these.

One thing that isn’t clear as of this point in time is whether or not Bootcamp that comes pre-installed on these machines will support Touch Bar out of the box or if Apple will be launching a Bootcamp software update for all Macs across the board. It’s one of those things where we’ll just have to wait and see.

Source: MacRumors

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  • 5723alex .

    And when you run Windows under Parallels ?

    • Mr.Coolfreak

      I’m assuming parallels will have control with what shows up since its an app

    • NanamiAsuri

      Did you not watch the keynote? You open Safari and Safari oriented controls appear. You open Maps and maps oriented controls appear and the same applies to Photoshop, Sketch, iTunes etc. I see no reason as to why Parallels would leave the touch bar blank instead of putting Fn keys there ^^

    • I’m sure Parallels will update their app with Touch Bar support themselves.

  • Linux support? Probably not going to get an official answer for that.

    • NanamiAsuri

      3rd party drivers xD

    • It wouldn’t surprise me if it worked. Touch Bar is driven by it’s own hardware and OS so I’m guessing than outside of a mac environment it simply emulates keystrokes and sends them back to the running environment. So F1-F12 should work out of the box on any OS that supports a keyboard. Furthermore, since it’s a standalone OS it should be able to also offer controls for audio and screen brightness independent of the main OS running.

      I’m sure that the integration with apps will never be available outside of MacOS but I’d expect it to work very well with just about anything.

  • HamptonWalley

    If there is no support for Win 7, i will not run any windows on it.

    • Charles222

      Win7 hasn’t been supported for a long time, so there you go.

    • I guess you won’t be running Windows then.

  • Agneev Mukherjee

    Craig is just super smart… and super funny…

  • I would assume that since Touch Bar is powered by it’s own hardware and OS it would have self contained drivers for things like audio controls and screen brightness. The cool thing is that for any unsupported OS it could still have full hardware controls without any driver support from the host OS. The only driver you would really need would be to recognize it as a keyboard input.

    Obviously that’s conjecture, but I’d suspect that the touch bar likely will support hardware controls in any environment as it wouldn’t have to rely on drivers in the host OS unless Apple is doing something truly bizarre with the setup.