Windows 7 has a much improved on-screen keyboard, here is a view (click it to see it bigger):
The buttons – keys – are larger that in the Vista on-screen keyboard. Compare the actual-size cutouts:
So folks who need the on-screen keyboard will have an easier time with it. There is another useful improvement: The characters that you get when you hold down the shift key (or click the Shift button) are shown on the keyboard at all times – just like on a real keyboard.
The on-screen keyboard is one of the few instance when you can actually have two windows active – the keyboard and the application that you are typing into.
There is one really useful new option called Text Prediction. As you type on the on-screen keyboard the top row is populated with buttons that contain words that complete what you started to type. Here is an illustration, say that in your text you want to enter the word “feature”. When you click the “f” key the top row shows:
Still not there, so click the “a” key and get:
Now the word is included in the row of word buttons, click it and the word will be completed in the text you are typing. It even inserts the space following the word.
I find the on-screen keyboard especially useful when I need to type in a foreign language – something I don’t do often enough to remember the layout of the keyboard. Having the layout in front of me helps to find the right keys. For example see here the French and Russian keyboards.
Keep the on-screen keyboard in mind, there may come an occasion when you will find it useful.