back to article Customers give Dell the finger over keyboard screw-up

Dell has left customers shaking their fists this week after shipping an unspecified number of its Vostro 1310 and 1510 laptops in Europe with the wrong keyboard layout. The embarrassing cock-up forces the Z key, which should sit beneath the A and S keys, along the row in Vostro laptops affected by the problem. Subsequent keys …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Vostro is the biggest pile of steaming crap ever put out there people buying this deserve it.

  2. dv

    "The Z has to be between the A and S... look on ANY other keyboard"

    Yeah... any other keyboard... like those fine AZERTY jobbies?

    Mine's the french-typing one.

  3. mitch

    right shift

    So that's why its called a shift key...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Some sympathy...

    ... Dell are busy making staff redundant in the UK so that they can close down all development in the UK Bracknell office in the next 10-14 months. So the people on site here in the UK have a few other things on their minds right now...

    Still, the upside is the staff are getting paid 4 weeks salary per year of employment so there is a bit of a cushion for those facing the axe.

    Makes you want to buy an Apple...

  5. Andrew Moore


    It looks like the location of the 2 shift keys has been swapped over- The long shift key is usually on the right

  6. Rob Briggs

    @Anon Coward

    --- Makes you want to buy an Apple...

    No it doesn't

  7. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Could be worse...

    Could be worse... could be a keyboard like those designed by the morons at IBM (now Lenovo) where they thought that the Fn Key was more important than the Ctrl key therefore should be swapped with it and the Esc key needed to be on a separate row thereby ensuring that whenever you went to press it you hit the F1 key instead...

    Not that there aren't other examples of idiocy on laptop keyboard layouts out there as well... for example some acer models had Pg Up and Pg Dn instead of the cursor keys...

  8. Justin

    seeya going to catch some \\\\\'s

    lets hope nobody with the vostro wants to go to the \oo or have a fit of the snee\e's and have to wrtie about it..

    Did you see that doc last night about the \ebra's in \imbabwe.........

  9. Jeff Rowse
    Paris Hilton


    Look you lot, the 'QWERTY' keyboard has only been in use for over 100 years, why should Dell be expected to notice that the keys are in totally the wrong place?

    But I can't help wondering if there's an email somewhere in their system along the lines of "Helpm all of our bew Europeab keyvoards are goibg to be xonpletely nessed up! Vetter hope bovody botixes!"...

    Paris, just cos...

  10. Ian Ferguson

    'Impacted Customers'

    If I was an *affected* customer, I would be a tad nonplussed at being described as impacted...

  11. Tall

    A lot of silly comments here...

    "Makes you want to buy an Apple..." - excuse me, what makes you buy an Apple? Two thousand quid burning a hole in your pocket?

    Dell is making company leaner and better, which is great! There are plenty of jobs on the market for those who have any IT skills. So stop bitching, if you can't stand the heat - get out of the kitchen.

  12. Curtis Crowson

    It isn't the shift at all

    It isn't the left shift key being to big. It is the" |/" key which is over the enter key on my keyboard and all of the keyboards that I can think of but on this keyboard the enter key is so big that there isn't room for it. So they shifted it down to the next row shifting all of the other keys over.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    I think you have a wierd keyboard....

    I think they (Old El Reg) mean UK keyboard not europe wide, as that looks like a £ sign on the 3 key to me.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Acer laptop keyboards

    Aint much better - a range of models have curved keyboards which make touch typing impossible.

    No - I do not have a crappy Acer but my mother does and it's a friggin nightmare.

  15. Brian Miller

    \| is misplaced

    Curtis is right, the \| key has been placed where the Z is supposed to be, and then they moved everything over by one. I have three laptops here that agree with my main keyboard.

  16. Paul Smith
    IT Angle

    Re: A lot of silly comments here...

    "if you can't stand the heat - get out of the kitchen."

    So now we are into cooking! Where's the IT angle to that?

  17. Richard Gadsden

    It is the shift

    Curtis Crowson is probably an American. The standard UK layout has the |\ key between left shift and Z and a two-row Return key. There are also a number of other differences:

    Shift - 2 is " not @

    Shift - 3 is £ not #

    There is a #~ key to the right of the ' key

    Shift - ' is @ not "

    Shift - ` is ¬ not ~

    The net effect is that there is one extra key, and the two additional symbols are £ and ¬

  18. Steven Cox

    @ seeya going to catch some \\\\\'s

    "Did you see that doc last night about the \ebra's in \imbabwe........."

    do you not mean:

    "the \evra's ib \invavwe"

    although probably would have been harder to work and and would loose some of the comic effect u were going for :P

  19. Dale

    @Curtis Crowson

    Ah, that would be the migratory backslash, as I like to call it. Although most of the other keys tend to stay put*, in my experience I have encountered the backslash key in no less than six different locations on various different keyboards. I remapped the keyboard on my work PC so that backslash would be where I like it. Confuses my colleagues when it doesn't match up with the labels on the keys, and confuses me when I have to type on someone else's PC. But I like it.

    * Excluding UK/US differences, non-English systems and, apparently, Vostros.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward

    I use an oldish MS Natural keyboard, I have been for 10+ years and I can touch type on it fine.

    Obviously because I am used to it.

    But... I can also touch type on any other type of straight keyboard, and the other revisions of "natural" keyboards which are all slightly different angles etc.

    If you can't touch type because of a slightly different postion, don't call your style of typing touch typing, you are obviously not doing it correctly.

  21. Mel Collins

    Not just UK/US

    From what I remember of keyboard layouts, the whole "extra wide left shift" thing is mostly a US keyboard trait. Keyboards for most other countries/languages in the world use a narrower left-shift and an additional key.

    Similarly, the double-height enter key appears to be the modal style internationally.

  22. Ivan Headache

    @ Richard Gadsden

    <The standard UK layout has the |\ key between left shift and Z and a two-row Return key. There are also a number of other differences:

    Shift - 2 is " not @

    Shift - 3 is £ not #

    There is a #~ key to the right of the ' key

    Shift - ' is @ not "

    Shift - ` is ¬ not ~ >

    I wonder if there is more than one "standard" UK keyboard. Most of the NOT statements you make are TRUE statements on a standard UK Apple keyboard. The key that is immediatly to the right of the left shift on the dell is located one row higher and under the lip of the return key (and vice versa) on an Apple. As others have pointed out, the left shift key is definitely too big and causing the problem.

    I know it's "what you get used to" but I can't understand why the PC keyboard put the @ on shift ', when logically shift ' ought to be ", i.e. all the important punctuation keys are together. @ was never a regular requirement 'till the interweb arrived so why was it given such a prominent place all those years ago?

    Not a rant, just a curious muse.

  23. Tom Kelsall

    Let's remember that...

    ...this is TheRegister dot CO dot UK. Any story not specifying otherwise will likely be about the impact of something ON THE UK.

    The UK standard keyboard is as others have said quite different to the US and the backslash is next to the ZED. Yes. I said "ZED". So sue me already.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rotten UK keyboard

    I for one don't appreciate that \| key between Shift and Z

    Would much prefer the long shift key instead... But not the way Dell have done it, obviously.

    There are a few laptops that put \| somewhere else, like just to the left of the backspace key, or tucked in by the space bar. Much better.

    While I'm ranting... what bloody use are the characters ¬ and ¦ ?

    <flame>Well, could be worse, could be a Mac: they have an even more useless key between Shift and Z, and no # character</flame>

  25. A J Stiles

    On the continent

    On the Continent, the less-than and more-than symbols are on the key between LH Shift and Z [or W] where the backslash and pipe symbols are on a British keyboard.

    In less civilised nations, the LH Shift key butts directly up against the Z.

  26. Big Al

    Czech out

    "the Z has to be between the A and S... look on ANY other keyboard and that's where it sits"

    As a perfectly legal alien, I switch between the QWERTY and QWERTZ layouts dozens of times a day, being in Central Europe and all...

    Sounds like someone hasn't come to terms with living in the Global Village yet ;)

  27. Chris Bennett

    Varying Keyboard Layouts

    I have my Acer Travelmate 8006 and works' HP Compaq nc6400 on my desk and both have different layouts on this row...


    Left Shift Z X ... N M , . / \


    Left Shift \ Z X ... N M , . /

    Z is in the right place on both, the Acer has a larger Left Shift though. The \ | key moves from one end of the row to the other.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ivan Headache

    That's a little simplistic. PCs originally took off as flashy ledger books. The @ key was very useful. Quotes are only useful once you start word-processing.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hah! those of us enlightened Ubuntu users don't have to deal with The Man messing with our keyboards! We just . . . wait a sec . . . um, never mind . . .

  30. Robert Hill

    Want the "China Price" on your equippment???

    Then get used to keyboards designed by Chinamen that don't touch type with the Roman alphabet. I would bet £10 the reason for that screw-up is because the supplier wanted to use the same keys for the left and right shift, one mould rather than two. Probably saves $0.05 per keyboard.

    And you can get lead paint on your children's toys, contaminated heparin, and anti-freeze in your toothpaste.

    Oh, yeah, and massive layoffs in your own country.

    You get what you buy people...

  31. Nexox Enigma

    Looks like...

    So it looks like they tried to use the same keyboard underside as the US layout to save some pennies, then just didn't realize that there was a placement issue.

    And yeah there have been bad keyboards before (frequently from Dell) where people will put Delete by the space bar and the Windows key by the page up/down keys. And putting the Fn key in the lower left spot is irritating as hell, because things don't close when I hit Fn-C, and by the time I figure out that I haven't hit Ctrl, I'm generally pissed.

    Then again I've gotten so used to 92% sized keyboards on laptops that I have trouble with any full sized models. Guess I'll have to live with Fujitsu ultra portables and that HP 2133 sexmotron...

  32. Martin

    This happened because someone decided to be tidy....

    On my Dell keyboard, the LH shift is very small, and the RH shift is very long. It obviously offended someone's sense of what looks good, and so they made both shift keys the same size - without considering what would happen to the bottom line of keys....

    How on EARTH could this have got through any sort of testing?

    (Asked and answered, I suspect...!)

    You wouldn't get this problem with Ubuntu....

  33. Gavin

    All the right keys...

    So let me get this straight - the keyboard features all the right keys, but not necessarily in the right order?

    Ill get my coat, im off early anyway as its a bank holiday weekend!

  34. Herby

    Doesn't anyone have a screwdriver?

    It seems that with some small mechanical work (why the screwdriver comes to mind) one could pop off the keys and do a proper left shift on the row. Of course the '\|' key will probably be on the other side (next to the '/?' key) but that is small stuff.

    The programming change is left as an exercise to the student.

    All fo this reminds me of the @#$%^&* VT-220 keyboard that had an extra ('<>') key between the 'Z' key and th shift key. Made it terrible for the reasonable typists in us.

    The lesson: Don't muck with what works. Just to be different doesn't work (at all!).

  35. Jesse Bartholomew

    Dell is not the only ones

    Take a look at the new Acer 5720's They have tried to cram every conceivable language onto the damn keyboard so the enter key is now vertical and pushed the backslash to the left so you constantly get things that are followed by a backslash and not a return as expected\


    Mines the one that speaks 10 different languages, but doesn't do english

  36. Anonymous Coward


    Capital initial letter for countries and other proper names, please.

    The \ebras should be in |imbabwe, not \imbabwe.

  37. Dazed and Confused

    Bloody PC keyboards

    All PC keyboards are c**p why did they put the escape key three and a half weeks march north west of the keyboard. How am I supposed to be able to touch type on that. Put the [ESC] key back just outside the left shift key where it's supposed to be like the old HP IFT keyboards. This stupid layout really slows down vi.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Dell is unprofitable and should do something about it

    These idiotic mistakes are simply the result of a company which is continuously downsizing because it's not making any money by selling PC's. They should do something about this by shipping Ubuntu Linux as standard on ALL PC's so the profit actually ends up in THEIR wallet instead of Microsoft's.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Ah the good old days....

    ... when the keys actually clicked, and they had a sheet of steel in the keyboard to make it HEAVIER! I always throw the company's keyboard in a drawer and use my 15-yr-old IBM Model M5-1.

    Looking at the Vostro keyboard, the OBVIOUS solution would be to put that bottom-left key (backslash, pipe) at the bottom-right. Sorted!!

    I'll go quietly ....

  40. Barry Rueger

    @ Anon Coward

    --- Makes you want to buy an Apple...

    You mean like my G4 Powerbook, where the key labeled "Delete" actually backspaces?

  41. Craig Peters
    Thumb Down

    oh vo,e om I see mo pronlem with ,y laptop

    This is just amother ober the top artivle fro, The Register. I ,eam there is mothimg wromg with this keynoard

  42. Corrine

    @Rotten UK Keyboard

    You get a ¬ symbol? Lucky bastards.

  43. Peter Gold badge

    No, no, no, It's SUPPOSED to be that way.

    For chrissakes, don't you learn history at school? The whole idea behind the QWERTY layout is to SLOW DOWN your typing, so from an engineering point of view, Dell has abundantly delivered on requirement with those keyboards.

    If you want fast entry you better switch to DVORAK or stop complaining.

    [for those challenged in the humour department, this was a joke. It's Friday. Relax. Go for a drink. Shag someone. Chill. Whatever. And I'll even leave the pun in for you. Do read it again.]

  44. Keith Doyle

    @Ivan Headache

    Some of us may remember that the old mechanical typewriters, even in the US, had the " on the 2-- and in fact, had no 1 key as you used lower-case L for that. There was an @ sign even then though, on this model it was over the "cent" symbol on the right:

    That site has a nice collection of old typewriter images

    Many old mechanicals had a 1/2 symbol as well.

    For those who really miss the old days, you could make yourself one of these:

    What I think is the most ridiculous is that we're using asterisk and slash for multiply and divide on a machine that is designed for calculations-- we don't even have proper math symbols and only because the original machines had to adapt available teletype equipment. Most of what's on our keyboard is due to legacy, not optimum design...

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Serves you right for buying a Dell.

    And I can't believe nobody else has said it, either.


  46. Richard Boyce
    Thumb Up

    I want a large left shift key

    I've long searched for a desktop keyboard with a decent-sized left shift key, since I'm right-handed and don't need a shift key on the right. The person who made the small left shift key a UK standard must be a left-hander having some revenge on the majority.

    Who makes desktop UK Qwerty keyboards with a wide left shift key, eg by having the backslash key in a better position? Even better if they have Enter and Backspace keys with a decent width too.

  47. Colin Wilson

    Dammit, someone mentioned the model M

    ...the nearest you can get to keyboard porn (or nirvana, take your pick) :-)

    As soon as I get a few quid spare i'm treating myself to one ! (

    Dammit, i'm thinking "go on, order it now" but I know the credit card is a little tight this month :-/

  48. Steve Skipper

    Dell Boy

    Didn't their namesake once have a problem shifting some doggy calculators with no equal sign?

  49. sauerkraut

    Z has to be between the A and S

    bullshit, the z has got to be between t and u, 7 and h.

    when will you blokes get yourself civilized keyboards?

  50. David Morris

    Then there was always

    ...that cheap keyboard we put on a server that had the power off key where the page-up should have been. Oops.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    @Nexox Enigma

    "things don't close when I hit Fn-C, and by the time I figure out that I haven't hit Ctrl, I'm generally pissed."

    How quickly do you drink a pint?

  52. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    What a good laugh

    What ever happened to the faster and more natural sensible logical Dvorak keyboard layout, for Qwerty was deliberately designed to slow down typing speed , so this Dell variant is obviously a newer scam for the same reason !

    @ac was right a good typist will automatically adjust to the keyboard layout , because many laptops and notebooks made have had variations of keyboard layouts from makers and models up and down the range !

    As a certain young lady would say "Nice storm in a teacup !" and with apologies to Nelson "Ha! Ha!" !

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keyboard layouts...

    "could be a keyboard like those designed by the morons at IBM"

    They actually made pretty good keyboards. The place of the fn key was choosen by toshiba years earlier and since ibm hired a japanese designer for the thinkpads, he put the fn key where it's used to be on other japanese laptops. The same goes for the placement of the escape key. This was the only way to fold a full qwerty keyboard into the space given without moving keys too far from their original locations. I have both a predecessor toshiba, an old ibm ps laptop and a thinkpad. The keyboard layout is the same on all modells, except the toshiba came with a trackball instead of a trackpoint.

    "All fo this reminds me of the @#$%^&* VT-220 keyboard that had an extra ('<>') key between the 'Z' key and th shift key."

    Actually, that's the place of the long i key in Hungary and on an english layout, it's where you can find the backspace and the pipe, both used for shell programming.

    All dell did was placing one key on the wrong side of the row and shifting everything because of this. They should be able to fix it, by moving the keys and patching up the keyboard controller's program at any dell service station. (if the laptops can survive long enough without catching fire or getting throwed out because of other quality issues)

  54. Ole Juul
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Varying Keyboard Layouts

    My keyboard has the enter key on the left, and all the letters are upside down.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's an "Impacted" customer?

    Definition(s) of "Impacted"


    Wedged together at the broken ends. Used of a fractured bone.

    Placed in the alveolus in a manner prohibiting eruption into a normal position. Used of a tooth.

    Wedged or packed in, so as to fill or block an organ or a passage: impacted feces.

    What's wrong with the correct "Affected"?

  56. Graham Lockley


    I thought I was a geek but bitching about keyboard layouts....

    Stuff touch typing, use 'hunt and peck' like I do, every KB is acessible then.

    Life,a,get... rearrange into a well known phrase or saying.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    Same as the Blackberry Curve

    This "same g0d d@mn feature" on the Blackberry Curve also frustrates me to no end. I Think these designers went to the same school but never typed their own college papers.

  58. Marcus Hook

    Revising American keyboards

    What I want to know is, why is it so friggin' difficult to type a Spanish n with a ~ sign above it or vowels with accents above them? I am an English-speaking US resident, and even though I don't use it terribly often there are times when I want to insert a Spanish word into an English sentence and find it difficult to do so. Given the growing Hispanic population in the US and the growing phenomenon of Spanish or Spanglish words making their way into American vernacular, there is increasing demand for those symbols.

    There are certainly plenty of other symbols that can be eliminated. Honestly, how many people still use the ^ | ` { } symbols on a regular-enough basis for them to deserve valuable piece of permanent real estate on the standard keyboard?

    Perhaps American laptops should just come with a "European" key, which when pressed in conjunction with another key produces the European equivalent. so, shift-n produces "N" and euro-n produces "n~"; shift-4 produces "$" and euro-4 produces the Euro currency symbol, euro-e produces an e with an accent, etc. Not perfect, and doesn't help with obscurer European languages like Norwegian, but saves a lot of time when typing French or English words.

    By the way, you want to see a really freaky keyboard, try taking a look at an Israeli keyboard. That keyboard is jam packed because it has to have both English and Hebrew alphabets, not to mention Hebrew is right-to-left so everything is back-asswards. Even the Start key (and Start menu) is on the right instead of the left.

  59. Michael Friesen

    QWERTY logic

    That design was NOT meant to slow down the typist. If you were to spend 60 seconds hitting keys on a manual typewriter, you'd be able to see why it was designed that way.

    The QWERTY layout was designed -- very cleverly, I might add -- to keep commonly-adjacent letter pairs from occupying arm positions that were physically close to each other.

    For example, if the "t" and the "h" arms (arms, not keys) were physically beside each other, you'd constantly have the "t" arm coming backward and hitting the "h" going forward. Instead, the typewriter was physically designed so that common pairings would physically approach the paper from very different angles -- thus allowing the first arm to get out of the way of the second.

    And don't get me started on the origins of "upper case" and "lower case".

    Mine's the coat with "grumpy old man" on the back of it.

  60. Anonymous from Mars

    @Marcus Hook

    "Honestly, how many people still use the ^ | ` { } symbols on a regular-enough basis for them to deserve valuable piece of permanent real estate on the standard keyboard?"

    Xlearly you do bot hace friebds who type ^_^ :| :{ abd :},

    This nessage writteb ob ny vrabd bew Costro,

  61. Dave Driver
    Paris Hilton

    Eee keyboard

    Surprised no-one has mentioned the Eee PC here. One of the most annoying faults about this otherwise brilliant bit of kit is the placement of the \ and | keys. These are ON the Zed key. To get a \ you need to press Fn + Z, and to get a | you need to press shift + Fn + Z. Pretty annoying when trying to do vi-style command completion and shell scripting. This is a Linux machine after all.

    Bring back the ZX-80 keyboard...

    Still waiting for the Eee girl as an emoticon, so Paris will have to do.

  62. This post has been deleted by its author

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not many coders here today then

    they'd know what the | and ^ keys are really for.

  64. A J Stiles

    @ Michael Friesen

    There was one slight flaw in the plan with the QWERTY keyboard. That is that the word list used by the designer seems not to have included any past tenses.

    As a result of which, the typebars for E and D (which are actually a very common pair, if you write anything with past tenses in it) ended up adjacent to one another.

    Of course, by the time this was discovered it was already too late to change it, because of the phenomenon of "muscle memory". Try dialling your best friend's number on an antique phone with a dial, or a novelty phone with a non-standard keypad layout. If you find it extraordinarily difficult then it is most probably because you have memorised the poisitions of the keys on your own phone, not the actual number.

  65. tempemeaty
    Thumb Down

    Just wondering...

    Did Dell hand off the design & layout of the keyboard completely to a Chinese engineering team? A Chinese team not versed in the importance of standard keyboard layout?

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris Bennett

    I have an Acer Laptop too, and the layout is the same as you say.

    In fact, with its bigger left shift key, it is almost identical as the Vostro keyboard - except that obviously, the letters are all in the right place since they moved the |\ key to the left of the right shift key. A very good layout imho.

    Re: IBM keyboards.

    I always get really annoyed with the Fn key being in the bottom left corner. That's where the Ctrl key should be. To be fair, I've seen that on a lot of laptops keyboards, and I still think that Ctrl should be at the bottom left, and Fn to the right of it - not the other way around!

    Considering my IBM Thinkpad at work has a Windows image and is getting a bit old now, I can't wait to have it replaced with a Lenovo Thinkpad - with an added Win key on the keyboard.

  67. Sooty

    @Marcus Hook

    "Honestly, how many people still use the ^ | ` { } symbols on a regular-enough basis for them to deserve valuable piece of permanent real estate on the standard keyboard?"

    well i pretty much use them on a daily basis, but i am a software developer

  68. sleepy

    It's not Dell's fault

    Dell product design is now outsourced to the far east along with manufacture (badge engineering). How were Dell to know this is what would be shipped to the UK market?

    And for those complaining about Apple keyboards, Apple made PC's before IBM copied, and they didn't incorporate IBM's typewriter and punched card legacy baggage. Apple has already sacrificed several superior design features just to make Mac familiar for Microsoft Windows users. Just buy a Windows keyboard for your Mac if you're a terminal Microtard.

  69. Damien Jorgensen
    Gates Halo


    Who cares?

    Its a shit laptop with a shit keyboard, get over it.

    Its hardly worth a story, who gives a damn if they keyboard is a qwerty one? It makes no sodding difference

  70. Shabble

    PC keyboard numberpad

    The current location of the PC keyboard numberpad forces the mouse further to the right than is desirable, leading to in increased risk of RSI. Having the numberpad on the left would make computing a more comfortable experience for many millions of computer users.

  71. Ishkandar

    @Rotten UK keyboard

    You've obviously never written a script in Unix using a pipe !!

    @Herby - In the days of yore, when knights were gore, we had nice little things called "chip-pullers" which had a double function of pulling out key caps !! And there's nothing wrong with the VT220 keyboard. It's just like the VT100 keyboard, just thinner and less "clicky" !!

    @Dazed and Confused - serves you right for using crappy HP keyboards. Nowt wrong with VT100s !!

    @Corrine - to solve your problem, just buy a replacement keyboard from Tesco for the princely sum of £4.99 !!

    @Ole Juul - Ah !! You must be in Australia !!

    @Marcus Hook - Try a Chinese keyboard, mate !! They DON'T have an alphabet at all !! Then graduate to an "East Asian" keyboard that *supposedly* satisfy not just the Chinese (both traditional and simplified Chinese) but the Japanese and Korean languages and then tell me about crowded !!

    @Dave Driver - Tough. So use ed or sed instead vi !! Children !! So spoilt these days !! When I were a lad.....

  72. Ishkandar

    What I want to know... which idiot decided to remap the numeric keypad onto the alpha keys where there already are the same characters on other keys !! This looks like a typical "Chinese" keyboard that is capable of more than just ASCII, Unicode8 perhaps !! I suspect that various shift-function key combinations will produce partial Chinese characters if the "language" is set to "Chinese" in the o/s !!

  73. R Callan

    Windows key

    Why to most (all?) keyboards come with 2 "windows" keys? On this system they are not even mapped (I'm too lazy to do so). If you need a shortcut ctrl esc worked fine with the old "Windows" OS's I used to use. In my experience most mere users are far happier to use the mouse (yuck) than the keyboard. Get rid of the Winders keys and there are 2 more spaces for essentials.

  74. Daniel Nebdal

    Re: Revising US keyboards

    There's already a modifier key you can use to do much of what you ask for in the "Euro key" in AltGr. With an US-international layout, AltGr N gives you ñ (alt AltGr E does indeed give € . They've even snuck in ÆØÅ in some random free spots.)

    Of course, I'm partial to what I'm used to (no surprise there) - the standard norwegian layout. I've got a norwegian-layout mobel M here, and using that as a base:

    * There's a number of dead keys you can use to build characters. I can type èéêëñ without too much trouble - as an example, é is AltGr+\ , followed by an e.

    * Shift and dot, comma, hyphen gives the entirely logical colon, semicolon, underscore

    * I like having ,.- on the right of M, but I guess that's a matter of taste.

    There's a few downsides, though - I've got the quite useless ¤ as shift 4, with $ dowgraded to altGr 4. This makes PHP and shellscripts even less fun to type.

    Ditto for {[]} - that's AltGr 7890. A fragment like " =$arr[$x][$y];} " is downright fiddly to get right.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bunch of retards

    The word Dell should be associated with incompetence, not computers.

  76. Marcus Hook

    more suggested keyboard layout revisions

    OK, so programmers use some of the obscure symbols like | and {} on a regular basis. This discussion board is obviously geek-heavy, but overall I'd imagine only a tiny proportion of keyboard-users are programmers.

    While we're discussing possible reorganizing of the keyboard ... Do people still use the F1...F12 keys? Personally I will occasionally hit F1 as a quick way to call up Help, and will use F5 on my company's laptop to turn the projector display on during presentations, but I haven't touched F2-F4 or F6-F12 in years.

    For that matter, I find PrntScrn quite useful but haven't touched Scroll Lock, Pause/Break, Home, or End in years. Do people still use those?

  77. Kanhef

    re: Windows key

    Who needs the 'right click' key either, since Apple is the only company to ship single-button mice in recent memory?

    Sun still makes keyboards with the left control and caps lock keys reversed, and escape to the left of `. It's nice, though it tends to lead to shouting from inexperienced users.

    For another awkward layout, the Russian keyboard puts , and . on the shift-6 and -7 keys.

  78. RKP

    @ Marcus Hook

    It's not just programmers who use those keys but kids on chat programs.

    As for your European/Spanish needs have you discovered the ALT key and the keypad? eg: é ù ì á ½ ¼ Ñ ñ all of these can be found there...

    That is hold down ALT and type in 164 to get: ñ explore away hehehe

  79. david Silver badge

    Do people still use the F1...F12 keys?

    They had no value in that position after people switched to on-screen menus.

    They were switched from the LEFT (where they were on the original IBM PC) to the top to match standard IBM keyboards, where they were used as programmed function keys, exactly the same way an on-screen menu works. They continued in that use until we switched to on-screen menus.

    The problem is that those function keys along the top are easier to see, but much more difficult to get to (don't ask me why). They are great when you are looking down to see the menu (they were always labelled when in use), but much harder to find when not looking. (That's why the number keys are duplicated to the right).

    If they were switched back to the side, they would find immediate use in games again. But the thing is, switching them back to the left would make the keyboard narrower and longer, and it's already long enough and thin enough.

  80. Anonymous Coward

    the Shift key is not the problem

    I don't think the Shift key on that Vostro is too big. As other people have pointed out, the problem is that the \ key is located between the Z and the Shift key, which shifts everything else to the right.

    On my Keytronic (U.S. style) keyboard, the Backspace key is the same size as a letter key, and the \ key is to the left of it (that is, between the Backspace key and the = key). The makers of the Vostro could put it there if they reduced the size of the Backspace key.

    Generally speaking, a large Enter key (like the one on the Vostro) should be accompanied by a small Backspace key, or vice-versa. If the Enter key is smaller (that is, if its height is equal to the height of one row), then the \ key can be placed directly above the Enter key, to the right of the ] key. It is pretty dumb to make a keyboard (compact or not) that has a large Enter key as well as a large Backspace key.

    In summary, the Shift key is not too big. The problem is that either the Backspace key or the Enter should be smaller, and the \ key should be relocated. We need better analysis, please.

  81. dv

    RE: Big Al

    Yes, I can see your pain, being in the middle of Prague and all... but I have disposed of this problem by using a "czech QWERTY" layout instead. So when switching to czech (being a programmer, I don't type accented symbols very much at all), I don't have to re-train my brain to the goddamn awful QWERTZ layout.

    QWERTZ btw comes unto us from the beloved country of Germany, among other fantastic things like latex use in movies and big beautiful blonde women eating bratwursts. Meh. Mine's the zellow one with y's and z's all mixed up.

  82. Dave Driver

    Command completion


    Yes I know how to use ed and sed thanks. Perhaps you would like to explain how that helps me with command completion in ksh or bash? It's not like there's a "set -o ed" mode.

    In the same post you commented about writing Unix scripts - perhaps you think it is a good thing that you need three fingers to type a "|" character?

    It helps if you are actually smart before you try to be a smartarse!

  83. stizzleswick

    @ Marcus Hook (et al.)

    "Do people still use the F1...F12 keys?" -- those are extremely useful for those of us who use Photoshop a lot -- using them, you can build your own keyboard shortcuts for all those often-used functions Adobe didn't think it necessary to provide keyboard shortcuts for.

    Re the old IBM keyboards: my personal favourite of all time was the Keytronic model 4. Not cheap at all, but sturdy and never-miss tactile feedback. Unfortunately, mine had a caffeine allergy and Keytronic stopped making them a decade ago...

    And if you want flexibility with "foreign" characters, like it or not, Apple provides them on all their keyboard layouts, most placed more or less mnemonically. Like Ø being alt-shift-o, å alt-a, umlauts made by alt-u followed by base letter, and so on. And the € is alt-e.

    And what is that "windows" key for? I haven't been able to find out yet because it doesn't do anything on Linux...

  84. Mike Mike

    You Poor Brits


    For once Europe get's 1st crack at something new and they screw it up for you guys.

    I have notice that for most launches, it is either Japan or the US with it first and Euro to follow up with a later release date.

    Here is a new model lineup and for once you guys get first crack at it and BAM - they screw it up.

    What a JIP

  85. Anonymous Coward


    "A limited number of Dell Vostro 1310 and 1510 laptops in Europe have been sent out with the wrong keyboard layout..."

    As opposed to what? An *infinite* number of them?

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are Vostro owners using QWERTY anyway?

    Seems a bit daft in this day and age to be using QWERTY anyway. If you want to type at a decent speed, switch to Dvorak. None of this 'ooh, we need to put keys in an inconvenient location so our typewriter can keep up'. You can buy Dvorak key boards if you want, or just pull the keys off a keyboard you've got spare and re-arrange them.

    As for those mentioning RSI, Dvorak helps with that as well (one of the reasons I swapped from Qwerty), no more excessive finger stretching. Ahh, I hear you say 'but it's really difficult to learn' - nope, just get on with it and you'll be able to touch type on both layouts.

    Plus, if you're having trouble with the number pad on the right forcing you to stretch for your mouse, then use your mouse with your left hand. Doesn't take long to learn either. Mouse on the right at home, left at work, should keep away those RSI blues for at least twice as long...


  87. Christopher E. Stith

    Clearly, get rid of caps lock and put control back in its rightful place...

    Then you can make the shift twice as tall instead of extra wide without messing with people's backslashes and letters, if you really need the extra surface area.

    BTW, where the heck are my other 12 function keys? Why the heck do I have keys for launching a web browser and calculator and no reverse video button? Where's the character/line mode key?

    Damn bitty box fools.

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Silly Xubt

    Say no more!

  89. Mike


    I assume those suggesting dvorak have never looked at the list of keyboard layouts included with the OS (every OS i've looked on) or they would see that dvorak is not really too practical for anyone except yanks, as there is no option for a dvorak keyboard with standard symbols, only USA symbols! (you need to make a custom keyboard layout file for it - including on vista and the few linux distros i've checked so it's not even a case of the OS being pre-dvorak)

    the correct layout for the second to bottom row of a standard UK keyboard is:

    Small Shift \zxcvbnm,./ Big Shift - lower case

    Small Shift |ZXCVBNM<>? Big Shift - holding shift

    however many laptops to save on costs use the US base with UK keytops on giving a bigger shift key on the left, in this case they move the \| key to a different location to avoid shifting the keys along (i have 4 laptops, each has it in a different location!) - this appears to be where dell have screwed up, in not moving that key when using a US base (and the fix is of course a quick move of the keys and update the key mapping, probably a firmware update)

    just don't get me started on the | key which has ¦ printed on it, whilst the ¦ key has | printed on it! (for those who don't know how to type that symbol, AltGr, as with all symbols) however linux so helpfuly decides to make both of them in to | keys

    also worth noting that the euro key is on AltGR+4, some keyboards have it printed on the key but some don't - not sure if it's just me but as far as i can tell at one point pre-euro they seemed to all have it on, these days with use of the euro symbol being common it seems to be 50/50 if it has it printed or not

    for typing other european languages, for french accents you can hold AltGr and type the letter, for others i have no idea... (except Alt+number of course) anyone?

  90. Steve Lupton

    'Right Click' key


    "Who needs the 'right click' key either, since Apple is the only company to ship single-button mice in recent memory?"

    Er. Right click on a Mac is CTRL+Click. Mac's have never had a 'right click' key - it is something which appeared on 'Windows' keyboards at the same time as the Start key.

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