Why do modern keyboards have Scroll Lock?

  • The Scroll Lock key is useless in the modern day, and some higher-end keyboards don't even have it:

    Logitech Wave Keyboard

    Same can be said for the Pause and Break keys, but however it pauses the BIOS POST output on many computers, so it's a useful key (some older games also use it to pause the game).

    The Scroll Lock key doesn't do anything: it doesn't even lock scrolling as its name suggests. I can understand that some older keyboards have this key, but not the newer ones such as the keyboards bundled with many OEM computers these days; it's not like any newer computer is likely to run an older operating system such as Windows 9x. Games that use the Scroll Lock key may not even be compatible with newer operating systems.

    Is there a historical reason for this or are keyboard designers just plain lazy to get rid of this useless key?

    Actually, Microsoft Excel at least still uses the scroll lock key. I don't know of any other software that does off the top of my head, but as long as one popular program uses it, it probably won't go away.

    Rolled back and edited so that `pause` and `break` are separate keys; on some keyboards such as my own they are separate keys.

    The ```scroll lock``` key exists so that I can remap it to another keyboard macro :-)

    Manufacturing processes are very expensive to setup and change. It is cheaper to leave the `scroll lock` key in place for the few people still using it.

    Don't see it on my mac keyboard, but I guess I can conjure scroll lock with SHIFT+FN+F12.

    That toy in the photograph, despite being expensive, is certainly not a high-end keyboard! You might want this, and yes it has a Scroll Lock.

    The fact that manufacturing processes are expensive to set up does not explain why these keys are on keyboards that were designed in the last few years.

    Great question. Maybe of interest to you - my laptop (a 2015 dell xps) doesn't have a scroll lock key. I suspect there is a strange combination of keys I could use if I really needed it, but there is nothing visual on the keyboard anymore to indicate it. Or pause or break as it happens. The thing I most miss is the turbo button on desktops :)

  • msw

    msw Correct answer

    7 years ago

    There are a zillion bits of legacy code out there many of which have appropriated the "junk" keys for application purposes.

    You've not seen many of them because they are internal, mission-critical programs for which the cost of re-writing and re-training are huge.

    To the best of my knowledge you can still put a floppy into a modern windows machine, run the 1985 version of Lotus 1-2-3 and it will work. Microsoft's most valuable feature is backward compatibility.

    True, however most modern machines don't include floppy drives anymore.

    I don't recall the last time I saw a floppy drive on a machine.

    @zyboxenterprises you can however still get external ones. Serial to USB converter and you're good to go...

    @DA01 I have, a few years ago. Bank was still using them to distribute security keys between offices. High encryption, specially modified drives, disks were unreadable on any other hardware but their own (hardware+software encryption, and formated to an custom format). They may have switched to some encrypted USB stick for that purpose by now, but that was still in use until recently.

    @jwenting one of the security features of a such custom floppy-disks is that they are far more difficult to reverse-engineer than a custom USB drive. That's just as much of a counter-usability UX pattern for the use-cases involved

    Actually, you can't run old DOS programs in Windows. You can't even run 16-bit Windows apps (Windows 3.11) anymore. (You can run DOS Box, though, which will let you run the very old stuff, but DOS Box is not a Microsoft product.)

    @JohnDeters thanks for the info, but color me dejected for now I must come up with a better example.

    @JohnDeters Yes, but you can boot in DOS. I played Duke Nukem 3d on a laptop, without sound of course, but it runs no prob. But even for DOS I don't remember usage of scroll lock key.

    There's nothing more sensical than putting a physical key that is useless in 99.999% of modern computing on _every computer keyboard in existence_. While Microsoft's most valuable feature is back-compat, it's the less-than-forward thinking that makes them lag behind the market in usability in, well, pretty much 100% of cases. It's not a good tradeoff. As an engineer myself, I can say that 40 year old features are costlier to maintain than update, and this is a _baaaad_ excuse.

    @jwenting your concept of "high encryption" is exceptionally flawed if you think that _any_ floppy drive encryption is hard to break by modern standards. It is absolutely terrifying that a bank is distributing security keys via floppy disks "recently" (IE within the last 10 years).

    Part of the reason that hardware can phase out is if it's unreliable/wears out: ZIP drives (click...click...click...) as well as 3.5" disks, so you'd have to replace it anyways, and at some point the cost to replace gets so high, it's smaller than the cost of switching.

    @dudewad: IE is an old, awful browser. Whereas i.e. is the abbreviated form of the Latin phrase "id est", roughly meaning "that is". :-) You're welcome!

    @LawrenceDol You are a gentleman and a scholar, thank you for clarifying.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM