Comfort On-Screen Keyboard is an application that displays a virtual keyboard on your screen, which you can then use as well as (or instead of) a physical keyboard.
The program has many applications. It's helpful for anyone who can't use a keyboard, for instance. If someone doesn't know how to type then it'll avoid the need to keep moving their eyes from the keyboard, to the monitor, and back again. And it's easy to switch between languages, a real time-saver if you regularly need to use different language layouts.
There's multi-touch support for Windows 7 and compatible hardware, too. So, if you're planning to create a console-type PC with no keyboard at all then this is the perfect application.
Whatever your reasons for trying Comfort On-Screen Keyboard, you'll appreciate its wide range of keyboard layouts. You get 50 in this version: there are regular QWERTY layouts, alphabetical layouts for non-typists, multimedia layouts with volume controls, "Play" and "Stop" buttons, right down to simple numeric keypads for easier on-screen calculations. Each layout can be further customised with your choice from 14 themes.
If you're a competent typist then an on-screen keyboard will always be slower than the real thing, of course, but Comfort On-Screen Keyboard does have a couple of clever tricks to improve performance. A "gestures" feature allows fast entering of capital letters, spaces and so on, while Autocomplete intelligently completes words as you're typing them.
And, best of all, the program works just about everywhere, with all Windows applications. You can even have it load during the boot process, and use the virtual keyboard to log on.
There is also a reduced version of the program, Comfort On-Screen Keyboard Lite, which is around half the price ($9.95). It's missing all the best features, though - gestures, autocomplete, multitouch support, colour themes and more - so unless you're entirely sure they're unnecessary, we'd say the Pro version is the best choice.
The most configurable virtual keyboard app that you'll find anywhere