I am sketching designs for a prospective minimalist personal computer keyboard.
I am considering omitting a TAB key. In this case, a user needing a tab would press some function key together with one of the other keys on the keyboard to get a tab. Many laptop keyboards require the user to press FN and ↓ to simulate PgDn.
I do not think asking the user to press CTRLI will work: although some programs do not distinguish between CTRLI and TAB (as in this R mini-program:
if ( ! length ( dev.list () ) ) dev.new () ; getGraphicsEvent ( onKeybd = function ( k ) print ( k ) )), some do (e.g., Libre Office, where pressing TAB moves the cursor to the next tab position, while CTRLI toggles italics).
Some of us used or still use computers that do not have TAB keys. The Commodore business and personal computers of the late 1970's to mid 1980's, for example, had no TAB keys (e.g., the Commodore 64).
To restate the question, Can I expect modern personal computer users to be productive on a personal computer that has no tab key? Maybe I want to manufacture tens of thousands of these things and install them in my business locations for my employees.
For clarification, I would not consider eliminating the TAB key if I thought users (in a somewhat controlled environment with a limited software suite) would need to perform tab operations frequently.