Most keyboard manufacturers now offer keyboards without numeric keypads. On some Apple models, this is actually the default. Personally, I like the keypad, and since I'm left-handed, I never thought about the added distance. But you're right -- that extra distance probably IS annoying. Second, many software programs now offer the option to shift toolbars from the top to the side (or anywhere you want, really). Adobe's creative suite of graphics programs allows this, as done the Apple OS.
I don't think Microsoft has caught on yet, but give them another few years and they'll figure it out.
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