Windows 7 To Feature Touchscreen Technology

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Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have presented a demo of the new Windows 7, which will feature touchscreen technology much like Apple’s iPhone.

The presentation was made at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference that ends on Thursday. Included below is a video that shows all the “new” features that were demonstrated at D.

With the new Windows 7, it would seem that the team at Microsoft have switched their inspirational focus from Apple’s Mac OS X (obviously emulated to create the disappointing Windows Vista) to Apple’s iPhone OS.

Microsoft has named the touchscreen technology “Multitouch”, from the ability to perform multiple actions simultaneously. It is the biggest addition to the new OS and will be available system-wide. The screen used in the demo is made by Tyco Electronics. Their Elo TouchSystems are already used in computer kiosks.

A number of applications that could use the Multitouch technology were shown in the demonstration. These included a photography application that enables simpler handling, resizing and positioning of images. There was also an on-screen piano keyboard that showed off the software’s responsiveness.

There are a number of hand motions included in the OS such as pinch-to-zoom and touch-to-flip that anyone who’s used an iPhone will recognise. The mapping application is like a cross between Google Maps and the Maps application on the iPhone.

The taskbar is new, resembling a pie-shaped menu that lays out options in radial slices which apparently makes it faster to navigate.

While touch technology works well on portable devices, is it actually going to be useful for desktop computing? In an interesting rant on Silicon Alley Insider, usability is questioned. “Do you really want to wave your arms in the air when you could rest them comfortable on the keyboard?” the article asks.

To the disappointment of many, Microsoft’s Windows 7 will not be a re-write, contrary to some speculation. It will utilise the same kernel as its Vista operating system with one of its design goals being complete backwards-compatibility with Vista.


Video: Multi-Touch in Windows 7

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