Windows 7 Will Ship with Very Cool Multi-Touch Software

Some see the touch interface as the next big thing in personal computing, while others view it as a gimmick that won't replace traditional input devices anytime soon. I'm split on the issue. The success of Apple's iPhone proves that touch, if done correctly, is a great way to navigate a digital device, particularly one that's handheld, petite, and portable.

Some see the touch interface as the next big thing in personal computing, while others view it as a gimmick that won't replace traditional input devices anytime soon. I'm split on the issue. The success of Apple's iPhone proves that touch, if done correctly, is a great way to navigate a digital device, particularly one that's handheld, petite, and portable.

Windows 7: Why I'm Rolling It Out Early

Five Windows 7 Features IT Must Prep For Now

Microsoft is bullish on touch and has been developing the technology for several years. In 2007 it unveiled its Microsoft Surface technology, a multi-touch tabletop computer that may ultimately find a niche market in government, educational, and health-care kiosks. And a year ago it demoed touch features it's adding to Windows 7, which will ship this fall. For a demo of Win 7's multi-touch skills, check out this video.

Now Redmond has introduced the Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7, a set of six games and applications that are optimized for multi-touch PCs. The Touch Pack will be available to PC makers, who'll have the option of installing the software on touch-ready systems. Here's a quick rundown of what it offers:

Advertisement

· Microsoft Surface Globe: Based on the demo video, this app looks like the best thing in the Touch Pack. Navigation is a natural for touch screens, and Surface Globe, with its Virtual Earth 3D engine that lets you rotate around 3D models of buildings, makes Google Maps look low-tech by comparison. Perhaps Microsoft should incorporate Surface Globe into its upcoming Kumo search engine. The move might spur sales of Windows 7 multi-touch PCs, and give people a reason to try Kumo instead of Google Search.

Microsoft Surface Collage: The ability to resizing and organizing digital photos is another great use for touch, and that's what Surface Collage offers. I'm not sure if the app includes simple image-editing tools such as cropping, but it should.

The remaining four apps seem more like tech demos to illustrate the capabilities of multi-touch, but they could be fun just the same:

· Microsoft Blackboard: A physics puzzle that lets you use gestures to build a virtual machine of gears, fans, and seesaws.

· Microsoft Garden Pond: Gently move your origami creations in a virtual pond.

· Microsoft Rebound: A game where you "propel a ball and annihilate your opponent" on an electrified court.

· Microsoft Surface Lagoon: A screensaver where you use multi-touch to interact with the fish.

Will multi-touch someday make the keyboard and mouse obsolete? Not in the near future, certainly. But it's bound to play an increasingly important role in human-computer interaction.

This story, "Windows 7 Will Ship with Very Cool Multi-Touch Software" was originally published by PCWorld.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

Survey says! Share your insights in our 19th annual State of the CIO study