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Windows 7 previewed at D6

Biggest news today is that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer last night previewed Windows 7 at the All Things Digital conference. From the details revealed, the future of Windows is multi-touch in a big way. Full details of the interview and video can be found at engadget (and here), osnews and allthingsdigital.

While it looks very impressive, I’m a bit puzzled at the big focus on multi-touch interfaces. While they work great for a handheld device, or a tablet PC, they’re not so great for a desktop PC where lifting your arms to the screen constantly would quickly become tiring for a lot of users. Tablet PC’s have so far met little success, so does this mean they will become the focus again for Windows 7? I can’t see big business adopting multi-touch interfaces any time soon, where home users are more likely to embrace a tactile interface. Hopefully someone is developing a fingerprint resistant screen to go with this.

Also, Apple are already using multi touch trackpads in their laptops and screens for handheld devices, and a Mac tablet is rumoured for later this year. Apple have the next two years to continue developing and refining the technology, and could have a complete multi-touch range of computers on sale before Windows 7 is released. And since Apple make the hardware and software it’s likely to happen a lot faster and smoother than a Microsoft led software initiative waiting for hardware manufacturers to catch up. The next version of Leopard will probably ship in the first half of 2009 if Apple sticks to the 18 month release cycle, so we could even see two releases before Windows 7.

While multi-touch is an interesting technology Microsoft may be better served letting us know how they plan to address the many complaints against the perceived failure that is Vista.

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