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May 28, 2008

NEWS: Gates and Ballmer Preview Windows 7, Multi-Touch

Live From All Things Digital: Gates and Ballmer Preview Windows 7, Multi-Touch

Michael is at the D6 conference in Carlsbad, California where Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates are set to take the stage this opening night and preview the user interface of Microsoft’s next operating system, known as Windows 7. It is expected to be released in 2010 and to replace Vista.

During the keynote, Corporate VP Julie Larson-Green demoed new multi-touch functionality based on the same principles as Surface. Microsoft is working with OEMs to get the multi-touch feature on at least some new machines once Windows 7 is released in 18 months or so. See a demo below and more info here.

For more coverage of Microsoft’s efforts in touch computing, see our recent coverage of TouchWall.

Putting multiple fingers on Microsoft’s Windows 7

OK, so tonight Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer showed off a tiny piece of Windows 7: that multi-touch capabilities will be built into the OS. Tons of info on this over on TechMeme.

Of course, viewers here last week had a lengthy discussion and demo with the guy who invented these features inside Microsoft Research.

Why aren’t they leading with Microsoft’s Live Mesh? Easy, multi-touch is sexy and easy to demo, even if they won’t really increase sales of WIndows that much. Why do I say that? Remember back in 2002/2003? I was really excited by the Tablet PC functionality. That never really increased sales much because it solved a problem people really didn’t have. Same with the multi-touch stuff. How many of you really need these features? They’d be nice to have to show off to your friends, but after that show off factor is gone, do they really improve your life? Microsoft so far hasn’t shown us how these features really go beyond a cool demo.

And, anyway, where do we need these kinds of features? Not really on a laptop where we have a mouse or trackpad, but we need these things on mobile phones where we’ll be using the things while standing up. The iPhone showed us that.

So, now what? Watch three things:

1. Google’s Android. That’s aimed at the new sweet spot in the industry where growth is rapidly going.
2. Microsoft’s Live Mesh. Ray Ozzie’s system is getting attention as a developer platform that’ll keep Windows relevant even as much of the world moves toward an online cloud-based world.
3. Apple’s iPhone and a secret device that’s been spotted in their labs. An Apple employee I know told me about a new looking small PC device inside Apple’s labs.

Anyway, this all doesn’t matter, although all the bloggers in the world love this cause it brings page views and gives us something new to talk about other than whether or not Twitter is up or down. So, forgive me if I’m going back to sleep.

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