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.

76 thoughts on “Putting multiple fingers on Microsoft’s Windows 7

  1. after vista I just hate miscrosoft……….now I hv started using linux…

    it’s free……..

  2. after vista I just hate miscrosoft……….now I hv started using linux…

    it’s free……..

  3. Touch smutch! We should have had this technology in PCs years ago! Give me a break! My new cell phone has this and does it well might I add! What I am wondering is where is MS Speech server in the latest OS releases? Gates showed that to us almost 2 years ago now and still no word of it being integrated into a core OS release. Touch might help my productivity a bit… but speech… now I can get stuff done quickly when my computer can listen to me talk!

  4. Touch smutch! We should have had this technology in PCs years ago! Give me a break! My new cell phone has this and does it well might I add! What I am wondering is where is MS Speech server in the latest OS releases? Gates showed that to us almost 2 years ago now and still no word of it being integrated into a core OS release. Touch might help my productivity a bit… but speech… now I can get stuff done quickly when my computer can listen to me talk!

  5. In addition to my previous comment, I have a feeling that a number of people won’t like the touch-screen because of the physical size. Some people’s fingers are larger than other’s, which might sometimes make it a little bit hard to “click” or “select” certain things, especially when there are a lot of things crowded together (try highlighting text or selecting an area of a graphic!). I’m sure that even Microsoft will provide an alternative way to do these things, but I just wanted to mention another reason people won’t like the touch-screen.

  6. In addition to my previous comment, I have a feeling that a number of people won’t like the touch-screen because of the physical size. Some people’s fingers are larger than other’s, which might sometimes make it a little bit hard to “click” or “select” certain things, especially when there are a lot of things crowded together (try highlighting text or selecting an area of a graphic!). I’m sure that even Microsoft will provide an alternative way to do these things, but I just wanted to mention another reason people won’t like the touch-screen.

  7. In response to Loren Heiny’s “it’ll do little more than help us to remove the single mouse limit” statement, I would like to say that adding touch-screen capability will do little to solve anybody’s problems, because:

    1. Everybody’s so used to using a mouse or touchpad, will anybody use the feature anyway?
    2. Nobody wants to buy a new monitor to use a feature that boring.
    3. If the feature is usable for anything other than Windows itself, how many companies are going to go to the effort of integrating it into their software?

    But back to your remove the single-mouse limit statement, I think many people would like to have the ability to have more than one mouse connected at a time. I know it would make it much easier when helping show my parents how to do something, or when browsing the web with a friend, or any multi-person activity. We’ve all sat down with someone and either passed the mouse back and forth, or pointed and said “click on this, click on that”, haven’t we? Now that would solve a problem. And I think that now that most towers have USB ports in the front as well, people would like this since it is so much easier to connect/disconnect devices such as a mouse.

  8. In response to Loren Heiny’s “it’ll do little more than help us to remove the single mouse limit” statement, I would like to say that adding touch-screen capability will do little to solve anybody’s problems, because:

    1. Everybody’s so used to using a mouse or touchpad, will anybody use the feature anyway?
    2. Nobody wants to buy a new monitor to use a feature that boring.
    3. If the feature is usable for anything other than Windows itself, how many companies are going to go to the effort of integrating it into their software?

    But back to your remove the single-mouse limit statement, I think many people would like to have the ability to have more than one mouse connected at a time. I know it would make it much easier when helping show my parents how to do something, or when browsing the web with a friend, or any multi-person activity. We’ve all sat down with someone and either passed the mouse back and forth, or pointed and said “click on this, click on that”, haven’t we? Now that would solve a problem. And I think that now that most towers have USB ports in the front as well, people would like this since it is so much easier to connect/disconnect devices such as a mouse.

  9. My gut reaction is that this be a fancy gee-whiz demo, with zero real-world usage. But with Scoble down on it, Microsoft might pull a miracle and actually make it into something functional. Now, if the coin turns, and Scoble gets all hot over it, you know it’s doomed. The key for Microsoft, is to keep Scoble disinterested, being seriously hostile.

  10. My gut reaction is that this be a fancy gee-whiz demo, with zero real-world usage. But with Scoble down on it, Microsoft might pull a miracle and actually make it into something functional. Now, if the coin turns, and Scoble gets all hot over it, you know it’s doomed. The key for Microsoft, is to keep Scoble disinterested, being seriously hostile.

  11. Micah says

    If this was apple releasing this, you would be gaga googoo over multi-touch. I would say touch on PC is just as important (if not more so than a phone).

    I agree If this was Apple or Google Robert would be tripping all over him self about how great this is.

    Apple will intro it’s next point release OSX kitty and claim to have invented the toaster and Microwave oven.

    All the Apple fan boys will tap into their selective memories and claim this to be true.

  12. Micah says

    If this was apple releasing this, you would be gaga googoo over multi-touch. I would say touch on PC is just as important (if not more so than a phone).

    I agree If this was Apple or Google Robert would be tripping all over him self about how great this is.

    Apple will intro it’s next point release OSX kitty and claim to have invented the toaster and Microwave oven.

    All the Apple fan boys will tap into their selective memories and claim this to be true.

  13. Could not agree more with you. The mutli-touch features of the new windows isn’t a big deal to me. While Im browsing the web, I have one hand on the mouse and the other one I like to grab and scratch my balls .

  14. Could not agree more with you. The mutli-touch features of the new windows isn’t a big deal to me. While Im browsing the web, I have one hand on the mouse and the other one I like to grab and scratch my balls .

  15. Yes, the different Microsoft editions are completely aggrivating. Apple has is down with it’s OS, MS should take note.

  16. Yes, the different Microsoft editions are completely aggrivating. Apple has is down with it’s OS, MS should take note.

  17. If this was apple releasing this, you would be gaga googoo over multi-touch. I would say touch on PC is just as important (if not more so than a phone).

    People were super excited about multi-touch on Apple’s laptop touch pad and of course the iPhone, so why the “this is so lame” for multi-touch in windows.

    It will be great for laptops, no more having to take an external mouse around all the time. Showing a presentation for work, no need to reach down try to find the space bar or arrow key to switch slides, just flick your finger across the screen quick. etc etc.

    Multi-touch on the desktop will be really huge for companies, medical stuff, we already see it on ATMs, gas pumps, light rail stations, etc.

    I think monitors in general will change to make multi-touch more logical for the average user, instead of the more “static” montior base, they will become more dynmic in that you will be able to tilt your monitor to face upwards and you use it more like a “table” where you are looking down onto it.

    They will be similar to a “Cintiq wacom tablet” where you interact with it as a screen and as a tablet. I know several people with a Cintiq and they totally love it, now this feature will be native to windows. I think that is pretty sweet.

    If you want to be like the people who stayed on a typewriter and not switch to better technology, then by all means Scoble have fun in the past.

  18. If this was apple releasing this, you would be gaga googoo over multi-touch. I would say touch on PC is just as important (if not more so than a phone).

    People were super excited about multi-touch on Apple’s laptop touch pad and of course the iPhone, so why the “this is so lame” for multi-touch in windows.

    It will be great for laptops, no more having to take an external mouse around all the time. Showing a presentation for work, no need to reach down try to find the space bar or arrow key to switch slides, just flick your finger across the screen quick. etc etc.

    Multi-touch on the desktop will be really huge for companies, medical stuff, we already see it on ATMs, gas pumps, light rail stations, etc.

    I think monitors in general will change to make multi-touch more logical for the average user, instead of the more “static” montior base, they will become more dynmic in that you will be able to tilt your monitor to face upwards and you use it more like a “table” where you are looking down onto it.

    They will be similar to a “Cintiq wacom tablet” where you interact with it as a screen and as a tablet. I know several people with a Cintiq and they totally love it, now this feature will be native to windows. I think that is pretty sweet.

    If you want to be like the people who stayed on a typewriter and not switch to better technology, then by all means Scoble have fun in the past.

  19. @tom: “Let’s face it. Multi-touch really is only a simple driver problem….” Yep, multi-touch and multiple mice are logical next steps. On a mass market level it’ll be more practical to build applications that support multiple users and simultaneous, multiple touch points. Think in terms of driving the costs down on “high end” interactive whiteboards in and out of the classroom. How far this will go, no one knows. Although, I wonder if now we’ll see more “chord” style multi-touch UIs in your favorite fast food restaurants? Why do we have to always press one…..button……at……a…….time?

  20. @tom: “Let’s face it. Multi-touch really is only a simple driver problem….” Yep, multi-touch and multiple mice are logical next steps. On a mass market level it’ll be more practical to build applications that support multiple users and simultaneous, multiple touch points. Think in terms of driving the costs down on “high end” interactive whiteboards in and out of the classroom. How far this will go, no one knows. Although, I wonder if now we’ll see more “chord” style multi-touch UIs in your favorite fast food restaurants? Why do we have to always press one…..button……at……a…….time?

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