Microsoft plans to give users of the next version of its Windows operating system touch screen controls as one option for controlling the software, its top executives said on Tuesday.
Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Executive Steve Ballmer
showed off new Windows features based on software it
calls "multi-touch" that will be part of Windows 7, the
next version of Windows, which Ballmer said was due out
in late 2009.
The ability to use touch to give users fingertip control
of their screens could help revolutionize how computer
desktops and mobile phones are controlled and would be
an alternative to existing mice, keyboard and pen-based
During a joint interview that kicked off the Wall Street
Journal's three-day D: All Things Digital conference, an
annual gathering of the computer industry elite taking
place north of San Diego, Ballmer said touch screen
controls was one example of how Microsoft would improve
on existing Windows software.
Microsoft is seeking to Apple, which made touch-screen
software central to the success of its iPhone mobile
After more than a decade of slow development, Gates said
new ways of interacting with computers other than
keyboards and mice have matured to the point where they
are ready to go mainstream.
Gates refered to technologies that gives users the
ability to control computers with voice commands, detect
and sort different kinds of images and use electronic
ink instead of typing for computer input.
Multi-touch software builds on existing capabilities
Microsoft has introduced in recent years including
, for interacting with large tabletop computer
displays, TouchWall for mounted screens and Tablet PCs
for touch-screen notebooks.
In a demonstration of touch-screen capabilities to be
offered in Windows 7, Microsoft showed a new application
called "Touchable Paint" that lets a user paint with
their fingers, as well as software to organize photos or
navigate maps by touch. A Microsoft employee showed
possible applications like enlarging and shrinking
photos and navigating a map of San Diego by stroking the
A Microsoft blog with a demo can be found here
Ballmer said that Windows 7 will not have higher
requirements on hardware in order to run, compared to
Windows Vidta. He also said that the new operating
system will also come with changes in the user
interface. Windows 7 will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, while its Kernel is expected to be related to today?s Vista kernel.
Ballmer also acknowledged that Microsoft considered
Apple a formidable competitor. But he said the two
companies' audiences were vastly different in scale,
with Apple supplying around 10 million computers this
year versus the roughly 290 million machines which PC
makers will sell running Microsoft Windows.