Input: Reach Out and Touch Windows 7

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The biggest user interface trend since Windows Vista shipped in January 2007 is touchscreen input; Windows 7 is the first version of the OS to offer built-in multitouch support. Windows 7’s new touch features are subtle on a touch-capable PC and invisible
otherwise. Swipe your finger up or down to scroll through document files and Web pages; sweep two fingers back and forth to zoom in and out. Dragging up on icons in the Taskbar reveals Win 7’s new Jump Lists. The Taskbar button that reveals the Windows desktop is a bit bigger on touch PCs for easier use. I installed the final version of Windows 7 and beta touchscreen drivers on an HP TouchSmart all-in-one PC. The touch features worked as advertised. But applications written with touch as the primary interface will determine whether touch becomes useful and ubiquitous. Until they arrive, Windows will continue to feel like an OS built chiefly for use with a keyboard and mouse—which it is. You might have expected Microsoft to reinvent familiar tools such as Paint and Media Player for touch input. But the closest it comes to that is with the Windows 7 Touch Pack, a set of six touchbased programs, including a version of Virtual Earth that you can explore with your finger, and an app that lets you assemble photo collages. The Touch Pack isn’t part of Windows 7, but it will ship with some Win 7 PCs, and it’s a blast to play with. Still, ultimately, the Pack is just a sexy demo of the interface’s potential, not an argument for buying a touch computer today. Third-party soft ware developers won’t start writing touch-centric apps in force until a critical mass of PCs can run them. That should happen in the months following Windows 7’s release, as fi nger-ready machines from Asus, Lenovo, Sony, and other manufacturers join those from HP and Dell. And even then, touch input may not become commonplace on Windows 7 PCs. But if a killer touch app is out there waiting to be written, we may know soon enough.

Source of Information : PC World November 2009

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