Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Software Microsoft Windows

Windows 7 Touch, Dead On Arrival 352

snydeq writes "Ongoing Microsoft hype around its Surface touch technology has suggested that, with Windows 7, a touch-based UI revolution is brewing. Unfortunately, the realities of touch use in the desktop environment and the lack of worthwhile development around the technology are conspiring against the notion of touch ever finding a meaningful place on the desktop, as InfoWorld's Galen Gruman finds out reviewing Windows 7's touch capabilities. 'There's a chicken-and-egg issue to resolve,' Gruman writes. 'Few apps cry out for a touch UI, so Microsoft and Apple can continue to get away with merely dabbling with touch as an occasional mouse-based substitute. It would take one or both of these OS makers to truly touchify their platforms, using common components to pull touch into a great number of apps automatically. Without a clear demand, their incentive to do so doesn't exist.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Windows 7 Touch, Dead On Arrival

Comments Filter:
  • kinda like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cyko_01 ( 1092499 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:36PM (#29435223) Homepage
    linux and gaming
    • Re:kinda like... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:46PM (#29435297)

      yeah except I am currently running Assassin's Creed, Prototype, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X, UT3, Mirror's Edge and Bioshock all on Linux.

    • Re:kinda like... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:43PM (#29435781) Homepage Journal

      Windows Seven is just not ready for the touchtop ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:38PM (#29435239)

    Why would I ever want to sit up from my comfy chair to poke at a screen?

    • by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:59PM (#29435419) Homepage

      Exactly. In fact I'd say more along the lines of "nothing, ever." Touchscreens are a fun idea but except for very specific cases (pocketable computers, public terminals a la ticket machines at train stations for instance) they're horrible in practice. You get grubby fingerprints all over your screen and the ergonomics are bad - extended use will require either a weird sitting position or severe shoulder strain. On top of that, you always have your fingers/hands in front of whatever you're trying to select.

      What I really want to see is the idea that was floating around a few years ago for iPhone-style tablet devices, where the back of the device is a multitouch sensor and the touch points are displayed as cursors on the screen. No grubby fingerprints, no fat fingers in the way.

      • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:42AM (#29436183)
        Touchscreens always struck me as something you'd think came about more because of the merging of existing stuff (both touchpads and LCDs) than their being anything anyone was asking for. It's one of those things that seems like a good idea until you use it for a full five minutes and go crazy. They always give me trouble with misinterpreted UI actions because I never seem to know how hard they want to be pressed on. I can't see what my fingertips are rolling around on. If I try to peek underneath I'll mess it up, click on the next button, click twice, whatever. After a few minutes of that I go nuts.

        There's also the interplay between human psychology and human finger oil as you first start using the touchscreen. You slide the damn thing out of the box and it has a plastic sleeve on it to keep it totally pristine, from a land of sunshine and happiness and less than 100 airborne particles per cubic meter. As if you have no dust in your own house. And it's got that sticky no-stick plastic there on the screen, with no bubbles under it yet to leave evidence of already being touched. You impulsively rip it off, and there's your glistening new touchscreen, with nary a speck of fingerprint grease to be found on it, reflecting your slobbering face recognizably. And there you are, with your filthy greasy thumb, about to lower its resale value by $50. You'll never see it this clean again. Wiping your fingers on your shirt, you reluctantly push on the screen afraid to break it... "I Agree"... and it's all over. They could make it easier for customers by selling them pre-filthy from the factory. I'm picturing a guy on the assembly line fondling phones and eating chips all day.
    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:11PM (#29435549)

      Who says you have to touch the screen? OS X (10.6) and my MacBook Pro are an amazing blend of this technology.

      I have 1, 2, 3 and 4 finger gestures right on my track pad. Switch applications, show the desktop, Expose, launch, rotate, zoom, scroll. Everything is rather intuitive.

      The only thing is that it took me about 1 week to come from a standard button/trackpad concept to one large button and the surface feeling is a bit ... different.

    • You have one upright screen and one screen laid flat. All touch interaction happens on the bottom screen. This is the model of the Wacom Cintiq pen displays and the Nintendo DS video game system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by djupedal ( 584558 )
        > You have one upright screen and one screen laid flat.

        So this whole hullabaloo is about selling twice as many screens, then. I get it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      Why would I ever want to sit up from my comfy chair to poke at a screen?

      3D porn?

  • by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:41PM (#29435253)
    And thank goodness for that. Touch interfaces are acceptable where there isn't room for anything else (though the lack of a physical keyboard is always highly unpleasant), but I'd hate to see multitouch become the 'standard' interface for desktop computing. Sure, it's fun to throw about a few snapshots or fly about Google Earth. For all of 5 minutes. Try actually DOING anything, however, and you'll quickly switch back to a 'traditional' interface in order to avoid grief.
    • by some_guy_88 ( 1306769 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:56PM (#29435383) Homepage

      Yeah thats right. It takes very little energy to use a mouse. Very small hand gestures can make big things happen on the screen. Imagine how tired your arm would get if you had to touch the screen all day to make anything happen. Even if the screen was closer to you, possibly lying flat on the desk, it would still be harder.

    • Yeah no.

      Touch is great for fairly narrow types of usage. Industrial machine interfaces for one. I'd like to see OSs integrate some touch functionailty, or at least make it possible to set the thing up to be touch friendly, just to get the improvements for those narrow uses. As it is HMI packages usually look and work like cobbled together shit and you end up having to keep a keyboard in a desk drawer somewhere even if you don't want one. Or even if you manage to put together a truly touch only HMI you still

    • What can't you do with touch? Just use it exactly as you would use a mouse. Make your widgets bigger and more pudgy-finger-friendly and you're good to go.

      • Its a lot less of an effort to use a mouse than it is to use a touchscreen. The hardware just isn't there yet also, screens smudge and are inaccurate or suffer from slow speed.
        • Its a lot less of an effort to use a mouse than it is to use a touchscreen.

          Sign your name with a stylus on a touch screen. Now try to do the same thing with a mouse. You can see why some graphic artists like tablets.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by glitch23 ( 557124 )

            Sign your name with a stylus on a touch screen.

            I do that all the time after using a credit card at Walmart and everytime I'm sure they are thinking that another drunkard must have entered their store just based on what my signature looks like.

          • Clicking GUI buttons is a far cry from trying to draw accurately. The demands of a graphic artist are nothing, at all, like the demands of the general computer-using masses.

            Of course, a stylus and tablet are also nothing, at all, like a touchscreen.

            The millions of office workers out there really do not want to sit for eight hours a day holding their arms in front of them like mummies. I'd say it's likely to be physically impossible for a human to do that for more than a few minutes without the muscles fatiguing to the point where they are nonfunctional.

            This touchscreen garbage keeps coming up every so often, usually with a tone of regret, lamenting the fact that the technology hasn't made any real inroads. There's a reason it's made no inroads, and that's a lack of demand. The reason the lack of demand is there is because touchscreens pretty much suck.

            You iPhone-loving kids deal with touchscreens in a very specific, limited, handheld system for reasons I can't quite fathom but I will acknowledge that the technology seems to work for that very specific, limited, handheld system. Anything more complex and touchscreens seriously start to bite, and all attempts at integrating them into a normal computing experience have been met with failure because they bite.

            Other than the iPhone, which I still don't even like, I've only seen one useful, real-world application where touchscreens were a good idea, and that's POS systems, particularly in restaurants. As a waiter I could wander over to one, tap the screen a few times, and place or modify an order. But those were also severely limited systems, with a user interface designed with a small number of very specific functions arranged into large, easy-to-tap buttons. It didn't need to do anything else, it didn't do anything else, and so the touchscreen worked well for one-handed operation (and no risk of spilling crap all over a keyboard).

            Given the totally limited places touchscreens have ever been useful, I have to say WHO CARES if it never really goes anywhere?
            • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @11:05AM (#29440439) Homepage Journal

              The big advantage of a touchscreen is that you don't have to find the cursor/pointer to start manipulating. With a mouse or a trackpad every action you perform has to start where the last action left off. This means a lot of repetitive moving of the cursor/pointer to get from point a to b to c back to a back to b, etc. WIth a touch screen you avoid all of this repetitive input.

              For point and click users a touch screen could actually reduce the amount of input activity they have to do by 50% or potentially even more as touch gestures tend to be much more effective than having to click multiple buttons or keys to achieve the same results.

              The reality is that very few people are *constantly* interacting with the GUI. More typical is for people to manipulate a window (scroll) then read for 2 minutes, then repeat. On my laptop I could do that while resting my hand on the lower surface, touch the bottom scroll arrow with a finger or my thumb and not think twice about it. It would be no different than resting my finger above a down arrow key. Move a window, resize or minimize... these are very brief actions that occur every hour or so and a lot of people already avoid them with multi-touch input or key combinations.

              The question to ask is "What do we do repetitively and frequently with a mouse that would be a burden with a touch screen?"

              I honestly can't think of much. There are some accuracy issues with specific GUIs which would not work well with a touch screen if fingers were the only input option (a stylus would solve that) - but otherwise I just can't think of any job related or leisure time activity on a computer that is so repetitive and frequent that it would cause muscle fatigue if a touchscreen were used instead.

              If you are referring to typing - well everyone knows that a keyboard is the best interface for that activity, why would a touchscreen device not have a keyboard? We're not talking exclusively about Tablet PCs here... that's just one form factor.

              I think all laptops should be touchscreen and all monitors should also be touchscreen. They should both still have keyboards of course and potentially a trackpad or mouse for when you need very accurate input. However I think people would adopt the touch interface for 99% of their activities without breaking a sweat and in fact will work less hard and be less mentally fatigued at the end of the day as they will be able to relax that part of their mind which currently controls the mouse... something not everyone is good at.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Its a lot less of an effort to use a mouse than it is to use a touchscreen.

          I think that depends very much where the touch is. For example, the touchpad on my laptop takes very little effort to use.

          On the other hand, I absolutely cannot play FPS reasonably on the thing, so maybe you're right.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As a graphic artist who uses a tablet, I can say with confidence that a mouse is far, far, far, far, far easier to use than a touch screen monitor.

        Point one: a mouse (like a tablet) lies flat on my desk, requiring zero upper arm/shoulder exertion. I can spend eight hours using a tablet no problem--imagine holding your arm straight out for eight hours. Or imagine having to hunch over a monitor mounted flat on your desk--you'd destroy your neck and back within a week.

        Point 2: I can move my cursor from one s

    • by oferic ( 603861 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:26PM (#29435667)
      I use handheld computers on a regular basis at work. When I switch back to using a laptop after spending some time using a touchscreen device, I naturally want to touch the screen to move windows, select items from the taskbar, etc. It's silly that the functionality is missing. There's no need for this to replace the mouse. Touch-display and mouse input should complement each other.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Parent deserves mod points. The keyboard came first, after all. It took me some time to get used to the idea of a mouse, but today, they coexist on the very same computer. Imagine that, huh?

        So, go ahead, put the touch stuff up there. There are times when a stylus or a finger can do something that I will NEVER accomplish with that stupid mouse. Just don't kill my mouse off. I hate the little bastid, but I can't get along without him!!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jparker ( 105202 )

        That's a nice idea, but the problem is that, as the summary says, enabling ubiquitous touch would require some radical changes to our current UIs - anything interactive must become much bigger, toolbars are favored over menus, you lose a mouse button, etc. Most of these would make the mouse-based experience worse in order to enable the touch-based experience. *That's* why no one is doing this. You can't just add it in cheaply, and there's little evidence it's worth a large cost.

  • by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:43PM (#29435261)

    The problem is that with laptops/desktops the screen isn't really in a good position to accurately touch.

    But I like the idea of getting rid of the persistent cursor. You just leave it lying somewhere on screen when you're not using it.. there's no reason to leave it sitting there, or have to navigate awkwardly between controls, when you can just touch.

    I'm reminded of the PC vs console gaming argument about how mice are better because you can snap directly to a target instead of holding the control stick and having to wait as you pan around. Well touch vs mouse it's the same argument. With the mouse you have to start pushing your mouse across the mousepad, wait for it to reach its destination, and then fire. With touch you just tap the spot

    Obviously touch would never work for FPS controls but desktop controls are similar.. "aiming" at the little 5-pixel high link may be harder than it has to be

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:03PM (#29435459) Journal
      I don't think that just tapping the spot is actually more efficient than using the mouse, at least for standard desktop and laptop scenarios.

      On the computer I'm typing this on, I'm looking at a 20 inch panel, 1680x1050, at approximately arm's length from my face. If I were using a touch interface, the worst case delay between interacting with two points on the screen would be the time it takes to move my hand the full 20 inches. With the mouse, the same corner to corner motion occupies more like 4 or 5 inches(on your basic cheap OEM optical, nothing fancy). I can move my hand at roughly the same speed in either case so, while the touch sounds simpler, it is actually a fair bit slower.

      For small devices, where the entire screen is at your fingertips, touch is acceptably fast; but the bigger the screen gets, the worse it becomes compared to an ordinary optical mouse, in addition to the usual disadvantages of blocking part of the screen and leaving fingerprints.
      • Also (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )

        Try holding your arms up for an extended period of time. It is extremely tiring. Well, that's what you'd be doing with a touch display on a desktop. Very bad ergonomics. To be able to comfortably work at computer for longer periods, you want to have your arms at rest on the desk. Now you could in theory move the monitor down to the desk. Ok but now we have a bad neck/back position. You are going to have to lean over to get a good view of it. You'll have to lean in even farther if you use a standard, cheap,

    • by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:04PM (#29435477) Homepage

      With the mouse you have to start pushing your mouse across the mousepad, wait for it to reach its destination, and then fire. With touch you just tap the spot

      You're forgetting the huge speed amplification you get with a mouse, and the fact that you still need to move something (your finger, or your cursor) to that spot to tap it. Moving my mouse about 2 inches moves my cursor through about 15 inches. Moving my finger 15 inches to press a button requires moving my whole arm 15 inches.

      What I want to see is accurate gaze tracking. If I stare at the center of a button, it stays static in my field of view - even if my eye's making microscopic movements, it should be possible to reverse-engineer the pattern to determine the point of gaze. Couple that with a physical switch to 'click' (I like the idea of making a 'click' noise with your tongue for a simple, intuitive, self-contained interface) and you have the only point-and-click device that will beat a mouse (no, you with the track ball sit down, it's just an upside down mouse).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Gaze tracking with fairly decent accuracy, usually by watching the eyes with one or more IR cameras is already available for specialty applications. Something like this [] seems more or less representative. Their failure to list a price anywhere suggests that it doesn't come cheap; but it is already acceptably small for desktop use, and for mass deployment you could probably crunch it down to one or more IR webcam and illuminator pairs embedded in the monitor bezel, along with some suitably clever software on
      • (I like the idea of making a 'click' noise with your tongue for a simple, intuitive, self-contained interface)

        Yeah, I want to sit in an office full of tongue-clicking nimrods. And that'd be really great for doing computer tasks while you're talking to someone or on the phone, too.
  • it's just useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by speedtux ( 1307149 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:44PM (#29435271)

    Touch and multitouch have been around for decades; the reason people aren't using them is because they simply aren't all that useful, outside maybe consumer phones and systems like ATMs. It's the same with 3D movies and interfaces; like flu epidemics, these dead ideas keep coming back every decade-and-a-half.

  • annoying format (Score:3, Informative)

    by ianare ( 1132971 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:44PM (#29435275)

    article in one page []

  • Not to worry. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:47PM (#29435301) Journal
    We can just depend on the OEMs, whose craptastic bundleware powers are exceeded only by those of scanner and camera manufacturers, to produce horribly nonstandard custom UI elements and "helper" programs to iron out the trouble. Extra credit will, of course, be granted for clumsy partial shell replacements that(while they run at all times and somehow manage to slow everything down) will just dump you back into straight Windows for anything more complex than taking publicity shots.

    That should make the greasy fingerprints and nasty case of aching gorilla arm entirely worthwhile.
  • by meow27 ( 1526173 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:49PM (#29435317)
    of course we all know that the true touch screen desktop environment was invented in the late 23rd century,
  • A solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@AAAtpno ... inus threevowels> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:55PM (#29435375) Homepage

    AKA: A solution in search of a problem.

    Having used touch screens for a variety of applications, I'm having a hard time envisioning it's use in a home environment. We're all used to the precision offered by a mouse, and no one wants a touch screen TV.

    It would take a radically new appliance to thrust touch technology in to the lime light.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Benzido ( 959767 )

      >A solution in search of a problem.

      What are you complaining about?? Many wonderful problems have been discovered that way!

    • Like the iPhone or Touch. Touch controls are very comfortable if they're under your fingers when your hands are in the "keyboard position" - elbows at 90 degrees, wrist flat - which is easy to achieve with either a laptop touchpad or a small (and therefore easily movable) touchscreen device.
    • I think MS Flight Sim users would love a configurable touch-screen instrument panel, but MS has canned its MSFS development team, so forget that.


    • by IANAAC ( 692242 )

      I'm having a hard time envisioning it's use in a home environment. We're all used to the precision offered by a mouse, and no one wants a touch screen TV.

      Anyone remember the PepperPad 3? They had they right idea... Use the touch when needed, yet have a keyboard when needed as well.

      And not just that, nut the combination of using Wifi for getting information, and RF for controlling the TV.

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:57PM (#29435401)

    I see X as able to support all sorts of input devices... touch screen support should be standard..

    We should get touch features in common apps, they should be done in a way that makes the experience superior to anything Windows can muster.

    Hey, if that ever happens, it could be the year of the Linux desktop :)

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:58PM (#29435411) Homepage

    We have been learning this lesson for years now. Does anyone recall the long list of features that never made it into Vista and what a useless pile Vista ended up as?

    Let's just agree that it doesn't exist until Microsoft actually releases it -- until then, everything Microsoft says should be taken with a grain of vaporware salt.

  • For the kind of apps touting touch technology, the same can often be done with a well-placed mouse click combined with one or more modifiers keys (e.g. Ctrl, Alt, Shift) without getting the screen dirty! Touch technology has found its place in small devices (e.g. iPhone, Palm Pre) because it's a more useful interface than the small keyboard, and the technology has found its place in large devices (e.g. Surface) where there are new features to be implemented on a flat table-top surface. But for the desktop o
  • I know Microsoft dosn't want quick conversions to multitouch applications. They just won't work 'right'. Surface is great for public computers, where you want usage locked down anyway, such as hotels, casinos, waiting areas, transportation terminals... the single flat surface is pretty easy to sterilize and clean compared to a keyboard.

    When making a Surface application nothing can be modal, and everything can happen at once... drag and drop ten different items to/from ten different sources and destinations

  • without them, why would I need it? for that matter, where's Windows 7 for high-res cameras, projectors, and frosted glass? Until that appears... I mean, I want it to :)

  • Everyone knows that no new technology can succeed without the endorsement of the pr0n industry.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by j741 ( 788258 )

      Everyone knows that no new technology can succeed without the endorsement of the pr0n industry.

      And this requires a whole different approach to 'touch' technology ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Make something that people want to touch, virtual boobs? Virtual Boobs 7! What a money maker!

  • Music software (Score:2, Insightful)

    by teapot ( 2686 )

    A tablet with multi touch would be the best platform for making music ever.

  • Exercise (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joebert ( 946227 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:25PM (#29435665) Homepage
    I like my mouse. I can get from one side of the screen to the other in any direction without moving my mouse more than an inch. With touchscreen I'd actually have to move my whole arm around.
  • Apple creates new products and new demand for them simultaneously through secrecy and good marketing. And I imagine there are many people at Apple working their asses off to try to find a way to do desktop multitouch. Not saying they will, but I wouldn't write off Apple.
  • Even more grubby fingerprints all over the monitor.
    • Actually, that's an important point. For all the hours you spend staring at a screen, do you want it all blurred and smudged up with fingerprints?

      Eeeeew! I don't think so!

  • Use the wrong gesture ..... and instead of Windows giving you a BSOD, you get the Middle Finger!

  • Of course the desktop monitor is the wrong place to use a touchscreen. The tablet PC would be far more appropriate, and I hope Win7 gets touch, pen, and handwriting support right. As a software developer diagnosed with carpal tunnel a few years ago, I've been waiting for a convertible tablet that makes full use of the interface's potential.

  • Touch Interfaces (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AvenNYC ( 1042622 )
    As I've said before, if you can touchify an OS, it's great. I use a very specific version of Windows XP on the lighting console I use. The dual touch screens take the place of the mouse (there's a trackball built in but only used really when a touch screen has issues) and of course tons of hard buttons and knobs etc. By combining the 2, touchscreens and keyboards (hard buttons) you can get everything done so fast you wouldn't believe. I don't think you can have only one or the other and go as fast as ha
  • Apple and Touch (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MidnightBrewer ( 97195 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:58PM (#29435909)

    I assume that what the author's comment about Apple "merely dabbling" in touch interfaces was in reference to desktops only? Apple runs circles around Microsoft when it comes to successful touch interfaces built onto their OS's back end; look at the iPhone. Microsoft's own Windows Mobile platform makes almost no effort whatsoever by comparison.

  • by eefsee ( 325736 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:05AM (#29435949)

    I am not a Windows user, so I can't comment on Gruman's take on Windows 7, but he seems to be missing a lot about the Mac. Ever since the iPhone and the advent of CocoaTouch, Apple has been migrating touch elements into the desktop Cocoa framework and the laptop trackpad hardware. Today's MacBooks have trackpads that are, essentially, as sensitive as the iPhone. Two-finger scrolling has been joined by other gestures, most recently four-finger strokes to invoke Expose and the like. Application in Cocoa can (and many do) take advantage of two finger "spread" and "squeeze" gestures to zoom in and out, or "twist" gestures to rotate.

    Gruman identifies the chicken and egg problem correctly enough, but misses the fact that Apple has a great advantage in the way Cocoa is architected. Many of these features can be implemented by Apple in such a way that Cocoa apps inherit these behaviors "for free." At this point the Mac OS is quite "touchy" and this drives some of the tablet rumors we hear. There is very little to prevent Apple from making the Mac screen itself an input device with gestures that many (if not most) Mac apps would have no trouble interpreting.

    The other advantage for Apple in all this is CocoaTouch itself. Apple has a touch interface already widely deployed and is on its third generation of the framework that drives it. The iPhone/iPodTouch has many more users than MS Surface and Apple is learning from every one of them. Just because a casual user of the Mac OS does not get confronted by a host of touch options does not mean the potential is not present, after all, this is the company that ships a five button mouse configured to act like a one button mouse!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MtViewGuy ( 197597 )

      Indeed, what you described is why I think a variant of MacOS X 10.6 will show up on the rumored Apple tablet. It will be firmware based, and the tablet itselt will use the new Intel Atom N450 CPU, which will be available at the same time Apple finally ships their tablet computer.

  • by j741 ( 788258 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:10AM (#29435993) Journal

    I just love the author's statements about the"new" touch gestures:

    it adds a unique two-finger gesture for opening a contextual menu (hold one finger on the object and tap a second finger near it)

    This one sounds exactly like what I used to do on an old rear-projection SMART Board system, and as such is certainly not unique to Windows 7.

    Windows 7's new two-finger swipe gesture for horizontal scrolling

    And this two-finger scrolling gesture also functioned on that old system (which worked on Windows 98). It was a vertical scrolling gesture, not horizontal, but that's a very minor difference.

  • by RegularFry ( 137639 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:16AM (#29436589)

    "Touch me, I'm 7!"

  • by RonUSMC ( 823230 ) <RonUSMC AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:28AM (#29437265)
    ***********these are MY own personal opinions and not the opinions of my employer, they are mine and mine alone, just like the ones on my blog, [] *****************

    I work at MSFT and just happen to work on the Advanced Design Team that designs Natural User Interfaces for several products around the Org. I myself specialize in touch and multi-touch devices and gestural languages. The thing you have to remember, is that Touch, Multi-Touch, and Pen are all already supported in the core of the Windows 7 operating system. This isn't a small feat. No other OS has that today. The bigger fact is that we have had that for over a year now. The API recognizing the difference, and the ability to track so many targets is monumental in the input field. Ask any interaction designer and if they know the history, it will all go back to input devices and drivers "tricking" the OS into thinking it was something different rather than for what it truly is. Silverlight 3 also has this functionality already built in. These are core functions that allow any software developer around the globe to start building multi-touch applications right NOW. Not next year, but right now. The code is there.. build it.

    We are by far not "merely dabbling" I think that's ludicrous. Do you have a multi-touch device and is it working right now? Yes. That is not dabbling. There is a lot of great stuff that Microsoft has put out with this release and so many more great things to come. The one thing to remember though, is that as a platform, we have to do things thinking of other developers in mind. I came from the Surface Team before going to ADT and want to clarify something. Surface does respond to touch, but remember that it is a vision based system and WAY ahead of the competition. It has hover, item recognition, and so many other capabilites that other companies can also build on. Once again, it is a platform. Don't confuse them, they are separate devices but both with very rich interactions and uses.

    I also see all this about Apple and the iPhone. If you want to give credit where credit is due.... you should all say Wayne Westerman and not Apple. He is the genius that Apple bought and brought over to save their failing tablet and turn it into a phone. His company, Fingerworks, made an incredible product that still has very loyal fans.

    I stopped using a mouse 2 years ago, and have never looked back.

    PS: If any of you are in Seattle and would like a demonstration of Surface's capabilities along with a Win7 touch demonstration, please drop me a line, contact info is at my blog. I would be happy to show you around campus as long as you write about it here. Thanks for reading.
    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:38AM (#29438155) Homepage

      I think you miss the point then.

      Multitouch is niche. Taking a percentage of, say, Windows 7 users: Hardly anybody has the equipment. Hardly anybody has the software to support it(not just OS but applications, etc.). Hardly anybody has a practical use for it - yeah, you can use gestures etc. but one-finger/cursor gestures are just as easy and been around for longer and nobody really uses them at all. The common ground on those three is inherently small.

      It's so niche that despite being the "only OS" with it (I would contend that it depends merely on your definition of multitouch - multitouch support in software from a *user's* point of view has been there for years, it may be that Windows now has some *proper* interfacing for the code behind it, that's all) and having API's and trying to get people to use it, not many do.

      There just aren't that many practical applications for it that aren't fulfilled more simply, cheaply, efficiently and easily by other means (i.e. just using a normal single-point touchscreen). It might make a cool interface for a Star Trek game. It might let you use *more* gestures if you can be bothered to learn them all, but it certainly does not replace a mouse on the average business desktop, or average home user. I don't even know of any business that *knows* what multitouch is - they don't really care either.

      It's a niche piece of technology - like stereoscopic 3D games/movies, like cool Wii controller addons, like £1000 sound systems. Yes, it's fun. Yes, loads of people will play with a demo. No, you're not going to run the world on it and including it in the standard OS is a bit of a waste of development time. Personally, I'd have been happier if MS hadn't spent so much time on it in their main OS and had just released it as a pay-for addon for those who wanted it (public kiosks, possibly? Air-traffic controllers? I don't know).

      If you stopped using a mouse, you're really too blinkered. Tell me how one plays a fast-paced FPS effectively on a multitouch screen without breaking their arm? Or drags and drops without rubbing their finger raw and/or dropping things all over the desktop? iPhones, etc. use multitouch because the screen space is limited and gestures are required to save "interface bandwidth" (i.e. the amount of things you can put on the screen at once). Desktops don't have those problems.

      It's not even that revolutionary a technology - nowhere NEAR what touchscreen was originally. It's a tiny addition from the user's point of view. I'm really unimpressed, to be honest. I'm actually more impressed by GlovePIE which has had a form of software multitouch for ages (i.e. multiple active cursors on an unmodified Windows desktop, each independently controlled by a vast array of possible hardware).

Loose bits sink chips.