Windows 7 – Touching Places it Shouldn’t

If you’ve read some of the recent news on the web, you’ll find at the top of many tech news sites a preview of Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 7. This new operating system will bring multi-touch technology to the masses. Of course, this is a Linux Blog, so what am I doing talking about Microsoft?

Because this new operating system will be the nail in the coffin for Microsoft. If you think Vista was a downward spiral, think again. Perhaps you’re wondering why I seem to think this will happen. I’ve got a few reasons and I think other alternatives like MacOSX and Linux will fill in the gap that is created by them.

1. Touchscreens

Touchscreen PCs were originally designed by HP waaaaay back in the 1980s. Multi-touch will not matter because it has something in common with those circa 1980 PC’s…it has to be touched.

The problem is, no one wants to touch their PC screen. Think of it…how often do you feel the urge to touch your CRT/LCD? In order for Microsoft to succeed here, they have to make a shift in the way each and every single user computes on a daily basis.

Now I’m sure they’re pointing to IPhone metrics and saying, “but touchscreen is the way to go! Look, the IPhone has it! It’s a huge success…we need to jump on that bandwagon before it leaves the station!” That makes sense until you think it through. The IPhone is a handheld that is already touched…adding touchscreens to it didn’t fundamentally change the operation of the unit.

So when this “fantastic” technology comes out in a few years, Microsoft will have to convince users that PC screens are meant to be petted heavily along with trying to convince users that hardware support is there…and as you know, hardware support is FANTASTIC for Vista so far.

2. Hardware Support

Microsoft’s track record with Vista means that consumers have and will have a vote of no confidence with hardware support. It’s another uphill battle to build confidence in consumers.

3. Upgrade Path

Microsoft has more Windows XP users than it is letting on. Vista isn’t the be all that ends all that they hoped for. This means that when Windows 7 comes out, there will need to be a ‘no hassle’ upgrade path from Windows XP. Upgrading to Vista wasn’t the most pleasant experience many people have had and I know that the Windows XP File and Settings Transfer Wizard was a kick to the groin. If Microsoft drops the ball on this one, it won’t matter how many fingers and toes you can touch on your screen.

Why Alternatives Will Fill the Gap

I think that all of these things Microsoft needs to accomplish to build confidence in their product is a massive problem. How does a single company accomplish all of these things without seeming desperate? It’s a hike that I don’t think Microsoft can make.

In the meantime, you can be sure that since IPhone already has multi-touch capabilities that it won’t be hard for them to push it to OS X to compete. You know that Linux already isn’t far behind with multi-touch technology. The difference is that both Linux and Mac have a good base for the embedded market where these things will flourish. Windows does as well…but the problem is that multi-touch will be a Windows 7 feature…which isn’t out in the embedded market.

Let’s also not forget the other things promised in the past from Microsoft from their new operating systems and these features were trimmed…so it has the deck stacked against it here too as features are dropped like hot potatoes.

Keeping this in mind, where is the innovation Microsoft? How are you going to convince consumers that they need to upgrade in order to fondle their PC screens they’ve been taught not to touch since learning to compute? I think this is more hype than anything else…and it the first hammer strike of the nail in the coffin.

Author: devnet

devnet has been a project manager for a Fortune 500 company, a Unix and Linux administrator, a Technical Writer, a System Analyst, and a Systems Engineer during his 20+ years working with Technology.

2 thoughts on “Windows 7 – Touching Places it Shouldn’t”

  1. So multi-touch in OS X and Linux makes sense, but not in Windows? If you’re correct that “no one wants to touch their PC screen” it’s not going to matter which OS supports it–embedded or not.

    I don’t agree with the premise though.

    Supporting multiple, simultaneous touch points doesn’t necessarily mean you _have_ to touch the display. It depends on what hardware is being used. You could have a multi-touch touchpad on a notebook or maybe even multiple people using a mouse or possibly multiple people using an electronic whiteboard at the same time.

    I have no idea what Windows 7 is ultimately going to support, but having a multi-touch sensor in let’s say a Tablet PC, which already has a digitizer, is not that big of a shocking step. Same goes for digital whiteboards or a single notebook running a dual-mouse, two player game.

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