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Lately, I have been spending quite a bit of time trying to learn all about Windows 7. Although there are certainly worthwhile features in the forthcoming operating system, the one feature that seems to be getting the most attention is a feature being called multi touch.
Touch screens are nothing new, but multi touch takes touch screens to the next level. Most of the touch screens in use today will only recognize one touch point at a time, but Windows 7 will allow for multiple touch points. I realize that most people don’t currently use touch screens, so the best way that I can think of to illustrate the point is to compare a touch screen to the touch pad on a laptop. If you have ever accidentally touched a laptop touch pad with more than one finger, then you know that the laptop gets thoroughly confused – especially if your fingers are moving in different directions.
In Windows 7, you will be able to use any number of fingers at the same time to interact with Windows. Microsoft has already made it clear that you will be able to use multi finger input to perform zoom, scrolling, and resize functions.
All of the Windows 7 demos that I have seen so far exploit this new technology in applications primarily geared toward consumers. For example, Windows 7 is tentatively slated to ship with a finger painting application and a piano keyboard. But I have to wonder how businesses can benefit from multi touch technology.
My initial thoughts are that there probably will be some benefits to businesses. I haven’t heard any official word on new applications that benefit from this technology, but I strongly expect Microsoft to produce a version of Microsoft Office that has been optimized for multi touch. I can just imagine using touch screen capabilities to create a Visio diagram or to format the objects in a Microsoft Publisher document.
Having said that though, I think that it will be mobile users who benefit the most from multi touch technology. As I sit here composing this post on a desktop computer, I simply can not imagine that touching my monitor would be a more efficient interface than my mouse. My mouse is at an easy arm’s reach, where as I would have to completely change positions and lean way forward to reach my monitors.