Windows 7 due with multitouch in 2009

Microsoft has announced it will integrate multitouch technology borrowed from its Surface project into Windows 7, claiming backward compatibility with existing touchscreen devices.

Windows 7 due with multitouch in 2009

Giving a demonstration of the upcoming OS at the All Things Digital conference, Microsoft’s Julie Larson-Green was keen to point out that the applications shown may not end up appearing in the final release in their current guise.

A host of applications were shown, designed to highlight the capabilities of multitouch, including Touchable Paint, an update to the basic Windows paint package which allows users to draw on the screen with all ten fingers at once.

A table-top photo management tool was also featured, allowing two-finger zooming and drag and drop movement of files, along with a mapping application modified from the Concierge tool in Surface which uses Microsoft Virtual Earth data to present a rotatable and zoomable globe.

One controversial element visible during the demonstration was a new menu system reminiscent of the Mac OS X dock, which again may not end up in the final release version of the operating system.

Although these applications were only demonstrations, multitouch technology is built-in throughout the OS, claims Larson-Green. A video of the demonstration can be seen in a post on the Microsoft Vista team blog.

Microsoft also confirmed that Windows 7 is due for release in late 2009, despite rumours last month that it may be delayed until 2010 or 2011.

We’re at an interesting junction,” said Bill Gates, speaking at the demonstration. “In the next few years, the roles of speech, gesture, vision, ink, all of those will become huge. For the person at home and the person at work, that interaction will change dramatically.”

The announcement confirms rumours of a touch-based interface, details of which leaked to the internet in a Microsoft document in January.

However, motion-based mobile features which would allow users to manipulate files by “shaking or twisting” the device, which were also described in the document, were not mentioned at the event.

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