Questions Abound About Windows 7 Touchscreen Demo
30 May, 2008
Is the hoopla around Microsoft Windows 7 much ado about nothing? We won`t really know until the operating system is released in 2010.
Ever since Microsoft Vice President Julie Larson-Green demonstrated Windows 7 technology at the D: All Things Digital conference earlier this week, the technology world has been buzzing about the possibilities. But some analysts say the hype is premature.
Windows 7 will tout multi-touch technology that lets fingers draw rudimentary images. During the demo, Larson-Green drew a landscape on a Dell laptop. The demo also included navigating an online map to find a nearby Starbucks. Microsoft figures the technology is a natural for image editing and navigation.
A Cautious Approach
Of course, this isn`t the first time the industry has previewed Microsoft`s touchscreen technology. Microsoft demonstrated its tabletop and kiosk-like displays at last year`s D: All Things Digital conference. Still, some analysts are cautious.
Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, said he doesn`t count demos done by senior executives as big news, particularly demos which are so short and in which the company will not address questions about underlying technology.
"I look at the demo as interesting, but you still aren`t showing me why I absolutely have to have it. I still don`t know what kind of hardware I might need to buy to use it. And I still don`t know if applications have to be modified to take advantage of it," Cherry said. "So I am not prepared to sit on the edge of my seat for the entire time hoping it is something I will like."
Nonetheless, the buzz is building, Chris Flores, a Microsoft product director, wrote on the official Windows Vista blog, about the possibilities of touchscreen technology on a PC.
"What becomes even more compelling is when this experience is delivered to the PC -- on a wide variety of Windows notebooks, in all-in-one PCs, as well as in external monitors," he wrote. "In working with our broad ecosystem of hardware and software manufacturers, we`re excited to be showing some of the great work and investments we are working on in Windows 7."
Larson-Green demonstrated the possibilities by sliding her finger along the screen to navigate. To zoom in, she simply spread her fingers. A video of the demonstration shows playing a piano keyboard by touching the keys on screen, suggesting new possibilities for digital-music applications.
Where`s the Beef?
But questions remain. If you had to pay an extra $1,000 for a machine with Windows 7, Cherry asked, would you still want it? What`s more, he`s not sure if the public saw the actual multi-touch screen in Windows 7 or if it was an elaborate mock-up.
"To leap from that quick demo and then make any conclusions about what Windows 7 looks like or what its features are going to be is too big a leap," Cherry said. "Microsoft is saying to us one day it wants to be careful about how it discusses this product. Then the next day they are saying, `Look at this, it`s really cool.` I`d rather see less discussion and less demos of Windows 7 until Microsoft has the ability to tell us all the details behind the technology."