The Long-Awaited Arrival Of Touch For Windows 7

Third parties are under the gun to develop products that will effectively help Windows 7 optimize its potential.  Specifically, they are working to connect with the touch capabilities of Windows 7.

Microsoft is finally catching up to the public demand for touchscreen support in its Windows 7.  Prior to the software’s release, touchscreen support was in no way a part of the Windows concept or operating system.  To compensate, PC sellers used bridges and stopgaps.  The TouchSmart software suite released by HP is one of the most streamlined of these, and less elegant are the bare-knuckle touchscreen applications from Asus and MSI.Touch gestures are finally available from Microsoft’s most recent operating system.  PC manufacturers are now able to fully implement touchscreen interfaces and answer the growing demand for the technology.  That popularity stems from the booming sales of smartphones such as the iPhone, the Palm Pre, and the MyTouch 3G, all of which feature touchscreens.  Windows 7 will be released into a market that is rife with touchscreen technology, not just for handheld devices but for PCs and laptops.  Lenovo and Fujitsu have already released laptops that use multitouch tech.  2010 will see even more expansion into this arena, with touchscreen PCs carrying the Windows Touch brand.

Thankfully, Microsoft has not been developing their touch technology on a deserted island.  Synaptics, a major touchscreen brand, has been in collaboration with Microsoft to create a standardized system of common gestures that translate from touchpad to PC touchscreen.  Ted Theocheung, Synaptics’ general manager of PC and digital home ecosystems, explains the collaboration by saying that Synaptics “talked with Microsoft to eliminate this Wild West of gestures.”  The screen experience, he says, should mirror that of the touchpad.

In 2008, the Synaptics Gesture Suite software was developed to support gestures on touchpads.  In the same year, Apple began releasing notebooks that also incorporated gesture navigation.  As the technology evolves, Theochung assures the market that the fundamental gestures of device navigation will be a shared, limited set common to all devices of all brands.

The three main operations at issue here, which will be the same for Windows Touch as for existing devices, are gestures to rotate images and objects, pinch navigation for zooming in and out on the screen, and two-finger scrolling gestures for left-right and up–down navigation.  Windows 7 will also offer touch-based scrolling and reverse scrolling, where users can slide two fingers up and down the screen to scroll in the desired direction.

Gesture Suite 9.4 will hit the market this fall from Synaptics.  The new gestures it will introduce will bridge the compatibility between touchpad and touchscreen.  At the time of this writing, Synaptics did not offer specific final features of the software.  However, in addition to the gestures that will be usable on both the touchscreen and the touchpad, Gesture Suite 9.4 will use a new collection of three- and four-finger gestures, similar to functions already available from newer models of Apple laptops.

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