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StaffIncremental BloggerDemoing multi-touch should inspire

Demoing multi-touch should inspire

The wizdom of starting Windows 7 marketing with multi-touch is not looking so great.

Check out this article by Wired and the comments from readers that follow about Microsoft’s demo of multi-touch this week. Sure, a bunch of the comments are trolling. That’s the nature of the Internet like it or not.

However, I think people have a good point when they say first and foremost that they want an easy to use, stable OS. They’re not looking for more “cool” features that they’ll never use. They no longer want to spend hours and hours tweaking this or that or having to reinstall the OS every three months. I think that’s the way things have been going, although no doubt Vista hit some very big bumps as it launched.

My guess is that Windows 7 will continue along this path and make Windows even more stable. There’s no reason to stick with XP. That’s just me.

Now as to whether multi-touch has value, I think the problem here is that Microsoft could have done a much better job of showcasing it. First, the apps looked like they’d been thrown together in a couple days and also were quite similar if not exactly the same to several already shown on the Surface computer. And Dell itself had already shown multi-touch publicly before.

Besides showing something unique, I think they should have shown something that illustrated better the value of multi-touch on a notebook. We’ve all seen pinching maps and rotating photos, but how does this add value to a notebook? Why would I want to upgrade my notebook to multi-touch to get this capability? Where’s the inspiring takeaway moment?

For instance, if you’re going to say multi-touch is useful for drawing, have someoe interesting paint an inspiring picture on stage–or Ballmer using for a whiteboard–or something. Or if you’re going to suggest that multi-touch can be used to play a virtual instrument–have someone on stage that can really play and play something interesting. Or if you’re going to say that multi-touch helps you navigate Windows, then show that. Whatever it is, inspire us.

One other suggestion is that I think they should have been holding the Tablet PC (in Tablet mode) in their arms when demoing. It’s still quite dramatic when someone picks up a Tablet from a table, flips it into Tablet mode, and then starts using it. They should have done that. It always gets me when people use locked down Tablet PCs in a demo. Several people have argued that they don’t see the value of touch on their laptop–well, start by emphasizing multi-touch on a Tablet instead by making sure people see that it’s a Tablet–and there’s no threat of having them to forcably upgrade their current laptop for Windows 7.

Loren Heiny (1961 - 2010) was a software developer and author of several computer language textbooks. He graduated from Arizona State University in computer science. His first love was robotics.

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