updated 01:35 am EDT, Wed May 28, 2008
Windows 7 unveiled
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer on Tuesday unveiled a small preview of the company's next operating system - tentatively referred to as Windows 7 - at the All Things Digital executive conference. The preview demonstrated the integration of multi-touch directly into all application layers, allowing users to use multiple fingers in Paint, resize and rotate photographs, and performing many actions similar to that of the iPhone.
The demonstration also showed Microsoft Virtual Earth, which can be navigated by touch in both "road" and "aerial" views. Users can search for a location, such as Starbucks, and touch the push-pin representing the desired location, and information about the café will appear.
In the photo management application, users are able to toss around and organize photos as though they were on a surface. Photos can be rotated, drawn on, zoomed, organized into a 3D slideshow, viewed in a grid mode, or scattered across the virtual surface.
Interactive, on-screen musical instruments, as well as several other possibilities were also shown. Gates hinted briefly that this would just be the beginning, that Microsoft would explore speech, gesture, vision, ink, and other near-future technologies.
In terms of interface elements, Windows 7 will allegedly bear even stronger resemblances to Mac OS X, with the presence of a Dock. Microsoft did not extrapolate on how the "dock" functions, but will most likely be revealed in the near future.
Windows 7 is supposedly about 18 months away from seeing store shelves.
Video: Multi-Touch in Windows 7