Windows 7 Touch Pack: Surface Interface Without the Big-Ass Table

I scored one of the only copies of Windows 7 Touch Pack out in the wild, and it really blew my mind, bringing the full power of Microsoft Surface to touch-enabled Win 7 PCs. Have a look:

In my first go-around with Win 7 touch, I didn't feel so much ooh-aah as I felt relief, relief that Microsoft had actually baked intelligent touch controls directly into the new operating system. Once again, my touch experience is with the optically driven HP TouchSmart PC, this time running Windows 7 Release Candidate build 7100. Nothing you see is third-party, except for the beta TouchSmart multitouch drivers by NextWindows.

Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 is a roundup of six demo apps directly from the Surface team that make it clear that the days of the big-ass table are numbered. Surface will finally go anywhere there's a multitouch PC running Windows 7. Here's me, showing off the Surface Lagoon, Surface Collage and Surface Globe apps:

In certain cases, as you can see in the video, "multitouch" just means two simultaneous inputs. This is a programming decision, not a fault of the screen. However, the TouchSmart's optical screen isn't the sort of thing you'd want to use to play a lot of games on. The other three apps in the Pack are games: Blackboard, Garden Pond and Rebound, shown in gallery below. I am not going to say that they were totally lame, they would just benefit from a capacitive touchscreen like those found in some high-end laptops and in top-tier smartphones.

Microsoft says: "The Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 will be available to PC makers who will have the option to pre-install some, none, or all of the applications available in the Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 on PCs designed for Windows Touch (PCs that meet the logo requirements for Windows Touch)." In other words, buy a touch-enabled Windows 7 machine and you might see this stuff pre-loaded.

HP loaned me the TouchSmart knowing full well that it wasn't originally developed to run Windows 7 touch apps, and as such, it can't be judged for its gameplay or minor hiccups. In the main Surface apps, it does a great job, and as for the OS, it runs Windows 7 smoothly with a spring in its step. But am I waiting eagerly to see Windows 7 running on a touchscreen with more dexterity? You bet your ass. Meantime, this beats a clunky $20,000 Surface table any day of the week. Keep the Surface apps coming, Microsoft—the age of touch is upon us. [Windows Team Blog]

[Back to our Complete Guide to Windows 7]