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One new and exciting feature of Windows 7 is its support for multi-touch devices. For developers this means that they can now easily write applications using the multi-touch APIs to interact with the devices.

There are several devices available (or will soon be available) in the market, such as HP’s TouchSmart tx2z series (starting from $800), Dell’s Latitude XT2, Lenevo’s , and Packard Bell’s OneTwo Series PCs and Viseo 200T Touch Edition monitor.

Let’s take a quick look at the short history of touch devices in the PC world.

  • The first generation in my view is tablet PCs, a digital technology that was introduced by Microsoft in 2001 along with the release of Windows XP. A Tablet PC is basically a laptop equipped with a touchscreen that users can write on with a stylus or digital pen, or touch with a fingertip. It is basically a one-touch device.

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  • The second generation is characterized by Microsoft Surface, which was first introduced in 2007 and made available in 2008, and multi-touch laptops powered by Windows 7. The underlying technology for Microsoft Surface is multiple infrared cameras that respond to the items touching the tabletop of the device. Unlike Surface, Windows 7 multi-touch laptops mostly reply on optical touch sensors. There is a great Wikipedia article on multi-touch that explains different touch displays and technologies.

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It is worth noting that a few months prior to the Surface announcement, Apple announced iPhone, a multi-media, multi-touch smart phone, that quickly became a consumer’s favorite device and a de facto benchmark for small form factor multi-touch devices.

There are many applications of Windows 7 multi-touch technology. To see one example, check out this video to find out what AutoDesk, a 2D and 3D design software firm has to share.

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