Microsoft has released its Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 to users with touch-screen devices. The Touch Pack comprises six applications designed take advantage of the operating system's multitouch capabilities: three games and three Microsoft Surface applications.
"Until today, the Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 was only available for OEMs to put on new Windows 7 PCs capable of Windows Touch," Microsoft spokesperson Brandon LeBlanc wrote on The Windows Blog April 21. "Due to feedback and requests from both partners and customers, we are releasing the Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 for anyone with Windows Touch-capable devices to download."
The games are Blackboard, Garden Pond and Rebound, all of which involve touching elements on a screen in order to win; the applications are Surface Globe, which lets users explode an Earth rendered in either two or three dimensions, Surface Collage, a photo-manipulation program, and Surface Lagoon, which lets users interact with a "water simulation" that includes fish and rocks.
The download, along with more details on each of the six programs, can be found here. PCs running the Touch Pack must include multitouch-enabled displays.
"The Touch Pack for Windows 7 is a good way for you to be able to truly test the multitouch investments we've made in Windows 7," LeBlanc said in his blog post.
Microsoft's Windows and Service teams worked to integrate touch-screen functionality into Windows 7 long before the operating system's release. During the Windows 7 launch in New York on Oct. 22, Microsoft positioned several multitouch PCs around its presentation area and invited attendees to tap and swipe through various applications. Subsequently, various manufacturers have introduced laptops and desktops with touch screens.
But the growing consumer tablet PC market segment, as heralded by the launch of Apple's iPad, may shift the focus of touch-enabled Windows 7 from hybridized laptops to tablets. Hewlett-Packard is already prepping a tablet PC running a modified version of Windows 7, and others will likely follow. Whether those tablets will be able to replicate the success of the iPad, which sold nearly a half-million units in its first few days of release, is much more debatable.
"The market will play host to a flood of 'me too' tablets in 2010, but it's an immature product category with an unproven use case," CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber told Reuters in an April 7 article. "Apple's brand and service offering mean the iPad will be an exception in a category that will struggle to gain consumer acceptance."