New Windows Matches iPhone's Multitouch

Microsoft touts Windows with new features while we'd rather see a Windows with fewer problems.

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With Windows Vista still under attack, Microsoft is trying to generate excitement for the next version of its ubiquitous operating system.

A Microsoft demo suggests the next Windows, to be released as early as next year, will feature a leap forward with multitouch technology. That's the two-finger, on-screen manipulation that made such a splash with Apple's iPhone. The feature is demonstrated here.

Moving photos and flipping objects with a couple of fingers is no doubt nifty. But few of us have expensive, touch-screen monitors. Maybe Microsoft is trying to breathe new life into tablet PCs, which are laptops with touch screens that haven't made a big dent in the market. Or maybe Microsoft is just trying to emphasize that it has always kept pace with Apple innovations. Microsoft reportedly has worked on multitouch software for at least as long as Apple.

But Microsoft hasn't gotten the feature into a popular product, as Apple did with its iPhone. And Microsoft has lost a bit of market share to Macintosh, whose latest Leopard version of Mac OS X won rave reviews while Vista floundered.

Has Microsoft learned anything? I fear not, judging from the multitouch demo. I'd feel better if Microsoft owned up to Vista mistakes and emphasized that the next version of Windows would be slimmer, faster, and friendlier to hardware. Instead, the software Goliath continues to emphasize new features, including one that few of us can now use. I'm yearning not for a multitouch Windows but for a Microsoft that's in better touch with its users.