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Chief executive and chairman of the board from Microsoft Corp. – Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates – demonstrated the company’s latest operating system at D: All Things Digital conference and revealed that the code-named Vienna OS will sport touch controls, which should make it easier for users to interact with software.

According to a report from Reuters news-agency, the two top executives at Microsoft showed off new Windows features based on software it calls “multi-touch” that will be part of Windows 7, the next version of Windows, which Mr. Ballmer said was due out in late 2009. In particular, the execs demonstrated not only the ability to manipulate various Windows or documents, but even the ability to paint using fingers.

It is indisputable that for some users it will be easier to control certain tasks with their hands, but the question is whether touching screen is easy enough in case of desktop computers with 24”, 30” or larger screens. Microsoft admits that multi-touch user interface is not a replacement for mice and other input devices.

“It is not about complete replacement of the mouse, said Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft’s corporate vice president in charge of Windows Experience Program Management.

Nevertheless, Microsoft seems to be confident that new ways of input are now mature enough to the point where they are ready to go mainstream. Considering the fact that nowadays mobile and portable computers are much more widespread than a decade ago, Microsoft seems to be completely correct about implementing new types of data input and interaction with personal computers.

“We are at an interesting juncture where almost all of the interaction is with the computer and mouse, today, and, over the years to come, the role of speech, vision, ink, all of those will become huge,” Mr. Gates said.

It cannot be said that touch-sensitive screens will emerge only with Microsoft Windows 7 personal computers. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system has been used on personal digital assistants with touch-screen for years now.

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