Microsoft Unveils Windows 7 Touch Pack

Spinning globes, schooling fish, and virtual erector sets add pizzazz to software maker's new OS.
Microsoft has introduced a bundle of software applications that leverage Windows 7's built-in support for touch-screen interfaces.

Windows 7 screen shot
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The Windows 7 Touch Pack includes Microsoft Surface Globe, a 3-D map of the Earth that users can navigate through with their fingertips; Surface Collage, a digital photo organizer and editing program; and Microsoft Surface Lagoon, an aquatic-themed screensaver in which fish and other creatures react to touch.

Other apps in the pack include the mechanical design game Blackboard and the pinball-like game Microsoft Rebound. Another app, Garden Pond, lets users create and control organic creations in a garden setting.

Microsoft introduced the package Wednesday at the D: All Things Digital conference in Dallas.

"The Windows and Surface development teams have been have been collaborating closely on bringing multi-touch to Windows," wrote Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft's in-house Windows blogger, in a post Wednesday. "We thought it would be fun to give you some applications that show what's possible with this new way to interact with your PC."

"The Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 is a great example of immersive experiences software developers can create for Windows 7 and multi-touch," LeBlanc added.

Microsoft recently said it's on pace to release a final version of Windows 7 in time for the key holiday shopping season. A so-called Release Candidate version of the OS is currently available as a free download from the software maker's Web site.

Windows 7 RC will function until June 1, 2010. After that, users will need to upgrade to a full, paid version of the operating system to continue use.

Microsoft hopes Windows 7 helps it recover from the Vista flop. Vista has failed to catch on with mainstream computer users and businesses have shunned it outright. Complaints range from Vista's intrusive security measures to its heavy desktop footprint.

Windows 7 is said to be lighter and easier to use than its predecessor. It also includes slick new tools that improve everyday tasks such as desktop searches and PC-to-PC file transfers.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).

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