Week in review: Microsoft and Google get touchy

Microsoft shows off plans for new Windows interface, while Google shows off Android capabilities. Also: future in the stream.

In an interesting but not surprising move, Microsoft revealed that it would add a multitouch interface to Windows 7.

The new interface, which is expected to appear in late 2009, was unveiled at the D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif., this week.

Corporate Vice President Julie Larson-Green demonstrated the multitouch technology, painting with several fingers at the same time to show how it can process not just touch, but multiple simultaneous input.

Microsoft had previously hinted that the touch gestures would find their way into Windows. In an interesting twist though, the new technology will work with existing touch screens, Microsoft said.

A Microsoft blog with a demonstration of the new interface can be found here.

As much as the conference is about tech's A-listers getting together to discuss emerging trends in the industry, the confab also brought together all the major players in the as-yet-failed Microhoo merger. So did anyone want to talk about it? No.

When Bill Gates was asked if he had a comment, he said, "No. Steve (Ballmer) might give a more nuanced answer." Gates said he knew the question would come up on stage and that he wouldn't have more to say. "You won't see me answer, since it's all up to Steve."

However, Ballmer wasn't eager to offer much more during an on-stage discussion. "We are talking with them about other ideas, but we are not rebidding on the company. I won't comment on what we are talking about." You can read the entire on-stage interview in this blog.

In an interview, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and President Sue Decker did little to shed any more light on the negotiations or possible outcomes.

Observers weren't so tight-lipped. News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, who is no stranger to the Microsoft-Yahoo affair, said even he is shaking his head at the lack of a deal.

"I'm mystified," Murdoch said. "I cannot understand the whole thing. Jerry Yang is a friend whom we all love and admire, and he's emotional about it."

Murdoch said Microsoft offered a price that the vast majority of shareholders wanted but that Yang has managed, at least for now, to nudge off. At the same time, he said he's surprised that Microsoft didn't press the point, something he said comes from its lack of megadeal experience.

Thomson Reuters CEO Thomas Glocer still expects the two companies to work out a deal.

"I don't think Jerry needs my advice," he said, but then he went on to say, "I think they need each other. I think it makes a lot of sense. One way or another, I'd be surprised if there wasn't some way to make that happen."

More than anything, D6 seemed like an opportunity for many to try to set the record straight.

•  Michael Dell, on mistakes the PC maker has made: "We missed some pretty big things that were going on in the industry."

•  InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller on the threat posed by Google: "The market is not going to be controlled by one party. Google is irrelevant to us. It's a different competitive-set issue (than Microsoft's).

•  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on whether he would sell the social-networking site to Microsoft for $15 billion: "The goal of the company is to execute on the things we talked about before, become more open, and share more information. The end goal isn't to sell the company or IPO. We evaluate how it will help us along the way."

•  Melinda Gates on the difficulty in giving away billions of dollars: "The world does not treat all lives with equal value."

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