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Windows 7 to get more touchy-feely

A test engineer on the Tablet PC team promises the next version of Windows will have touch capabilities that will leave fans of the iPhone "blown away."

For those wondering when touch features such as those found on the Surface PC or iPhone would make it into mainstream PCs, the answer appears to be "whenever Microsoft gets around to releasing Windows 7."

A Microsoft blogger said this week that the Vista successor will include an array of new touch features.

"I will say that if you are impressed by the 'touch features' in the iPhone, you'll be blown away by what's coming in Windows 7," said Hilton Locke, a test engineer on the Tablet PC effort. "Now if only we could convince more OEMs that Windows Touch Technology is going to drive their sales."

The posting, which was spotted earlier Wednesday by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, didn't offer much in the way of details on what's coming in Windows 7.

Microsoft has talked about the notion of gestures since the early days of the Tablet PC, though its earliest concepts required a digital pen. With Vista, Microsoft introduced the notion of using fingers to navigate the operating system. HP used the feature in its TouchSmart PC, though other computer makers have yet to follow suit.

Late in the lifecycle of Windows XP, Microsoft added its Origami "touch pack," designed to pave the way for ultrasmall PCs that can be controlled with a finger.