Microsoft, why do you bother with touch computing? You haven't helped produce an impressive tablet even with years of experience in touch-based software development. Even worse, you let Apple come in and steal the show without much of a fight. So why do you continue to push this Windows 7 operating system, which is primarily intended for traditional mouse and keyboard usage, to touch devices? It makes no sense!
When will Microsoft learn from the past? Everyone knows that previous attempts to put Windows on touch devices ended up, at best, mediocre. Admittedly, Microsoft did put in a lot of effort into making Windows 7 a better operating system for the touch-happy among us. But what has that resulted in? Not much.
After reviews of various touch-enabled Windows 7 devices hit the newswire, the general consensus appeared that the overall experience is decent — but decent isn't quite good enough in consumer's eyes.
Same Old Story
The reviewers have noted that the Windows 7 touch devices are decent, but not exceptional when it comes to touch responsiveness. This might be a result of the fact that Windows wasn't initially designed with touch in mind. When you look at the iPhone OS and Android, these systems have user interfaces that have been designed to use with fingers: featuring larger icons, bigger text, and intuitive navigation. These systems have the benefit of being created from scratch with touch interaction in mind — Windows isn't.
Another serious but expected point that has arisen in many reviews is that the applications developed for the Windows operating system do not necessarily translate well to touch interaction. Just as Windows itself isn't heavily integrated with touch, the applications are even worse in this regard. After all, when someone develops an application for an iPod Touch, they expect it to be used for touch, but when developing for Windows, developers can't invest the time and resources for touch-enabled applications just for the sake of it.
Toss in the fact that you now have many contenders wanting to get involved in touch-based devices, and you quickly realize that Microsoft could have a serious issue on their hands that needs to be resolved.
In truth, anything less than amazing from Microsoft should be highly disappointing, especially when considering that Microsoft has the Apple iPad and friends to compete with. This could end up as another market that Microsoft gets left behind, even though they have had all the opportunity in the world to create something magnificent.
Time For Change
But there is something Microsoft could do: Microsoft could create a dedicated operating system or user interface that runs on top of Windows 7 that is designed specifically for touch interaction. It would be a great move that gives developers a dedicated place to develop for while improving the user experience for consumers.
But it is easier said than done.
However, just look at Windows Phone 7 — it looks stunning, beautiful, unique, and, overall, amazing. Microsoft decided to tear down the walls and rebuild from within, and it looks like it could pay huge dividends in the future. The problem? It is coming several years late to the party. Where was this thing, say, three years ago?
So surely the tech giant can do the same for a touch-based operating system. But it would involve Microsoft investing millions of dollars to create a new platform that might not necessarily be a success.
Apple and Google, for the sake of comparison, migrated their mobile application marketplaces from mobile devices to tablet devices, giving th e touch devices a head start. Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn't really have a rich mobile application marketplace to build off of, especially when considering that Windows Phone 7 hasn't even come out yet — and there are no guarantees that this will be a success either.
So, in the end, Microsoft faces a huge conundrum that isn't easily resolved. Surely touch-based interfaces are going to be something that peaks consumer interest in the future, especially as the thought of carrying around a dedicated keyboard becomes more foreign to us. But Microsoft is not prepared to take the battle to Apple and Google.
It's intriguing when you think about it: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 might be the product that makes or breaks Microsoft's future in touch devices, let alone mobile.