Windows 7: The OS that launches a thousand touch-screen PCs?

More PC makers are announcing Windows 7 machines that use touch screens

Apple Inc. may still be coy about whether it plans to launch a touch-screen tablet computer this year, but Windows PC makers are forging right ahead.

In the last three weeks, five leading PC makers have announced or been reported to confirm plans to release touch-screen PCs running Windows 7, which will provide built-in multitouch features, as well as enable touch applications written for it.

These five companies would join the two largest PC makers in the world, which began rolling out touch PCs before Windows 7: Dell Inc., which sells the touch-screen-enabled Studio One all-in-one consumer desktop, and Hewlett-Packard Co., which has led the way with touch-screen PCs since it introduced its first TouchSmart computer in January 2007.

The latest entrants include:

  • Lenovo Group Ltd., which said earlier this month it plans to release a touch-enabled version of its new all-in-one PC, the IdeaCentre C100, after Windows 7 ships. In a spring interview, a Lenovo analyst said touch R&D has been a "huge area of focus" for the PC vendor.
  • Acer Inc. plans to launch three touch-enabled computers with Windows 7, the Taiwanese publication Digitimes reported last week.
  • Micro-Star International (MSI), another Taiwanese PC maker, was reported by Digitimes earlier this week to be planning to release a touch-enabled Windows 7 netbook.
  • Sony Corp. said last month that it plans to release touch-enabled Vaio PCs for Windows 7.
  • Asustek Inc., which has already released a whole line of touch-enabled Linux PCs, was reported earlier this month to be planning to release a Windows 7 version of one of those models, the Eee T91 netbook, with a swivel LCD screen.

These PC makers together control more than 60 per cent of the global computer market.

In addition, NextWindow Ltd., said Wednesday that its optical touch-screen overlays, which are already used to touch-enable Dell's and HP's PCs, are being adopted by a number of PC and monitor makers for coming all-in-one PCs running Windows 7.

"We've got eight to 10 projects that we expect to go into mass production in the next one to two months," said Al Monro, CEO of the Auckland, New Zealand-based company, in an interview. He declined to give the names of NextWindows' customers.

NextWindow, which supplied 400,000 touch-screen PC overlays last year and expects to supply a million this year, is one of the largest vendors in the optical touch-screen market, along with Taiwanese hardware vendor, Quanta Computer Inc., which is rumored to be building a touch-screen tablet PC for Apple.

Optical touch is only one of six major types of touch-screen technology on the market today, according to Monro. The iPhone, for instance, uses projected capacitive technology, while touch-enabled cash registers typically use resistive film or infrared.

NextWindow mounts two sensors at the top of a screen that view a thin layer of light beamed across the monitor's surface. The sensors then detect when and where a finger or stylus is pressing down and blocking the light.

Despite the plethora of coming models, not everyone is bullish in the short term. Only about 1 per cent of the notebook market, or 1.4 million PCs, were touch-enabled in 2008, according to research company IDC Corp. As the notebook market booms, the percentage of touch-enabled models will actually shrink to 0.6 per cent this year, and remain at 0.7 per cent in 2010, IDC said .

That doesn't affect NextWindow, whose customers are all building all-in-one desktop PCs or LCD monitors, not laptops, netbooks or tablets, Monro said.

NextWindow's optical touch is particularly suited for desktop monitor-sized touch screens, in the range of 17 inches to 24 inches, for three reasons, Monro said: Cost, image clarity and flexibility (users can use a finger, a hard or soft stylus, even a paintbrush).

But Monro admitted there are potential stumbling blocks for touch to take off with Windows 7. Vendors might price touch-enabled PCs too high to attract consumers, he said. Also, Windows 7 hasn't generated a huge wave of touch-enabled applications, he said.

There is a need for "some really cool [touch] apps put out by Google, Facebook, Adobe or Microsoft" running on Windows 7, he said. "So far, it's mostly smaller ISVs."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ApplemsiNextWindowMicrosoftAsustekWindows 7Lenovosonyacer

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?