The aim of the program is to assure consumers that applications will work with touch-screen hardware using Microsoft's Windows Touch platform. Microsoft claims that Windows 7 will provide a rich platform to support touch on laptop, tablet and mobile devices.
Windows 7, currently in beta, features high DPI (dots per inch) resolution support to make buttons, links and navigational tools easier to access with touch gestures, according to Microsoft. The operating system's taskbar and on-screen touch keyboard are "optimized for touch."
Just three machines now support the current Windows 7 Beta build with touch capabilities, although they require the latest multi-touch beta drivers. Those machines are the HP TouchSmart All-in One PC (IQ500 Series and IQ800 Series), HP TouchSmart tx2 Tablet PC and the Dell Latitude XT or XT2 Tablet PC.
Computer devices bearing the Windows Touch logo need to pass a set of 43 tests designed by the Microsoft team. The company also has a component-level certification program to help original equipment manufacturers select hardware components for their products.
Several of Microsoft's hardware partners have already submitted devices and drivers for testing at Microsoft's in-house facility, according to Redmond's announcement.
Partners developing applications that will use the touch interface have access to three levels in Microsoft's platform, enabling good, better and best touch experiences. The "good" level is free for developers and is designed for touch-unaware applications. The "better" level adds direct gesture support. Finally, the "best" level is for developers who want to go beyond Microsoft's core toolset by creating custom gestures and custom controls.
Microsoft also offers a "COM version" for two of its Surface APIs -- "Manipulations" and "Inertia." Surface is Microsoft's table-like device that enables touch experiences.
Windows 7 is planned for release to manufacturers in early 2010, but rumors have suggested an earlier release is possible, perhaps sometime this year. The actual RTM date may depend, in part, on the overall readiness of Microsoft's partners.
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