Microsoft touches new Windows system
Thursday, 29 May 2008, 05:11 Hrs
Los Angeles: Don't throw out your mouse yet, but the next version of Microsoft's Windows operating system will allow users to control their computers using touch screen technology. Company heads Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer provided a brief glimpse into the new offering at the All Things D technology conference Tuesday night. The new operating system is expected to hit stores in early 2010. Microsoft hopes that Windows 7 will have a better reception that Windows Vista, which has largely been shunned by businesses, but has still sold 150 million units. Taking a leaf from Apple's iconic iPhone, the new fingertip interface will allow users to enlarge and shrink photos, trace routes on maps, draw pictures, switch documents and choose applications. "The way you interact with the system will change dramatically," said Microsoft chairman Gates. "Today almost all the interaction is keyboard-mouse. Over years to come, the role of speech, vision, ink - all of those things - will be huge." But Ballmer dismissed criticism that the company was merely following Apple's lead, saying that the two companies operated in different leagues. "We'll sell 290 million PCs, and Apple will sell 10 million PCs," he said. "They're fantastically successful and so are we and our partners. But it's a different job." Gates, who is reducing his formal duties at Microsoft July 1, said he backed chief executive Ballmer in his aborted $47.5-billion bid to takeover Yahoo. "I've been supportive of everything Steve has done," Gates said. "Totally supportive." Ballmer revealed that Microsoft was still in talks with Yahoo on forging a partnership that would be able to compete with Google for internet advertising, but was adamant that the company would not overpay for the web portal. "Look, we made a bid for Yahoo. It was out there for three months and there was a difference between bid and ask," he said. "We thought we could accelerate our business. We were going to be financially disciplined about it. We walked away. We are talking with them about other ideas but we are not re-bidding on the company. We reserve the right to do so. That's not on the docket," he added.