Microsoft's mysterious Windows 7 missive

Summary:The software maker has been accused of not talking enough about Windows 7, but its latest communication on the subject hasn't made matters any clearer

Yesterday, ZDNet.co.uk received a press release from Microsoft.

That's not uncommon. What is uncommon is to get one unconnected with a product launch, an event or some major change in strategy. And this one... well, we're still not sure quite what it's about. It's titled "Windows 7 Information" but, of the 1,500 or so words in it, barely a couple of sentences would fully qualify as that.

So, we've decided to publish the press release in its entirety, to let you make your own mind up about what Microsoft is trying to say and why. Our best guess is beneath each paragraph in italics but, for the full effect, ignore those.

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Microsoft has long been a key innovator in touch technology. The launch of its touch platform in the next version of Windows is a sign of Microsoft's continued commitment to investing in this technology. Microsoft has been incorporating touch features into its operating systems since the Tablet PC was introduced over five years ago, and is charting new paths not just in touch but in natural user interface broadly, as evidenced by Surface, Tellme and the TouchWall demo at CEO Summit. Microsoft has always had a very healthy attitude toward competition, knowing that it is good for customers. It spends a lot of time talking to its OEM and hardware partners, its retail partners and analysts on a regular basis and is confident that Windows Vista is the platform to enhance the individual digital lives of people around the world.

Jerry Kaplan might disagree with this. As the founder of Go Corporation, he produced one of the first pen-based operating systems, and signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Microsoft in 1988. According to page 93 of The Microsoft File, by Wendy Goldman Rohm: "About two years later, Microsoft showed its own version of a pen operating system in the marketplace, having copied from Go everything it could."

And, said John Markoff in The New York Times during his reporting of the 1994 Microsoft antitrust trial, emails revealed that Bill Gates wasn't shy about talking to Andy Grove at Intel about a potential investment in Go Corp: "'I guess I've made it very clear that we view an Intel investment in Go as an anti-Microsoft move, both because Go competes with our systems software and because we think it will weaken the 386 PC standard,' Mr Gates wrote. Shortly after the letter was written, according to Mr Kaplan, Intel reduced its planned investment in Go from $10m to $2m, and stipulated the investment be kept a secret."

Microsoft is working closely with OEMs, IHVs and ISVs to bring the best touch experiences to Windows PCs. Microsoft's focus is on providing amazing innovation that its partners can use to develop incredible applications that Microsoft can't even imagine. With Windows 7, Microsoft will be baking touch right into the OS and the Windows development platform so that software developers will have a standard way of adding touch to their applications. Customers are excited about the advent of touch on a PC. Based on customer research, Microsoft believes that touch technology will become more mainstream in the Windows 7 timeframe, with an expected increase in penetration of touch-enabled PCs. Microsoft is delivering an immersive experience of touch and Surface technologies into the hands of end users with Windows 7. Not only will Windows 7 support touch-enabled hardware, but the user interface is designed to make touch a natural part of the user experience, even on the smallest laptops.

Developers are complaining that Microsoft isn't saying much about Windows 7 at all yet, and we've yet to meet anyone capable of whipping up a state of mild interest, let alone excitement, about touch on PCs. And as for "even on the smallest laptops": given that touch interfaces only work well on mobile phones, this is a curious inversion of our experience.

Microsoft is investing in touch technology as a company: Windows and Surface are working together closely to deliver the best and most innovative touch experiences to customers. With touch, Microsoft is putting the power of your PC at your fingertips. Just as the mouse brought a new level of interaction with Windows programs, Microsoft is bringing the touch experience of Surface to future versions of Windows so that, through the power of the ecosystem, Windows and Windows applications will be even more interactive and immersive. Touch changes the way you work with your PC; it introduces new ways of interacting with your PC and makes it more efficient, immersive, interactive and fun to use.

This appears to be a reiteration of the previous paragraphs but, since it lacks...

Topics: Tech Industry

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Editor, ZDNet UK. Ex technology/technical editor of ZDNet UK, IT Week, PC Magazine, Computer Life, Mac User, Alfa Systems, Amstrad, Sinclair. Micronet 800, Marconi Space and Defence Systems, and a dodgy TV repair shop in the back streets of Plymouth. Can still swap out a gassy PL509 with the best of 'em.Dear Reader - contact me via our m... Full Bio

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