PC operating systems need to get touchy

Summary:Are we on to a path where we have a mobile operating system riding shotgun with more traditional ones? Picture Mac OSX with iOS. Windows with Windows Phone 7. Dual OS pairings may not be elegant.

The touchscreen has altered computing to the point where it's hard not to try and swipe any screen you see. The problem: PC operating systems aren't built well for touch. That situation needs to change pronto.

Patently Apple has uncovered a iMac Touch patent published in Europe. In a nutshell, the iMac could turn into a touch driven computer depending on the screen orientation.

Naturally, this iMac user interface has generated a good bit of buzz, but here's the part of the conversation that's most notable via Patently Apple:

Apple's method of transitioning from OS X to iOS is clearly outlined for both the iMac and MacBook – and it's a grand slam home run. Imagine having an iMac on your desktop one minute and a gigantic iPad the next. Imagine playing iGames on this dream machine - Wow! Imagine reading a double-page book on this - Unbelievable! Apple takes the mystery out of how OS X could finally co-exist with iOS on a Mac and you've got to see this one to believe it.

It's not hard to see a day where you use both the mouse and the touch user interface, but it strikes me as a bit odd that there needs to be two operating systems to pull off such a trick. Are we on to a path where we have a mobile operating system riding shotgun with more industrial ones? Picture Mac OSX with iOS. Windows with Windows Phone 7. Google's emerging Chrome OS with Android. These dual OS pairings are nice, but the solution isn't exactly elegant.

Jason O'Grady: iOS: Coming soon to Mac OS 11?

We're seeing a computing set-up where there are touch haves (mobile operating systems like iOS, Android and HP's WebOS) and have nots (Windows, Mac OSX). Now there are limitations to the mobile operating systems, but they seem to be driving the tablet designs. In the big picture, I'd want to alternate between touch and a mouse without twisting a screen around. PC operating systems---which in theory can accommodate touch somewhat already---need to step up before they begin to look like relics.

Related: Ubuntu's multitouch move: Will it bolster adoption?

Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, Operating Systems

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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