Will touchscreen Windows 7 netbooks be hot or not?

Do you think Windows 7 touch-enabled PCs -- or Windows 7 netbooks -- will be hot? Can you envision any potential Windows 7 applications that might win over PC-touch skeptics like me?

As I've noted here before, I am not among the true believers who are convinced that adding multi-touch support to Windows 7 PCs is going to spur sales.

To me, touch still seems more like a novelty than a must-have when it comes to PCs (though not to phones, where touch is becoming an expected feature). Yes, it might look cool to be able to touch a screen saver and see a simulated stream ripple. Or to use afinger to navigate a Virtual Earth globe/map. But the downside of fingerprints on my screen outweigh any benefits of touch applications I've seen or read about to date.

But what about netbooks? Does a touch interface on a machine that is smaller, more portable and unlikely to have a full-size keyboard and mouse make more sense? Would touch be compelling on netbooks/smartbooks/new kinds of tablets that are slightly larger than phones, but smaller than typical laptops and desktops? (Such a netbook would have to be running at least Windows 7 Home Premium, as multi-touch isn't supported in Windows 7 Starter Edition, however.)

Maybe... but there still remains a problem that the Windows 7 Touch Pack -- an add-on Microsoft is seeding among PC makers to help popularize touch -- doesn't even begin to address. There are no killer touch apps for PCs. Because there have been relatively few touch-enabled systems, software makers haven't rushed to build new touch-centric apps for PCs the way they have for phones.

It's a true "which will come first"  -- the demand for touch-enabled PCs  or the compelling touch apps -- dilemma. Al Monro, CEO of NextWindow -- a leading provider of interactive touch-screens -- agrees.

"ISVs are not providing touch apps because there has been no hardware for it" and vice versa, Monro said during a recent conversation we had about touch.

Monro said he wasn't sure whether there will ever be a proverbial "killer app" for touch on PCs that will result in it becoming a must-have feature. A more likely scenario, he said, will result when users have a chance to use a touch-enabled version of Microsoft Paint, or to be able to use two hands to resize a PDF document on their touch screens.

With Windows 7, all of the major (PC) manufacturers will have at least one touch model," Monro predicted. "Everybody is looking at it."

Do you think Windows 7 touch-enabled PCs -- or Windows 7 netbooks -- will be hot? Can you envision any potential Windows 7 applications that might win over PC-touch skeptics like me?

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