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February 12, 2009

Enabling Multi-Touch in the Windows 7 Beta

Now that the Windows 7 Beta has been out for a while, I’d like to highlight how folks can try out Windows Touch, Windows 7’s new multi-touch capabilities.

In order to take advantage of it, you are going to need a PC that supports multiple touch points. Today – there are a few PCs on the market to choose from:

To enable multi-touch capabilities on these PCs running the Windows 7 Beta you will need to make sure you have the latest multi-touch beta drivers. The driver allows the digitizer screen to support multiple touch points. Remember these are beta drivers, they still need to pass through our rigorous Windows Logo process before they are final, we can’t guarantee that all pre-Windows 7 PCs will have logoed drivers.

  • For HP TouchSmart All-in-One PCs: The driver is available from Windows Update. After you have installed the Window 7 Beta, open Windows Update from the Start menu. You might have to click the “Check for Updates” link on your left so it will find the driver, it is Optional right now so you’ll have to select it before it will install.
  • For the Dell Latitude XT and HP TouchSmart tx2 Tablet PCs: the drivers are available now on N-Trig’s website. N-Trig is the company that makes the digitizer in these PCs (you should read the release notes, there are some limitations, like no pen support you should be aware of and how to switch between Windows Vista and Windows 7). Please also note these are beta drivers and are not supported by Dell or HP.

Many features in Windows 7, which are available today in the Windows 7 Beta, take advantage of multi-touch capabilities and I thought I’d highlight a few with some tips here.

To make sure multi-touch is working try our new Paint. The latest version of Paint has some cool new brushes that are designed for multi-touch, click on the Brushes gallery and pick any one (I like the Oil Brush). Now try finger painting – this is also the easy way to see how many fingers your PC supports at the same time, some support two at a time, others support 4 or more.


Once you are done “painting” – try out Internet Explorer 8. The big touch feature here is panning; you can place your finger anywhere on a page and drag up or down to scroll the page – that’s a lot easier than trying to touch the scrollbar. You can also go back and forward between pages with your finger using Flicks: try flicking to your right (as if you were going back in a book) to go back.

You can also use touch to navigate along the taskbar. The new Jump Lists on the taskbar are touch optimized, instead of right-clicking on one of the icons on the taskbar, trying dragging up on it with your finger to literally pull the menu up.


Windows Media Center is also touch optimized. Ben Reed, Senior Product Manager for Windows Media Center, demoed this for Channel 10.

One last tip: To make buttons and controls bigger and easier to touch, you can tell Windows to display everything larger – this has really improved in Windows 7. Go to the Start menu and type display, and then open the Display Control Panel (which should be at the top of the Start menu). Choose the Medium (that’s what I use) or Larger size and you will find that everything is easier to target with your finger.

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