According to Electronista, HP [NYSE: HPQ] is boasting that it has some multi-touch capable laptops in the pipe, and that they’ll be available sooner than previously thought. While it might seem reasonable that PC makers will wait until the release of Windows 7 in 2010 before trying to do multi-touch, HP’s general manager of their consumer notebook division, Kevin Frost, says that HP will roll out that functionality “long before” the release of Vista’s successor. Multi-touch has been one of the most-hyped new features said to be included with Microsoft’s next OS, and both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have shown live demonstrations of the technology at work (at, for example, the D: All Things Digital conference last month.)
According to HP technical marketing manager Kevin Wentzel, the biggest roadblock preventing multi-touch from showing up on today’s PCs isn’t a hardware problem, but a software problem. He didn’t elaborate much, but the dilemma seems clear: how many applications besides, say, a photo editing program, really require fingers-on-screen that often? And of those, how many would really benefit from more than one finger? Sufficed to say the point-and-click operation logic will have to get shaken up quite a bit before multi-touch will be more than novelty, but there’s no telling what HP has up its sleeve. Most of the applications for its new 22-inch TouchSmart PC were developed in-house, foretelling some cool touch-stuff to come, whether Windows 7 arrives on time in 2010 or not.