Touchscreens and computers have never really mixed that well – until now. With Microsoft’s determination to embrace mobile as well as desktop with Windows 8, touch-friendly laptops and desktops will become a necessity rather than a luxury for most.
A lot of the groundwork for Windows 8’s touch technology was already laid in Windows 7, and if you’re lucky enough to own a touchscreen display, you may have already been taking advantage of its touch-screen interface, which works reasonably well all things considered.
But if you truly want to embrace how the future might feel, then download and install the free Touch Pack for Windows 7. It’s a collection of tools and games to help showcase and educate you about touchscreen technology.
There are three relatively simple games – Blackboard, Garden Pond and Rebound – plus a touch-enabled screensaver. Of most interest will be Microsoft Surface Globe, a program that allows you to explore the earth in 2D or 3D using your touchscreen, plus Microsoft Surface Collage that makes it possible to arrange a series of photos on a background and then save the image or use it as your desktop wallpaper.
Surface Collage is great fun to use in particular – once launched, swipe along the bottom of the screen to access photos from your Pictures library, then drag them on to the desktop canvas before rotating, moving and resizing them using two fingers. You can then customise the canvas, place borders around the photos and finally save the finished result as a standalone photo or set it as your desktop background.
There’s little of practical value here, but if you’ve just bought a touchscreen ahead of the launch of Windows 8, the Touch Pack for Windows 7 is worth downloading to get a heads up on how the touchscreen is going to change the way you interact with your computer forever.