At the D6 conference in nearby Carlsbad, CA, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer provided a sneak preview of what they're calling Windows 7. Microsoft had hinted in recent weeks that Windows 7 might be a replacement for the badly maligned Vista, one of the biggest product failures since New Coke.
But what was shown was nothing of the sort. But what Gates and Ballmer presented was a touch screen interface that responds to gestures that allow you to do finger painting and move pictures around the display. What does this have to do with an operating system that helps us in business and fixes all the problems of Vista? Absolutely nothing.
Walt Mossberg was polite in his interview, but he, like other observers, must have been wondering how out of touch Microsoft is. Remarkably, what they showed was demonstrated several years ago by Philips and Hewlett Packard, and more recently by Apple. Some of the features are already in Apple's iPhone and notebooks. But when you're a monopoly and have little real competition you can live in your own world. What's more surprising is a company with such smart people and huge financial resources has been unable to develop truly innovative products on their own, and need to resort to copying others.