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VSLive Could Windows 7 take Microsoft multi-touch mainstream? To an extent.

Surface - Microsoft's intriguing but pricey multi-touch-based input system - lets you build applications that can be rotated and touched. It lets you bind data such as pictures and order forms to code using XAML and accepts simultaneous inputs from up to 52 different contacts, recognizing objects placed on top of it. Surface is accessible to most because it's built on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Windows Vista Service Pack 1.

Since it debuted last April, Surface has seen "hundreds" of deployments, with showcase customers including Harrah's, Sheraton, MSNBC, and AT&T. Surface has wowed people for the possibilities it creates as much as it has puzzled them on how and where to use it.

Surface comes at a considerable price, though. First, you'll need a Surface table, built by Microsoft and priced between $12,000 and $15,000. With the table comes the SDK, which is not available on MSDN - the usual source for Microsoft tools and code samples.

Step up Windows 7.

Widows 7 will let you touch and poke your way through applications because it includes APIs from Surface. Version 4.0 of the .NET Framework - which will underpin Visual Studio 2010 - will also get these APIs.

Speaking at the VSLive conference in San Francisco, Rob Levy, Surface SDK program manager, said: "You can use exactly the same concepts and code on multi-touch Windows 7 and on surface."

Among the Surface APIs going in Windows 7 are the manipulation and inertia processor APIs that simplify the task of building touch-screen inputs in to applications for use by multiple users while providing a consistent interface for partners to build against.

The manipulation and inertia processor APIs are the foundation for many of the controls that have made Surface so cool and compelling so far. These include ScatterView, a control that lets you put code in a program and attach things like images that the user can flip, drag, flick and enlarge. You can see a demonstration of ScatterView below.

Other controls that use the manipulation and inertia processor APIs are Surface's ScrollViewer, Slider, and Concierge map.

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