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Windows 7 to take Surface mainstream?

Ikea-priced table computing

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Surface, meanwhile, will move to Windows 7 and off of Windows Vista SP 1 after Windows 7 ships. This raises a potential question mark over the need for separate products, and the prospect that Surface is subsumed into the Windows flagship.

Don't get overly excited, though. Levy said the swapping of APIs and move to Windows 7 doesn't mean Surface is dead or going away.

Instead, you'll see a base level of multi-touch that works across Surface and Windows 7, but there will be lots of unique features in Surface that won't appear in Windows 7.

One of these will be the ability to recognize an object when it's placed on the surface of, er, Surface. Windows 7 will run on PCs, laptops, and netbooks while Surface runs on Microsoft's table with a large, flat horizontal area that makes placing of object possible.

Objects are recognized by placing barcode-like byte and identity tags - capable of understanding billions of value - on their underside, which are read by tag APIs in Surface.

Windows 7 will see more touchability with bigger buttons, scroll-through lists, and icons - things common to most PC users but that are deliberately masked from the end-user tapping and dragging on Surface.

"Surface is optimized for specific things that Windows 7 isn't. Because we are a horizontal form factor means you can't do things you can do in vertical things," Levy told The Reg.

So it looks like it'll be Rococo-priced, all-in-one Surface tables for those with the cash and self-assembly and student furniture for everyone else.

Levy and Surface SDK team lead Doug Kramer, meanwhile, warned developers to avoid simply porting their existing applications to Surface or Windows 7.

They claimed you could convert an application written in WPF to Surface quite simply. It's a two-click process that involves working in XAML. Porting, though, will make for dull user experience. The challenge is to re-design an application that takes advantage of the new input methods, they said. ®

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