London, May 29 : Microsoft is aiming to end the days of the keyboard-mouse combination with its touch-based user interface that will debut as part of Windows 7, the next version of its desktop operating system.
The company said that it aims to build on the success of its rival Apple's iPhone touch screen.
At the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference last week, Microsoft executives, including chairman, Bill Gates, and chief executive, Steve Ballmer showcased a multi-touch user interface that enables gesture-driven input and control of applications.
Not only will Windows 7 support touch-enabled hardware, but the user interface is designed to make touch a natural part of the user experience, even on the smallest laptops, according to Microsoft.
The company said it is working closely with hardware and software vendors to bring the best touch experience to Windows PCs.
Windows 7, which is not due to be released until 2010, represents the latest in a long line of attempts by Microsoft to catch up with the technical lead established by Apple, though the software giant usually overhauls its rival in the end. "The way you interact with the system will change dramatically," Times Online quoted Gates, as saying.
"Today, almost all the interaction is keyboard-mouse." He indicated that he expected users to talk and use a pen to interact with their computers as well as caress them," he added.
But some critics claim that Microsoft is a long way from replacing what has been the central human-computer interface since its invention by Xerox researchers in the 1970s.
Roberta Cozza, an analyst at Gartner, said: "With mobiles, which you hold in your hand, touch can make things easier - you get to the phone's functions faster, whereas with a PC you'd have to lift your arm every time, and with a screen that's 17 inches wide that's going to become more difficult."