Windows 7's big - but so far invisible - feature is Touch, lovingly demonstrated in all those Apple adverts. Now Microsoft is starting to ramp up the hype for the tactile OS.
If you are one of the lucky owners (or a prospective buyer) of a touch-sensitive PC, such as the Dell Latitude XT or HP TouchSmart models, then when Windows 7 releases you'll get the full force of its touch features, and a greasy smudged screen to boot.
For everyone else, it'll be the same old mouse and keyboard experience - how quaint. To highlight the difference, Microsoft will be making a Touch Pack of applications and games available.
You can read the full details on Microsoft's Windows 7 blog
. The software includes Surface Globe, a Microsoft lookalike of Google Earth with the ability to use your fingers to zoom around the world, or zoom in and fly around the cities (because there has been such outcry about how hard it is to control Google Earth with the mouse).
Collage lets you arrange your digital photos to make the perfect desktop background (that's one kids will love ... and you'll love cleaning their vegemite-smears off the monitor afterwards).
Finally, Lagoon is an aquatic screensaver that lets your fingers interact with the water to create ripples and attract the fish (OK, hard to deny that this app will be a hit, given the success of the Koi Pond iPhone app
Which part of the world will be under your thumb?
On the games side of the pack, Blackboard offers Incredible Machine style physics puzzles, but can you make that scratching sound? Rebound looks like it mixes Air Hockey and Speedball (now that is awesome... we'd love to see more games of the 80s remade for touch), while Pond sees origami creations afloat on another patch of water, this time propelled by the currents.
Why couldn't they come up with a Subbuteo game?
Naturally, this is just the first innocent fumblings of a nascent technology for home computers. Sure, touch has been a laboratory feature for some time and is proving its success on mobile devices. However, remember the first VR experiences from 25-odd years ago that have now become surgery demonstrations, combat simulators and much more.
Touch systems and products will be priced at a premium initially, the key to its success is if it becomes a common technology in a very price-sensitive market. Should every laptop and desktop get touch features in a few years time then we could soon be waving bye to the little rodent.