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Microsoft's Shift: we do finger-based control, too

Brian White

With Apple's iPhone release still set for next month, will the design and user experience win it legions of fans throughout the rest of 2007? Probably, but some folks in Redmond are holding their applause. Microsoft's "Shift" finger-based interface is set to clash with Apple's multi-touch sometime soon as the software titans do human interface battle (again). No, this is not the Microsoft oFone, but is Microsoft's "Shift" a copy of Apple's multi-touch or a homegrown Microsoft invention? The description Microsoft gives for Shift states that it is "possible to use a pointer on a PDA that can be guided by finger motion -- once the pointer is in position, the user simply lifts his thumb or finger to select the target." Does this sound revolutionary or evolutionary -- or neither? Shift apparently not only replaces stylus input but goes beyond it -- just like multi-touch. Still, should the iPhone feel threatened at all here?

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