Well we have arrived in the month of February and that means the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is due out later this month.  As I wrote about yesterday the preparations seem to be starting to bring the next step in the development process to the public and I can see the buzz starting to increase on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Whatever the update brings us it is certainly going to add at least one element to the developing OS that we have not seen yet and that is the Windows Store.  The Windows Store is going to be the marketplace for Metro style apps for Windows.  Microsoft has been working with partners and hosting a contest to fill the store with free apps for the upcoming consumer preview.  That will be a welcomed change to the static apps that are currently in the developer preview.

In fact the Windows 8 Developer Preview, which has been downloaded over 3 million times since it was released back in September of last year, has had a limited number of Metro/Touch apps on the system and no way to expand the collection which has been somewhat limiting in trying the metro side of the OS out.  I spend the majority of my time in the developer preview on my Acer Iconia Tab W500 in the desktop area.

So the other day while I was browsing some downloads at the Microsoft Download Center I came across the Touch Pack for Windows 7 and decided to give it a try on the Windows 8 Developer Preview to see how it works.

The Touch Pack for Windows 7 originally came out in May 2009 and the current version available at the download center was updated in July 2011.  

This touchpack was initially developed for OEM’s only and was available for them to include on Windows 7 systems that supported multi-touch.  Since then it has been made available to everyone in the download center.

I downloaded and installed this set of six programs on my Windows 8 Developer Preview and I am happy to report they run quite well on the system.  Granted they do not expand productivity one bit but they are fun to use and interact with to show off the touch capabilities of Windows 8.

The package includes the following applications:

  • Microsoft Blackboard, an intricate game of physics in which you solve a puzzle by creating a fanciful machine on a blackboard.
  • Microsoft Garden Pond, a tranquil game that takes place in serene Japanese water gardens.
  • Microsoft Rebound, a game in which you use your fingertips to control Tesla spheres with an electrical field between them to catapult a metal game ball into your opponent’s goal.
  • Microsoft Surface Globe, a program that you can use to explore the earth as a flat 2-D map or as an immersive 3-D experience.
  • Microsoft Surface Collage, a program that you can use to explore and interact with your photos and arrange them as a desktop background.
  • Microsoft Surface Lagoon, a screen saver and interactive water simulation, complete with a meditative rock arrangement and playful, shy fish.

So if you’re looking for a little something to occupy some time while waiting for the upcoming Windows 8 Consumer Preview then checkout the Touch Pack for Windows 7.