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Microsoft Invests in Touch

Microsoft is the key investor in the latest round of funding to N-trig, a supplier of digitizers and software that enable touch-based computing.

N-trig, an Israel-based company with a U.S. office in Austin, Texas, today announced it has received $24 million from Aurum Ventures, Challenger Ltd., Canaan Partners, Evergreen Venture Partners and Microsoft. While N-trig is not providing a breakdown of the financing, Microsoft is leading the investment, according to an N-trig spokeswoman.

Microsoft's investment in N-trig is noteworthy because the company is a key provider of the touch technology used in numerous tablet PCs and recent touch-enabled computers, such as Dell's Latitude XT and Hewlett-Packard's TouchSmart tx2. Microsoft has also been talking up the touch capabilities in its forthcoming Windows 7 operating system, which was released for beta testing last week.

N-trig demonstrated its DuoSense technology on the pre-beta release of Windows 7 at the recent Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC). The digitizer will provide a data stream based on the Windows 7 architecture, said Lenny Engelhardt, vice president of business development, in an interview in November.

"Microsoft came to us early on and said, 'Look, we want to allow, in Windows 7, true multi-touch from the operating system level,'" Engelhardt said.

While there is no shortage of skepticism over whether touch will become anything more than a niche market, Englehardt believes the release of Windows 7 will give it broader appeal. That said, he admitted, "I don't think the mouse will disappear."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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