Bill Gates gave the world a sneak preview of Microsoft’s next Windows OS at the All Things Digital conference in San Diego.

After the lukewarm reception received by Vista, Microsoft needs the next update to be a big hit to keep the public happy.

Included in the new package are multi-touch features, allowing users to ditch the mouse and interact with a PC in new ways.

Imagine being able to play the piano on a screen, or paint a picture. Doesn’t seem that interesting when you could just actually do those things, but Microsoft is all about giving options.

Get ready for the change

"The way you interact with the system will change dramatically," said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

"Today almost all the interaction is keyboard-mouse. Over years to come, the role of speech, vision, ink - all of those things - will be huge."

Microsoft believes the touch-responsive screen will soon be ubiquitous, and the abilities it will give to users will initiate a dramatic shift in the way the PC and other gadgets are operated.

If you’re excited now, you won’t have to wait too long - the release is scheduled for 2009.