Microsoft makes Windows 7 Touch Pack a free download

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Microsoft has finally followed through on its plans to make the Windows 7 Touch Pack publicly, and freely available. First introduced last May, the Touch Pack was only available to OEMs for use on new Windows 7 computers with touch-capable displays. The bundle contains six touch-friendly programs: three games, and three Microsoft Surface applications.

The games, while very simple, are probably worth the price of admission if you have kids around. Microsoft Blackboard is described as a "puzzle game of physics," in which you use gestures to manipulate gears, fans, seesaws and more to direct balloons and balls toward a target.

Microsoft Rebound requires you to "propel a ball and annihilate your opponent" -- be it the AI or a friend -- and Microsoft Garden Pond tasks you with maneuvering origami creations on a pond by making ripples in the water. Non-game applications include Microsoft Surface Globe, a multi-touch 3D globe with information about regions, 3D cities and more, Microsoft Surface Collage, and Microsoft Surface Lagoon.

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