[qi:gigaom_icon_chip] As Microsoft prepares its upcoming Oct. 22 launch of Windows 7, it looks like the chip industry has several reasons to love the new operating system. Everything from its smaller footprint to better performance while running it from a solid-state hard drive could change the dynamics of the memory business, while the integrated touch will help boost the sales of semiconductors and components for touchscreens. Let’s hit the highlights:
Solid State Becomes a Solid Proposition: Windows 7 both reads faster and uses space more efficiently on solid-state drives (Flash-based alternatives to the spinning disk hard drives) than Windows Vista. This is a good thing for Flash memory makers like Samsung, Spansion and Micron and kind of a bummer for the makers of spinning disk drives like Western Digital and Seagate. However, SSDs still cost far more per GB of memory, which means they’re a bit of luxury item on consumer PCs and are typically used sparingly in the enterprise. But that is changing, and Windows 7 will make the case for transitioning to SSDs even stronger.
Touch Becomes a Primary User Interface: For decades, interacting with a PC was done by way of a keyboard or mouse, but with Windows 7 touch officially become a third means of telling the computer what you want it to do. Clearly the OS can only do so much, but thanks to the drivers, the Microsoft backing and an open platform that define touch controls, touch as a UI stands to gain in adoption for both consumer and business applications. Chipmakers like Synaptics or firms providing haptic feedback MEMS may see a boom in their business if touch becomes widely adopted beyond smartphones.
A Shiny New OS Means Shiny New PCs: The key reason that chipmakers will love Windows 7 is because it may finally get both corporate IT departments and consumers to stop hoarding their XP machines and purchase new ones, knowing they are safe from Vista.