Anyone here remember the early days of the web browser, or windows 95? Remember how they tried to make "Virtual" malls and "Virtual" desktops? But most of these ideas pretty much sucked. The computer doesn't match up well to real world motifs. Sometimes you need a long list of information. And the graphics power to pull this sort of thing off simply didn't exist.
But I just saw a pretty slick website and set of videos for something called 'Surface' from Microsoft. Some of the things shown in the demo have been played with before in various tech demos available on youtube, but this is the first I have seen a system that takes the desktop metaphor and makes it work. Put your camera on the table, and pictures fall out, grab some and send them to your phone or email them by dragging them with your finger. Browse a restaurants menu and divide the check visually. You pay by placing your card on the table. It recognizes it! The usability here is pretty slick. Date of arrival is Winter 2007 but what does that mean? All kinds of hardware will need to be developed to take advantage of this kind of coolness. But I don't care. This is the future, shiny and full of touch displays that I want.