Robert X. Cringley — far and away the best thing related to high technology coming out of Charleston, South Carolina — suggested in his annual tech predictions that Apple would deliver a replacement for the mouse in 2008. Here we are just two weeks later, mere days after MacWorld 2008, and the world has the new MacBook Air with a touchscreen built into the laptop!

I’m not sure if it’s too early to claim victory on that prediction, but Bob must be looking closely at the new touchscreen. So is Steve Ballmer. It won’t be long before Microsoft announces they are working with hardware manufacturers to create the best touchscreen UI ever which will trump any competing product, integrate seamlessly with spellchecking in Office, and own this new hardware market segment. It’ll be delivered in 2009, baked into the next OS, and be integrated with the next generation of Zune. Yawn.