Microsoft reinvents the coffee table
As a prelude to today’s momentous gathering of the geek kings (that’s Jobs and Gates delivering a joint keynote at the D5 conference in San Diego today) Microsoft announced a new product called Surface.
It’s a table-top computer — and by table top we do of course mean the computer IS the table, not that this is a computer ON a table — with a fancy touch screen interface and no wires. It can sync wirelessly with mobile phones, digital cameras and MP3 players via Bluetooth just by placing the device on the table and runs a version of Windows Vista modified specifically for the job. It looks like one of those devices you’ve seen in movies and wondered if they’ll ever exist in the real world, well, as of the end of this year they will. After a fashion.
To start with customers will likely be limited to corporate entities in the hospitality and retail market space; some early adopters in the US include hotel and casino chains and even mobile phone operators looking for interactive self-help kiosks for customers.
At US$5000-$10,000 these things aren’t cheap, but then first generation products hot off the manufacturing line rarely are. As manufacturing ramps up and prices fall, newer, more streamlined versions may well enter the consumer space, which is exactly how Microsoft are pitching the time line of this product and given the company’s willingness to sell a product at a loss to enter a market segment (Xbox anyone?) who’d doubt them? Well, plenty probably, this is Microsoft we’re talking about after all, but if they can pull it off through useful features that consumers want and price points to match, the table-top computer may just be something our kids wonder how we ever managed without. Maybe.
Having trouble coming to grips with written descriptions of Microsoft Surface? Check out this fantastic video demonstration over on CNET.