Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface in action

Credit: Microsoft

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

24 comments
viruser
viruser

Anyone see the iPhone resemblance?

Yowye
Yowye

This technology has been out for some time. ... Sure, but how readily is it made and accessable to most of the public willing to use it? Microsoft is willing to produce this technology and bring it to the masses who are wanting and willing to use it - sooner rather than later. No pasa nada ... Sorry, I don't uderstand Italiano, Spanish, Portuguese or any of the Latin Languages, with the exception of a little French. OK what is it good for? Why all the fuss. It?s a screen that takes up a lot of floor space. ... Have you ever heard of the first computer and how it took up a whole room and used vacuum tubes, and how it could only do small computations in minutes? Today, computers can calculate mass equations in seconds, take up minimal space on a desk-top or even less on your lap, and finally? just as the computer went from Large, simple, mundane, slow and ineffective, not to mention costly, to the computers we use and relatively take for granted of today with its advanced technology... Computers that are - Small, advanced, exceptional, quick and effective not to mention more affordable, all new technology will become more advanced to as time passes such as this ?screen that takes up a lot of floor space? today, which will become the little ?I sure could use that, and, boy this is convenient? thing of tomorrow. Just as the microchip was big and klutzy to it?s now small and sleek, so too will the Advanced Touch-Screen go. I hate when people come up and touch my LCD with greasy fingers. This thing is a germ factory! ? Are you for real? I mean seriously? It?s no more a germ factory than a keyboard, or worse yet? your own hands. And to put things into perspective - Glass and smooth hard plastic surfaces are less resilient at holding on to bacteria after being wiped down or washed with cleaners than most other materials? including your own skin.

msquared
msquared

OK what is it good for? Why all the fuss. Its a screen that takes up a lot of floor space. Am I missing something?

ddannenbrink
ddannenbrink

If I can play Pac Man on it, then I would find it useful.

yobtaf
yobtaf

"No sir, I don't like it." ............Mr Horse

tomascorrocastro
tomascorrocastro

Franco que no me gusta la idea de tener una table top como mesa de compartir imagenes, mejor seguimos usando un monitor CRT. Si realmente quieren hacer algo impactante pues seria estupendo tener un sistema similar pero con hologramas, como siempre microsoft y sus supuestas mejoras... Tomc

iregretjumping
iregretjumping

I must say this thing is pretty sexy. This is a complete 180 from what we have been seeing from Microsoft in the past 25-some-odd years. It's very stylish and looks like it would be fun to play with. Would I buy one? Absolutely not. I feel that tabletop computing is not what people want. It's inconvenient, and it's uncomfortable. Heck, I've been known to watch a tv show or listen to a song I hate because the remote is not within a reachable distance. Not to mention, it will be insanely expensive no matter what. Yeah, it's cool you can pull up a map on it, but what good is it? I can pull up a map on my cell phone or PDA and actually take it with me where I can use it. Table top computing will NOT replace computers as we know it. I think that a smaller handheld version of this that you can load your songs, movies, and pictures on (That wont be bombarded by DRM, which if it's made by Microsoft, will not be the case). I would like to carry this device from room to room and bring my video or music with me from TV to TV. This can sit on my lap and is usable. Or even a 5-inch version in my table at a restraunt so I can pick what music I listen to, and (This is the kicker) at what volume. However, to compare this to the Eniac or some other room-sized computer is a fallacy. To make this smaller would be pointless, as you would have a small coffee table in you family room. Also, if your first complaint about this is that it's Germy... open your eyes. There are much more flagrant issues with this thing. Cool? Yes. Revolutionary? No.

C-3PO
C-3PO

Maybe that's why the negative comments... are you afraid IT will be reduced to cleaning surfaces? LOL. This is fantastic. I can see one of these replacing the coffee table in every living room... a center of family activity where you can check the family calendar, create family menus. Have a look at family photos, select your favorite music to be played in the room, have a family game of monopoly on the computer screen (I always hated having to be the banker!). You could order chinese food from it... and those are just the practical things. WOuldn't it be fun to have a party around this table and objects on the table keep bouncing around the objects you put on it? That would be a laugh - and that would probably just be the screen saver! Add a motion sensor to the base to know when people are around it and you can remind the kids to pick up that glass they left sitting on the table. LOL. It's endless!!! I love it! If it wasn't going to be $60,000 to buy one (just guessing), I think it would be the coolest tech gadget to enter the home since the television, or the commodore 64! My ONLY negative comment - why did Microsoft have to get the hold of it so soon? They'll be inovative, but I think an independent company who's livelihood depended on the sale of such gadgets would be more motivated to do it right and at a good price... When MS Home server kicks in full time and we see more integration of autonomous systems in the home, this would be a neat periferal for your home computing network. Oooh.. it's giving me chills.

kevin
kevin

I completely concur with you, Yowye. I am amazed with this kind of technology. It reminds me of the movie Minority Report. Perhaps this is a move in that very direction. People who don't embrace new technology and innovation are stuck in the dark ages.

stumpmonkey
stumpmonkey

I agree. I hate when people come up and touch my LCD with greasy fingers. This thing is a germ factory!

Fil0403
Fil0403

This technology has been out since 2006. Originally invented by Microsoft in 2002, when they started working on the project, way before the demo by Jefferson Y. Han. Here's the link to the ignorant comment of the person who claims someone invented this in 2006 when it is public that Microsoft has been working on it for more than 5 years: http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=224661&messageID=2247426. All of Microsoft's original work can be seen here: http://www.microsoft.com/surface/.

Izzmo
Izzmo

Some of you fail to see the other purposes this could be used for... COMMERCIAL! I could see something like this being in a train station, or a coffee shop, or something like that for people to use to mess around, design, or just whatever. Sure, a computer is there right now, but this thing could take it's place. This bulky looking thing could be the future of fast food restaruants. You can say good bye to customer service and just order food yourself. (Should have been done a long time ago..)

DougUnit12
DougUnit12

Speaking of 180 ... why does the user have to run it upside down? That seems to be what the Microsoft guy is doing (j/k) Seriously, this is merely a packaging thing ... not a huge innovation, but an interesting one just the same. It's a conversation piece, a new game console foot-print, a 'puter for people with phobias about "tiny little computers" ... and perhaps fits into a few more as yet to be defined niche markets, including new waiting room distractions for high priced doctor and and dentist offices. Don't expect to see a million of these ... Microsoft does not actually make hardware ... they won't be able to deliver them cheaply enough for the masses (can you spell XBOX 360?) ... but it is nice to see a bit of innovation, even if derivative and currently mostly in the Dog and Pony Show realm.

jc@dshs
jc@dshs

and you know how they can put animations on plastic bottles and things now? how much more of a step to have this thing as a sheet of plastic you fold up and put in your pocket? still want to lug your laptop around then?

Ron_007
Ron_007

I agree with brinkerj, this thing has possibilities as a display surface, particularly as a kiosk implementation. It sounds like it may finally be the touchscreen we've been waiting for. The one we've seen 'forever' in various movies. Imagine one of these sitting in a mall, used to display advertising and provide directions to stores. Find store name in list, touch it, it displays route from "you are Here" to there. The display would be able to reorient to whichever direction a person approached it from. An interactive display kiosk in a museum... It would be interesting to try it with a displayed keyboard to do text entry. Imagine, you will be able to totally customize the "keyboard" any way you want. Sure it probably wouldn't be ideal for lots of typing, but for a limited amount, why not. As someone else pointed out, it would be interesting to program as a gaming table. How about a 4 player (all at once) pinball table? Pinball table with Pins that move between plays.. How about playing pong using your finger? no controller delays! Or playing hockey and soccer using your finger directly on the screen to direct the puck/ball? How good does it work as a paint tablet? Could you use pencils, pens, brushes as input devices? Would it recognize the different bristles on various brushes? Will they have an option to plug in USB keyboard and Mouse ...? What about speakers? Built in to the sides? What I am disappointed in is this presentation. M$ (not TechRepublic) has to know that this thing cannot be adequately represented in static photos. It simply begs to be a video presentation. Then they could show the "loving couple" leafing through their "photo album", the salesguy (or better yet his kids) fingerpainting (mom's all over the continent will sing Unkle Billy's praise for eliminating spillable finger paint!). Advertising playing Pong with glasses placed on the surface ... Using photographs reduces it to just another monitor, one that is mounted in a tabletop instead of on top of it.

Fil0403
Fil0403

Why are there so many nay-sayers? Because it's always easier to bash something than to actually take the time to learn about it (same thing happens with Vista) and it's always cool to bash products as long as they don't come from Apple and especially if they come from Microsoft. You know, the source of energy of the Surface is not a toilet, it doesn't only work in toilets. Besides, if you'd have actually read news about the Surface, you'd know that by the time Microsoft sells this to consumers it will obviously be much cheaper. I still feel that a lot of these will be purchased and used for more time than the iPhone will. I still say Yay.

Fil0403
Fil0403

You don't know why this thing is causing such a fuss? Hmm, maybe because it didn't exist before (not with these features, like object recognition, for instance).

iregretjumping
iregretjumping

Why are there so many nay-sayers? Because we've been burned so many times. (Can somebody say Segway?) Who wants to use a computer that presses you against your bathroom door? Might be cool for a quick change of music, or something like that, but who in their right mind would want to show wedding pictures on their bathroom door? I say this will be really great for a convenient control panel. Would probably look cool if your computer screen was your whole wall. But the limitations and price of such a technology that is slightly more convenient is what is going to limit the sale of the Surface. I'm not a pessimist. I'm a realist. TV in your car? Great. TV in your pocket? Convenient. TV in your fridge? Waste of money. The whole concept really died because nobody would ever sit in front of their fridge. Likewise, nobody would sit in front of their bedroom door. Then again, like threepio said, if the price were right, this would all change and people would buy it for the coolness factor but the price would have to be below $1000. That's about the limit for most people to blow on coolness. However, I still feel that a lot of these will be purchased and used for the first 2 weeks and then abandoned. I still say Nay.

yobtaf
yobtaf

It appears to me, though I could be wrong, that most of the contraption is the housing for a DLP projector (if so possibly a bad choice). So I don't think it will fit on you fridge very nicely. Listen, MS has a lot of money and a research project like this is not a bad way to spend it. Maybe some day this idea will catch on. I saw something very similar to this at SIGGRAPH last year. The biggest difference that I recall, was that the projector was over head and the table was a lot bigger. It also had a lot less functionality. I don't know why this thing is causing such a fuss. What would really be revolutionary is if you could control it with your mind!

C-3PO
C-3PO

But if you look at the design, it has a DLP projector and several IR cameras to sense the surface which is essentially a projection screen. That means that it has a significant depth - the box under the surface is necessary to make this particular one work - not very practical for a wall unless the wall is two feet deep... still, the developed software could be adapted to other surfaces that can sense touch and project flat... there is some interesting development in LED technology for screens in polymers and other substances that could revolutionize the display... http://www.heise.de/ct/english/98/05/038/ Honestly, I can't believe there are so many nay-sayers amongst a group of technology people - who usually get all excited about the latest weird alien in their virtual worlds! I know coolness isn't always the greatest means of promoting sales, practicality usually wins out, but if the price point were right, there could be a LOT of practical uses for this...

brinkerj
brinkerj

Does no one notice the NAME of this thing: SURFACE. A surface does not have to be horizontal. This could be on your fridge (or be the door). This could be on your medicine cabinet. This could be on your closet door, your front door, your........