Todays announcement from Microsoft of “Surface” just smacks of the original Mac-Windows competition from more than 20 years ago.
Apple pre-announced the Mac and then there was a hoopla of bluster from Microsoft about their new Windows platform. Which of course didn’t ship for more than a year and was nowhere near as feature complete. But it got people thinking and waiting for the next big thing.
This time round we had some hubbub about Jeff Han’s multitouch user interface and then Apple pre-announces a product with it – the iPhone. To ship mid-June this year, it’s a great deployment of a fascinating technology (I always speculated that computers should have at least two mouse pointers for manipulation). It has similarities to Jeff Han’s interface for picture manipulation but the interaction with the iPod side of the interface and the way it uses gestures for safari is pure gold.
Microsoft, ever the innovator, has cloned Jeff’s interface. And that’s about it. But, aha, you say – they’ve made it horizontal.
MSNBC (a subsidary venture of Microsoft) says in a rather gushing interview:
When you place your wi-fi enabled digital camera on the table, for example, Surface â€˜seesâ€™ the camera and does something extraordinary: It pulls your digital pictures and videos out onto the table for you to look at, move, edit or send. Images literally spill out in a pool of color.
I ahve a funny feeling it won’t be as simple as that unless this is a new breed of Windows that doesn’t require drivers at all. And what if you didn’t want your photos to spill out onto the table. What if you just wanted to use it as a table. These demos are all very well but they’re not really related to reality. To my mind it’s a great toy but one that requires infrared sensors placed around the room to enable the table to see your interactions. It’s not just a table. And not really as interesting as the Reactable.
Microsoft did manage to get Popular Mechanics to gush about how revolutionary this coffee table would be.
Gates could hardly contain himself as he left his fingers play along a surface of smooth plastic which displayed rippling water.
It was just like a pool of water…but without the wet, cool effect.
This device will be shipping by 2008 and will cost $5000 – $10000. Or you can get the iPhone in about 14 days (if you’re in the US) or by 4Q07 in Europe.
My prediction: This will be a success of Mira-esque proportions. Simply relegated to replacing the touch screen kiosks we see everywhere….