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Microsoft, Palm take on Apple at WSJ event

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 
Apple wasn't the only firm taking advantage of the D: All Things Digital event to reveal new technology, but new hardware entries from Microsoft and Palm still drew a line back to Cupertino.

Microsoft Surface

Perhaps the most surprising entry was Microsoft's Surface, a spin on Windows Vista that uses a technology that will be very familiar to those who have followed the iPhone's short history.

The table-shaped prototype that demonstrates the technology uses multi-touch -- the same technology that underpins the iPhone's user interface -- to allow more natural interaction with items onscreen. Users can use multiple fingers to stretch photos, push and pull information around the screen, and draw gestures.

Its large surface also recalls the original demonstrations of multiple-input technology by New York University researcher and later Perceptive Pixel founder Jeff Han, who demonstrated a basic, whiteboard version of multi-touch interfaces in February 2006 at the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) conference in Monterey, California.

What distances Surface from both Han's demonstration and the iPhone, however, is the concept of smart objects. ID tags placed underneath each object can automatically trigger events or information relating to the item at hand: for example, displaying the vintage of a glass of wine or offering a network connection to a Zune player.



As advanced as the technology may be, Microsoft warns that the technology may take years to filter down to the consumer level. A standard Surface table will cost $10,000 and will see its first real-world uses in casinos, restaurants, and at store kiosks, placing it well out of reach of those also considering Apple's upcoming $499 cellphone.

Palm Foleo

Those same iPhone customers, however, may eventually turn to Palm's new option.

Called the Foleo, the device is the first "mobile companion," according to its creator. It amounts to a subnotebook assistant for smartphones that works around the oftentimes cramped keyboards and small displays of most pocket-sized cellular devices.

While not a substitute for either the phone or a true notebook computer and therefore no real challenger to either platform, the Foleo's 10-inch screen and Wi-Fi let it work on and synchronize e-mail as well as Office documents with its parent phone. It can essentially take over from a smartphone for those workers who literally depend on their phones for their livelihood, the company says.



And though the $499 device is only slated to work with the Treo range upon its summer release, Palm notes that owners of other phones should keep an eye on the Foleo's progress. The mini-computer's Linux roots will let a "modest software effort" bring support to virtually any other mobile OS -- including Apple's. The iPhone creator is mentioned by name in the same breath as other outside cellphone makers in a list of candidates, indicating a willingness (if not necessarily intent) from Palm to bring Foleo support to Apple's mobile version of Mac OS X.
post #2 of 58
I'm not usually a Microsoft fan, but if the information on their site is true, they have been working on the technology since 2001. I have to give them some respect for their interaction design on this one. Watch the videos on their Surface site and you can see them sharing media between devices when you drag items into an aura that surrounds the devices. It does seem obvious that the release of the iPhone caused them to take one of their R&D technologies and make a product out of it. It just makes me wonder what else is sitting in their war chest that they are not able to bring to market without someone else leading the way.

http://www.microsoft.com/surface

Cheers,

Phone-UI-Guy
post #3 of 58
Here's what irks me. Bill has been talking about this table for a long time. Maybe he should fix Windows first. I'm not even talking about the big stuff. I'm talking about the little things that make it hard to use. Explorer's interface is brutal. Try to explain to your grandma why the New Folder link is only there sometimes. It might be intuitive to you and me - but it's not to everyone else.

People don't know how to manipulate windows on the desktop - after how many years of MS Windows? They have failed completely in their efforts to educate. The average user works maximized all the time, and has no idea how to arrange windows so they can drag from one to the other.

They want to introduce stuff like this table? Good luck with that. I'm not just talking about MS here. My LG phone doesn't work with my Mac. I have to spend all this time using shareware and scouring the web to make it remotely useful with my Mac.

This is 2007! It's ridiculous that products are being released that don't work with my Mac and my Windows without having to jump through hoops. But all these companies are releasing half baked products that don't work for the average user. Try to remember the average user isn't interested in computers and phones - they just want them to work. Without tricks and hacks. Without spending a whole weekend screwing around with it.

We're not even close yet.
Emailing video from iPhone to Apple TV , sort of..
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post #4 of 58
I'm a skeptic on multitouch on large screens. I don't see much advantage to it beyond enhanced powerpoint presentations. Even the demo shown on Mossberg's website leaves me puzzled. After decades of tossing our photos willy-nilly in a box and rummaging through them with our hands, we finally have some decent photo filing software and Steve Ballmer thinks the next big thing is to toss your digital photos willy-nilly in a virtual box and rummage through them virtually with your hands? It's pretty impressive to watch, but I have 4000 photos in iPhoto and I, for the life of me, can't imagine how I can organize and search through them by 'virtual rummaging' with multi-touch. And if you say, well for sure the device will allow more conventional sorting methods, then I say so what's the point of multi-touch beyond being an expensive toy for showing off?

The MS Surface is a nice conversation piece- the coffee table book IS the coffee table. But it won't replace the monitor and keyboard and pointer combo. Nothing will replace the keyboard in the foreseeable future, not multi-touch, not handwriting recognition, not dictation because with a small investment in time and effort to hone your typing skills, there is no faster way to input text into a computer. And you can talk and listen while you're typing.
post #5 of 58
OK, Surface looks really cool! I would love to see that vision become a reality. However, microsoft is all talk but no substance. Remember that Origami video for the Ultra Mobile PC? It looked cool too. Did it become reality?

I'm not foolish enough to believe that MS can pull this off in the next decade.

As far as the Palm Foleo.... what a piece of crap. It's a big accessory to a small mobile device. Even though it's the size of a regular book, I still don't want to cart it around with me everywhere I go. That's not very mobile.
post #6 of 58
Hey.... what happened to all those iPhone patents???
post #7 of 58
Is there video anywhere of the D- conference, like, especially the joint Bill and Steve interview?
post #8 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by walshbj View Post

This is 2007! It's ridiculous that products are being released that don't work with my Mac and my Windows without having to jump through hoops. But all these companies are releasing half baked products that don't work for the average user. ........We're not even close yet.

Wonderfully said.

I also happen to believe -- altho I am preaching to the choir here -- that Apple is the only one that comes close. And even then, it's not perfect.
post #9 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by meelash View Post

Hey.... what happened to all those iPhone patents???

Great question!

I think that some patience might be in order.... No one has come out with much of anything multitouch yet. All there is now is a bunch of claims and prototypes (yes, yes, I know that some LG-Prada stuff is out there).
post #10 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by meelash View Post

Is there video anywhere of the D- conference, like, especially the joint Bill and Steve interview?

I have been looking for it too. Looks like it might be coming here in the next while:
http://d5.allthingsd.com/20070530/d5...obs-interview/

John
OMG here we go again...
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OMG here we go again...
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post #11 of 58
*yawn* get something in my hands...
Hard-Core.
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Hard-Core.
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post #12 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

I'm a skeptic on multitouch on large screens. I don't see much advantage to it beyond enhanced powerpoint presentations. Even the demo shown on Mossberg's website leaves me puzzled. After decades of tossing our photos willy-nilly in a box and rummaging through them with our hands, we finally have some decent photo filing software and Steve Ballmer thinks the next big thing is to toss your digital photos willy-nilly in a virtual box and rummage through them virtually with your hands? It's pretty impressive to watch, but I have 4000 photos in iPhoto and I, for the life of me, can't imagine how I can organize and search through them by 'virtual rummaging' with multi-touch. And if you say, well for sure the device will allow more conventional sorting methods, then I say so what's the point of multi-touch beyond being an expensive toy for showing off?

The MS Surface is a nice conversation piece- the coffee table book IS the coffee table. But it won't replace the monitor and keyboard and pointer combo. Nothing will replace the keyboard in the foreseeable future, not multi-touch, not handwriting recognition, not dictation because with a small investment in time and effort to hone your typing skills, there is no faster way to input text into a computer. And you can talk and listen while you're typing.

amen!
post #13 of 58
Windows has issues figuring out many day-to-day USB devices on its own without my help, and Microsoft is telling me this table will be able to identify the drink that is set atop it?

The concept and idea is pretty cool. It looks fairly cluttered and seems impractical now. I doubt these will make it to your local restaurant; a $10,000 table is a grossly large investment.
post #14 of 58
Hmm, I'm confused because I thought that Apple has been researching this for a while.

http://digg.com/apple/VIDEO_of_the_M...earch_-_APPLE_

Like Jobs said, Apple intends to hold close to their patents. It would make shopping easier, as demonstrated in the video, but I think there is some massive infringement going on.

And like somebody said, it took nearly six months after Apple showed the iPhone for Microsoft to do anything. Could this not be star trek fluff? Just a pre-made video with actors playing over it, pretending that it works.

But I will say that it is exciting to think about, and I think that the promises are amazing. But again, I hope Apple's been there first, or buys out somebody else who has...

And oh yeah, why is it that this video
http://www.popularmechanics.com/blog...s/4213259.html
shows surface being a projector while two months later, it's suddenly all in one device sans projector.
post #15 of 58
remember, apple didn't invent multi-touch. i'm sure they have a ton of patents, but they can't claim ownership of all touchscreens because of them. there are probably five patents on the "slide to unlock" feature.

what about this palm folio?
who's the genious who said "we all have cell phones and we all have laptops, let's spend 500 bucks on something that's not either of them, and you don't need, but it fits right between them."

who wants to buy a laptop that they can only type email and term papers with?
who wants to carry around a keyboard and 10" screen to text message on their phone?
post #16 of 58
Foleo was in the limbo even before it hit the market.

$10,000 bucks for a glorified screen that happens to be the size of a table? get real MS

If windows can't figure out printers wired to the pc, how can it reliably figure out what item I place on the surface of Surface? gimme a break

If apple can fit multitouch into a handheld device like the iphone, just imagine what it can do with a 30 inch display, hooked to a mac pro runnig the full version of OS X.x.x.

I really hope those innovations on pro systems that Steve mentioned in D are about multitouch hardware for leopard and put this Suckface non-sense to rest....
post #17 of 58
As with the G3, the "palm" logo is upside down on the lid......
post #18 of 58
As I posted in another thread, Surface is nothing. Microsoft has piles of cash, so if they can built some enchanting press around a technology demonstrator, that's worth it for them. But if you took this idea, and even the prototype, to a VC, he'd laugh at you. There's so little business case for this technology. The only thing that might have some worth are some derivative patents that may follow.

And these two things (IP and press), I guarantee, are the only reasons why Surface exists. It will never be made into a [profitable] product.
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post #19 of 58
Finally, a scroll-wheel on a laptop, listen up apple!
post #20 of 58
$10K is reasonable given its a finished package that contains a projector, computer and display surface + software of some kind.

You can build one for cheaper but without software and with lower fit and finish.

Vinea
post #21 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by digiology View Post

Finally, a scroll-wheel on a laptop, listen up apple!

What's wrong with sticking 2 fingers on your track pad and moving them up and down?
post #22 of 58
lug around another gadget which doesnt replace your phone nor your laptop?
post #23 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpinDrift View Post


Quote:
Originally Posted by digiology View Post

Finally, a scroll-wheel on a laptop, listen up apple!

What's wrong with sticking 2 fingers on your track pad and moving them up and down?

Word.
post #24 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Great question!

I think that some patience might be in order.... No one has come out with much of anything multitouch yet. All there is now is a bunch of claims and prototypes (yes, yes, I know that some LG-Prada stuff is out there).

Here's one

and the precursor to that device.

Multitouch technology has been around since about the mid-90's. And as a concept, probably the late 80's. However, no one has come up with a compelling application for it. Most of the products have been very niche (like the Lemur).

Even with the iPhone, multitouch is not a centerpiece. I can see it being useful for the onscreen keyboard and some control gestures (like keyboard shortcuts, but with gestures), but not much else.

Though personally, I'm looking forward to playing with some control surface ideas when I get an iPhone.
 
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post #25 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpinDrift View Post

What's wrong with sticking 2 fingers on your track pad and moving them up and down?

Just like what's wrong with sticking two fingers and clicking. Its more of a 'hack' (that's neither intuitive nor known by anyone unless you read the fine print somewhere) then a feature. Apple's insistence on its single-button philisophy is one thing, but then doing right-click but doing everything to avoid actually having two buttons (stupid mighty mouse design, single-button laptops), it seems they're just really trying to find ways not to include a second button, so people won't say they were wrong all these years.
post #26 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by walshbj View Post

Here's what irks me. Bill has been talking about this table for a long time. Maybe he should fix Windows first. I'm not even talking about the big stuff. I'm talking about the little things that make it hard to use. Explorer's interface is brutal. Try to explain to your grandma why the New Folder link is only there sometimes. It might be intuitive to you and me - but it's not to everyone else.

Hey, maybe we can also yell at Apple that, before it continues wasting its time with iPods and iPhones, they could fix freakin' OS X first (esp. the buggy finder)!
post #27 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

Just like what's wrong with sticking two fingers and clicking. Its more of a 'hack' (that's neither intuitive nor known by anyone unless you read the fine print somewhere) then a feature. Apple's insistence on its single-button philisophy is one thing, but then doing right-click but doing everything to avoid actually having two buttons (stupid mighty mouse design, single-button laptops), it seems they're just really trying to find ways not to include a second button, so people won't say they were wrong all these years.

I find the 2 fingers on the track pad & click a single button easier than clicking the 2nd trackpad button. 2 finger scrolling is also great.
post #28 of 58
When i first saw the video, i thought it want that bad. They stole it all from Jeff Han but at least there would be somthing on the market. Then i looked closer and i began to see the truth to what surface is.

The main thing is that i would not call surface a multitouch display. It is a camera input display capable of sensing multiple objects. It uses 5 cameras to tell it where and object it, this is then sent back to the sceen which input the data onto the screen. The main problem with this display is that it is really inaccurate. You can even see this in the video. What exactly are they hiding by using huge brush sizes? They are hidding the fact the the drawing is almost and inch off from the persons hand at some points. The drawing is also lags behind the persons hand so there is a slight delay. Just think of how huge this problem will be for typing. There will be mistypes everywhere and it will take 2 seconds for the letter you hit to show up.

It also uses a projector. These are not as accurate as most screens and many have problems displaying in bright areas. MAny projectors also have bad colors. Just think about having it at a restaurant. All the food displayed on it will look off colored. Also, what if you are at a cafe that has one of these sitting in the sun. Good luck trying to read it, especially with the glare of the glass.


As for the objects placed on the table, you have to stick a bar code like object to the back of them for surface to be able to reconize them correctly.




There are many more things that it lacks but we need more information about it.
post #29 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

However, no one has come up with a compelling application for it.

What about Jeff Han, i would say his multitouch displays are alot better than this. He has created some really interesing applications.

http://www.perceptivepixel.com/
post #30 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

Multitouch technology has been around since about the mid-90's. And as a concept, probably the late 80's. However, no one has come up with a compelling application for it. Most of the products have been very niche ......

That's what I really meant to say.... you said it much better!
post #31 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

Just like what's wrong with sticking two fingers and clicking. Its more of a 'hack' (that's neither intuitive nor known by anyone unless you read the fine print somewhere) then a feature. Apple's insistence on its single-button philisophy is one thing, but then doing right-click but doing everything to avoid actually having two buttons (stupid mighty mouse design, single-button laptops), it seems they're just really trying to find ways not to include a second button, so people won't say they were wrong all these years.

I disagree. Since two finger mouse gestures arrived I can use either hand to comfortably work the mouse and execute a 'right' or 'left' click. Also, scrolling through webpages couldn't be easier. No need to move the mouse to the scroll bar and continuously depress the mouse button to scroll. In fact, now that I think of it, I am using my left hand so often now that my right hand no longer gets sore from excessive use*.


* no masturbation jokes, please.
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post #32 of 58
I haven't watched any of Jeff Han's recent demos (only the original one where he was moving light around a screen, which is pretty abstract). But like I said, there are devices which have predated Jeff Han, so people have been working on this for some time without any mass-market appeal.

I'm not saying it can't happen, just saying that it's still quite a niche technology. The Lemur is a great solution in the music production/performance space, but that's still a niche.
 
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post #33 of 58
My MAJOR concern about the Microsoft Surface touch tabletop is that many hands in public places are going to be touching the device - many hands carry many germs. As a healthcare provider, we teach others to "wash your hands" time and again because you never know who last touched that door nob or table top? Unlike the iPhone which is primarily for one user, I see trouble brewing for the Surface especially when the world has another outbreak of whatever disease is prevelent at the time and the public will be cautioned to not meet in public places until said outbreak is under control.

As for the Foleo - great, that'll fit in my pocket nicely! \

GG
post #34 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

* no masturbation jokes, please.

Not even a one-off?
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post #35 of 58
And the slot machine arms don't transfer the same volume of germs? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that these tables don't really increase "germ interchange" all that much.
post #36 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChevalierMalFet View Post

And the slot machine arms don't transfer the same volume of germs? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that these tables don't really increase "germ interchange" all that much.

Since we are being silly, they could emit a UV light when they don't detect human or pet activity in the area.
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post #37 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Avor View Post

The concept and idea is pretty cool. It looks fairly cluttered and seems impractical now. I doubt these will make it to your local restaurant; a $10,000 table is a grossly large investment.

They say that they can get them down to consumer pricing in 3-5 years. The first ones are going to Harrah's, Sheraton and the like, those two are named partners on the Microsoft Surface site.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

$10K is reasonable given its a finished package that contains a projector, computer and display surface + software of some kind.

You can build one for cheaper but without software and with lower fit and finish.

Right now, it's just a matter of whether there will be a killer app. It's probably going to be a different killer app for businesses vs. consumer use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Louzer View Post

Just like what's wrong with sticking two fingers and clicking. Its more of a 'hack' (that's neither intuitive nor known by anyone unless you read the fine print somewhere) then a feature. Apple's insistence on its single-button philisophy is one thing, but then doing right-click but doing everything to avoid actually having two buttons (stupid mighty mouse design, single-button laptops), it seems they're just really trying to find ways not to include a second button, so people won't say they were wrong all these years.

Two buttons? I find it hard to live without three. Most PC notebooks are well behind the game in that respect. We might as well carry it to an extreme and ask why our optical mice don't have 104 keyboards on them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden Gala View Post

My MAJOR concern about the Microsoft Surface touch tabletop is that many hands in public places are going to be touching the device - many hands carry many germs. As a healthcare provider, we teach others to "wash your hands" time and again because you never know who last touched that door nob or table top?

A simple flat surface should be easy to clean. People are too germ-o-phobic. There are 10x as many "germ" organisms in a human as there are human cells in the same body. The world is starting to see some "blowback" from being too germicidal, antiviral & antibacterial where the buggers evolve such that the techniques and drugs don't work anymore.
post #38 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden Gala View Post

My MAJOR concern about the Microsoft Surface touch tabletop is that many hands in public places are going to be touching the device - many hands carry many germs. As a healthcare provider, we teach others to "wash your hands" time and again because you never know who last touched that door nob or table top? Unlike the iPhone which is primarily for one user, I see trouble brewing for the Surface especially when the world has another outbreak of whatever disease is prevelent at the time and the public will be cautioned to not meet in public places until said outbreak is under control.

As for the Foleo - great, that'll fit in my pocket nicely! \

GG

then you must be concerned about shopping cart handles, elevator buttons, toilet doors, etc. etc. etc. never mind shaking hands with people! your position is somehow not very realistic.
post #39 of 58
Foleo: Palm has now officially gone insane.

As I watched the promo video here,, I kept thinking "Are they joking?"

So, if we follow along: smart phones give you email, docs and the internet in a tiny package, and free you from your laptop! But: it's so tiny its hard to use! So: you need a.... uh..... laptop!

But, see, it's a somewhat smaller and cheaper laptop! And does less! So it's less confusing!

One of the tag lines is "make presentations without dragging out your laptop." I can see that: "Hmmm, I have my laptop there in my bag, but hey! My Foleo is right here..... strapped to my chest, I guess.... so no dragging for me!"

Actually, this is a useful test of my oft stated theory that there is no such thing as a useful form factor between "fits in your pocket" and "subnotebook". Every time anyone tries to split that difference it either falls just short of being a subnotebook (in which case just get that) or adds deal breaking bulk to what is not much more than a PDA/phone.
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post #40 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

I'm a skeptic on multitouch on large screens. I don't see much advantage to it beyond enhanced powerpoint presentations. Even the demo shown on Mossberg's website leaves me puzzled. After decades of tossing our photos willy-nilly in a box and rummaging through them with our hands, we finally have some decent photo filing software and Steve Ballmer thinks the next big thing is to toss your digital photos willy-nilly in a virtual box and rummage through them virtually with your hands? It's pretty impressive to watch, but I have 4000 photos in iPhoto and I, for the life of me, can't imagine how I can organize and search through them by 'virtual rummaging' with multi-touch. And if you say, well for sure the device will allow more conventional sorting methods, then I say so what's the point of multi-touch beyond being an expensive toy for showing off?

The MS Surface is a nice conversation piece- the coffee table book IS the coffee table. But it won't replace the monitor and keyboard and pointer combo. Nothing will replace the keyboard in the foreseeable future, not multi-touch, not handwriting recognition, not dictation because with a small investment in time and effort to hone your typing skills, there is no faster way to input text into a computer. And you can talk and listen while you're typing.

At $5k-$10K each, these tables are not meant for consumers. They are meant to replace kiosks or serve as interactive displays at stores, etc. But yes, I CAN see someone storing (or streaming) their iPhoto collection on one of these tables at some point when the cost comes down. We do it with Apple TV and picture frames now, don't we, so why not? Pictures or video could be used as a screen saver. Or, when you're eating breakfast in the morning, you could touch the table to find out the day's weather forecast, or read the news. See ya later print newspaper! If you have that, why would you go grab your MacBook and go through the hassle of typing and clicking?

I am sure there will be hundreds, and most likely thousands, of different applications for this technology in the coming years. And I am also sure that those applications will not be all be tied into the "table" form factor. You will probably see this integrated into wall displays in businesses as well as homes, refrigerators, and who knows what else. The way people interact with technology is evolving every year. Do you think the keyboard will still be the preferred way to input text into a computer 20 years from now? I wonder...

Give MS some credit for creating an impressive product. You'll be seeing A LOT of them in the future in one form or another.
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