Microsoft Unveils "Surface"

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
So what does anybody make of Microsoft's new "tabletop" computer? Here's a link to the article...



Microsoft Unveils "Surface"



What strikes me most when I read this article is that 1) Microsoft calls the UI "Multi-Touch" and 2) It seems to work the same way that the iPhone's UI does ... shink and expand by moving your fingers, etc. Does it look like another UI lawsuit war is on the way???



Anyone have any thoughts? I hadn't seen this project rumored so it came as a bit of a surprise to me...
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    flinch13flinch13 Posts: 228member
    I was going to pass this off as a rip-off from Apple as well, but I think there's more to this than that. It's such an integrated device, and its scope in real-world situations is pretty complete. I don't know what Apple is going to put out in response, but I hope it can compete.
  • Reply 2 of 34
    agnuke1707agnuke1707 Posts: 487member
    I guess we'll have to wait until November to find out what its really made of, but I like the phone integration ... that could be VERY useful. My main concern though isn't Apple competing ... I know then can do that. My concern is over the UI itself ... Steve touted Multi-Touch a whole lot with the iPhone intro. I want to know if Apple is liscensing the technology or if it was something they developed. The potential battle over the UI could be huge...
  • Reply 3 of 34
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by flinch13 View Post


    I was going to pass this off as a rip-off from Apple as well, but I think there's more to this than that. It's such an integrated device, and its scope in real-world situations is pretty complete. I don't know what Apple is going to put out in response, but I hope it can compete.



    After watching the complete video over at Microsoft, I agree. Microsoft has actually done an excellent job of stealing existing multi-touch ideas and turning them into working concepts that would work for commercial purposes. Their examples of Harrah's Casino, the hotel demo, dropping a Zune onto the surface, dropping cell phones onto Surface to get info about products, etc... very well thought out. And it's a solid design that will surely challenge Apple's dominance in UI design.



    Steve won't let us down, I'm pretty sure of that.
  • Reply 4 of 34
    slewisslewis Posts: 2,080member
    I see it as pointless. I watched a video and it actually looks great, probably because it doesn't use Windows, but can I set my cup of coffee on it? What happens when I spill it? No matter how cool, it's too large, and I likely can't use it as a normal coffee table when not in use. Then again... I might want one anyways



    Sebastian
  • Reply 5 of 34
    iposteriposter Posts: 1,560member
    My first thought is:



    Very bad ergonomics, if it's meant to be a keyboard/mouse replacement!!



    Could be interesting as a kiosk type setup, but I don't see it being useful in the home except perhaps as a peripheral.
  • Reply 6 of 34
    slewisslewis Posts: 2,080member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPoster View Post


    My first thought is:



    Very bad ergonomics, if it's meant to be a keyboard/mouse replacement!!



    Could be interesting as a kiosk type setup, but I don't see it being useful in the home except perhaps as a peripheral.



    Of course it's not useful in the home... the only thing it had going for it was the beautiful animations during the video I watched. It's a large coffee table I can't put my coffee on. What good is that!?



    Sebastian



    PS: I do see a market for devices like this, just not coffee tables with computers in them.
  • Reply 7 of 34
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slewis View Post


    PS: I do see a market for devices like this, just not coffee tables with computers in them.



    Of course, that's why MS is smart to position it as a collaborative/entertainment computer first off.
  • Reply 8 of 34
    slewisslewis Posts: 2,080member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Of course, that's why MS is smart to position it as a collaborative/entertainment computer first off.



    Sure, in 3 years. Personally I hope the market kicks off in 1 or 2 ahead of Microsoft so that the real players can be defined before Microsoft has a chance to storm in and ruin everything.



    Sebastian
  • Reply 9 of 34
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    They have the money to fund these sorts of things, and I see no problem in their doing so, but this has less potential even than "Origami." There's no point to a tabletop computer because manipulation techniques that are more efficient are well understood. What I'm saying is that, if this "tabletop" were the first PC, people would like it, but now everyone is used to other, more efficient ways of interfacing with computers. There's no gain in this technology.
  • Reply 10 of 34
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post


    They have the money to fund these sorts of things, and I see no problem in their doing so, but this has less potential even than "Origami." There's no point to a tabletop computer because manipulation techniques that are more efficient are well understood. What I'm saying is that, if this "tabletop" were the first PC, people would like it, but now everyone is used to other, more efficient ways of interfacing with computers. There's no gain in this technology.



    I wouldn't say there's no gain, I'd say it's a good start and a new direction for MS with a kiosk-style computing environment...
  • Reply 11 of 34
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    I wouldn't say there's no gain, I'd say it's a good start and a new direction for MS with a kiosk-style computing environment...



    That's just it: kiosk computing, I'm convinced, has limited appeal. Even payment and information kiosks that have cropped up in puclic places are likely to soon be all but supplanted by widespread use of NFC capable smart phones. Public computing more or less died in the seventies. It has lingering presence in sci-fi movies, but, then again, so do enlightened socialism and English speaking aliens.
  • Reply 12 of 34
    slewisslewis Posts: 2,080member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slewis View Post


    Of course it's not useful in the home... the only thing it had going for it was the beautiful animations during the video I watched. It's a large coffee table I can't put my coffee on. What good is that!?



    Actually I take back what I said... I looked at a video on Popular Mechanics just now and it looks like there is a glass surface on um... Surface.



    I'm still not sure I see the point in it, I'm more fond of Jeff Han's approach (well at least the applications look more useful) but the demo was still damn cool, and it's very rare I can say anything like that about Microsoft products.



    Sebastian
  • Reply 13 of 34
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post


    They have the money to fund these sorts of things, and I see no problem in their doing so, but this has less potential even than "Origami." There's no point to a tabletop computer because manipulation techniques that are more efficient are well understood. What I'm saying is that, if this "tabletop" were the first PC, people would like it, but now everyone is used to other, more efficient ways of interfacing with computers. There's no gain in this technology.



    This is based on your extensive knowledge of HCI?



    Both UMPCs and gesture interfaces have advantages. Whether MS will realize them are a different story.



    Vinea
  • Reply 14 of 34
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slewis View Post


    I'm still not sure I see the point in it, I'm more fond of Jeff Han's approach (well at least the applications look more useful) but the demo was still damn cool, and it's very rare I can say anything like that about Microsoft products.



    Jeff Han's approach is essentially the same and MS's work preceeds his. Certainly the MS researchers have a longer history in researching multi-touch than Han...not to detract from Han but its getting tiresome that folks think he invented all this stuff.



    He's choosen a different domain to move into first because his first paying customer was DARPA and not a casino. That's why the applications are different. I would guess that Han is no further ahead in terms of product than MS.



    Vinea
  • Reply 15 of 34
    slewisslewis Posts: 2,080member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    Jeff Han's approach is essentially the same and MS's work preceeds his. Certainly the MS researchers have a longer history in researching multi-touch than Han...not to detract from Han but its getting tiresome that folks think he invented all this stuff.



    He's choosen a different domain to move into first because his first paying customer was DARPA and not a casino. That's why the applications are different. I would guess that Han is no further ahead in terms of product than MS.



    Vinea



    I never said he invented it and I'm well aware that research dates back to the 80s. I just said I prefer his approach.



    What's different?



    It's not a coffee table. I'd prefer a Wall Tablet I can walk up to that can display other useful information where I can see it instead of having a coffee table loaded with Vista where I have to look down at the surface, apart from that I don't have the room for a table, my apartment is crowded enough as it is.



    Other differences? It doesn't use Windows, as redundant as that will sound to you, it's a big selling point to me. I outright refuse to use Windows on any computer I touch. I bring my Macbook to school for Google SketchUp so I don't have to use the Dells, sure it's actually slower because of the GMA 950, but the important thing is I don't use Windows... ever. After my last frustrations with an HP... I drew the line there and said never again until either 1) Microsoft makes an OS that is stable and secure (Vista isn't there yet, seeing as how when I walked up to one in CompUSA I was greeted by 30 Error Messages) and 2) Can prove to me that I don't need Mac OS X.



    Oh and one more thing, he actually has a product that he sells to businesses and the US Military.



    Sebastian
  • Reply 16 of 34
    spindriftspindrift Posts: 674member
    I think it's quite a neat idea actually. It can be used as a coffee table and no I won't be doing any word processing on it! It's a gadget, not a home computer. I think we'll see a lot more of these kinds of devices over the next 12 months and by that time they will start to filter into our homes.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    trobertstroberts Posts: 701member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPoster View Post


    My first thought is:



    Very bad ergonomics, if it's meant to be a keyboard/mouse replacement!!



    Could be interesting as a kiosk type setup, but I don't see it being useful in the home except perhaps as a peripheral.



    Can you say table-top 'Burger Time'? You could touch the chef and trace your fingers on the path you want him to follow or use hand gestures to control the chef like you use to scroll the entries in iPhone.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    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
  • Reply 19 of 34
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slewis View Post


    I never said he invented it and I'm well aware that research dates back to the 80s. I just said I prefer his approach.



    What's different?



    It's not a coffee table. I'd prefer a Wall Tablet I can walk up to that can display other useful information where I can see it instead of having a coffee table loaded with Vista where I have to look down at the surface, apart from that I don't have the room for a table, my apartment is crowded enough as it is.



    You don't have room for Han's approach either unless you want to lose 3+ feet of your apartment. Han's approach also uses rear projection and cameras.



    MS has shown a precursor to Surface in wall mode in the past (TouchLight). Given their target market (casinos) a tabletop makes more sense.



    Quote:

    Other differences? It doesn't use Windows, as redundant as that will sound to you, it's a big selling point to me. I outright refuse to use Windows on any computer I touch.



    Well I can guarantee you that Han's demos has been on Windows because one of the primary demo apps at TED is NASA WorldWind which until the most recent JavaOne was a strictly .NET/MDX application. You can see in their latest movie on their site that they use a modified NASA WorldWind in the first segment and transistions to GE to show 3D buildings later.



    Quote:

    Oh and one more thing, he actually has a product that he sells to businesses and the US Military.



    Sebastian



    I dunno that I would classify it as much a product as service with hardware and software components. Its not like its all that useful out of the box without help. We'll see, we sent in a request to buy a wall for our labs a while back. I'm not expecting grand things about the level of documentation on how their APIs work.



    I'm also going to ask our contacts at MS who to ask to buy the Milan SDK and the Surface hardware. I can say that I was surprised that Milan supported fiducials...I hadn't seen that in their earlier demos. That was one of the things we wanted to do...marry Han's work with something like reactable. Not something hard to do and MS certainly has thought through how to use that in the real world...at least enough to make really snazzy demos.



    But given your comments I don't think any rational arguments will sway you from your anti-MS stance.



    Vinea
  • Reply 20 of 34
    mrpiddlymrpiddly Posts: 406member
    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



    Yes, through surface a number of deadly diseases will spread across america and gradually over the world. Eventually all the people on earth will have died because of surface!
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