Microsoft Surface

Wow. Okay, so Microsoft are responsible for Windows, the Zune, WMP etc. but I’ve stil. got to admit, this is incredible.

Gattis took out a digital camera and placed it on the Surface. Instantly, digital pictures spilled out onto the tabletop. As Gattis touched and dragged each picture, it followed his fingers around the screen. Using two fingers, he pulled the corners of a photo and stretched it to a new size. Then, Gattis put a cellphone on the surface and dragged several photos to it €” just like that, the pictures uploaded to the phone. It was like a magic trick.

from Popular Mechanics.com

This thing knocks the iPhone (another multitouch devise) into the long grass. This is as big as WIMP. Okay, sure, the Microsoft implementation is actually, when you look beneath the beautiful big screen, a big ugly black box. But the innovations is taking the technology (which isn’t new), making it big, and, crucially, setting horizontal so you can put stuff on it. Real stuff and virtual stuff. And have them interact.

Incredible. And I want one.

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more…

12 thoughts on “Microsoft Surface

  1. Not really meaning to bust on Microsoft, but considering they’re targeting businesses like T-mobile, hotels and casinos, I can’t help wonder if they’ve got a technology in search of a market.

    There are a couple other videos floating around the net today and the most “practical” yet demoed was ordering food and paying by credit card at a restaurant.

    Seriously, people have tried ordering food in restaurants by touch screen – they don’t want to, it’s not the interface, it’s the notion. I still know people who prefer to go to a bank teller instead of using an ATM. How lame are they?

    While video poker and blackjack have caught on, would you really want to play a proper game of card on a table like this with virtual cards? How prone would that be to fraud? I’ll take real cards please, and, if they did develop some way to use these tables with real card games, you’d have to remember that the “house” has multiple cameras IN THE TABLE looking up at your cards!

    It’s a flashy interface all dressed up with no date for the prom.

    Yes, it might be cool as my coffee table, I’d never had need for one of those big “Coffee Table” books on the Prisoner or the Avengers again.

    On the other hand, try to convince me that if you had one in your home it wouldn’t try fulfilling the more natural application for a horizontal space: it would be a table. Things would be on top of it and its functionality would go nowhere.

    That’s a mighty expensive place to spill your drinks and have the kids jump off of.

  2. Not really meaning to bust on Microsoft, but considering they’re targeting businesses like T-mobile, hotels and casinos, I can’t help wonder if they’ve got a technology in search of a market.

    There are a couple other videos floating around the net today and the most “practical” yet demoed was ordering food and paying by credit card at a restaurant.

    Seriously, people have tried ordering food in restaurants by touch screen – they don’t want to, it’s not the interface, it’s the notion. I still know people who prefer to go to a bank teller instead of using an ATM. How lame are they?

    While video poker and blackjack have caught on, would you really want to play a proper game of card on a table like this with virtual cards? How prone would that be to fraud? I’ll take real cards please, and, if they did develop some way to use these tables with real card games, you’d have to remember that the “house” has multiple cameras IN THE TABLE looking up at your cards!

    It’s a flashy interface all dressed up with no date for the prom.

    Yes, it might be cool as my coffee table, I’d never had need for one of those big “Coffee Table” books on the Prisoner or the Avengers again.

    On the other hand, try to convince me that if you had one in your home it wouldn’t try fulfilling the more natural application for a horizontal space: it would be a table. Things would be on top of it and its functionality would go nowhere.

    That’s a mighty expensive place to spill your drinks and have the kids jump off of.

  3. Not really meaning to bust on Microsoft, but considering they’re targeting businesses like T-mobile, hotels and casinos, I can’t help wonder if they’ve got a technology in search of a market.

    There are a couple other videos floating around the net today and the most “practical” yet demoed was ordering food and paying by credit card at a restaurant.

    Seriously, people have tried ordering food in restaurants by touch screen – they don’t want to, it’s not the interface, it’s the notion. I still know people who prefer to go to a bank teller instead of using an ATM. How lame are they?

    While video poker and blackjack have caught on, would you really want to play a proper game of card on a table like this with virtual cards? How prone would that be to fraud? I’ll take real cards please, and, if they did develop some way to use these tables with real card games, you’d have to remember that the “house” has multiple cameras IN THE TABLE looking up at your cards!

    It’s a flashy interface all dressed up with no date for the prom.

    Yes, it might be cool as my coffee table, I’d never had need for one of those big “Coffee Table” books on the Prisoner or the Avengers again.

    On the other hand, try to convince me that if you had one in your home it wouldn’t try fulfilling the more natural application for a horizontal space: it would be a table. Things would be on top of it and its functionality would go nowhere.

    That’s a mighty expensive place to spill your drinks and have the kids jump off of.

  4. Well, I don’t buy the poker thing, and I did say it’s currently a big ugly black box. So it may not catch on in a big way until the thing is (a) about 2″ thick and (b) affordable. But it’s the concept I like.

    You can imagine already, you take your camera to Jessops to get prints and have them spill onto the counter for you to select. Or you’re in a cafe and you want to share the contents of your phone with your mates. The point about it is the potential to actually break the PC out of the office. The AppleTV might do this, in a limited way, but for the first time this interface offers cable free intuitive interactions that could go anywhere.

    Need to quickly look up something on the net? Don’t rush through to the study, just push these books aside and do it on the table. Want to select a tune to stream through the hi-fi? Just browse through it right here. How about a smaller (wipe clean) surface in the kitchen, for recipes and stock keeping? Sure, the current Microsoft implementation isn’t ready for that, but for the first time I can imaginge actually having, and using computers in any room.

  5. Well, I don’t buy the poker thing, and I did say it’s currently a big ugly black box. So it may not catch on in a big way until the thing is (a) about 2″ thick and (b) affordable. But it’s the concept I like.

    You can imagine already, you take your camera to Jessops to get prints and have them spill onto the counter for you to select. Or you’re in a cafe and you want to share the contents of your phone with your mates. The point about it is the potential to actually break the PC out of the office. The AppleTV might do this, in a limited way, but for the first time this interface offers cable free intuitive interactions that could go anywhere.

    Need to quickly look up something on the net? Don’t rush through to the study, just push these books aside and do it on the table. Want to select a tune to stream through the hi-fi? Just browse through it right here. How about a smaller (wipe clean) surface in the kitchen, for recipes and stock keeping? Sure, the current Microsoft implementation isn’t ready for that, but for the first time I can imaginge actually having, and using computers in any room.

  6. Well, I don’t buy the poker thing, and I did say it’s currently a big ugly black box. So it may not catch on in a big way until the thing is (a) about 2″ thick and (b) affordable. But it’s the concept I like.

    You can imagine already, you take your camera to Jessops to get prints and have them spill onto the counter for you to select. Or you’re in a cafe and you want to share the contents of your phone with your mates. The point about it is the potential to actually break the PC out of the office. The AppleTV might do this, in a limited way, but for the first time this interface offers cable free intuitive interactions that could go anywhere.

    Need to quickly look up something on the net? Don’t rush through to the study, just push these books aside and do it on the table. Want to select a tune to stream through the hi-fi? Just browse through it right here. How about a smaller (wipe clean) surface in the kitchen, for recipes and stock keeping? Sure, the current Microsoft implementation isn’t ready for that, but for the first time I can imaginge actually having, and using computers in any room.

  7. We had quite the debate about this over lunch today and didn’t come to any definitive conclusion; however, there were a few things that bounced back and forth.

    For starters, David Pogue, tech columnist for the NY Times had this article today Much ado about Microsoft’s Surface Computer and I think he nailed it fairly on the head.

    So often in my work I see what’s called “technology solutions in search of a problem” and that’s what this thing is. It’s cool, but does cool translate into useful?

    For example, here’s the kind of things that to me say that the demo was more about “wow” than it was about practical uses.

    The photo table. I can’t really see someone doing this at home, but, I could see it at the photo counter at Costco for preparing prints from digital cameras. But, this would be the people who bring a single memory card in as they fill them up with 40 photos – not as useful for someone who’s got 400 photos in one batch. It’s not a great organizational metaphor.

    Why not at home? Because it looks cool, but it doesn’t mimic the way people work photos. I can’t speak for everyone, but if I have a stack of photos in my hand and I’m at a table and I want to share them with others at the table, the one thing I DO NOT do it toss them in an random heap across the table, so we can slide them all around the table. The visual metaphor immediately conjures a recognizable occurrence, but not a desirable occurrence. It doesn’t actually do what we’d want to do with the pictures.

    Of course, that’s “the software” not the table, and this whole thing lives and dies on someone writing compelling software. Nothing shown here was compelling and nothing described in Pogue’s article is, either.

    The idea of ordering food and using stuff at your table is cool. So is the notion of having games to play at the bar, but… after the food has arrived, do you really want people waving their hands all over the table surface? Or drunks at a bar, elbow to elbow?

    Tables will have to be bigger, bar stools farther apart. That wastes space that could be generating income. Would they really save $10,000 per table by enabling the tables in this way?

    Maybe at a Starbucks… I could see this at a coffee shop, where half the people are sitting at laptops anyway.

    What about that cool interface between the concept phone and camera and the smart table? Wirelessly linking the two together. Cool, but, again, what’s the advantage? If it is wireless, it doesn’t need to sit on the table and, as one commentator on the NY times put it, “Forget Surface computers — how about phones, cameras and music players which work wirelessly with my desktop.”

    Yes, it’s a cool idea that’s been around for years and years… but I don’t think it’s the next big thing.

  8. We had quite the debate about this over lunch today and didn’t come to any definitive conclusion; however, there were a few things that bounced back and forth.

    For starters, David Pogue, tech columnist for the NY Times had this article today Much ado about Microsoft’s Surface Computer and I think he nailed it fairly on the head.

    So often in my work I see what’s called “technology solutions in search of a problem” and that’s what this thing is. It’s cool, but does cool translate into useful?

    For example, here’s the kind of things that to me say that the demo was more about “wow” than it was about practical uses.

    The photo table. I can’t really see someone doing this at home, but, I could see it at the photo counter at Costco for preparing prints from digital cameras. But, this would be the people who bring a single memory card in as they fill them up with 40 photos – not as useful for someone who’s got 400 photos in one batch. It’s not a great organizational metaphor.

    Why not at home? Because it looks cool, but it doesn’t mimic the way people work photos. I can’t speak for everyone, but if I have a stack of photos in my hand and I’m at a table and I want to share them with others at the table, the one thing I DO NOT do it toss them in an random heap across the table, so we can slide them all around the table. The visual metaphor immediately conjures a recognizable occurrence, but not a desirable occurrence. It doesn’t actually do what we’d want to do with the pictures.

    Of course, that’s “the software” not the table, and this whole thing lives and dies on someone writing compelling software. Nothing shown here was compelling and nothing described in Pogue’s article is, either.

    The idea of ordering food and using stuff at your table is cool. So is the notion of having games to play at the bar, but… after the food has arrived, do you really want people waving their hands all over the table surface? Or drunks at a bar, elbow to elbow?

    Tables will have to be bigger, bar stools farther apart. That wastes space that could be generating income. Would they really save $10,000 per table by enabling the tables in this way?

    Maybe at a Starbucks… I could see this at a coffee shop, where half the people are sitting at laptops anyway.

    What about that cool interface between the concept phone and camera and the smart table? Wirelessly linking the two together. Cool, but, again, what’s the advantage? If it is wireless, it doesn’t need to sit on the table and, as one commentator on the NY times put it, “Forget Surface computers — how about phones, cameras and music players which work wirelessly with my desktop.”

    Yes, it’s a cool idea that’s been around for years and years… but I don’t think it’s the next big thing.

  9. We had quite the debate about this over lunch today and didn’t come to any definitive conclusion; however, there were a few things that bounced back and forth.

    For starters, David Pogue, tech columnist for the NY Times had this article today Much ado about Microsoft’s Surface Computer and I think he nailed it fairly on the head.

    So often in my work I see what’s called “technology solutions in search of a problem” and that’s what this thing is. It’s cool, but does cool translate into useful?

    For example, here’s the kind of things that to me say that the demo was more about “wow” than it was about practical uses.

    The photo table. I can’t really see someone doing this at home, but, I could see it at the photo counter at Costco for preparing prints from digital cameras. But, this would be the people who bring a single memory card in as they fill them up with 40 photos – not as useful for someone who’s got 400 photos in one batch. It’s not a great organizational metaphor.

    Why not at home? Because it looks cool, but it doesn’t mimic the way people work photos. I can’t speak for everyone, but if I have a stack of photos in my hand and I’m at a table and I want to share them with others at the table, the one thing I DO NOT do it toss them in an random heap across the table, so we can slide them all around the table. The visual metaphor immediately conjures a recognizable occurrence, but not a desirable occurrence. It doesn’t actually do what we’d want to do with the pictures.

    Of course, that’s “the software” not the table, and this whole thing lives and dies on someone writing compelling software. Nothing shown here was compelling and nothing described in Pogue’s article is, either.

    The idea of ordering food and using stuff at your table is cool. So is the notion of having games to play at the bar, but… after the food has arrived, do you really want people waving their hands all over the table surface? Or drunks at a bar, elbow to elbow?

    Tables will have to be bigger, bar stools farther apart. That wastes space that could be generating income. Would they really save $10,000 per table by enabling the tables in this way?

    Maybe at a Starbucks… I could see this at a coffee shop, where half the people are sitting at laptops anyway.

    What about that cool interface between the concept phone and camera and the smart table? Wirelessly linking the two together. Cool, but, again, what’s the advantage? If it is wireless, it doesn’t need to sit on the table and, as one commentator on the NY times put it, “Forget Surface computers €” how about phones, cameras and music players which work wirelessly with my desktop.”

    Yes, it’s a cool idea that’s been around for years and years… but I don’t think it’s the next big thing.

  10. Interesting article.

    I agree: the technology’s not new, the implementation is maybe not yet perfect, the price is way off it being ready for the mainstream. I still rate the concept, though: in simplest terms the horizontal multitouch screen part of the thing.

    I also agree there’s plenty of technology solutions in search of a problem out there. But there is a drive to find a way of interfacing with increasingly small computers that is simpler and more universal that the current screen/keyboard/mouse setup. Hence the surge of “post-PC devices” Jobs speaks of – not to replace the PC but to do something different. The iPhone’s part of that, but Surface is a bigger, more universal solution.

    So you don’t want to toss your photos all over the table. But that’s where Surface lets you have your cake and eat it: you can spill your photos out, everyone can grab them and paw at them, resize them, stick them back randomly. But with one click you can reorder them back into their well organised stack and put them away.

    That’s the advantage over a pile of paper photos, but if your photos are in digital format the advantage over a keyboard and mouse is that, revolutionary though they were as an interface, they still aren’t well suited to, for example, quickly resizing, cropping or touching up photos.

    So getting your camera or phone to work wirelessly with your desktop would be great (and will of course happen soon too) but most probably your desktop’s still in your study, and anyway trying to interface with its screen directly is going to do nothing more than leave smudge marks.

    I don’t see Surface taking off in a big way this year or next. But a few years down the line and we might be seeing these popping up in a lot of places. Hopefully including mine.

  11. Interesting article.

    I agree: the technology’s not new, the implementation is maybe not yet perfect, the price is way off it being ready for the mainstream. I still rate the concept, though: in simplest terms the horizontal multitouch screen part of the thing.

    I also agree there’s plenty of technology solutions in search of a problem out there. But there is a drive to find a way of interfacing with increasingly small computers that is simpler and more universal that the current screen/keyboard/mouse setup. Hence the surge of “post-PC devices” Jobs speaks of – not to replace the PC but to do something different. The iPhone’s part of that, but Surface is a bigger, more universal solution.

    So you don’t want to toss your photos all over the table. But that’s where Surface lets you have your cake and eat it: you can spill your photos out, everyone can grab them and paw at them, resize them, stick them back randomly. But with one click you can reorder them back into their well organised stack and put them away.

    That’s the advantage over a pile of paper photos, but if your photos are in digital format the advantage over a keyboard and mouse is that, revolutionary though they were as an interface, they still aren’t well suited to, for example, quickly resizing, cropping or touching up photos.

    So getting your camera or phone to work wirelessly with your desktop would be great (and will of course happen soon too) but most probably your desktop’s still in your study, and anyway trying to interface with its screen directly is going to do nothing more than leave smudge marks.

    I don’t see Surface taking off in a big way this year or next. But a few years down the line and we might be seeing these popping up in a lot of places. Hopefully including mine.

  12. Interesting article.

    I agree: the technology’s not new, the implementation is maybe not yet perfect, the price is way off it being ready for the mainstream. I still rate the concept, though: in simplest terms the horizontal multitouch screen part of the thing.

    I also agree there’s plenty of technology solutions in search of a problem out there. But there is a drive to find a way of interfacing with increasingly small computers that is simpler and more universal that the current screen/keyboard/mouse setup. Hence the surge of “post-PC devices” Jobs speaks of – not to replace the PC but to do something different. The iPhone’s part of that, but Surface is a bigger, more universal solution.

    So you don’t want to toss your photos all over the table. But that’s where Surface lets you have your cake and eat it: you can spill your photos out, everyone can grab them and paw at them, resize them, stick them back randomly. But with one click you can reorder them back into their well organised stack and put them away.

    That’s the advantage over a pile of paper photos, but if your photos are in digital format the advantage over a keyboard and mouse is that, revolutionary though they were as an interface, they still aren’t well suited to, for example, quickly resizing, cropping or touching up photos.

    So getting your camera or phone to work wirelessly with your desktop would be great (and will of course happen soon too) but most probably your desktop’s still in your study, and anyway trying to interface with its screen directly is going to do nothing more than leave smudge marks.

    I don’t see Surface taking off in a big way this year or next. But a few years down the line and we might be seeing these popping up in a lot of places. Hopefully including mine.

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