In this issue:
Microsoft Surface: Microsoft's tabletop touch screen
by Arie Slob
Hello Windows users,
At the end of May Microsoft launched a new product category: Surface Computing. Surface computing has been in development in the Microsoft labs for some five years under the code-name "Milan". At its core, Milan is a PC running Windows Vista, but forget the keyboard and mouse. Milan uses a 30-inch touch-sensitive display in a table-like form factor that enables multiple users to navigate the system's interface.
"With Surface, we are creating more intuitive ways for people to interact with technology," Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer said. "We see this as a multibillion dollar category, and we envision a time when surface computing technologies will be pervasive, from tabletops and counters to the hallway mirror. Surface is the first step in realizing that vision."
While the concept of touch-screen technology is not new (think tablet PC) the way the technology is being used and refined by Microsoft is quite different. Surface can simultaneously recognize dozens and dozens of movements such as touch, gestures and actual unique objects that have identification tags similar to bar codes. This is all made possible because images are projected onto the display via a custom DLP engine. Add to that the five infrared cameras set below the display to detect contact with the display and enable users to navigate the interface. The system recognizes many points of contact simultaneously (not just from one finger, as with a typical touch screen) but up to dozens and dozens of items at once, enabling multiple users to simultaneously use it.
While the initial price is reported to be around $5,000 to $10,000 US dollars, prices are expected to come down to such a degree in the next three to five years to make the product affordable for consumers.
Meanwhile Microsoft announced that the first devices will be used by Harrah's Entertainment Inc., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., and T-Mobile USA Inc. near the end of 2007.
Now, one has to wonder if this all is going to actually go somewhere. Remember, Microsoft is also the company that has been trying for years to get pen-based computing to work. So while the demos look cool (check out the Microsoft Surface web site), we'll have to remain skeptical & see what will actually be delivered (and when).
Microsoft issued a number of updates for Windows XP and Vista this month:
- KB936357 - This is a reliability update. Install this microcode update to improve the reliability of systems with Intel processors.
Microsoft Windows Security Bulletin Summary for June, 2007
The security update for June 2007 includes three updates for Microsoft Windows, one for Internet Explorer and one for Outlook Express/Windows Mail.
Severity Rating: Critical