I talked with Microsoft’s Surface computing team today. Here’s some more details I learned.
1. Price. Will cost $5,000 to $10,000 and only be available to commercial customers (hotels, casinos, etc). Price depends on number of units purchased.
2. Consumer availability? They are working on other surface computing products, but didn’t have anything to announce yet. There are a few roadblocks to getting one of these in your home. First, it’s expensive to build one because it needs holographic glass, an enclosure, a projector, two cameras, and a computer. Second, they still are working on software so that it actually does something beyond the whiz-bang demos they showed off this morning on stage.
3. Demos won’t all work the way it seems in the videos. The demos you are seeing of photos flying out of a digital camera when placed on the device? That requires that digital camera to be synced and “tagged” with a bar code. The table can see bar codes on things, but you’ve gotta stick a bar code on them first. My cell phone hasn’t been tagged. Neither has my digital camera. So, if I put them on the table they wouldn’t do anything.
4. Microsoft isn’t writing all the software. I asked whether we’d be able to play Blackjack on a table. They (the Microsoft team) couldn’t answer. That part of the functionality will be left to third-parties to write. So, a table that is in a Sheraton property might have completely different functionality than one somewhere else.
5. Can’t scan paper yet. Some of the scenarios I saw demoed included scanning of paper and documents. That isn’t yet included in the current version.
6. When will it be out? It should be installed at first customers by the end of the year. First public demos (other than at this week’s “D” conference) will be in June in New York at a Starwood property. I’ll try to get more info on that.
I’ll keep trying to get more answers and I encouraged the team to come over and answer the questions people left in my comments.