More on Microsoft’s Surface Computing initiatives…

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.

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. I don’t know if anyone asked this yet but the first thing I wondered was: is Microsoft making the hardware? Or are they designing the system and then licensing it to dell, hp, lenovo, etc?

  2. I don’t know if anyone asked this yet but the first thing I wondered was: is Microsoft making the hardware? Or are they designing the system and then licensing it to dell, hp, lenovo, etc?

  3. Captain: my dad bought a $4,000 computer and that’s pretty much what he did on it everytime I came over. Now he trades stocks and is on IM.

    But, since this will be in casinos I imagine the games will be a centerpiece of this effort.

  4. Captain: my dad bought a $4,000 computer and that’s pretty much what he did on it everytime I came over. Now he trades stocks and is on IM.

    But, since this will be in casinos I imagine the games will be a centerpiece of this effort.

  5. Amazing. So Jeff Han’s stuff actually works, while the stuff “independently” produced by Microsoft doesn’t demo the way it is shown in the video.

    All this from a company that supposedly “competes” (not violates antitrust law), “makes the best products” (ie doesn’t gain marketshare because of bundling and exclusion, or so the claim goes) and consists of “the smartest people”. How much did Microsoft spend on R&D last year? Was it $6 billion?

    Let me see. Microsoft didn’t make the software. I suppose they didn’t make the hardware either, unless the mouse and keyboard team got involved, right?

    Or is it this?: $6 billion to make videos of products that don’t exist. Microsoft is a marketing company, not a technology company.

  6. Amazing. So Jeff Han’s stuff actually works, while the stuff “independently” produced by Microsoft doesn’t demo the way it is shown in the video.

    All this from a company that supposedly “competes” (not violates antitrust law), “makes the best products” (ie doesn’t gain marketshare because of bundling and exclusion, or so the claim goes) and consists of “the smartest people”. How much did Microsoft spend on R&D last year? Was it $6 billion?

    Let me see. Microsoft didn’t make the software. I suppose they didn’t make the hardware either, unless the mouse and keyboard team got involved, right?

    Or is it this?: $6 billion to make videos of products that don’t exist. Microsoft is a marketing company, not a technology company.

  7. The post-excitement balloon of realisation is deflating quicker than I’d anticipated.

    This technology is going places even more slowly than origami.

  8. The post-excitement balloon of realisation is deflating quicker than I’d anticipated.

    This technology is going places even more slowly than origami.

  9. The companies that make slot machines are a lot more likely to create gaming software for this platform than Microsoft. Gaming is a highly regulated industry and it would make a lot more sense for those companies to partner with MSFT than for MSFT to try to go it alone. A $10,000 slot machine takes about a month to pay for itself and lasts for years so I don’t see the gaming industry having much trouble absorbing this hardware if there are compelling games available for it.

  10. The companies that make slot machines are a lot more likely to create gaming software for this platform than Microsoft. Gaming is a highly regulated industry and it would make a lot more sense for those companies to partner with MSFT than for MSFT to try to go it alone. A $10,000 slot machine takes about a month to pay for itself and lasts for years so I don’t see the gaming industry having much trouble absorbing this hardware if there are compelling games available for it.

  11. You know, I’m constantly amazed at how quickly people “go negative”. You folks must lead very unhappy lives. Is it difficult to wake up every morning, only to see only the negative in everything around you?

    Surprise number one: Gee, Microsoft is not going to write every application for this technology? I’m shocked. Truly shocked. Haven’t they written every application for the Windows platform? Huh? What do you mean they haven’t!? Coulda sworn they had. Figured this was no different.

    Surprise number two: Other people have talked about doing similar thing? Shocking. Truly shocking. You know, there outta be a law. That’s it, nobody but Turing can build a computer. He did early work, didn’t he? Everyone else is just a big copycat.

    It’s called Research and Development. Nobody in the world does anything completely from scratch. Nobody. Everyone builds on a previous body of work. And second, no technology ever springs from the proverbial womb as a fully mature entity. You develop a starting point, and you build on it. This shouldn’t be news.

    Come on folks. Grow up.

  12. You know, I’m constantly amazed at how quickly people “go negative”. You folks must lead very unhappy lives. Is it difficult to wake up every morning, only to see only the negative in everything around you?

    Surprise number one: Gee, Microsoft is not going to write every application for this technology? I’m shocked. Truly shocked. Haven’t they written every application for the Windows platform? Huh? What do you mean they haven’t!? Coulda sworn they had. Figured this was no different.

    Surprise number two: Other people have talked about doing similar thing? Shocking. Truly shocking. You know, there outta be a law. That’s it, nobody but Turing can build a computer. He did early work, didn’t he? Everyone else is just a big copycat.

    It’s called Research and Development. Nobody in the world does anything completely from scratch. Nobody. Everyone builds on a previous body of work. And second, no technology ever springs from the proverbial womb as a fully mature entity. You develop a starting point, and you build on it. This shouldn’t be news.

    Come on folks. Grow up.

  13. Anon – you’re either clueless or sneaky. Jeff Han’s work is/was interesting but hardly the seminal work in this category. Check out http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html for a pretty comprehensive overview of multi-touch systems. Jeff Han’s work comes in about 25 years after the first research and probably after Microsoft started work on this project.

  14. Anon – you’re either clueless or sneaky. Jeff Han’s work is/was interesting but hardly the seminal work in this category. Check out http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html for a pretty comprehensive overview of multi-touch systems. Jeff Han’s work comes in about 25 years after the first research and probably after Microsoft started work on this project.

  15. So let me get this right, to use the camera/mobile phone functionality you firstly have to tag your device. What the ?. Joe Public aren’t going to cop that.

    I think Robert asked asked some basic questions regarding this product and some of the team couldn’t answer you, Holy Crap. If they couldn’t answer you then gees this product seems more smoke and mirrors than substance.

    However, I realise this is not the shipping product, I believe it is getting shipped later this year. Then I will form a conclusion.

    I just hope it has the functionality that Joe Public expects and not the other way round, ie Microsoft expect.

  16. So let me get this right, to use the camera/mobile phone functionality you firstly have to tag your device. What the ?. Joe Public aren’t going to cop that.

    I think Robert asked asked some basic questions regarding this product and some of the team couldn’t answer you, Holy Crap. If they couldn’t answer you then gees this product seems more smoke and mirrors than substance.

    However, I realise this is not the shipping product, I believe it is getting shipped later this year. Then I will form a conclusion.

    I just hope it has the functionality that Joe Public expects and not the other way round, ie Microsoft expect.

  17. Time to bury your keyboard and mouse

    Microsoft announced today the start of Surface Computing. What is it? Basically it is a huge multi-touch display which opens up a range of possibilities for human computer interaction. A review of this technology by Popular Mechanics is shown below.

    h…

  18. Uk’s commercial television channel ITV1 just did an end piece on their late night 1/2 hours news programme demoing the table.

    I like the idea but won’t be choosing my hotel based on it.

    In the form of a desk I reckon it could boost my productivity, especially tied in with Mindjet’s MindManager and OneNote; a well featured photo editing programme would be fun to use too.

  19. Uk’s commercial television channel ITV1 just did an end piece on their late night 1/2 hours news programme demoing the table.

    I like the idea but won’t be choosing my hotel based on it.

    In the form of a desk I reckon it could boost my productivity, especially tied in with Mindjet’s MindManager and OneNote; a well featured photo editing programme would be fun to use too.

  20. It’s just an overgrown TabletPC.

    Amazingly cool concept, though. If the price could drop, imagine a living room one – this could be the killer app that finally brings the PC into the living room. It could also be the base station for MediaPC if the connectivity to the TV/stereo/Cable input could be worked out.

    Imagine playing classic board games like Monopoly or Parcheesi on it. No more lost pieces!

    Does it say “End of line” in a menacing deep voice when it shuts down? I’d love to watch Tron on it if that’s the case.

  21. It’s just an overgrown TabletPC.

    Amazingly cool concept, though. If the price could drop, imagine a living room one – this could be the killer app that finally brings the PC into the living room. It could also be the base station for MediaPC if the connectivity to the TV/stereo/Cable input could be worked out.

    Imagine playing classic board games like Monopoly or Parcheesi on it. No more lost pieces!

    Does it say “End of line” in a menacing deep voice when it shuts down? I’d love to watch Tron on it if that’s the case.

  22. Robert,

    You have heard of this company before. Something along the lines of the next killer app?

    Microsoft and Google have been pushing mobility.

    Why would Microsoft have the consumer sit around their PC coffee table?

    Does someone else own the connection between the mobile device and the physical world to get instant information thus pushing Microsoft into this made up area?

    Qode with a web enabled mobile device, a consumer / web user could click on a, 1D, 2D, UPC, QR, slogan, logo, trademark, keyword, RFID, etc. and get price comparison, location, watch a preview of a movie, get a schedule, get a coupon, click on link of a short story (like the WSJ) that goes to the whole story, concert tickets, sent instantly back to me on my mobile device.

    So how innovative is Microsoft and their new Surface PC table?

    Qode offers one click to content.

    Check out http://www.Qode.com.

    http://www.xqaz.com/

    So what has changed your point of view? Just curious.

  23. Robert,

    You have heard of this company before. Something along the lines of the next killer app?

    Microsoft and Google have been pushing mobility.

    Why would Microsoft have the consumer sit around their PC coffee table?

    Does someone else own the connection between the mobile device and the physical world to get instant information thus pushing Microsoft into this made up area?

    Qode with a web enabled mobile device, a consumer / web user could click on a, 1D, 2D, UPC, QR, slogan, logo, trademark, keyword, RFID, etc. and get price comparison, location, watch a preview of a movie, get a schedule, get a coupon, click on link of a short story (like the WSJ) that goes to the whole story, concert tickets, sent instantly back to me on my mobile device.

    So how innovative is Microsoft and their new Surface PC table?

    Qode offers one click to content.

    Check out http://www.Qode.com.

    http://www.xqaz.com/

    So what has changed your point of view? Just curious.

  24. Does anyone know how to get in contact with the dev team or anyone on the surface team?

    We have a great software app written in WPF that could benefit greatly from the surface table.

    We actually built our own touch screen table–not multitouch but still works very well and our customers love it. Having microsoft-backed hardware and “Surface Certified” would be great. I would think it would be quick and easy to modify our application for Surface. Perhaps Microsoft could use our software for demo purposes as well.

    Any help would be great! clott@cpsusa.com and c_lott01@hotmail.com, phone at 916-635-3487.

    p.s. We are a Microsoft Certified Partner. :)

  25. Does anyone know how to get in contact with the dev team or anyone on the surface team?

    We have a great software app written in WPF that could benefit greatly from the surface table.

    We actually built our own touch screen table–not multitouch but still works very well and our customers love it. Having microsoft-backed hardware and “Surface Certified” would be great. I would think it would be quick and easy to modify our application for Surface. Perhaps Microsoft could use our software for demo purposes as well.

    Any help would be great! clott@cpsusa.com and c_lott01@hotmail.com, phone at 916-635-3487.

    p.s. We are a Microsoft Certified Partner. :)

  26. This is laughable. By their own admission, this “Surface” is nothing more than a concept. And a terribly implemented one at that. Cameras? Tagged objects? A frosted glass table with a projector under it? Come on people, this is a joke. As already pointed out Jeff Han has actually made multi-touch panel computing a reality, and after 6 years all MS has is a table with a projector under it? Bravo. You made the most expensive Lite_Brite in the world. I have no problem predicting that this is product is going to go nowhere.

  27. This is laughable. By their own admission, this “Surface” is nothing more than a concept. And a terribly implemented one at that. Cameras? Tagged objects? A frosted glass table with a projector under it? Come on people, this is a joke. As already pointed out Jeff Han has actually made multi-touch panel computing a reality, and after 6 years all MS has is a table with a projector under it? Bravo. You made the most expensive Lite_Brite in the world. I have no problem predicting that this is product is going to go nowhere.

  28. This is not being marketed at Casinos as a gaming machine. It is being marketed as the next generation of POS (Point of Sale) for the commercial industry. I’m sure that the editor knows that wifi technologies are far superior to an archaic barcode so why if we have Bluetooth imbedded in most of our handheld devices would we need to make some kind of barcode? That makes no sense at all. As far as casinos using this technology for gaming it would only be used while you were not at the machines themselves i.e. while you are in the restaurant eating or in the lounge watching a show. They already have some kicka** touch screen machines that don’t rely on Microsoft why would they start using them now? I agree with some of the Posters that like all Microsoft products this will ship with major bugs and will not function properly 100% of the time. I cant wait to see it come full circle. Like it or not this is the next evolution in computing and Microsoft will make every attempt to profit from it. This product will prosper and I will order several for my business as soon as the price becomes more affordable.

  29. This is not being marketed at Casinos as a gaming machine. It is being marketed as the next generation of POS (Point of Sale) for the commercial industry. I’m sure that the editor knows that wifi technologies are far superior to an archaic barcode so why if we have Bluetooth imbedded in most of our handheld devices would we need to make some kind of barcode? That makes no sense at all. As far as casinos using this technology for gaming it would only be used while you were not at the machines themselves i.e. while you are in the restaurant eating or in the lounge watching a show. They already have some kicka** touch screen machines that don’t rely on Microsoft why would they start using them now? I agree with some of the Posters that like all Microsoft products this will ship with major bugs and will not function properly 100% of the time. I cant wait to see it come full circle. Like it or not this is the next evolution in computing and Microsoft will make every attempt to profit from it. This product will prosper and I will order several for my business as soon as the price becomes more affordable.

  30. What’s the problem with barcodes and tagging…do bluetooth or zigbee (even using RSSI to enable easy pairing needs a button to be pushed) products pair automatically and communicate? No! Don’t underestimate what the public can cope with, in a few years when production quantities have increased leading to lower sale prices this will be in reach of the masses, and the convergence of many devices – with one familiar interface is only a plus. Whether MSoft are going to develop all of the apps isn’t an issue…which platform has just 1 app developer? Just my opinion!

  31. What’s the problem with barcodes and tagging…do bluetooth or zigbee (even using RSSI to enable easy pairing needs a button to be pushed) products pair automatically and communicate? No! Don’t underestimate what the public can cope with, in a few years when production quantities have increased leading to lower sale prices this will be in reach of the masses, and the convergence of many devices – with one familiar interface is only a plus. Whether MSoft are going to develop all of the apps isn’t an issue…which platform has just 1 app developer? Just my opinion!

  32. yaaa.yaaa.the computer has some bad things but u should give MSoft some credit ..i mean …without them, u wouldnt do anything on the computer these days ;)

  33. yaaa.yaaa.the computer has some bad things but u should give MSoft some credit ..i mean …without them, u wouldnt do anything on the computer these days ;)

  34. What I don’t understand, is what does it matter who thought or built it first…

    All it matters is through money powerhouses, or brain, or through something else, somehow Surface computing is finally here! And yes, you may have to tag existing hardware or buy new hardware, but isn’t this what we always do when new OS comes out, or when new technologies come out??? For me, I’d like to see the new technology come out for use in everyday life, and on my desk though MS Office applications.

  35. What I don’t understand, is what does it matter who thought or built it first…

    All it matters is through money powerhouses, or brain, or through something else, somehow Surface computing is finally here! And yes, you may have to tag existing hardware or buy new hardware, but isn’t this what we always do when new OS comes out, or when new technologies come out??? For me, I’d like to see the new technology come out for use in everyday life, and on my desk though MS Office applications.

  36. Hi. Can any one will be able to provide some more details about Surface Computer- its working or Architecture and controls. I had taken Surface computing as topic for my seminar and need badly more information on the topic.Please try to look into it. If any one intreasted reply me on reenav_s2006@yahoo.com. Waiting for someone to give information.

  37. Hi. Can any one will be able to provide some more details about Surface Computer- its working or Architecture and controls. I had taken Surface computing as topic for my seminar and need badly more information on the topic.Please try to look into it. If any one intreasted reply me on reenav_s2006@yahoo.com. Waiting for someone to give information.

  38. hi , I have a microsoft surface computer my daddy buy it for meee!

    IT IS WONDERFUL! I love it!

    the price is not correct it will cost 1000000 dollars

  39. hi , I have a microsoft surface computer my daddy buy it for meee!

    IT IS WONDERFUL! I love it!

    the price is not correct it will cost 1000000 dollars

  40. hi,
    pleaase give me more information about surface computer.
    and please give me answer of the following?
    1.when surface computer was founded?
    2. what is it’s configuration?
    3. which technology is used in surface computer?
    4. advantage and disadvantage of surface computer

    because my seminar topic is surface computer

  41. hi,
    pleaase give me more information about surface computer.
    and please give me answer of the following?
    1.when surface computer was founded?
    2. what is it’s configuration?
    3. which technology is used in surface computer?
    4. advantage and disadvantage of surface computer

    because my seminar topic is surface computer

  42. more details about surface computer?
    1.when surface computer was founded?
    2. what is it's configuration?
    3. which technology is used in surface computer?
    4. advantage and disadvantage of surface computer