It seems like Microsoft are starting to listen to the bloggers and branding experts that have slated their branding choices over the last few years. Today Microsoft released details of a revolutionary way to interact with computer systems and their first entry into the Surface Computing Market – Microsoft Surface.

First of all I would like to take the opportunity to say that I didn’t see this one coming, usually with Microsoft products it gets leaked in advance or there is a build up of hype, but this they kept pretty quiet, Even Mary Jo Foley couldn’t get a comment from Microsoft before Surface’s Launch.
Microsoft Surface Video

What is Microsoft Surface?

From the Microsoft Press Release:

Surface is the first commercially available surface computer from Microsoft Corp. It turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, interactive surface. The product provides effortless interaction with digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. In essence, it’s a surface that comes to life for exploring, learning, sharing, creating, buying and much more.

I can’t wait till this gets released, it reminds me of a video that Heather Richter showed in HCI at UNCC, even though it was made in 1993 and was pretty cheesy in places it showed a concept that Sun Microsystems had for the future of computing, just shows how long it has taken for the technology to advance to a level where this kind of thing can be made a reality, I’ve seen a few attempts from research institutes before this, but this is the first mainstream use of the technology that I know of.
Sun Microsystems Concept Video(1993) Starfire – Thanks to Lloyd for YouTubing it for me

When will it be available?

When it’s released during winter 2007 it will be used in hotels, restaurants, retail establishments and public entertainment venues. I hope it’s only a matter of time before the manufacturing costs get low enough for this to become a part of the consumer world.

What are the Technical Specs?

Microsoft Surface will run Windows Vista and will be controlled by its own custom application, it will include a wired Ethernet 10/100 connection, wireless 802.11 b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity.

The Mobile Sync thing they have going on in the video is also pretty cool, I assume from the videos that this functionality also works with the Zune, something that I think would defiantly bring this product into the home, hook it up to your speakers, put the Zune on top and use the Surface to control music playback from the Zune. How about something similar for Laptops, put your laptop on the surface and instantly have access to documents and photos, the possibilities are endless, I guess that’s what makes this product and the technology behind it so amazing, oh, that reminds me, if Microsoft can get a demo of Photoshop running on it I would buy one tomorrow.

Overall I think Microsoft has done a good job on every aspect of this product, the name Surface sounds better than some of Microsoft’s other product names such as ‘Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the 2007 Microsoft Office System’ and ‘Microsoft Expression Graphic Designer’, the Zune kicked off Microsoft’s new PR drive, then Silverlight and now Surface, not to mention the Live Labs branding, I hope we are going to continue to see this kind of approach from the PR guys, I’m still waiting for them to change Windows Communication Foundation back to Indigo, codenames are so much cooler.

Microsoft Surface is another killer product from the Entertainment and Devices division, and I can’t wait to get the chance to use the technology in the future.

Posted in: Technology