Meet Microsoft’s Surface Tabletop PC

Yesterday Bill Gates and his associates gave us a bird’s eye view of how Microsoft envisions the next digital decade. He was very specific the future will be centered around three fundamental concepts, (e.g., high definition experience everywhere, services connected by software and hardware and the power of natural user interfaces).

As an example, a Microsoft employee gave us a nice demonstration of how we could talk to our car to get some services going. This natural user interface is now available in Ford’s cars under the name of Sync.

Another futuristic innovations at Microsoft is the development of the Microsoft Surface Tabletop PC a.k.a. Milan, for which the company has created both the hardware and software. The Milan, which was unveiled on May 2007, took more than five years in the making and is the first in what the company hopes will be a long line of “surface computers.”

This surface system offers shades of the technology seen in the sci-fi thriller Minority Report. The whole unit is controlled entirely through touch; there’s no mouse or keyboard. It uses a 30-inch screen, several cameras, a PC running the Vista operating system and a projector to create an interactive, touch-sensitive environment that reacts to objects coming into contact with its flat surface.

The expensive components required to allow multiple users to touch the device simultaneously give it a price tag between $5,000 and $10,000, but Microsoft anticipates it will be within the reach of mainstream users in around three to five years. Meanwhile Microsoft is targeting the business community. For now, Microsoft is focusing on getting the products into public spaces in the hospitality arena–hotel lobbies, restaurants, and casinos, to name a few.

Microsoft plans to launch this Surface concierge application in the U.S. at the end of this year or in early 2008 with Starwood Hotels and Resorts and with Harrah’s Entertainment, which owns the Caesars Palace casino in Las Vegas.

What this table computer is capable of doing, makes me conclude that Microsoft will be a serious player in the computing business of the future. I’m quite sure Dell, Apple and HP are taking a serious look at the Milan table.

Yes, the future is changing very rapidly. Peter Drucker, the most prolific writer of Business Management, once wrote, “The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.”

If you are interested in viewing several photographs depicting Microsoft’s Surface Tabletop PC, kindly click here.


Microsoft Surface Tabletop PC

Photograph of Microsoft Milan Table

(Credit: CNET

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