What is the measure of a man’s imagination? The things he dreams about or the things he invents and delivers after being inspired by those dreams?
Microsoft has always been a visionary company, dreaming ‘Big’ and talking ‘Big’ but do they turn those dreams into reality? Every engineer’s invention looks great on paper with diagrams and schematics visualizing an exciting product. But if the prototype has been in development for five years, is it time to extinguish that dream and stop making false promises to the industry?
The Microsoft home surface which is codenamed ‘Milan’ will allow digital content to be manipulated with multiple hand gestures.
Sliding your fingers across the surface, documents can be moved, folders can be scrolled and all sorts of input can be entered into a multi-touch screen.
Witnessing the Surface in action is apparently remarkable. Like a David Copperfield illusion combined with a computer from a futuristic Starship, all rolled into one. It was incredible to see Mark Bolger, the Surface Computing group’s marketing director, “dip” his finger in an on-screen paint palette, then drag it across the screen to draw a smiley face. Then he used all ten fingers simultaneously to give the face a full head of hair. It’s a great piece of technology. It’s a Windows PC inside a table with a large screen on top and a camera system that can sense activities and interactions on screen. Microsoft is targeting restaurants, hotels, retail, public entertainment venues and the military for tactical overviews with their under development Surface device.
It seemed that the geniuses at Redmond were at the brink of releasing something that would turn the computing industry and our perception of these machines on top of their heads. Sadly after five years in development it shows no signs of being available in ordinary households. Whether that’s poor research and development or pathetic marketing is anyone’s guess. Instead what consumers are getting is another operating system. The costs of manufacturing such a product are reasonable for the average household to be able to afford and finally replace that old coffee table.
Interacting with the Surface, and the depth of the level of that interaction is truly powerful stuff. If this device had been ready to ship to markets it would have been fusing man and machine. Now that would have been power extreme. Let’s cross our fingers that the same thing doesn’t happen with Microsoft’s response to Apple’s iPad – the Courier.