Thursday, May 31, 2007

Microsoft Surface (or is it MSNBC Surface?)


Microsoft has announced a product that it calls a futher bridge between the physical and virtual world, Microsoft Surface. The name is amusing because it seems to be a takeoff of the NBC sci-fi series “Surface” aired in 2005-2006 about the “surfacing” of bio-engineered “dinosaurs” from the deep, one of whom befriends a teenage boy. The series was in turn considered derivative of James Cameron's late 80s epic film "The Abyss"!

The website is, prosaically enough, http://www.microsoft.com/surface It offers some short "indie film" videos as demonstrations.

The product is presented as a table playing surface, that might contain a restaurant menu, casino playing chips, any board game or video game, or links to play video and music, or maybe even locations of hotels or entertainment for a traveler. It would probably use more specialized derivatives of XML to obtain information from other sources. Multiple people can interact on the same table. It was not immediately clear how the operating system relates to the well known Windows and Vista systems. But the device does not require a keyboard, mouse, or separate monitor, although it sounds logical that these could be networked. The device seems to be aimed to counter the notion that Apple is more interested in the so-called “average user.”

The device seems predicated on ordinary user entertainment and interaction, and does not yet seem particularly related to business processing or personal publishing (or mobile blogging) although networking to that (and to cell phones) could be down the road soon. However the device can handle some kinds of transactions, such as restaurant bills and tips (and probably withholding taxes!)

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