Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why Microsoft Surface Took So Long To Deploy

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the delay-delay-delay dept.

187

An anonymous reader writes "Nearly a year after all the fanfare unveiling a new touchscreen tabletop interface, Microsoft's Surface computer will finally appear in select AT&T stores later this month. Popular Mechanics tech editor Glenn Derene, who first introduced us to Surface in May, seems to have done a complete 180 in this rant, blasting Microsoft for being more obsessed with Surface's novelty as a magnet for image-conscious partners while messing up a rare hardware device — and, surprisingly, the simple software he was told came with it. From Microsoft's official excuse in the article: 'It's actually been a good thing for us,' Pete Thompson, Microsoft's general manager for Surface, told me. 'We were anticipating that the initial deployments were going to be showcase pilots using our own software applications on units to drive traffic. What our partners have decided is that they want to skip that stage and go to an integrated experience where they build their own applications. That's pulled the timeline until this spring.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

civ4 (4, Interesting)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954134)

be cool to play civ4 on one of these yokes

Re:civ4 (2, Interesting)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954238)

Nah! Think retro: "Space Invaders"

Re:civ4 (1)

beckerist (985855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954800)

Or chess/checkers, or pong... What'd I'd really like to see is something like Magic the Gathering, but where the cards are recognized when set down (isn't there a game like that? I don't follow anime or Asian culture but I seem to remember something...)

Myst or Carcassone would be wicked cool too.

Re:civ4 (2, Informative)

Spokehedz (599285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955142)

YuGiOh has that crap in the Anime... Oh how I loathe YGO... Damn kids coming in and stealing the cards from the display.

But no, we can't lock them up. Why use the big-empty case where our stock of PS3 stuff was for securing something. Heavens no.

But back on topic... yes. This is entirely possible. Surface can read small barcodes (both 1D and 2D) so just stick a barcode on the back of each card and there you go. Done and done.

Re:civ4 (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22956014)

How long until all the good cards have their bar codes recognized?

Sounds like a big leg up to me. Not that money doesn't do the same anyway.

Re:civ4 (2, Informative)

cicatrix1 (123440) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955152)

You're probably thinking of the semi-recently released PS3 game Eye of Judgment [playstation.com] that uses an overhead camera to read the cards you place on the game mat.

Re:civ4 (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22956142)

I seem to recall that the problem with Eye of Judgment was that it was trivially easy to copy cards (or just download them from the internet and print them out), making the whole "card collecting" part of the game pointless.

Frankly, I hate "collectible" games anyway, since it means either buying a ton of crap you don't want (and throw away) to get the good stuff, or paying someone else to do it for you.

Re:civ4 (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954252)

be cool to play civ4 on one of these yokes
Um, while that's true, there's several more things I could think of that would be fun to do with this 'surface' technology. I just fear that Microsoft is going to make it expensive so that only the big boys can play with it.

A lowly developer that wants build a hobby project where anyone with a surface can play chess virtually against someone? Tough. Exorbitant license fees or no surface for you!

I remember in eighth grade trying to fathom how I would come up with $240 for a student license of Visual Studio! I can't imagine what these costs are going to be. And that's the sad thing, really, the neat stuff would all come from the hobbyists who still have an imagination that's not twisted towards profits.

Think what kind of senior project a graphical artist could make with one of these things! I'd go to an art show where you get to interact with the art any day.

To reiterate, I doubt your civilization 4 dreams will come true unless its creators decide the demand is big enough for them to drop megabucks developing another interface to the engine hoping that fans will splurge for the 'surface.'

Re:civ4 (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954348)

I think you're a bit off-base. It will be materials and labor costs that make this hardware expensive, not licensing fees.

Re:civ4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954426)

You know, you don't always need the hardware to develop for something. Do you think each developer for software for this thing is going to have a surface in their cube? No, it's going to be a simulator/emulator that is going to come at a super expensive development licensing cost ...

Re:civ4 (3, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954936)

it is a glass table, a mirror, a projector, and something similar to a wii remote. Add in some software, mostly to allow for multi-touch and your done.

several researchers have been doing this for years. MSFT is just the first big name to commericialize it. other companies have been selling the same thing for years.

Also MSFT's table is useless in brightly lit rooms. It needs a darkened room in order to be seen clearly.

Re:civ4 (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955320)

There's a bit more to it. At least I thought there was. Supposedly they can do things like recognize and access Bluetooth devices placed on them, and read bar codes or even image data from objects placed on them. What you're describing sounds like a table sized iPhone. Is that all they are?

Re:civ4 (0, Redundant)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954442)

You are forgetting the Surface's biggest accomplishment: a true no-language interface. Anyone, who speaks any language, can sit down to a surface and use it. Read it here. [what-is-what.com] (disclaimer: my site)

Re:civ4 (2, Interesting)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954906)

To reiterate, I doubt your civilization 4 dreams will come true unless its creators decide the demand is big enough for them to drop megabucks developing another interface to the engine hoping that fans will splurge for the 'surface.'
Well, the video game industry is something like a $14 billion/year industry these days and developers have dropped megabucks into systems in the past that showed far less promise for gaming applications than the surface.

I do think the GP is being a little bit shortsighted though. The true potential of the Surface for gaming is not ports of old PC games, just like all those PS2 ports on the Wii are not utilizing the system's full potential either.

When I think of gaming on the Surface, I imagine something that takes more advantages of the Surfaces unique features. For instance the Surface is capable of recognizing dozens of different individual objects. Game developers could use this technology to create games that had real world pieces ala traditional board games but used the Surface's computational power to form much deeper and more complex rule sets. Think Eye of the Judgement [amazon.com] but much more deeply and seamlessly integrated between the real world and virtual.

oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954980)

But can it run linux?

I'm curious how long it will take for someone to hack ubuntu (or dare i say, the mandriva distro of pendrive linux?) onto this system.

That would definately be a good way to get some linux systems in the mainstream, circumvent the nasty licensing costs and get lots of innovative community apps at the same time.

Re:oblig (4, Informative)

Facetious (710885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955092)

This [gizmodo.com] runs Linux, though it is not technically a MikeRoweSoft Surface product.

The product above is Mitsubishi's DiamondTouch screen. The folks who make it have released a Linux-compatible SDK. [merl.com]

Re:oblig (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955184)

Shouldn't take too long at all. The Surface is basically just a C2D PC with a DLP display and a fancy touch interface. The real question is how long it will take someone to develop a decent Linux interface for the thing.

Re:civ4 (1)

berwiki (989827) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955924)

I doubt your civilization 4 dreams will come true
It absolutely will come true.
The only debate is 'when'. Hopefully the cost will drop substantially within a few years.

...you don't think you're arguments are going to last more than a few years do you?

Re:civ4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22956274)

I read that as "the neat stuff would all come from the lobbyists who still have an imagination that's not twisted towards profits." and I thought four things:
1. What country do you come from?
2. What kind of lobbyists can program?
3. Lobbyists who don't care about profit? Not possible!
4. Lobbyists have imagination? (other than dreaming about swimming in tons of gold coins)

Dude! (5, Funny)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954194)

It's a big ass table!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZrr7AZ9nCY [youtube.com]

Re:Dude! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954344)

It's a big ass table!
But does it run li... Oh, nevermind.

Re:Dude! (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954594)

But does it run li... Oh, nevermind.
Not yet... but one probably will soon.

Re:Dude! (1)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954532)

It certainly is. [xkcd.com]

Re:Dude! (2, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954668)

Just last night someone said something with "...big ass building..." in it. All I could think was, "Sir Mixalot must live there."

Re:Dude! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22956304)

One time me and my homeboy were jumped by some big-ass fucking Mexicans.

Simple (1)

Lxy (80823) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954196)

They were waiting for SP1 to ship.

Joke? (1)

Mactrope (1256892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954806)

SP1 was delayed by what? Why did Vista take six fine years to develop? Is there a trend here?

I need a 10k$ table (-1, Troll)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954228)

to make my life more complicated than it all ready is. To give me more ways to waste time than I all ready have. To give me something that will suck down repair fees because my small children screwed it up. This sounds like an awful idea for anyone who is not gay, doesn't live in SF and who doesn't have tons of disposable income. So what happens with the screen when I plop down my bowl of ice cream on it? What will happen when my kids spill their food on it?

Re:I need a 10k$ table (3, Funny)

Sciros (986030) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954340)

Good thing for Microsoft, then, that the market for $10k tables is so big among rich, gay men in San Francisco.

Re:I need a 10k$ table (2, Funny)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954880)

I thought rich gay men were exclusively drawn to Apple products.

Re:I need a 10k$ table (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955258)

So what happens with the screen when I plop down my bowl of ice cream on it? What will happen when my kids spill their food on it?
It will be a while before you even have a chance for any of that to happen. Microsoft has repeatedly stated that this is not currently a device for the consumer market. It is squarely aimed at places like Casinos, Hotels, and retail outlets.

April Fools is over (-1, Troll)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954246)

I have mod points and had my heart set on moderating this discussion until I got to this:

What's ironic is that Microsoft has traditionally been a software company (Surface is one of the few pieces of hardware it actually makes), and it has all the necessary programming talent to build generic templates for Surface that would make it a drop-in solution for small shops, restaurants and the like.

Haha, very funny. Apparently the big April Fools joke this year was to wait a couple of days. Just... why such an unbelievable joke though?

Re:April Fools is over (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954302)

Hate to use management terminology, but they're not "agile" enough to pull off that sort of application. Putting aside their ability to do it, even if they did make it work the resulting product would be too expensive for anything other than a gimmick market.

A while in the making (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954260)

Back in my days (1)

Mandovert (1140887) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954294)

Computer were huge, heavy and unreliable...

They want to know why? (1)

taiter (1267146) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954300)

Easy, spider monkeys can't code for shit.

Re:They want to know why? (1)

businessnerd (1009815) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955598)

It's no wonder they can't code. Spider Monkeys don't have any thumbs. It's hard to write thousands of lines of code using the "hunt and peck" technique. Although they are quite adept with their tails, you'd think they'd use that as the "space bar hitter".

Not entirely dissing Surface (4, Interesting)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954316)


  He's not really criticizing MS, but more like chiding them gently. I'm a little underwhelmed by Surface. If you've ever had a coffee table that you can't put your legs under, you know how awkward they are to sit at. Plus, this price seems awfully exaggerated.

  I like ROSIE's surface much more, although the direct screen (instead of projection) makes the resolution an issue, but hopefully that'll get addressed as hardware goes up.

  Really, if you took a touchscreen laid flat, added a bunch of multi-touch capability and some touch tags for wireless pseudo-plugs, why couldn't this be built by anyone?

Re:Not entirely dissing Surface (2, Insightful)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954528)

If anything good has come of Surface it is showing the "digital sign" market that this type of device will lead to more interaction.

Walking through a mall you see a digital sign, walk up to it touch it and it gives you more information. This is all available now, but things like surface get it exposed to levels that make decisions.

I work for a marketing company and as soon as surface was released our customers were asking for them. So I'd guess the interest is there. It's not specifically surface they want, we can use any choice. They just like the idea in general. But if I can get a development package that helps me push them out the door faster then so be it.

Re:Not entirely dissing Surface (2, Informative)

spud603 (832173) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954564)

Really, if you took a touchscreen laid flat, added a bunch of multi-touch capability and some touch tags for wireless pseudo-plugs, why couldn't this be built by anyone?
done and done [wordpress.com]

Craplets (5, Insightful)

sarhjinian (94086) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954338)

This is why Apple's tight control of their whole ecosystem is a good thing: you don't generally see them putting their "partner's" need to shove content at customers above the user experience.

You can tell Apple's _customers_ are it's actual customers.** Microsoft's partners and developers are it's customers, and it shows.

Look at Windows Mobile: you get a reasonable platform that's perverted by hardware "partners" and their singular inability to write crash-resistant software, and then further mangled by the carriers, who seem addicted to penny-pinching revenue-ware.

Yes, it's "open" to developers, but as a manager of a fleet, the first thing I'd like to do is strip the device down to Microsoft's core platform, without the craplets the vendors see fit to add to it.

With Apple, you get a locked-down device. AT&T can't rebrand it (if they had their way, it'd be the "AT&T A7530", and it'd have six different ways for AT&T to sell me overpriced ringtones or web forms), nor can the Taiwanese hardware manufacturer load it with battery management software that misspells the word "Battery".



** you see this with free software as well, but the customer base isn't quite the same demographic as Apple's.

Re:Craplets (1, Insightful)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954694)

What makes your post really funny is that if there's any company which can be accused of "being more obsessed with [its products'] novelty as a magnet for image-conscious [consumers]" than the actual usefulness of the products, it's Apple. Almost as hilarious is the insistence that vendor lock-in is a good thing.

Rob

Re:Craplets (0, Offtopic)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954956)

Almost as hilarious is the insistence that vendor lock-in is a good thing.
It is a choice thing. If you buy a BMW, you would probably get very upset to find a Hyundai engine inside or to have to go to a Toyota dealer for service. You also shouldn't be surprised to find much cheaper car models with 80% of your feature set or gaps in model lineup - you may not be able to get a tractor or a pickup track and still keep your BMW experience without unauthorized mods. You wouldn't want either Hyundai or BMW to be the only car company on the market. Competition is good!

Re:Craplets (2, Insightful)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955030)

Yes, I have no problem with the idea that a hardware product should have standard hardware components. What we're talking about here is the software running on a hardware product. Not the engine, but the fuel, to use your obligatory car analogy.

Rob

Re:Craplets (0, Offtopic)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955252)

This is off topic, but I find your car analogy amusing considering that what you describe happens on a fairly regular basis.

The Lamgorghini Gallardo [wikipedia.org] is powered by an Audi V10 engine and uses Audi's AWD system. The Lotus Elise [wikipedia.org] comes with a Toyota Celica engine. The Saturn Vue [wikipedia.org] is offered with a Honda V6 engine as an option.

Certain GM vehicles share platforms with other automakers, including Toyota. Some Chrysler and Dodge vehicles share platforms and use engines from Mitsubishi.

Ford shares platforms and engines with Mazda and Volvo. For example, the Mazda 3 [wikipedia.org] and Volvo C30/S40/V50 [wikipedia.org] all are based on the international, 2nd generation Ford Focus [wikipedia.org] , not the crap 1st generation US-version.

And it all gets unbelievable complicated once we get into who owns what.

Re:Craplets (4, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955062)

The thing I find funny is that you're laughing at the original poster, but he's more accurate than you. Apple may turn the "novelty" knob up to 11 sometimes, but that doesn't get in the way of the fact that their products are actually honestly more usable than the competitors. They add features carefully in a controlled way, and market based on simplicity and usefulness instead of features-per-dollar.

And vendor lock-in can definitely benefit the simplicity argument I just made. If your goal is simplicity, the fewer cooks at the pot the better.

Poo-pooing the idea without careful consideration is ill-advised.

Re:Craplets (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955238)

Apple may turn the "novelty" knob up to 11 sometimes, but that doesn't get in the way of the fact that their products are actually honestly more usable than the competitors.

By which you mean just the iPod, right? Because with everything else, you're just paying more for less, and the simplicity doesn't make up for it.

Rob

Re:Craplets (1)

kimble3 (736268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954920)

It wouldn't surprise me a bit if Apple updated the iMac to have a touch interface like the iPhone. It already has the glass covered screen like the iPhone and the SDK shows that they can support gestures with Cocoa. It's not the same thing as Surface but it would still be pretty cool.

Re:Craplets (1)

mc900ftjesus (671151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955038)

You're so far off base, it's hilarious. Apple is the most consumer unfriendly company in existence. They push more DRM out the door than any other company, overcharge for commodity hardware, and they lock their phone down so much it's basically wasted hardware.

Apple doesn't care about other vendors because they'll help lock you into Apple products instead.

Re:Craplets (1, Flamebait)

egyptiankarim (765774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955680)

The iPhone does everything it promises to do, and it does it elegantly. What could you possibly mean by "wasted hardware?"

Re:Craplets (1, Insightful)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22956252)

He means that since it doesn't meet his needs, there's no way it could meet anyone else's needs either. He's the mark by which these things are measured. Didn't you read your Slashdot Orientation Manual?

barf! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954346)

Nice layout. Is April 1st late in the US this year ?

Hmm.. theme ideas... (4, Funny)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954372)

How long before someone slaps that LCARS from Star Trek desktop theme onto one of these?

Testing... (5, Interesting)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954388)

...I wonder if they tested this with anyone who owns cats. Mine jump up on the coffee table all the time. Does anyone know if this thing will pick up pets?

Re:Testing... (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954510)

Does anyone know if this thing will pick up pets?
I'd imagine that this thing will be roughly as cat-resistant as your keyboard.

Re:Testing... (2, Funny)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954598)

I'd imagine that this thing will be roughly as cat-resistant as your keyboard.

Great, now when I come home I gotta check my computer to make sure the cats didn't put kitty porn on it...
*HIDE*

Re:Testing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954602)

I like it: Pawsense [petgadgets.com]

Re:Testing... (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955698)

I'd imagine that this thing will be roughly as cat-resistant as your keyboard.
Not necessarily. From the demo video, it would seem the table has some degree of recognition, so it can tell what's touching it. As long as it's flexible enough, theres no reason why it couldn't do image recognition of the cat and refuse to respond to it. That reminds me of the Flo Control project: http://www.quantumpicture.com/Flo_Control/flo_control.htm [quantumpicture.com]

Re:Testing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22955718)

I guess they need to develop of port of PawSense [64.233.167.104] (site is down, linked to GCache) for it, eh?

"CAT-LIKE SURFACE INPUT DETECTED..." :)

Re:Testing... (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954810)

...I wonder if they tested this with anyone who owns cats. Mine jump up on the coffee table all the time. Does anyone know if this thing will pick up pets?
And if it does, how can you upload a ringtone to them ?

Re:Testing... (2, Funny)

longacre (1090157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954888)

Good luck writing a driver for a cat.

Re:Testing... (4, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955166)

//driver for a cat
while(!asleep()) {
eat();
breakSomething();
}

Re:Testing... (1)

Rosy At Random (820255) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955020)

Warning! Cat-like walking detected!

Re:Testing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22955050)

Unless you have a spare $10k to spend on it (or you take your cat to the store) I think you'll be fine :P

Sarcasm aside, I believe the Surface uses cameras beneath the edges, so the "surface" of the surface doesn't really function and thus scratches/pressure on it probably won't affect it.

I'm probably wrong.

Re:Testing... (1)

rampant_gerbil (221545) | more than 6 years ago | (#22956294)

My cat has an RFID chip implanted under her skin in case she gets lost. Maybe you could get it to read that?

Expensive? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954478)

Isn't the screen itself rather large? Last time I checked, quality LCD screens above 22" are quite expensive. Sure, not $5k to $10k, but still. How much even is a good sized plasma screen these days? People seem quite willing to pay upwards of $2500 for it; perhaps it is a little expensive, but not incredibly.

Re:Expensive? (2, Informative)

nlawalker (804108) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954540)

The screen is projected. Multi-touch is enabled through processing images from multiple infrared cameras under the surface. This technique allows for as many touch points as processor power will allow.

Development (2, Funny)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954502)

"What our partners have decided is that they want to skip that stage and go to an integrated experience where they build their own applications."

So, the delay was getting an SDK out the door? Holy cow, MS pumps out half a dozen SDKs a month, it took a whole year to create an SDK for a table? I'm guessing they didn't build this thing from scratch, either - it's probably .NET and DirectX mixed with ActiveSync and their Bluetooth stack - I can't wait for the first bluescreens being posted on flickr...

Re:Development (1)

DannyO152 (544940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954882)

Am I wrong in noticing that the possible customers were saying to Microsoft, primarily a software company, to not write the applications? Ouch.

A novel kiosk (4, Interesting)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954544)

TFA shows it being used as a sales tool in a cell phone store. While it has a cool GUI, it's usage is that of a sales kiosk. If that's the best use they can think of for this technology something is very wrong.

It may simply not be suitable for long-term use so they picked an application where people would interact with it and leave the store before they got tired of craning their necks and holding their arms up in the air.

Re:A novel kiosk (4, Interesting)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955002)

It would be a cool interface for games. Think of a hacked interface playing supreme commander, zooming in and out of different areas of the battlefield. Get a bunch of them together and it would be some expensive fun. If they can get the unit cost down - maybe some super-cool internet cafe furniture? How about some custom chat/game apps for high end club tables?

There are all kinds of cool niche markets for this thing. Microsoft's creativity stifling bureaucracy is in full effect in marketing this thing.

Re:A novel kiosk (2, Interesting)

Jeremy_Bee (1064620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955566)

One thing I don't understand based on the description of the *use* of the Surface table at AT&T is exactly how it will help them show off cell phones.

The original demo showed it recognising (some) cell phones placed on the table and so forth, but those were real live cell phones out of someone's pocket. Every cell phone I have seen at a store, AT&T or otherwise, is either behind glass or a tethered "dead" model. It simply won't be as easy as the customer helping themselves to cell phones and placing them on the surface of the big ass table to get information on them displayed. Given the limitations of the retail environment, one could argue that the customers would be better served by a simple printed sheet of paper, or a giant printed poster, or the same poster projected on a wall, etc. etc.

If this mis-match of function is the only application they have come up with so far, then the whole project seems doomed. A far better first adopter to have would be a casino or a bar. Remember in the 80's when bars had video games embedded under plexi-glass in the table? The "surface" is hardly a step better than that, and that kind of usage makes more sense than cell-phone sales IMO.

Apple Lisa II, by MSFT (2, Insightful)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954566)

Really expensive machines without practical function are almost always proof of concept. The MS guys know this isn't ready for prime time, and they want more time to test it so they don't end up giving away free units to replace fried ones, like with the Xbox 360.

It's like an Apple Lisa (pre-Macintosh, even more expensive, unreliable and pompous than a Mac) or the NeXT cube: great ideas, the first to bring them to market, but still not fit into a market niche. Market niche is what Microsoft does really well.

They will trot this out to try to gain the cool points, then find out a way to apply the technology to a tablet computer that also can prop itself up like a mini-table.

Roughly Drafted got it right (4, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954584)

I still think Roughly Drafted had it right in a post [roughlydrafted.com] last year.

Surface took longer, was more expensive, and is uglier than the iPhone. The iPhone uses real touch sensitivity, while Surface uses cameras and a projection screen. Surface had interesting tricks like identifying objects, but it did that through essentially 8 dot bar codes.

So here we are, a year later. Surface has been no where to be seen. It is now coming to 4 AT&T stores in large cities, where it will do next to nothing.

You can compare phones. Neat. A normal kiosk could do that (as the article points out). The more interesting abilities of Surface (like collaboration and such) won't come out in that. You can only compare two phones at once? There are only 8 or the (what, 20+) phones AT&T sells that will work with it? And how long before people steal some of the special phones (with the magic bar codes or whatever) thus rendering it a big expensive table? Or will those phones be tied up with leashes also?

It's a semi-interesting technology, that isn't going anywhere because of the management. Is anyone surprised? This is how basically every tech demo ends up. We never see it, or it gets managed to death.

They should have just started selling them to the (business) public at a high price with an SDK and just let people figure it out.

Re:Roughly Drafted got it right (1)

natenovs (1055338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954642)

it's also a table. the iphone is uhhh a phone

Re:Roughly Drafted got it right (0)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954718)

Yep.

Microsoft developed a big box with a sheet of glass on top using a projector, an off the shelf PC, and a few cameras. No weight problems. No power problems. No big size problems. It costs $10,000.

Apple developed a small, thin device. It uses custom circuits and such, and has to run for hours on a little battery. It cost $600 (which gave them a nice profit).

I think Apple could have made the iPhone bigger if they wanted to. Who had the tougher task between the two groups? Apple.

Re:Roughly Drafted got it right (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954946)

Who had the tougher task between the two groups? Apple.

Apple had the easier job. They already had a bunch of fan bois lined up to buy the phone as soon as they hit the shelves, and they introduced it into a culture obsessed with the newest, shiniest gadget. On the other hand, Microsoft now needs to convince people that they actually want this piece of crap that they created.

Re:Roughly Drafted got it right (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954996)

So you think it was easier to make a full, working, cell phone, that thin. Even through it had a revolutionary interface, had to be approved by AT&T, sold to actual customers, OKed by the FCC, etc.

Microsoft just had to say "we're going to sell this, it's experimental".

Apple doing a full consumer product had a tougher time.

Re:Roughly Drafted got it right (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955058)

I was making a joke, but I'll take the bait. Computing hardware is getting smaller and faster all the time. AT&T will approve anything that they can make a buck off of. They sell some of the cheapest, piece of shit cellphones on the market... so do T-Mobile, Verizon and the rest. OKed by the FCC... to do what? Swap data packets and operate like a radio... ya, that's really revolutionary.

If you didn't get the joke, look up "contextual reframe".

Re:Roughly Drafted got it right (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955126)

While the iPhone and Surface each represent their respective manufacturer's first attempt at touch computing, they are not designed for the same purpose nor the same customer, so comparing them is pretty silly.

One amusing note: AT&T's Surface software is NOT iPhone compatible.

Re:Roughly Drafted got it right (2, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954724)

So here we are, a year later. Surface has been no where to be seen. It is now coming to 4 AT&T stores in large cities, where it will do next to nothing.
They can use them as nice tables for setting up their iPhone displays.

Re:Roughly Drafted got it right (2, Insightful)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954942)

The iPhone uses real touch sensitivity, while Surface uses cameras and a projection screen.

What kind of fanboy nonsense is this? Is there some kind of platonic ideal of touch sensing technology? In what conceivable way is touch sensing by capacitance more "real" than touch sensing by infrared image processing? If it senses touch, it's "real" touch sensitivity, no?

Re:Roughly Drafted got it right (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955024)

I understand why they did it, to a degree. Making touchscreen that large is probably very tough.

My point was that Apple engineered a complete little device in a short amount of time, and Microsoft pieced a bunch of off the shelf hardware together in a empty box and decided to charge $10k for it.

It's simply that Microsoft took the easy way out, engineering wise, compared to what Apple had to go through to get their touchscreen right. MS's job wasn't easy. I'm just questioning the amount of time and money it took.

Re:Roughly Drafted got it right (1)

imroy (755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955570)

The iPhone uses real touch sensitivity, while Surface uses cameras and a projection screen.
What kind of fanboy nonsense is this?

It's Roughly Drafted fanboy nonsense. That's really all that needs to be said.

No one has asked the real question yet: (1)

plus_M (1188595) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954740)

Can it run linux?

Rome was not built in a day (3, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954762)

It's not unusual for a truly innovative technology to take 10 years to develop. Original IBM PC, first Internet connections, the first web site or the first AJAX app were all not very useful for anything practical. While Surface demo looks cool, it's not easy to develop affordable hardware or software that does more than shows little lighted ripples around objects put on the top. Besides obvious games, most software will be probably rather high and and specialized, like CAD design or astronomical modeling tools. It will therefore take a while to develop.

How badly do we need multitouch for e-mail, web browsing or posting on slashdot?

Re:Rome was not built in a day (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954978)

I already know one guy who would be all over this thing. He is obsessed with real time management of his organization. They GPS track all of their vehicles and assets. He'd be head over heels for the table. I know the first thing he'd ask for after getting a table. "Project what I see on the table onto the wall."

Porsche's system? (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954790)

Though it went bankrupt recently , my local Porsche accessories store had screens just like the one in the video last year (not MS) that responded with videos to RFID codes in their products being placed near the sensor embedded into the lcd tabletop.

Table Top RPG (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22955172)

I would do anything for one of these if it could handle me & my friends D&D character sheets.

Top Ten Reasons Surface Took So Long (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955212)

1. Because the OS kept giving it a Blue Surface of Death.

2. Every time the OS patched itself, it put the boots back on the surface of the table in the "rebooting" process.

3. The household cats kept eating the external plug-in Mouse.

4. It kept switching from Fox to MSNBC when you used the built in TV-watching mode.

5. When using Internet Explorer 9, it kept using The Prisoner TV series or old ST:TNG series as a home page.

6. Whenever you tried to wipe off the table surface, it kept popping up "Allow or Deny?" requests ...

7. They couldn't fit the table through a standard door, since it was built for uber-mansions that had pod bay doors.

8. Whenever a kid sat down on the table to put on their shoes, the Surface would think they had initiated the Wipe Hard Drive protocol.

9. The Surface got lonely if it couldn't talk to the Fridge in the next room.

Astonishing! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22955424)

Not only are those the least funny top ten list items I may have ever read, but you didn't even get the count right. Top... *nine*?

Ubuntu (1)

tmcfulton (1245028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22955460)

How long do you think it'll be until we have Ubuntu Surface Edition?

Why so long? Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22955708)

Because if you've read /. this year at all, you know M$ has fallen and they aren't getting back up. After Vista, stick a fork in them. Let real innovation begin!

Nothing New Here . . . (1)

matt_hs (1252668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22956096)

MS announces product.

MS gets the Wow! factor going.

MS delays product.

MS finally releases product.

MS gets the Ow! factor going.

This is new . . . how??

Compatibility (1)

rhkaloge (208983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22956172)

Surface at AT&T stores? If I put my iPhone on it, will it explode?

Drafting table (2, Insightful)

Fishbulb (32296) | more than 6 years ago | (#22956190)

They way they have these set up, it looks to me as annoying as table-top arcade consoles from the 80's. Yuck!

I do think it could be nice as a drafting table, however.

Surface (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22956334)

Surface has its virtues:

It can read a dot or bar code.

No need for Bluetooth to interact with ordinary physical objects.

The "surface" could be sheet glass or plastic purchased from Home Depot.

The core tech - the video camera - is ridiculously cheap. Use "solid state" projection and you have a very rugged and reliable device that could be installed damn near anywhere.

In principle, Surface should be scalable to any size, shape, angle or placement you find useful or decorative.

The OS is off-the-shelf Windows.

The development tools perhaps as simple and accessible as an SDK for Visual Studio Express.

Tabletop Projection [penpaperpixel.org]
Microsoft Surface: consumer version in 2011? [cnn.com] [March 26]

Somehow, I imagine something like this happend: (2, Funny)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22956420)

"We've made a table."

"A table?"

"Yeah, it does all of these neat things. It can recognize objects, respond to Bluetooth devices, run .Net and do all of these cool graphical tricks that we have spent the last year tinkering with. Actually, it kind of reminds me of wall thingy in Minority Report and functions kind of like the iPhone's multitouch."

"Thats it? Look, if you can make people pay a subscription fee to use software they have written for it or to use any software outside of the OS we might talk. It just sounds like it could be too... Ugh, functional. People putting them in their kitchen, to read recipes, sitting in the game room stealing face time from the 360. Think outside the box. How else can we create a market conquering product?" ...

"Wait, Bluetooth! Can you make some dongles that we can sell at $50 a pop?. Maybe a $150 RCA cable and a $200 AV dock?"

"Um, Bluetooth is wireless and it already has a screen."

"Damnit, what good are you? Wait, I've got it! Whoring the iPhone to AT&T worked for Apple! Make a sexy or hip or whatever demo, just remember the bullet points, we have brand recognition in those. My god, I still have it. I'm a f$%^&*@ genius!"

yo0 f4il it (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22956424)

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?