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Microsoft Surface a Precursor to An Apple Announcement?

surfaceIf you haven’t checked the new Microsoft webpage for Surface, you’re missing out. Yeah, it looks seriously cool – and curiously like some haptics-style interfaces we’ve seen bits and pieces of before…

But riddle me this: Did Microsoft rush to release this incredible new way of interfacing with computer systems now, in order to trump some news we may be hearing from Apple at WWDC in a couple weeks? With the reveal of Leopard looming, it’s certainly a real possibility that we’ll see something similar from our boys in Cupertino.

On the other hand, maybe Apple will limit the touch interfaces to their iPhone and future iPods rather than rolling it out mainstream via Leopard. It’s been said before that using haptics as the main interface to a traditional computer system wouldn’t necessarily be as simple as the mouse and keyboard we’re used to. In that way of thinking, I believe Microsoft may have it right with the target implementations of Surface – that being POS-based systems, concierge, etc. Who knows, perhaps introducing touch interfaces to the masses in that style will foster stronger consumer adoption in the long run.

If you haven’t checked out Surface, watch the 3 explanatory video clips here. I don’t care who you are, this stuff looks super neat!

Via the Longboard

18 Responses to “Microsoft Surface a Precursor to An Apple Announcement?”

  1. This is a pretty nice idea, although it saddens me that many Apple fans are shrieking that bits of it were somehow stolen; it really does us no credit as a group. Apple by no means invented touchscreen technology or haptics and as anyone who has used similar systems before the iPhone’s only real innovation is its sleek UI design – touchscreen MDAs with identical functionality have been around for a few years now.
    I personally am excited to see where Apple takes this idea when they pick up on it, even if we have to wait a few years when the cost will be in the range of a home user.

    And honestly, saying the logo is like the command key is just a little desperate. Given that your link even notes that it looks like a bowen knot which most certainly is not Apple IP.

  2. Multi-touch has been around since at least 1983, and probably before. And gestures long before Mr. Han.

    I think you’ll see several companies announcing touch tables for the home later this year. It’s something whose time has come. It just had to wait for the technology and imaginative applications to catch up.

    People who’ve seen it long ago, have mentioned other Surface apps that were tested. Physical ‘pinball bumpers’ on the screen for a virtual ball to bounce off of. Poker games, with shields for your cards. Remove the shield for a break, and the cards vanish. Real estate agents are going crazy over the idea of a Surface to give customers virtual tours. There’s so many apps that you could make money from. Use your imagination.

  3. I think the fun will really start when the displays become much more commonplace, at that point we will really see what engineers and developers can produce in their user interfaces.

    On big question I have is around the intended applications for these displays? Coffee tables? not sure about that one. I wonder how resistant they are to fluids, grease, scratches etc. It might be a pretty grim experience trying to look through 5 days of finger grease and wear spots.

  4. What a crap! Microsoft has discovered something?

    Unfortunately it seems that Safari is unable to load the page, I have tried with Firefox, more than 2 minutes to load a black screen. Opera does the same, so here I am, waiting to see some exciting coming out of MS but no response, maybe is because I am using a Mac. After full five minutes loading the website (please someone give a Nielsen-Norman book about web-usability to Bill Gates) I am browsing the website.

    I have been doing my research in multitouch interfaces for a while, and this is nothing surprisingly new. I have seen the Jeff Han video a while ago and other similar interfaces, again MS makes it look like if they were the only hardware-software company in the world, and behind all the most amazing inventions in the history, I AM NOT BUYING IT!.

    I can’t wait to the LEOPARD release and check what the guys in Cupertino are doing, but this seems like another iPOD Vs ZUNE war, if that have ever existed.

  5. If you guys explore the site more, you’ll note that the Surface project started in 2001. (Check out the History section.) Multitouch technology is not new as Isaac mentioned. I think what’s coolest about this is the integration with real-world objects.

    When I first saw this I was blown away and _saddened_ that Apple didn’t come up with this first. It’s cool stuff.

  6. The surface stuff won’t start “appearing” until winter 2007. Did they rush this to try to steal Leopard’s/iPhone’s thunder? Methinks so. It is interesting that WWDC is almost two weeks away…

    Nice site though. Too bad they can’t write valid markup (doctype anyone?).

  7. Identifying that there is a cell phone on top of the “table” is neat, and it’s the only “new” thing that Surface seems to offer tech-wise.

  8. Isaac

    All of this touch screen stuff was taken from Jeff Han from a while back. You can see his video online here:

    There was really no innovation from either side on this one, it just came down to who could buy it first.

    And the Surface logo looks like a penis. Seriously, who comes up with Microsoft’s logos? They all suck.

  9. I smell a lawsuit…

    A few similar things was previewed with the iPhone, but Microsoft decided to have their way with it (which isn’t necessarly a bad thing)

    We might not see something similar at WWDC, but give it a little time and we may. One can only hope!

  10. jules

    Exactly. Where have we seen all that resizing before?

    What about the logo? Seems slightly familiar to me?!

    However, I can’t deny it does look pretty cool.