Wednesday at D (cleverly disguised as a tech conference in Carslbad in some stories), Steve Ballmer is expected to officially take the wraps off of Microsoft Surface, a coffee-table-sized, flat, touch-screen computer. Microsoft views it as the first major device in a category it calls “surface computing,” defined in the obligatory in-house interview with supervising exec corporate VP Tom Gibbons as “completely intuitive and liberating way to interact with digital content.” (Gibbons runs the Productivity and Extended Consumer Experiences Group within Robbie Bach’s Entertainment & Devices division.) It can read barcodes, react to objects like digital cameras and — perhaps most significant — can be used by more than one person at a time.
It will debut as a business app in November with T-Mobile, Starwood and Harrah’s. As a device for sale — which it’s not — it would run $5,000-$10,000, according to one Microsoft exec’s estimate in the Seattle P-I. The article also has a number of videos showing off various uses. It’s impressive. Is it game changing? That may depend on how committed Microsoft is to staying in the game.