Surface – Taking Touch To A Table Near You

The poster child for how not to make an operating system has been, for almost a decade, Windows ME. I hate trying to make that pile of spaghetti work, and I know lots of pc techs who feel the same. With all the problems surfacing in Vista, there’s a chance that Microsoft might have to share that singular distinction with itself. I’ve seen at least one prominent writer compare Vista with a collander. And with all the recent hoohaa about moving everything onto the web, you might think MS is on its last legs.

Well, don’t count Microsoft out just yet. They might actually have something with Surface. Surface is a slightly different way of looking at user interaction. No more mouse. No more keyboard. No more wires. No need for the ubiquitous pc desk. All that stuff, gone. Instead, there’s a table, the top of which responds to your touch. Like you see in those iPod commercials, point-and-click becomes just point.

From the Microsoft Presspass (May 2007):

“Picture a surface that can recognize physical objects from a paintbrush to a cell phone and allows hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. Today at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer will unveil Microsoft Surface™, the first in a new category of surface computing products from Microsoft that breaks down traditional barriers between people and technology. Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, dynamic surface that provides effortless interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. Beginning at the end of this year, consumers will be able to interact with Surface in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues.”

“The intuitive user interface works without a traditional mouse or keyboard, allowing people to interact with content and information on their own or collaboratively with their friends and families, just like in the real world. Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that small groups can use at the same time. From digital finger painting to a virtual concierge, Surface brings natural interaction to the digital world in a new and exciting way.”

And from the Executive Q&A:

“As our world continues to be permeated by digital content from music and photos to games, surface computers will put users back in control by making it easy and natural to interact with the digital world. Over time, we envision a wide range of surfaces with surface computing technology and believe that this will become pervasive both inside and outside of the home.”

Point and click the Surface link up there and see for yourself.

I am Jon, and I don’t hate Microsoft.