Microsoft Surface: a missed opportunity?

Microsoft Surface: a missed opportunity?

  • Comments 10

[update 1] added video from YouTube, removed Jeff Han video

[update 2] added video of the Today show with Bill demonstrating Surface. thanks to nfurtwangler

I blogged quite a while back about the Minority Report style technology that Microsoft has in the R&D labs but never expected to see it surface this quickly. A few hours ago Microsoft took the wraps of Microsoft Surface at the D Conference in Carlsbad - not far from Apple HQ if my memory serves...it should make for an interesting discussion topic when Steve and Bill take to the stage with Walt Mossberg.

Anyway, back to Surface. I showed a video from a while back to Anna last night and she was amazed - which is a pretty good litmus test. In her profession (architecture) there are a tonne of possibilities for visualizing buildings and such but the early price tag of between $5,000 and $10,000 per unit means initial use will be restricted to high end retail use by companies like T-Mobile and Starwood Hotels. I'd also expect to see this stuff in Microsoft offices though. Our new building 5 would welcome one of these units to help people visualize the company, org chart, post photos etc.

It's actually quite hard to explain what Surface does so I'd encourage you to check out the website and the video above that was from TED a while back.

What did I mean by the title of this post? Well, I read the rumours last night about Surface (or Milan as it was know a few hours ago) and woke up this morning quite intrigued to see what was announced. I fired up a laptop and went to Microsoft.com to be greeted by the Lifecam NX-6000. That's a great product for sure but we just announced a revolution here and given Microsoft.com is one of the world's most trafficked websites you'd think we'd have given Surface some real estate on that site. Personally I'd have taken over most of the site with it - especially when you see the beautiful job they've done with the Surface website itself. Remember when Apple launched iPhone, Apple TV or any other major product? It dominated their homepage. I'd also have made a great video available on YouTube, Soapbox and Google Video. For a product that needs to be seen, we could have helped the blogosphere get the noise out even better than the press pack offers.

It's a shame. Personally, I think we dropped the ball here on getting the noise out about Microsoft and innovation. Do you agree?

 

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  • Hi Steve,

    Yes, totally agree with you. I am still scratching my head though, trying to understand where in reality "Surface" could be used.

    It would have be nice to have a Microsoft Exec taking the stage and introducing this technology to the world. The promo sites for Silverlight, Popfly and now Surface look wonderful.  But the company needs a charismatic exec to launch the technology to the world.  Jobs does this so well.

    Where are the webcasts??  

  • You're probably right, but BillG was on the Today show demonstrating Surface this morning, I think that probably reached a lot of people.  

    There is a video of it here:

    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/sticker-shock/video-of-bill-gates-showing-off-his-expensive-table-264453.php

  • Wasn't there an urban myth about this a few years ago? Evidently Bill has MS Surface 'wallpaper' in his house or something of that ilk.

    How long before the Star Trek replicators mean that I can put the kitchen apron back in the drawer?

  • nfurtwangler that's great to hear but the Today show is on in one country and whilst it's a big one, I and several hundred million others just don't watch it!

    thanks for the video link though :)

  • I watched the video on www.on10.net I had like five other people watch today, my jaw dropped by the end of the demo.  Its pretty fantastic, and I'm pretty sure its not just Microsoft technology either, I think its alien technology recovered from the Roswell crash...haha just kidding

    http://www.on10.net/Blogs/larry/first-look-microsoft-surfacing-computing/

    The demo video is fantastic

  • the videos are awesome...love the idea that its intuiative. Yes i agree. where is the dynamic individual that is going to make a noise about this? MS Research Labs doing some great stuff and when something is finally released there should be fireworks.....

  • Great to meet you, Steve. Made me find this blog, which I think is fantastic.

    Surface is ermm... a twenty-five year-old idea that didn't work back then and won't work now.

    Why? OK - pacman on a pub table means you can't put anything on it. A glass surface means it's slippy and looks dirty in five seconds. LCD requires a viewing angle of 70-90 degrees and so the tables have to be really low. That's why people didn't sit at those tables in '82. Add on to that patch tuesday and the fact that pubs don't have video games any more, and...

    There's already a better, equivalent hardware technology out there - interactive whiteboards - that has taken off tremendously in education (thanks to charles clarke's vision), has matured enormously and deserves a better showing in offices. They really are fantastic devices.

    I've seen tabletop PCs every year from someone - usually end-of-year graduation shows - for ten years.

    No one wants them.

    (oops - I guess the corporate sponsorship thing I had in mind is off, then)

  • Great to meet you, Steve. Made me find this blog, which I think is fantastic.

    Surface is ermm... a twenty-five year-old idea that didn't work back then and won't work now.

    Why? OK - pacman on a pub table means you can't put anything on it. A glass surface means it's slippy and looks dirty in five seconds. LCD requires a viewing angle of 70-90 degrees and so the tables have to be really low. That's why people didn't sit at those tables in '82. Add on to that patch tuesday and the fact that pubs don't have video games any more, and...

    There's already a better, equivalent hardware technology out there - interactive whiteboards - that has taken off tremendously in education (thanks to charles clarke's vision), has matured enormously and deserves a better showing in offices. They really are fantastic devices.

    I've seen tabletop PCs every year from someone - usually end-of-year graduation shows - for ten years.

    No one wants them.

    (oops - I guess the corporate sponsorship thing I had in mind is off, then)

  • likewise Ian, good to meet you too.

    I think Surface will do okay actually. 25 years ago it was probably a bit Jetsons and the technology has moved on. I hope so for the iPhones sake too!

    I do remember that old PacMan table game. My uncle used to have one on free play in his office. Hours of fun :) We have some of the interactive whiteboards here at Microsoft but people don't tend to use them too much - I don't think they're quite as interactive as the name suggests.

    I hear you but I'm preprared to give it a chance and it seems several large corporates are too. Maybe that's where it's destined to stay though?

  • This is a product far better suited to the WOW marketing campaign than Vista ever was.  The lack of promotion is also a sign of how Microsoft's marketing seems able to magnify the minimal and miss the magical.

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