February 27, 2006 2:29 PM PST

Details unfolding on Microsoft's Origami

As rumors unfurl about a new gadget upcoming from Microsoft, the company's Origami Project is starting to take shape as a very small tablet computer, one perhaps affordable enough to appeal to mainstream consumers.

The concept, which Microsoft plans to detail next month, is built on top of the Windows XP operating system but aims to be a new kind of device, rather than a replacement for existing PCs, according to sources familiar with the effort. With a screen bigger than that of a handheld but smaller than a notebook PC screen, Origami devices won't fit in the pocket, but they'll make it into purses and even the smallest of backpacks, sources said.

Microsoft's goal is to create a blueprint for devices that could sell for $600 or less, although the actual prices will depend greatly on what manufacturers decide to include. Origami is capable of supporting features like GPS, Bluetooth, 3G cellular technology and Wi-Fi, though each of these adds to the cost of the device.

Rumors have been swirling about the device over the past week. The Origami Project Web site, which is owned by Microsoft, pledges that more information will come Thursday. However, sources say this is likely to be more buzz, with actual details not expected until later in March, likely at the CeBit show that takes place March 9 to 15 in Hannover, Germany.

In a somewhat uncharacteristic move, Microsoft has remained mum on Origami, while fanning the flames with its Web site.

However, Origami doesn't come out of the blue. Microsoft first showed off an Origami-like prototype at last year's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle. At the time, Chairman Bill Gates flashed something with a 6-inch screen and said Microsoft hoped to have it sell for $800 or less, though the company said it didn't know when that would be commercially feasible.

Gates said at the time that significant hardware and software advances were still needed to make the Ultramobile 2007, as the prototype was dubbed, a reality. However, he said a 1-pound, 6-inch device that combines all the power of a PC, a phone and a camera for about $800 would be possible within a couple of years.

"We do believe this is achievable," Gates told the crowd of hardware makers.

Microsoft also reportedly talked about plans for an Origami-like device at a partner conference earlier this month.

A Microsoft representative on Monday declined to offer further details on Origami. Microsoft has confirmed that a video that's been making the rounds is indeed from the software maker, though a representative said it's nearly a year old and represents only the company's "initial exploration into this form factor."

Earlier this year, a small start-up called Dualcor Technologies did announce a minitablet that seems similar to Origami, although it's aimed at businesses. That device, the cPC, uses a Via Technologies processor, has a 5-inch screen and runs Windows XP, though it also has a Windows Mobile 5 cell phone built-in.

Though Microsoft is enjoying considerable buzz about Origami, there's some concern that the hype could overshadow the product itself, a concern Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble voiced on his Web site.

Industry observers note that Microsoft appears to be breaking considerable pricing ground with Origami, but they note that it's still unclear what the specific use of Origami will be, or which, if any, existing devices it will replace. There is some thought that its initial incarnation might appeal primarily to gadget aficionados, rather than mainstream consumers.

Microsoft's Origami is completely distinct from a gadget that National Semiconductor showed at the 2001 Comdex trade show, which also resembled a mini PC, was to perform several functions, and bore the code name Origami.

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Microsoft Origami, minitablet PC, Bill Gates, gadget, Microsoft Corp.

55 comments

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I hope
I hope that I can run SQL on it

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sqlservercode.blogspot.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.sqlservercode.blogspot.com/</a>
Posted by SqlserverCode (165 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple distraction
Funny how Microsoft is always doing some distracting competing
event just coincidentally at the same time Apple announces some
event...
Posted by libertyforall1776 (650 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thought I was the only one that sees that
But the difference is, MS product won't be shipping anytime soon, as always.
Posted by daveworld (123 comments )
Link Flag
Thought I was the only one that sees that
But the difference is, MS product won't be shipping anytime soon, as always.
Posted by daveworld (123 comments )
Link Flag
Check back on Thursday...
...and see who's getting the most buzz then--Microsoft or Apple.
Posted by Norseman (1319 comments )
Link Flag
CNet is infested...
CNet is totally infested with hippie Apple freakboys feverishly scanning the message boards for -any- chance to post "I love Apple! Apple so rulz!". It's getting -really- annoying. Please reserve your Crapple and iPoo comments to threads actually pertaining to them.
Posted by locoHost (25 comments )
Link Flag
Apple?
All I ever read is Apple users bashing everything else so why would I want to be associated with people like that? Also some of us have no need, want or desire to own Apple products so we don't care what they are announcing.
Posted by jwissing (11 comments )
Link Flag
What's funny about it?
MS is Apple's competitor so I don't see anything odd about them trying to steal some of Apple's thunder. Maybe if Apple had been doing the same thing 25 years ago they might have won the desktop OS war.
Posted by pctec100 (105 comments )
Link Flag
So you'd like them to wait?
So what are they supposed to do? Wait for Apple to release their new product, and then say "Ok, now that you guys are done, it's our turn, but you can't release anything until we're done with ours. And NO GIVESIES BACKSIES!"

Maybe they're just doing it because it's the essence of competition, and that's what this country and capitalism is based on.

Mac users should be greatful to MS for doing things like this. If they didn't, they wouldn't have anything to complain about, and all they would have to do every day is sit there and click their widgets.

Seriously, Mac have their place, WinPC's have their place. Stop trying to convert everyone in the world - it's not happening, and you're all coming off like some crazed religious cult pushing your screwy beliefs on others.
Posted by GibsonSG (26 comments )
Link Flag
New Apple Product
In fact, this is the best Apple product yet. No longer will Apple fans dream of one day being united with their Macintosh computers! This new product will enable all Mac users to get acquainted with their computers like never before. What is this new product you say?

The "iPleasure" Firewire powered portable pleasure device that lets you get inside your computer like never before.

Now you can actually make love to your Mac using the iPleasure. No more dreaming. No more hoping. It has finally happened.

iPleasure users will enjoy listening to the soothing voice of Jobs while the device is giving them the Apple lovers ultimate fantasy.

Think Different...
Posted by jwarren.carroll (84 comments )
Link Flag
Good
It's finally time for some apple competition. Let's bring these prices down...
Posted by mattfroese (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE:Good
"It's finally time for some apple competition. Let's bring these prices down..."

What prices would those be?
Posted by aristotle_dude (165 comments )
Link Flag
Lame.
They should just stop right there.

This type of marketing strategy is not going to work for them.
Why? Because its so obvious they want to be 'cool'. Its even more
obvious that they're trying to be like Apple (while trying not to
look obvious). But clearly its obvious, which I find hilarious. Any
tech critic will see right through this copy cat strategy of theirs.

It won't work because their brand is really not known for being
popular (outside of IT people circles) and if it is well you must be
a 16 year old gamer who uses bit-torrent alot. For god sakes!
people use their software because they are forced to, not
because they want to and Microsoft doesn't see this. They only
see what other companies are doing, if its a money maker they
try to buy them out first, if they can't, they copy and in doing so
throw chairs halfway across the room because they realize they
actually have to work. Thats their strategy in a nutshell.

Apple on they other hand, achieved this dual popularity with the
non tech people of the world through alot of hardwork,
cultivation, ironed out the most subtle of details to achieve the
success they now currently enjoy today with their brand. It was
hard for them given their lack of popularity five years ago but
their just a hard working company and its paying off for them,
they didn't take the easy road by buying other companies they
did this internally, one employee at a time. And all eyes are on
them because of their hardwork and their attention to detail.

Conclusively, this article really is nothing but an advertorial paid
in full by MS secretly to over shadow Apple's next product event.
Its quite pathetic really. But thats MS's strategy alright, very
underhanded. Always trying to steal someone else's limelight
and pass it off as their own. Pathetic.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't mistake niche for popularity.
The Mac, in terms of sales, is still way below Windows.

As far as distraction as a marketing strategy, most markets see this same thing. Playstation and Xbox, Pepsi and Coke, Nike and Reebok, Ford and GM, Verizon and Sprint.

Defense wins championships, and great defenses know how to minimize the gains of great offenses.
Posted by jamie.p.walsh (288 comments )
Link Flag
microsoft is copying an old idea
warning, microsoft is venturing into a old idea redone anew. their idea is what was presented on star trek the next generation. to have a pad to view store and peruse as you see fit. what gets me, is we now have pda's and still microsoft is trying to into the hardware business big time. they best stay software or else more will come to harm them. origami is so lame as they once again try to copy an idea in principle and try to give it life.
Posted by arcturusrann (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can't my Treo do all that?
I saw a prototype online this morning. It looks too small to operate any MS Office apps. The keyboard looks too awkward to use and it looks too big to use on the fly. I think my treo is more useful.
Posted by peterg707 (3 comments )
Link Flag
I want one!
I want an ultra-portable computer, and I want microsoft to make it what it needs to be - so that everyone else can come into the market with their version and we'll really have some interesting toys. There isn't anything new about this if it is just another ultra portable computing device as there are actually a few really compelling sub-laptop form factor units out there if you dont mind less power and more price. This is the future though, and yes it is a little like star trek; but it's about time if you ask me. Something like this should already be issued at birth.

BTW, Microsoft A) Is having a fantastic time in the hardware market - just look at X-box or all the other home appliance, device OS's, ect.. that they're involved with. B) Microsoft does not even care about Apple. In the future technology is cool, and now that we're a little more into the future and companies are realizing this they're finally starting to capitalize on it. It's a long way from unassuming beige boxes, eh?
Posted by Hydrofirex (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft is not having a fantastic time
"...BTW, Microsoft A) Is having a fantastic time in the hardware market - just look at X-box or all the other home appliance, device OS's, ect.. that they're involved with. B) Microsoft does not even care about Apple."

The X-Box is a huge loss leader for microsoft. That, by any stretch of the imagination is not representitive of a fantastic time in the hardware market. While much of microsoft's hardware serves as a template of what the industry need to do to fuse the hardware to the software, the X-Box is a deviation to that model and has so far been financially disasterous for Microsoft (as the PS3 is likely to be for Sony).

Microsoft does care about Apple. Several of Microsoft's top brass have been recently quoted as acknowledging Apple's elegance at fusing hardware and software technology in such as way that the complexity of the underlying technology is hidden. Microsoft does care because despite their might, they realise that future growth will only come from conqering the consumer market, and as the likes of Sony begin to falter, Apple appears to be hogging the limelight.
Posted by simelane (169 comments )
Link Flag
Just a quick question
By any chance, are you a Canadian?
Posted by TMB333 (115 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft's Unveiling the Newton?!
Too small to be a laptop, too big to be PDA... didn't Microsoft pay
attention to Apple's hard earned lesson here? It better have
something amazing to make it stand-out.
Posted by cr8383942 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ah, Newton
It'd be hard for anything to be worse than that paperweight. Heck, Microsoft would really have to be gunning for it.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
Buzz on the name
In Japanese, 'Origami' does not mean only a paper art, but also a written guarantee of something, and full mastership in either art or martial arts.

By which meaning did MS name this new gadget?
- An artistic shape?
- A guarantee of good jobs?
- A mastership in the PCdo (like Bushido)?
Posted by M O (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
User Interface is the key
The secret to success will be the User Interface and Usability Design. It sounds like all the features and functions of a PC, Phone, and Camera will be there. The question is will it be intuitive and easy to use. The danger with "converged devices" is that they often end up doing nothing well. They cram all the features into the device, but the User Interface is totally unusable. Cell phones do a pretty good job. Will Origami be significantly better than the Treo 700w? Or, will it be the second coming of the Apple Newton?

I wrote a blog with more details on this subject today. See <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2006/02/origami_user_in.html" target="_newWindow">http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2006/02/origami_user_in.html</a>
Posted by Don_Dodge (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
UI will be Origami's Waterloo
The problem: the hardware vendors are looking to
Microsoft to push the tablet. Microsoft is
looking to run Windows, desktop Windows pretty
much, on it.

Of course, the issue here is that it's not a
desktop PC, is it? Those that would be
interested have fairly specific ideas on how
they want to use it -- and the normal usage is
likely to be much different. The UI should be
clear and uncluttered with most interaction
being done through touch (finger, not stylus)
gestures. The UI needs to be designed around the
type of interaction one would expect to have
with it.

It's simply not enough to run Windows on a flat
computer and have something that sort of works.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
I don't see any other companies stepping up to the plate?
Apple has a mp3 player big deal

where are the other companies besides Microsoft that are pushing for futuristic interfaces?
Posted by mcepat (118 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Once bitten, twice shy.
I don't know that Microsoft is pushing for
futuristic interfaces. Namely, they are pushing
for Windows interfaces. A lot of the UI elements
that they are using they've borrowed from recent
Mac and Linux developments, or simply expanded
slightly on what they already have.

As far as tablet PCs go, they are expensive to
put together and there's plenty of precedent for
really awful sales. Hardware vendors don't want
to get burned again by this stuff. They want to
know there's a market for it and they'll sell.
Mirosoft can push enough cash to at least try
and get it to float, but if MS is the only
player, it's likely to tank.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.freedesktop.org/~davidr/xgl-demo1.xvid.avi" target="_newWindow">http://www.freedesktop.org/~davidr/xgl-demo1.xvid.avi</a>
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
COMING TOMORROW....
freegami.org with 300 people claiming they put Linux on it and made it totally better.

*yawn*
Posted by BlinkMM182 (63 comments )
Reply Link Flag
A tool for the classroom?
A few years ago (4 or 5) I met with a representative from the Microsoft Education Solutions Group and discussed the need for an ultra-protable computer for the K-12 education market. Kids walking around with 40 pound backpacks full of books could carry such a device and have all the info they need. That was a long time ago, and at the time the rep said, "we are working on that..." and gave me the "you have been disclosed" look.

I think that Origami could be the device that we could put in the hands of kids to replace text books...but of course Nick Negreponte and his $100 laptop (if it works out) would blow MS's $800 price point out of the water.
Posted by jeffrobodine (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I want one
This reminds me of the devices used on Star Trek to control just about everything. If so Im going to buy one on the first day.

Very exciting - Microsoft yet again introduces a new form factor.
Posted by (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Do to the Treo what Treo did to my Thinkpad:)
I say that becuase since getting a Treo I have reduced the amount of traveling with my notebook to almost zero. That said, it is not ideal and to have a middle ground device could be interesting.
Especially on airplanes.
Posted by joegillespie (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can MS do a modern Newton but better?
Imagine a device that is a cross between a PDA, a PC and an iPod... touch screen runs all of your favourite web services (since that is where most productivity apps will be in the future) and widgets (OS based utilities), your music, your video, and conects to everything via ethernet or wirelessly. Can mirror it's screen on many devices, and eventually will display a holographic image of it screen (don't laugh they already have this stuff commercially available and new LED technology will make it happen fairly soon). Most people are used to carrying something with them now - a phone, a PDA athey're keys, sunnies and wallet. Most business people carry a laptop or notebook or at least a PDA. It really isn't too far from everyone carrying their own 'terminal' and simply sitting down and using the screens supplied at the company they work for or visit, or Internet kiosk, Starbucks, etc.

And since the adoption of these devices will more likely be driven by services and content than by what OS and what hardware manufacturer it is, the best consumer device/service packages will win out - hence Apple/Nokia/Motorola/Sony with Google in the mix if they bring out a range of linux based desktop and web tools along with they're search , map, calendar, etc.

So let's see what you've got Microsoft. Is it going to be a player or another half-baked attempt? Unlike other industries you don't have the luxury of control, time or market share so it's going to have to actually perform, look good and be reliable, stable, secure. and connected (Nokia and Motorola aren't going to hook it up for you).

I think that another poster who made the comment that Apple will probably beat them to the punch is correct. Even if they don't beat them to the punch they will probably bring out the right combination of hardware, services and content that wins the day for them. I loved the Newton but it was ahead of it's time by 10 years. But Apple has shown with the iPod that they can get it right with consumer devices and they're going touch screen and phone connection next so look out MS.
Posted by gpenglase (87 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about Daupin?
Surely I am not the only one who had one of these, or even remembers them.

Great little computer, smaller than a laptop, was also pen based, ran Windows. About the size of what Bill is talking about.

google dauphin computer
Posted by SeizeCTRL (1333 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's 03.02.05.....
..... and Origami has failed to show up..... unless we need to wait
for Redmond to wake up.

is NS always 3 hours behind the rest of us?
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ooooops....
... 03.02.06, that it.

I need a new calendar....
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
its so dumb
u have to wait until march 9 now...they are trying to build up the suspense so much. go to www.origamiproject.com

it will **** you off because it is like giving you clues
Posted by nicsye1 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Cool, but different?
There are already some devices out there like this.
Will it be better than the OQO or the cPC?
Posted by bballjake (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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