March 2, 2006 10:59 AM PST

Microsoft whispers Origami details

Microsoft updated the Web site for its secretive Origami Project on Thursday, offering a more elaborate tease, but also confirming key details about the Windows-based minitablet.

"I am everywhere you are, but never in the way," reads the cryptic text of the site, with pictures showing a mountain peak and a subway. "Who am I?...Find out 3.9.06."

However, right-clicking outside the flash animation of the main Web page and viewing the source code provides this: "Origami Project: the Mobile PC running Windows XP."

Although Microsoft continues to play somewhat coy, sources have provided a pretty clear picture of the minitablet devices. They will carry Microsoft's software, but be made by several other companies, sources have said. They will also be larger than a typical handheld computer, with at least some of the devices using a roughly 7-inch screen.

Microsoft refused to go into details, but offered up a statement saying: "As promised on the OrigamiProject.com website, we are offering more details today about Origami, including that it is a new category of mobile PCs that will run Windows XP. We're excited to share more information with you on March 9."

Opening up Origami
Origami devices are expected to do most of the tasks that a low-end PC is capable of--things like playing music and movies, editing documents, viewing e-mail and surfing the Internet. Many models are expected to include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless capabilities, though some may also have pricier add-ons, such as GPS navigation tools or cellular modems.

Sources have said they expect Microsoft to run through the Origami effort at CeBit trade show, which takes place March 9 to 15 in Hannover, Germany.

Microsoft has managed to conjure nearly unprecedented buzz for the product, although it has talked in the past about such a device. Chairman Bill Gates displayed a prototype concept at a hardware conference last spring, outlining his ambitions for a 1-pound tablet with all-day battery life and a cost of $800.

"There's a lot we need to do in the software to make this something that's very easy to work with, and probably having a touch screen," Gates said in the April speech. "We want to get down below 2 pounds, as close to 1 pound as we can, get an all-day battery life in this thing. We do believe this is achievable."

Sources say the company has actually been pushing to create a device that can sell for $500, but the company is unlikely to reach that lofty goal with the initial generation of devices.

Chipmaker Intel is also touting a similar idea, something it calls the ultramobile PC, or UMPC. Intel has a teaser site of its own. The Web site encourages people to check back on March 7, which is also the first day of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.

"How do you turn a big idea into something small?" the site asks. "Stay Tuned...Ultra-Mobile PC."

Origami would not be the first minitablet PC to run Windows. At January's Consumer Electronics Show, start-up Dualcor Technologies showed the $1,500 cPC, which had a 5-inch screen and the ability to act as both cell phone and tablet PC. Tablet PC specialist Motion Computing also has its LS800, an 8-inch, 2-pound tablet that starts at $1,699. Others have tried to make smaller laptops, notably OQO.

See more CNET content tagged:
Microsoft Origami, minitablet PC, ultramobile PC, tablet, tablet PC

33 comments

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Message has been deleted.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dude. Grow up.
What's up with YOUR name? It sounds like "boob". You should change it!

Grow up.
Posted by yipcanjo (75 comments )
Link Flag
Do you really not know what "origami" is?
You can't be serious.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Link Flag
Yawn
So what's different about this and the current crop of handhelds like the iPaq or Treo? Sounds like just more hype to try to get us to buy something we don't need.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Useful
Actually my Pocket PC is nice, but the screen is way to small to accomplish anything useful.

My laptop is too large - even in Tablet mode - and bulky to be truly transportable and usable in the field - not to mention the dismal battery life.

a smaller device - somewhere in between would be useful, say a 7" screen, 800x600 or so, preferably with a Blackberry type thumb board, decent touch screen granularity, wireless and good battery life would be great, especailly if I could load Linux as well as XP. Could be a killer device - IF executed properly.
Posted by ThePenguin (30 comments )
Link Flag
Yawn
So what's different about this and the current crop of handhelds like the iPaq or Treo? Sounds like just more hype to try to get us to buy something we don't need.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Useful
Actually my Pocket PC is nice, but the screen is way to small to accomplish anything useful.

My laptop is too large - even in Tablet mode - and bulky to be truly transportable and usable in the field - not to mention the dismal battery life.

a smaller device - somewhere in between would be useful, say a 7" screen, 800x600 or so, preferably with a Blackberry type thumb board, decent touch screen granularity, wireless and good battery life would be great, especailly if I could load Linux as well as XP. Could be a killer device - IF executed properly.
Posted by ThePenguin (30 comments )
Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by Norseman (1319 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about the Vaio U70?
My Vaio U70 fits the bill of what they are talking about, though it has only a 5 inch touch screen. I had to import it from Japan using dynamism.com, but I really do love it, it's so darn tiny for a Windows running machine, and it's actually quite zippy with a 1Ghz Pentium M, wireless, and 512 MB of RAM. It has a Centrino chipset.
Posted by Kev50027 (217 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think you nailed it, Kevin.
My money is on it being a slightly-modified, re-branded version of this Vaio.
Posted by Norseman (1319 comments )
Link Flag
What about the Vaio U70?
My Vaio U70 fits the bill of what they are talking about, though it has only a 5 inch touch screen. I had to import it from Japan using dynamism.com, but I really do love it, it's so darn tiny for a Windows running machine, and it's actually quite zippy with a 1Ghz Pentium M, wireless, and 512 MB of RAM. It has a Centrino chipset.
Posted by Kev50027 (217 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think you nailed it, Kevin.
My money is on it being a slightly-modified, re-branded version of this Vaio.
Posted by Norseman (1319 comments )
Link Flag
Thud
That big thud you hear is this thing hitting the floor!

Microsoft-we know how to take our complex software that
doesn't function all that well to begin with and put it in an ever
smaller form factor.

Microsft hasn't a clue.

THUD!
Posted by mozart11 (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thud
That big thud you hear is this thing hitting the floor!

Microsoft-we know how to take our complex software that
doesn't function all that well to begin with and put it in an ever
smaller form factor.

Microsft hasn't a clue.

THUD!
Posted by mozart11 (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Haha.
I'm glad Microsoft thinks this will do well.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft
Almost everything they launch does well. And if it doesnt do well they throw more money and R&D at it until it does.
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Link Flag
Haha.
I'm glad Microsoft thinks this will do well.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft
Almost everything they launch does well. And if it doesnt do well they throw more money and R&D at it until it does.
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Link Flag
Back to the Future
Is this a Newton?
Posted by japanexpert (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Back to the Future
Is this a Newton?
Posted by japanexpert (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft Using Macromedia
I found it interesting that Microsoft is using Macromedia to hype it's new product. I guess even they know FrontPage is way behind Macromedia for web development.
As for the device it sounds like it could work well in the CRM market if they improve the battery life and keep the cost down to slightly over an iPAQ. It would be a good solution for clients that don't need a full size tablet but need more then a PDA.
Posted by Sandman3 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft Using Macromedia
I found it interesting that Microsoft is using Macromedia to hype it's new product. I guess even they know FrontPage is way behind Macromedia for web development.
As for the device it sounds like it could work well in the CRM market if they improve the battery life and keep the cost down to slightly over an iPAQ. It would be a good solution for clients that don't need a full size tablet but need more then a PDA.
Posted by Sandman3 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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