March 10, 2006 10:00 AM PST

Week in review: Origami unwrapped

After weeks of rumors, conjecture and suspense, we finally get to see what Microsoft has been tinkering on with its Origami project.

In a preview demonstration, Intel showed CNET News.com several of the ultramobile PC devices, including an example of the kind of hardware that will ship in the next few weeks as part of the Microsoft effort.

The first devices have a 7-inch touch screen and standard x86 processors, and can run full versions of desktop operating systems, including the Windows XP variant being used for Origami. In later generations, due for release probably next year or later, the devices could have the pocket size, all-day battery life and $500 price that Microsoft and Intel are aiming for.

Photos: Minitablets

The first-generation devices are likely to get about three hours of battery life.

Whatever the merits of these devices, reality still trails Microsoft's ambitions. The first-generation devices are bigger, pricier and more power-hungry than the software maker had hoped. Microsoft acknowledged that instead of being a mass-market hit riding a wave of prelaunch hype, these devices are likely to appeal only to the most hard-core gadget fans.

"This is definitely our first step in looking at the area of ultramobile PCs," said Mika Krammer, a Windows marketing director for Microsoft's mobile platforms. "To really hit the mass market...in the hundreds of thousands and the millions of customers, we have to improve," Krammer said. The devices that begin shipping in April are likely to be more of a niche product, he said.

Many CNET News.com readers were left unimpressed with the announcement, and some even questioned seemingly conflicting strategies.

"It would seem to me to be bad timing to 'launch' these things in the shadow of Windows Vista," wrote Frank McNulty in News.com's TalkBack Forum. "For a new hyped product not to be able to run Vista, which is not that far away, would have negative influence on the "geek" and first adopter buyer."

Microsoft expects greater mass appeal to figure in the release of its next operating system. Aiming to recreate the excitement that accompanied the launch of Windows 95, the software giant is gearing up for a massive campaign to launch Windows Vista.

Chairman Bill Gates has tasked the Windows marketing team with repeating its achievements with the launch a decade ago, a challenge that will require convincing scores of people to line up at retail stores to purchase the operating system. The marketing budget won't be finalized until the end of Microsoft's fiscal year in June, but "regardless of that, we're still being held to that goal," said Dave Block, a senior product manager for Vista.

One of Microsoft's chief goals is to spur businesses and consumers into buying higher-end versions of Vista. Microsoft announced last week that there would be six major versions of Vista, including a new "ultimate" edition of the OS that will combine the best of the company's corporate and home features.

Inside Intel
Still, the Origami project was the big buzz as analysts, executives and industry insiders met in San Francisco at the three-day Intel Developer Forum, eager to see what the chipmaker has to offer next.

During the conference, Intel gave a name to the next-generation chip innards, on which it's basing its counterattack against Advanced Micro Devices: the Intel Core microarchitecture. Derived from the design of the Pentium M processor, the architecture puts major emphasis on lowering power consumption and the older priority of boosting performance.

IDF spring 2006

Core microarchitecture is designed to deal with two related pains in computing--excessive power consumption and resulting waste heat. Improving performance per watt gives Intel a new sales pitch at a time that it faces financial troubles and market share losses to rival AMD.

Intel also demonstrated two quad-core processors, "Clovertown" for servers and "Kentsfield" for PCs, directing attention toward the future and away from a more troubled present. Both chips are built using

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13 comments

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Looking for something new here.
Nice single board computer boards have been available for some time. Mini touchscreens are plentiful. For well under $800 any half geek can put them together and have a tiny tablet. If they wanted to.

What are the markets? Medical charts, maybe a few others that can live with small simplified forms, a few early adopters. Otherwise this thing is an overpriced hammer looking for a nail.

I'll be pleased if any increase in demand causes a drop in miniature component prices, but as a package this thing's a mystery.
Posted by inthewoods (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
vapourware?
If so, I'm not clear on what they're trying to discourage people away from moving to while vainly waiting for some half decent version 2 or 3.
Posted by tipper_gore (74 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft and Reality
"Whatever the merits of these devices, reality still trails Microsoft's
ambitions. "

*sigh* Hasn't that always been the story? Longhorn, TabletPC,
Media Center, original Xbox, Xbox360, etc., etc....

The reality never lives up to the ambitions.
Posted by mofo111 (107 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Origami
I think that this is where portable computing is going, aside from what Microsoft does. With a one inch one terrabyte drive, and a 4 ghz cpu so close, this is the way to go. Give wireless access to this device and you have a very powerful hand held device. I can fully see Windows Xp Pro lasting another 3 - 5 years, with a few upgrades of course. To beef up the initial machines won't take much.
Posted by peterdavidchallis (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Origami
I think that this is where portable computing is going, aside from what Microsoft does. With a one inch one terrabyte drive, and a 4 ghz cpu so close, this is the way to go. Give wireless access to this device and you have a very powerful hand held device. I can fully see Windows Xp Pro lasting another 3 - 5 years, with a few upgrades of course. To beef up the initial machines won't take much.
Posted by peterdavidchallis (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Origami a Big Step Backward
After all the hype, the Origami stats are underwhelming! Too big to fit in your pocket... so you carry a computer bag with you... yet it doesn't do half what a decent laptop will do!
You get a 3 hour battery life in a 2 1/2 pound computer with no cd/dvd drive, and no keyboard.
I use a Sony T350P notebook that has a 7 hour battery life in a 3 pound computer, WITH a great keyboard AND a CD/DVD RW drive!
Origami sounds like a big step backward to me!
Posted by RDH7 (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think Origami is amazing.
When can i get one? Haha.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
FlipStart is a good model...
1. Clamshell model helps protect the screen;
2. A small external display gives quick and easy access to common/favorite applications such as a mini-Outlook and a mini-Media Player;
3. Full PC features with a port extension peripheral and/or a dock;

Missing are:
- Windows Tablet and/or Windows Mobile features;
- TV/radio tuner/reception;
- Auxilliary memory slots;
- Better battery life;
- Hype

Then comes Windows Vista merge with Windows Tablet and Windows Mobile...

Sigh...
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
UMPC Site Launched
Forums available at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.umpcsource.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.umpcsource.com</a>. More content to come.
Posted by MacGyvr (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
UMPC hype is DOA
UMPC site launched. . .but nobody cares. Only days after the
climax of the Origami hypefest, interest has dwindled to hardly
any. Even Microsoft's evangelist, Robert Scoble, has moved on to
other topics.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Link Flag
UMPC Site Launched
Forums available at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.umpcsource.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.umpcsource.com</a>. More content to come.
Posted by MacGyvr (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
UMPCs need an interactive speech interface
Origami/UMPCs need an interactive interface to succeed.
I can see an UMPC with a talkingdesktop interface software and a headset. This would allow me to leave my regular desktop behind and let me control a mobile computer with speech recognition and then listen to it talk back as I am walking around.

Maybe these UMPCs will really show the benefit of an interactive software product like www.talkingdesktop.com on a mobile computer platform.

Deb
Posted by debH (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ANd I would expect that....
... as soon as someone can figure out how to do legitimate voice
recognition, I'd expect it to be an added feature. But don't hold
your breath waiting. Scientists have been trying to do this since the
early 60's, and it hasn't happened yet.

All we have now is are brute force and awkwardness approaches
using waveform pattern matching. They are crude, slow, very
subject to errors, and not too tolerant of voice variations. There's a
long way to go......
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
 

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