Microsoft Surface Today and Tomorrow
Earlier, we uncovered that Microsoft has targeted Surface to a business audience. In fact, Surface 1.0 was only available to businesses [source: Microsoft]. Some of those businesses have partnered with Microsoft to contribute the first Surface-certified applications and to help improve the Surface product overall. As of this writing, the Surface project had 84 Microsoft Surface partners and almost 300 strategic partners.
The Samsung SUR40 with Surface 2.0, scheduled for release in fall 2011, is the first Surface device available for retail purchase worldwide. Microsoft and Samsung will sell the device, as will a number of authorized resellers. Though the price and availability of Surface puts it within reach of the home consumer, Microsoft's target audience for Surface is still retail businesses.
Microsoft might be right to focus Surface's marketing toward businesses. Not only can a business wow its customers with Surface, but it can also use Surface to make transactions faster and easier. A business owner can personalize Surface, too, by recruiting experienced Windows software developers to write a custom application using the Surface Developer Kit (SDK) [source: Microsoft]. Furthermore, Surface can facilitate businesses in their green initiatives, allowing them to cut back on paper, ink and other office supply waste.
Though Surface is leading the way in the surface computing category it has created, it is not without competition in that arena. In 2009, Ideum announced its MT2 Multitouch Table with a 50-inch (1.3-meter) screen and the durability required to take abuse from the patrons of its target audience: museums. The MT2 featured Snowflake Gesture Recognition Software by NUITEQ, which opened the platform to software developers from varying programming backgrounds. By the way, NUITEQ is the company that owns the trademark for the term Natural User Interface (NUI). As of July 2011, MT2's successor MT55 uses Ideum's own GestureWorks software for application authoring, and it boasts more impressive hardware specifications than the SUR40 [sources: Davies, NUITEQ, Ideum].
In the minds of most people, multi-touch functions and user-friendly interfaces are characteristics associated more with Apple hardware than with Microsoft products. So, it's natural to wonder if Apple will produce a competitor for the Surface. Some speculate that the markets for Surface and products like the Apple iPad will not overlap. Surface is intended for large collaborative interactions more typical to storefront businesses that stay put while the iPad, iPhone and other Apple products target the individual user who's on the go [source: Howe].
Despite Apple's current lack of product in the large-scale surface computing market, the company still has the technological know-how to produce a tough competitor for Surface. We also can't discount Google and its Android partners, especially now that Android has a version (3.0) that was rebuilt from the ground up as a tablet OS. Will these be the big names challenging Microsoft in surface computing's future, or will the niche hardware manufacturers like Ideum carve out their space and dare the bigger players to enter?
This article has introduced surface computing and explore Microsoft's Surface platform. We've only just scratched the surface when it comes to touch-screen computing, though, so slide on over to the next page for lots more information.
More Great Links
- All Things Digital. "D5 Conference." The Wall Street Journal Digital Network. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. (June 30, 2011) http://allthingsd.com/category/d/d5/
- Buxton, Bill. "Multi-Touch Systems that I Have Known and Loved." Mar. 21, 2011. (June 30, 2011) http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html
- Davies, Chris. "Ideum MT2 Multitouch Table beats Microsoft Surface in size & resolution." Feb. 5, 2009. (June 30, 2011) http://www.slashgear.com/ideum-mt2-multitouch-table-beats-microsoft-surface-in-size-resolution-0533139/
- Derene, Glenn. "Microsoft Surface: Behind-the-Scenes First Look." Popular Mechanics. Hearst Communication, Inc. July 1, 2007. (June 30, 2011) http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/news/4217348
- Roodyn, Dr. Neil. "Dr. Neil: Microsoft Surface Shell." Aug. 10, 2009. (June 30, 2011) http://drneil.blogspot.com/2009/08/microsoft-surface-shell.html
- Foley, Mary Jo. "CES: New Microsoft Surface to be priced at $7,600." ZDNet. CBS Interactive. Jan. 6, 2011. (June 30, 2011) http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/ces-new-microsoft-surface-to-be-priced-at-7600/8368
- Fost, Dan. "D5: Seen and heard in Carlsbad." SFGate. The San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications, Inc. May 31, 2007. (June 30, 2011) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/techchron/category?cat=1280
- Horsey, Julian. "Microsoft Samsung SUR40 Surface Arriving In September." Geeky-Gadgets. May 27, 2011. (June 30, 2011) http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/microsoft-unveils-samsung-sur40-surface-27-05-2011/
- Howe, Carl. "How Apple Will Trump Microsoft's Surface Computing Initiative." May 31, 2007. (June 30, 2011) http://seekingalpha.com/article/36969-how-apple-will-trump-microsoft-s-surface-computing-initiative
- Ideum. "Multitouch Products." (June 30, 2011) http://www.ideum.com/products/multitouch/
- Microsoft. "AT&T First to Introduce Microsoft Surface in Retail Stores to Enhance Mobile Shopping Experience." Apr. 1, 2008. (June 30, 2011) http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/apr08/04-01SurfaceRetailPR.mspx
- Microsoft. "Microsoft Surface Design and Development Training: Supplementary Video." (June 30, 2011) http://www.microsoft.com/surface/training/module1/index.html
- Microsoft. "Microsoft Surface: Software Platform." 2011. (June 29, 2011) http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en/us/softwareplatform.aspx
- Microsoft. "Software Platform." (June 30, 2011) http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en/us/softwareplatform.aspx
- Microsoft. "The History of Microsoft Surface." Jan. 5, 2011. (June 30, 2011) http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9760854
- Mintz, Jessica. "Microsoft unveils table top computer." Associated Press article posted at MSNBC.com. May 30, 2007. (June 30, 2011) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18936536/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/t/microsoft-unveils-table-top-computer/
- Riley, Duncan. "Microsoft Announces Surface Computer." May 29, 2007. (June 30, 2011) http://techcrunch.com/2007/05/29/microsoft-announces-surface-computer/