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Microsoft Surface will suffice

an image of the Microsoft Surface logoIt’s a brave company that steps out of their comfort zone and pitches an entirely new class of product at an unsuspecting market. A brave company indeed, but Microsoft don’t qualify. First of all, I’ll qualify that statement: Microsoft, much like any huge slab of a multinational business empire, don’t do things on a whim. Oh, no! They plan meticulously…

So as much of a surprise as Microsoft Surface might appear to be, I’d be surprised if this wasn’t some years in the planning.

I could do a little research into that, but it’s late and I want to watch a movie on the same screen I’m typing into. So time isn’t my friend this evening.

Personally, I think Microsoft’s Surface touch-screen technology is a wonderful idea.

As I recently claimed (yesterday, in fact) Microsoft are more iterative than innovative when it comes to technology. Sure, there’s going to be those who disagree, but that’s why we have comments on ‘blogs.

See? Democracy in action!

I recently ran an article on a demo of Microsoft’s touch-screen technology – focusing principally on business rather than the consumer, which seems customary for Microsoft, with the notable exception being the Xbox video games console – and how the whole thing didn’t feel clean or simple enough, especially when compared to the efforts of either Jeff Han or Apple and their iPhone.

I think that Microsoft Surface really does strip the whole idea of usable multi-point touch-screen technology right back to the very idea, which is letting the objects be the focus – be they photographs, music, video, actual items on the surface of the touch-screen itself, such as cameras and mobile phones.

The wireless technology looks truly amazing. The idea of synchronizing across devices in such an immediate fashion is sublime, and very Apple-like in execution.

But I have one suggestion, what about inductive charging? If we’re going to be able to manipulate physical devices on the surface directly, then why can’t we recharge these devices at the same time?Yes, we’d need a whole new class of devices, but hey! I’m just a visionary, man.

It’s interesting that Microsoft should showcase their Surface product, especially ahead of the D Conference. I imagine Bill Gates is salivating at the prospect of up-staging Steve Jobs.

However, I doubt it’ll be anything like that. Despite all of the Microsoft Surface smarts, if I have to be deeply oblique, it’s just a really, really big Apple iPhone.

Where you see Microsoft innovate is in their marketing, and here’s where their iterative slant on technology is given their uniquely marketing-driven innovative push into the mainstream.

I also imagine that in the eyes of Microsoft, this is one in the eye of Apple. But I don’t see that being the case.

While I don’t doubt that Apple will inevitably move in this direction, it’s going to be more people-driven, rather than business-focused.

And there is the dividing line between the two protagonists.

While we see Microsoft talk about the likes of thee & me, they tend not to walk that talk.

And in the world of computing, where fingers do the walking, if either Microsoft, Apple or Jeff Han get things wrong for our sons, daughters, nephews and nieces, the one hand gesture they’re most likely to see is the one with the middle finger…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

5 replies on “Microsoft Surface will suffice”

About ten years ago, my wife and I had an idea for software that would revolutionise the way orders are placed and payments are taken at restaurants. We never did anything about it because the idea was too big for us, and the technology wasn’t quite there. It’s just arrived.

Surface is going to start turning up in some pretty interesting places in the next few years.

Hi Brian!

Microsoft Surface is an amazing idea.

And let’s be fair about this, it’s actually a platform, which is no surprise, given that this is Microsoft we’re talking about.

The possibilities are quite endless.

Speaking of prophetic prognostications, I’m a Sci-Fi writer (when time allows) and an idea I had some years ago was of walls in a room which were effectively live screens.

Imagine the scene: guy comes in after a long day at work, “I want to relax” he announces as he silently walks into his living room, clutching a tumbler of Whiskey.

His home entertainment system chooses the appropriate music and paints his walls with a night time city scape…

What impressed me most about the new technology developed for Surface is the apparent lack of transfer time for dozens of high resolution pictures from camera to Surface.

Instantaneous: no ‘Please wait while Surface installs drivers for this device’; not even any ‘Copying [. . . . . . . . .12%]’. And this is where it really impresses: not only can it do these things, but it makes your existing cameras and pdas able to perform like this too.


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