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March 9, 2006

At long last Origami

Posted by David Hunter at 3:44 PM ET.

But whether it’s love remains to be seen. There’s a lengthy video on Channel 9 and a Press Q&A, but here’s a summary:

- Microsoft calls them Ultra-Mobile Personal Computers (UMPCs) which is a hyphen more than Intel.

- Runs Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 with the addition of the Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows XP which optimizes the touch screen user interface and also includes a thumb-based, on-screen keyboard that’s touch-optimized for easy text input. Will run Vista eventually.

- “Touch Pack software also helps keep you entertained with the introduction of Microsoft Sudoku, a highly entertaining touch and ink enabled game. ”

- As usual with Microsoft specifications for hardware, the exact designs offered by vendor partners will vary, but here are the ground rules:

- Pricing is determined by the manufacturers, but is expected to be in the range of US$599-$999.

- Availability also is determined by the manufacturers and that looks like:

- There’s a hint that some Independent Software Vendors are already on board to deliver specialized software, but if others want to play, they should check out the Ultra-Mobile section of the Mobile Developer Center.

- As for who’s running the wagon train:

Microsoft developed the concept for this type of UMPC based on our own research, combined with key new developments by industry partners. These developments include new low-power, high-performance processors, extended battery life and enhancements to Tablet PC software such as the Touch Pack interface tools. While Microsoft will continue to provide leadership in the development of this category, the creation and continued evolution of UMPCs will happen through a broad collaboration between Microsoft, Intel and a wide range of OEMs, ODMs, IHVs and ISVs.

OK, those are the mundane details, but what is the gadget good for? I may be suffering from a paucity of imagination, but I just can’t figure out how or why I would use an UMPC, especially the initial versions.

It isn’t a phone, it’s too big for a PDA (which is a dead category anyhow), and the battery life seems to be way too short to be very portable. I’m sure not going to plug it in, attach a keyboard and mouse, and prop it up on my desk to do ordinary PC work either, so what’s left? At a guess, it’s an oversized portable video player or gaming device if you don’t mind the short battery life. Frankly there’s not a heap of excitement there.

For a laugh, head over to the Intel Ultra Mobile (without a hyphen) PC web site and watch the video for a 1930′s Popular Mechanics Flying Car view of some future version. Just don’t expect to buy one in April.

Filed under ASUS, Coopetition, Founder, Hardware, Intel, New Form Factors, Origami, Samsung, Technologies, VIA

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March 8, 2006

Intel says UMPC, Microsoft says Origami

Posted by David Hunter at 4:50 PM ET.

As presaged last week, Intel and Microsoft seem to be having separate kickoffs for their new mobile PC design. Intel lead off the dance yesterday at the Intel Developers Forum with their release of details on what they call the Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) and Microsoft will introduce their version called Origami on Thursday at CeBIT. Ina Fried at ZDNet reports on Intel:

In a preview of Tuesday afternoon’s demonstration, Brad Graff, Intel’s marketing director, showed CNET several of the Ultra Mobile PC devices, including an example of the kind of hardware that will ship in the next few weeks as part of the Microsoft effort.

As earlier reported, the first devices have a 7-inch touch screen, standard x86 processors, and can run full versions of desktop operating systems including the Windows XP variant being used for Origami.

In later generations, 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, Graff said in an interview.

The first generation of devices are likely to get about three hours of battery life, he said.

In addition to the 7-inch model, Graff showed several other prototype devices of what the chipmaker hopes will be possible in future versions, including models with smaller screens and a swivel-out keyboard. Although the prototypes are working, because they use today’s standard components, they get only about 15 minutes of battery life.

Intel’s hardware, which uses its ultra low-voltage chips, can run standard x86 operating systems, including Windows and Linux. Microsoft plans on Thursday to finally detail its Origami effort, which runs only on Windows XP.

Intel just said the “L” word! There are more photos of the Intel prototypes here and at the overloaded Intel Ultra Mobile PC web site. Microsoft’s Robert Scoble points to a CNBC video of the prototypes. I’m pleased to see that the keyboard isn’t a completely unknown concept.

Reactions to the Intel revelations has so far been less than favorable (e.g. Blogger’s Origami dreams crumpled) and rumors abound about what Microsoft will actually reveal in their kickoff at CeBIT (e.g. Origami Just a Glorified Media Player with Nasty DRM?). I’m still puzzled about why the Microsoft operating system of choice is Windows XP, although several sources refer to it as a “special version.” We’ll find out tomorrow.

Finally, it seems that ASUS and Samsung are the two “launch partners” whose commitment to actually manufacture the devices will also be announced tomorrow. Macworld reports on Samsung and DailyTech has the ASUS story.

Filed under ASUS, Coopetition, General Business, Hardware, Intel, Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, New Form Factors, Open Source, Origami, Public Relations, Samsung, Technologies

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