Ina Fried at CNET has been doing some digging and that’s what her sources say:
As rumors unfurl about a new gadget upcoming from Microsoft, the company’s Origami Project is starting to take shape as a very small tablet computer, one perhaps affordable enough to appeal to mainstream consumers.
The concept, which Microsoft plans to detail next month, is built on top of the Windows XP operating system but aims to be a new kind of device, rather than a replacement for existing PCs, according to sources familiar with the effort. With a screen bigger than that of a handheld but smaller than a notebook PC screen, Origami devices won’t fit in the pocket, but they’ll make it into purses and even the smallest of backpacks, sources said.
Microsoft’s goal is to create a blueprint for devices that could sell for $600 or less, although the actual prices will depend greatly on what manufacturers decide to include. Origami is capable of supporting features like GPS, Bluetooth, 3G cellular technology and Wi-Fi, though each of these adds to the cost of the device.
That answers my main question as to whether Microsoft was going to build Origami itself or provide a specification for OEMs to build as it did for the Tablet PC and the Portable Media Center. Of course, some will argue that Microsoft would be better off building it themselves as Steve Jobs has observed about the Portable Media Center which has done poorly against the iPod.
As for the Origami box itself, there really aren’t enough details for me to offer much of a critique, but one odd note is the Windows XP operating system. Why would Microsoft launch a new form factor using an operating system that is just about to be obsolete? My guess is that it is actually Windows XP Embedded which would be a natural given the form factor and the inevitable delay before an embedded version of Vista becomes available.