The Microsoft Surface FUD machine ramps up quickly.

Well, the bad reporting on Microsoft’s Surface has already begun. For example, see this article on ZDNet. Mary Jo Foley claims “An unblinking eye on Microsoft”. Well, it’s easy not to blink when you’re asleep. This article is just silly.

For example, we get this gem:

“It’s easy to see how Microsoft might incorporate the Milan multi-touch capability into Zunes or Windows Mobile phones.”

No. In fact, it’s awfully difficult to see how this will be in a Zune or a phone. It relies on a projector and five cameras underneath the table. Did she not know this? There is a reason the whole thing sits under a table.

Or this:

“In fact, one source told me that Microsoft has been pitching Milan to various wireless carriers, with the hopes that they will support a Milan-enabled Windows-Mobile phone in the not-too-distant future.”

I call FUD on this one. This could be Microsoft trying to freeze the iPhone market with the potential that a competitor may be coming soon. This is ridiculous. Not only will Surface not even be available until Winter, but that will be in an expensive coffee table for retail locations. When will they be available to make this a portable device? Heck, forget portable, when will they be able to even make this an affordable and useful PC device? Oh, Mary, a little homework on your part would have been nice.

If you want an honest assessment of Microsoft Surface (which certainly looks to be good technology for its target market), see this excellent Blackfriar’s Marketing article. There is no FUD here, so you’ll learn that there is little chance of having a Surface phone and computer anytime soon. It outlines pretty well the drawbacks of Microsoft’s approach in terms of making this a consumer technology, and why getting it into consumer products is not something happening anytime soon.

Sadly, I’m sure articles like ZDNet’s are just the beginning of the misreporting regarding Surface.

The question, however, is if Microsoft’s standard operating procedure regarding new technologies will work this time. Customers, and the industry in general, are more savvy now than they were in the days when Microsoft could freeze everybody into waiting for their promises. Apple will be shipping a consumer product with MultiTouch in three weeks or so. Microsoft has nothing in the pipe for the consumer with Surface. We’ll see if Microsoft’s tried and true FUD approach will still work in today’s tech environment.

UPDATE: A post on Scobleizer lends support to the points made above. The two salient points:

“1. Price. Will cost $5,000 to $10,000 and only be available to commercial customers (hotels, casinos, etc). Price depends on number of units purchased.
2. Consumer availability? They are working on other surface computing products, but didn’t have anything to announce yet. There are a few roadblocks to getting one of these in your home. First, it’s expensive to build one because it needs holographic glass, an enclosure, a projector, two cameras, and a computer. Second, they still are working on software so that it actually does something beyond the whiz-bang demos they showed off this morning on stage.”

In addition, this tidbit clarifies the difference between reality and demo:

“3. Demos won’t all work the way it seems in the videos. The demos you are seeing of photos flying out of a digital camera when placed on the device? That requires that digital camera to be synced and “tagged” with a bar code. The table can see bar codes on things, but you’ve gotta stick a bar code on them first. My cell phone hasn’t been tagged. Neither has my digital camera. So, if I put them on the table they wouldn’t do anything.”

Scoble’s post is recommended reading.

6 thoughts on “The Microsoft Surface FUD machine ramps up quickly.

  1. Perhaps I’m missing something. The Wacom device is a touch screen utilizing a stylus.

    Microsoft Surface does not use a touch screen, but rather uses cameras (five of them) to detect and act on “touch”. It also uses a projected image overlaid with an infrared grid.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that saying the Wacom device is essentially this device in smaller form already is an awfully big stretch.

    I think the only device essentially there for Surface is the one they’ll bring to market this Winter.

  2. All of the hurdles of the Microsoft implementation could be produced on a smaller scale for consumer devives (ie the size of computer monitors) – the wacom Cintiq is essentially this device already.

  3. Blue tooth could maybe serve that purpose, but my comment about barcode reading was derived from Microsoft’s own explanation of how those features in the demo actually work.

  4. I agree the technology is not relevant up to a point. At some point it must be affordable and practical to a target audience. For retail stores it appears it will be at this point by Winter of this year.

    However, my post was to refute the claims that it will be in consumer devices anytime soon (if ever). In that case the technology is very relevant, and not practical.

  5. You have to be imaginative.

    Using bar codes is just one method of recognizing objects.

    Imagine a table with Bluetooth. Then laying your phone, PDA, or camera on the top works just fine. Easy.

  6. The technology used is irrelevant. The research into hand UI’s is important, no matter who does it.

    Some day someone will do a consumer-oriented device (my old parents would love one, I’d love an office desk with one, Star Trek fans see the parallel from the TNG ship control panels, etc). The hardware can be different for different device sizes.

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