Milan



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Posted by: stak
Posted on: 2007-05-31 12:23:23

A bunch of things have happened recently in the software world. Some of it is noteworthy, and some of it isn't really. The two main announcements both came within the last couple of days: Microsoft Surface Computing (aka "Milan") and Google Gears.

First, Milan. Bill Gates demoed something like this when he came to give a talk at UW a couple of years ago, and I thought it was pretty cool then. There's a bunch of videos on the web of the new desk, and it looks even cooler. However, I say "looks" because I have my doubts about how cool it's actually going to be. I can think of only a handful of really useful applications for this sort of thing - while it is fun to play with digital images and toss them as if they were real, I doubt many people are going to be willing to cough up $10K to do so.

Microsoft on it's own is not going to be able to come up with nearly enough useful applications to make Milan worthwhile - their only hope is to provide a solid API and let people program their own desks. I would assume that they're going to open it up to third-party developers, but it's the usability of the API that's going to make or break this project. They may be the one of the first to demo something like this (they're not the first - see Perceptive Pixel), but I bet lots of companies are already gearing up to embrace and extend the technology. About the same time OLED displays start approaching a reasonable size/cost ratio, the market is going to explode with Milan clones that are way better - imagine a flexible display that you can carry around your house (communicates wirelessly to the base computer somewhere) with all the features and more shown in the Milan demos.

So for now, the ball is in Microsoft's court. For once, they seem to be actually pushing forward with an original product that is somewhat innovative, so it'll be interesting to see how this turns out. I'll cover Google Gears in my next post...

Posted by varun at 2007-05-31 13:51:59
It's been my impression (albeit as something of an outsider to programming in the Windows world), that the two things that Microsoft has consistently done well are developer tools, and APIs. So I imagine that the API aspect will not be as much of a problem for Surface as will getting costs down and developing scenarios where Surface would be preferable to a keyboard/mouse/tablet combination.
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Posted by stak at 2007-05-31 19:00:28
Yeah. According to Ars, it's based on a standard Vista/WPF install with an additional layer. Should be fairly easy to use. Now if they can just nudge the cost down a bit so random developers can afford it...
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Posted by Dave at 2007-06-08 00:22:58
I believe he said in the presentation that it's that high right now but will come down in cost. right now, it's meant largely for like mid level pubs and bars and such.

In theory, this could be pretty cool to have at a home.

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