Microsoft Are Back On Top With Surface

I have just watched a video of the most exciting user interface ever seen. It’s not of the forthcoming iPhone nor is it any kind of Apple product. This is Microsoft Surface and it promises a revolution in how we interact with our computers and mobile devices, I’m completely blown away by not the technology behind the system, but how well it’s used to produce a product that will potentially devestate Apple’s market share.

Microsoft Surface Puts The Company Firmly Back On Top Of Apple

If you wondered why Bill Gates was suddenly agreeing to do an interview with Steve Jobs, then I’m pretty sure this is the reason. It doesn’t matter if he does badly in that discussion because as soon as Surface was on show then Steve Jobs had lost out anyway. Will Jobs have a rebuttal product that we haven’t heard about? I doubt it.

Pricing And Availability

You’ll be able to get Surface from winter 2007 for between $5000 and $10000. I know that’s a lot of money right now but they aim to bring the price down to a consumer level quickly and this is the first device I’ve seen that really will fit right in your living room, instead of just attempting to hide in a corner. Designer coffee tables go for far more and I know which I’d rather have.

The New Standard In Interaction

For me, as a search and user interface developer, this fits in extremely nicely with my view of tiling search results as images. An application using Windows Live Search in this way for not just searching but RSS feeds and bookmarks would be highly intuitive and allow the user to see what they want straight off the mark.

Surface Revolutionises Connections To Mobile Devices

One of the most ingenious features they’ve integrated right off the mark is the ability to interact with your mobile devices. We all have phones now; they started with IR then Bluetooth, now some feature WiFi. How many of you actually use these connection abilities reguarly though? I’d guess it’s a low percentage because the hardware and software we have to connect with doesn’t make it simple and easy enough to use frequently in most cases.

What Surface lets you do is put your mobile phone, PDA or digital camera directly on the table top and a ring will appear around it to signify the connection. You can then drag media to and from the device with your finger and a bit of wrist movement, it’s so simple it makes me want to cry. I spend a lot of time shouting about the need for simple and intuitive user interfaces and this is the model we should all start building from.

This is the new standard in user interfaces, keep up.


15 Comments on “Microsoft Are Back On Top With Surface”

  1. The Champ says:

    I hate to rain on your parade and everything, but Apple has recently purchased the largest companies that develop multi-touch technologies.

    You’d doubt apple has anything similar up their sleeve, but recent acquisitions suggest other wise.

  2. Phill says:

    You could rain harder than that. Apple and Microsoft have owned technologies to implement like this for many many years. The difference is HOW they’re implementing it now.

  3. Giggle Platypus says:

    I’m going to thunderstorm on your parade. My company is releasing a product very similar to this but with more features and more connectivity (think hooking up to your media components as well as any PC you might have, from Windows-based to Linux to Mac), for about $2999.

  4. Phill says:

    I’d love to see your company’s product, can you divulge the name? I’m no Microsoft fanboy but when a company does something well and release before their competitors then praise where praise is due. I think they deserve some here.

  5. The Champ says:

    You didn’t praise MS, you basically said Apple (and everyone else) couldn’t do the same.

    You definitely ARE an Microsoft fanboy.

    There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t deny who you are.

  6. Phill says:

    Where did I say they couldn’t do the same?!

    I even said they owned very similar tech, again, it’s HOW they’ve implemented it.

    Apple have multi touch on their forth coming iPhone, but that’s a completely different device and is far out of this market sector… I think you’re just trolling now champ.

  7. Dave Fernandez says:

    “The Champ”, you are a fanboy and a loser.

  8. The Champ says:

    Who exactly am I a fanboy for?

  9. Wayne says:

    So you want me to pay $10,000 so I can put this table thing in the middle of my room and use it by kneeling on the floor and tapping the screen (slowly and deliberately from the looks of it in the video)?

    And instead of just leaving my cell phone in my pocket and syncing over BlueTooth automatically as I do now, I’m supposed to put it on my $10,000 coffee table and then remember to pick it up again before leaving?

    And instead of watching videos and pictures on my 50″ LCD (which I ignorantly hung on the wall instead of mounting on the floor) I’m supposed to stare down at my table? Of course, unlike my LCD, I could set a glass of Coke on the table and get to see a snazzy ring of pixels form around it, but if I do then I’ll need to wipe off the ring of moisture and remember to hold the Coke in my hand so I’ll be able to see the aforementioned pictures and videos?

    I do agree that multitouch is an interesting UI idea (we’ll see where it goes) but it was just as interesting when Apple showed it on their iPhone in January.

    I enjoyed the video as a geeky tech guy, but there’s nothing particularly new here. I can’t shake the feeling I’ve seen most of it someplace before. Oh wait, I remember! Check out this video from a year or so ago:

    Notice the interesting use of multitouch for things like moving and resizing photos. Also notice that the person using it is standing comfortably in front of the appropriately-angled work surface (not kneeling on his living room floor).

    Yeah, MS has done “it” again.


  10. Phill says:

    This to me is all about the user interface experience. You sit with the phone in your pocket, sure, then you use your windows or mac folder setup (yawn) to browse through it. Sure as a tech orientated person it’s simple but for the layman its complex.

    Anyone can slap their mobile on the table and drag images on to it. Simplicity should come first and then as you learn a system more complex options become available. Apple know this and it’s apparent in all their interfaces.

    This isn’t about being a hub for watching your videos on while your neck cranes over it. For now its designed to go in hotel foyers and the like. In future this technology will appear on your 50″ lcd hooked up to your windows box no doubt, this isn’t comparable to any existing pc setup or niche in your home. To me it’s a completely separate and innovative product which is why it excites me.

    Heck I dont have $5000 to spend on it, and I won’t, but it really excites me for the future and I’m happy to see Microsoft head in a direction that’s distinct from all the competition they now face as it shows they can still produce quality without trying to beat everyone all the time. Sometimes a company does best when its just going to do its own thing (see google, the early years especially).

    I’ve stressed we’ve all seen the technology behind the product before. What’s important is nobody was ready to implement it until now and that’s a big step because it means the rest of the industry won’t be so far behind.

    Essentially lets look at the positive aspects here, which I’m sure you can see are varied, and look at how we can be enjoying the changes it has brought to the market in a few years time, maybe even less.

  11. Phill says:

    “instead of watching videos and pictures on my 50″ LCD (which I ignorantly hung on the wall instead of mounting on the floor) ”

    I found it hard to stop laughing after reading that, very amusing 😀

  12. […] Microsoft Are Back On Top With Surface I have just watched a video of the most exciting user interface ever seen. It’s not of the forthcoming iPhone nor […] […]

  13. Tim Wintle says:

    “Big Ass Table” – parody of the surface advert, hillarious.

  14. Phill says:

    Made me laugh. That’s not saying much though. I find the word ‘oblong’ amusing.

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