I was lucky enough to attend Gnomedex this year where I was able to play around with the Microsoft Surface. For those who are unfamiliar with the Microsoft Surface it is a regular computer that has been put inside of a coffee table with a 30″ display right in the center of the table’s surface. I guess, hence the name – Microsoft Surface.
What makes the Surface special is the fact it is completely touch based. And it is definitely very well engineered. While there are still some things that I wish were a bit different with the Surface, such as, when using the maps program, I would like to see more tactile responses when moving over mountains, different terrain, as well as while moving closer in on points on the map; the overall design and experience is very solid.
After speaking with one of the Surface guys, I learned the specs of the machine (PDF) really aren’t too robust. It only has 2GB of RAM, which is pretty standard in most machines nowadays. The one I was using was running on Windows Vista, however, they do plan to move the Surfaces to Windows 7 eventually, however, there is no set time frame for that currently.
The Surface team gets their fair share of questions about the MS Surface in a home environment and from what I understood after speaking with Eric Havir, they would love to see it there (in people’s homes) too. According to the team, you will first start seeing this type of technology in the home with Windows 7 PCs. This is because Windows 7 has built-in touch screen support. One day the Surface team hopes every table, counter and wall in the home will be a Surface too. While we’re not quite there yet (mainly due to price – it costs $12,500 or $15,000 if you want the table and the SDK), they are starting to see a trend for the Surface in the corporate world. For example, I was told that BMW has a proof-of-concept (at their headquarters in Germany) using the Surface to customize cars for their customers – the employee would sit down with the customer and pick all the different parts (exterior and interior) and build it with the Surface. Health care officials such as doctors also seem to be jumping on board with the Surface. Of course, these are just two of the many examples and possible uses.
The Microsoft Surface is a very cool piece of technology – it is one that I would like to own one day myself and I’m sure I will (once the price goes down considerably). Anyway, check out the video above where I show off some of the things it can do and let me know what you think!
Photo credit to Mandy.