back to article Microsoft still just re-Surfacing Windows

Microsoft's announcement of Surface Computing, basically a PC built into a coffee table, might indeed represent a new paradigm in computing technology, but for Microsoft it's just another attempt at getting its software out from the beige boxes under our desks to somewhere, anywhere, else. Microsoft long ago came to dominate …


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  1. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Windows is just too resource hungry

    They can try and get it into as many devices as possible, but Windows requires more resources than alternatives.

    Also, the alternatives are often real time capable. You don't want an OS pausing for a brief second when it is controlling something that needs to react quickly.

    As for the surface idea, they need to redesign the way the GUI works to make it work with the controls. Maybe the screen could be sub-divided and you can align all running apps into squares on the screeen, switch between them by pressing a button and touching the app you want to make it full screen. Apple has something like this in Mac OSX.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    70's pop stars keep the same haircut

    Yeh, well they had a hit with Windows, so now everything will always be trying to recreate Windows.

    Have you noticed that pop stars that fail, freeze in time. When they're successful they come out with new looks and new dances. Once they fail, from then on, their hair style, dress style, performance manner, all freezes. Whenever you see them again, whether it's 10 years later or 30 years later, they are recreating that final style from the time of their success.

    That's the same thing, every thing MS produces will be a platform, just like Windows.

  3. SpitefulGOD


    Surface is for applications that have specific purpose not for running your spreadsheets and the resources hungry windows is resource hungry because its built to handle almost every hardware and software situation out there unlike certain other OS's

  4. DrFix

    Not again... please...

    Windows, any Windows version for that matter, is like the proverbial scratched record that skips and skips at the same tired track. We've heard the tune so many times its sickening. That the same dog and pony show is trotted out for every worn out and cliched "product" or, gasp, "technology" is proof that they have nothing new up there sleeve, or for that matter up anywhere else (But I've the sneaking suspicion thats where they've been pulling this out of. Smells the same, too).

  5. Jamie Edwards


    So, what exactly is the author wanting Microsoft to do? Microsoft aren't claiming this is something brand new from the ground up. Why reinvent the wheel? They have formed a new layer (new platform) to sit on an existing platform they know well.

  6. fluffy

    Bob's legacy still lives on in Windows

    There were actually TWO things born from Bob: the "assistant" metaphor, and the Comic Sans font, which was created to make the assistants' text seem friendlier. We can rest easy that thanks to peoples' bad taste in typography, we'll always have a reminder of Bob's existence.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: DrFix

    Please, dont give me that excuse.

    I'm a new employee for MS and I give my OWN ideas to the table.

    I dont work for the windows or office line, but what I'm working on is different and uninvented... I cant wait till we have a decent demo!

    Hint: Think starwars and better intercoms :)

  8. Steve-SCB

    Not really a new Idea Just Microsoft Marketing again

    This is not new though, see this demo from Feb 2006, its just Microsoft winning the marketing game once more.

  9. mohatma

    MSFT needs to reinvent in six years or less

    - said it before and i'll state again:

    MSFT needs to reinvent by 2010 or it will be dead...

    witness the patent machinations...

    GPL sealed MSFT's fate back in the late 80s...

    Linux sealed MSFT's fate in the 90s...

    MSFT is dead, dead, dead..

  10. DrFix

    Shhhhh!...Hear That?.... Its the "winds" of change.

    Memo to Mr. Anonymously-New-MS-Employee-droid. Put the crack pipe down and step away from the keyboard, you're only going tp hurt yourself. If you "think" its different or "uninvented" you've already lost the battle. Take some time for humble reflection, if thats at all possible, and do something else entirely, like dog grooming, and then later meditate on whether its all that "important" after all. Believe me... It isn't.

  11. Herbys

    Some you missed

    You missed a few escapades fromthe grey boxes that seem to be at least partially successful for MS:

    1) XBox. You might contend that the 360 is not doing that well, but it set its aim at beating the Playstation and so far it has crushed it. Yes, the Wii is selling like hot cakes, but so is the PS2, and the wii can be said to be fighting last generation console war while the XBox is winning the new generation, even if this generation is not yet as popular as the old one.

    2) Pocket PCs. While it is true that the pocket PCs are becoming less of a necessity as the smartphones become more prevalent, MS won the game on that one hands down, and lots of devices are being sold even now.

    3) Servers: OK, you might call those grey boxes (though most are actually black or dark brown) but they are different boxes placed in different environments and owned by different people. And it is a clear win for MS, and even a very profitable one.

    4) Terminals: Putting Windows remotely on dumb terminals, some of them even running non MS embedded operating systems was a clear win for MS and away from the classic PC model.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: DrFix

    Wow, thanks alot. Love that "I'm a drug happy addict".

    If you dont like MSFT, dont use it.

    I'm a hybrid user, I started with windows 3.11, moved onto redhat, moved back to 98se, moved to a bsd distro, then when XP came about, I went dual boot.

    I've finally got Vista tweaked the way I like it; Debian roaring away and I'm happy.

    Microsoft is still a big player, but there's loads of companies out there that are kicking everyones arse. Oil? Controlled. Who can you buy diamonds from? Oh wait, you only have 1 choice! Sugar? yep, one more guy only.

    Atleast on a PC you can CHOOSE. Try choosing on a mac (natively)...

  13. Heff


    No. No More windows in "other things". they can barely write functioning OSs for beige boxes, and they've been doing that for 20 years. Im sick of seeing unattended machines (vending machines, ticket machines, product demo booths etc) with input as low as a single-button-keyboard with the BSOD on them.

    I dont want gummy-windows on my phone and car and fridge. Im not interested in my fridge being able to seamlessly connect with the wider world of windows to get me some vendor driven, DRM-protected content. I just want it to keep food cold. I dont want my coffee table giving me sass about what I leave on it. Im really not interested in every single piece of inanimate furniture in my house being chipped and screened and interactive.

    and to the MS-intern-clone : youre not putting ideas onto a table, you're sacrificing them to a dark god. if you're working on something "uninvented" it means MSs legal team told your boss they can get away with screwing someone elses copyright. as for star wars intercoms, whats next? Old Bill is going to be a fuzzy blue figure that talks to us disembodied from space?

    "Luke, use explorer... " I hope not. otherwise its Steve Jobs and Linus at the end going "I am your father".... then I wake up in a cold sweat, screaming.

    Its 6am. what was I talking about?

  14. sleepy

    Did MS find this in an old "Practical Electronics"

    Make your own touch screen PC with an old back projection TV, five govt surplus infrared video cameras and a high spec multiprocessor umm - PC. Have it do party tricks for under a million dollars in software development per trick. Get rich by selling for $10,000 each to hotels, casinos and restaurants. Make big bucks on shipping and installation.

    Actually it's a stealth prototype for the Zune phone, so MS can be sure they've got the UI right. (Sir! - please don't put anything on the table; it doesn't work if you put things on it).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Atleast on a PC you can CHOOSE. Try choosing on a mac (natively)..."

    All new macs are just an x86 pc-s, you could run windows and linux on them. Apple is using the same hardware as any gray box would, but they put the intel reference bios replacement firmware (efi) into their system. All they did was to get rid of the pc backwards compatibility stuff windows requires. Then they added it again, this time as software so windows could run natively on their systems.

    We really never saw any inventions coming from microsoft. The suface system was showed by a japanese scientist a few years ago and the multitouch interface was developed by a us university. Microsoft either bought them or simply stolen them.

  16. SpitefulGOD


    Heff - "Im sick of seeing unattended machines (vending machines, ticket machines, product demo booths etc) with input as low as a single-button-keyboard with the BSOD on them." - isn't that down to the developers of the software running it?

    I'd rather see my car run on windows than OSX, at least MS tell you their are issues, apple would rather you hit a wall before admitting there's a bug in the steering controls.

    I find it funny that you all slam microsoft and now it seems to be even cooler to write a blog or article on what people think microsoft should do. Who cares microsoft product run majority of all businesses in the world and no-one is gonna make a significant dint. MS are going nowhere and will be around in the next 50 years and will buy what they need to get the cash in, in the end Google, Apple and MS will find a way to co-exist happily, I mean if it wasn't for Bills million wouldn't the apple have rotten away buy now?

    Of course if I was Microsoft I'd be paying hackers and viral code writers to rip the s*** out of the other OSs and tear giant exploitable holes in google products but I guess they don't play like that.

  17. Adriano

    Bob and Vista

    "Microsoft Bob was widely derided as being resource-hungry and patronising, though only with Vista has his shadow finally been removed from Windows"

    Indeed. Now Vista is the one that's resource-hungry and patronising.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Not really a new Idea Just Microsoft Marketing again

    Actually, this is a sponsored research ground MS sponsored. This demo is from SiGRAPH I believe. I would know, it's research took place at my University.

  19. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Sorry ? Whassat you say ?

    "the ability to merge home, office, and vehicle will greatly improve their quality of life"

    What workaholic on crack decided it was a Good Thing to "merge" work and home in their vehicle ? That might be a good idea for those who cannot live without their job and work 18 hours a day, but for the rest of us, work is something to be kept as far away from home as possible.

    And a car is for driving. You guys with chauffeurs have a different set of problems than we do, but you're the minority.

    Leave my home and personal life alone !

  20. Dan

    Broken record...

    I use Vista out of necessity (need to understand how our software product interacts with it) and Ubuntu by choice at home. Thinking of buying a Mac-Mini to do a home-cinema thing with Front Row or something. So I am not a fanboy, of MS or otherwise. That would appear to place me in a minority on here. If Apple or the OSS community had posted a video like the Surface vids, you lot would have hard-ons about it. If the shoe were on the other foot, Apple would be the holy inventor and MS would be doomed. Instead, MS talk about it, and you assume they ripped it off and that it couldn't possibly be half-decent. Even the guy in charge of special effects on Minority Report is quoted as saying they used a prototype of a MS product in the movie, which was released in 2002, validating MS's claim that they were working on this thing way back in 2001. As for hurling personal insults at the new MS employee, the grapes really must taste quite sour... Star Wars and better intercoms leaves me intrigued...

  21. Demian Phillips

    xbox success

    I thought Microsoft was somewhere in the area of a 4-6 Billion dollar loss on that project.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surface, for one...

    MS ideas typically seem a stretch anyway. What happens when someone puts a hot coffee mug down on thier computer screen or god forbid ashes thier cigarette on it?

    "Look Bill, you just reformatted our Exchange Server!"

    Yeah, keep up the good 'innovative' work guys, you're helping us all out...

  23. Mike

    StarWars intercom

    What came to _my_ mind when I read that was the scene in the first (now fourth) Star Wars, where Han gets a bit tongue-tied and blasts the intercom in the dungeon of the Death Star.

    "Stupid conversation".

    I suspect many folks here can relate to the urge, and that goes for Windows, *nix, and MacOS users. Rather than click OK in the "dialog box" (as if "You're screwed: accept_immediately/whine_and_accept" is much of a dialog) wouldn't slagging that sucker down make you feel better?

  24. Morely Dotes

    You have moved your finger; Surface™ must be restarted

    @ SpitefulGOD: Oh, please. Windows is resource-hungry because it's bloated, badly-written, and has tried to integrate every possible application directly into the OS (which is the exact opposite of an efficient, secure OS). It has millions of lines of undocumented code of which even Microsoft doesn't the use nor purpose.

    My OS of choice does not have the Web browser, a word processor, a media player, nor even the GUI bundled (and locked) into the kernel. And it's not prone to sudden, complete collapse, either. Funny, that.

  25. Morely Dotes

    Innovattion: Verboten at Redmond

    @ Dan: "Instead, MS talk about it, and you assume they ripped it off and that it couldn't possibly be half-decent."

    Uhm... Dan? We have seen *proof* that they ripped it off.

    April 2006:

    June 2006, Mitsubishi:

    And there are hundreds of others, *all* of which predate Microsoft's derivative (and notoriously-buggy, since it's from MS) project.

  26. SpitefulGOD

    Penguins dismembered

    @Morely Dotes My MS OS also runs from a powershell, I can remove the GUI, media services, etc, etc, from my MS server product and GUI it up from my remote machine, I don't get your point? Why don't you go an write a device driver.

  27. Dan

    Proof that they ripped it off...

    Er, Morely... the Gizmodo link shows a touch screen similar to Jeff Han's, whereas the MS idea uses Rear-Proj and 5 motion-sensing cameras. Completely different approach. Granted, I prefer the slim-screen design, but MS cited field angle depth issues as justification for their method. The Mitsu link shows some crazy-ass design that runs a current through users' entire bodies - not for me thanks. Oh, and neither of them appear to offer any evidence that they pre-date MS's version. Where's your proof?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    " January Microsoft announced a deal with Ford to supply Microsoft Auto for some of its models."

    I wonder if this has anything do do with Ford's "CanBus" woes Stateside? You know, where you're driving along and suddenly you're doing 40psi MPH, you have 4000RPM of petrol in the tank, the temperature gauge is half full, you have 98 degrees of oil pressure and the rev counter's attempting to show 35mph RPM (but being graduated in thousands is having trouble). While all this is going on, the trip computer is trying to convince you that the next service is due at either 97.2FM or disc 6, whichever is sooner.

    Apparently, pulling over and switching everything off and back on usually fixes this. Seem familiar at all?


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