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Origami Team Moves Onto New Secret Project

The Origami team announced that, with the release of Origami Experience for Windows Vista, the entire team (minus one guy) is moving, intact, onto a new, non-UMPC project. Considering that the team has done an amazing job creating a touch interface for Windows, there is only one logical conclusion: They are either working on a Zune phone or Windows Mobile.

The fact is, Apple isn’t going to be the only country stepping it up in how media players work on mobile phones, and Microsoft knows it either brings its A-game, or admits defeat. My daily MP3 player is a Windows Mobile phone, and I use it out of convenience, nothing else. Windows Mobile is a disaster for media, compared to what little we’ve seen of the iPhone, difficult to control, crashing during other applications, losing its place if you turn off the screen, and an overhaul is in order.

The word about the Zune phone is that it is real, and it does not run Windows Mobile. If that is the real deal, then it is possible the Origami team is handling that, but I doubt it, since the Zune team probably wouldn’t work well by dumping other teams on them. The most likely thing is that the Origmai team is doing what it does best: Designing slick, fast, fun and easy interfaces to work on top of Windows operating systems, and an Origami-like shell for Windows Mobile would render the iPhone largely irrelevant for its price.

I hope to god they are working on media features for WinMobile, something iPhone-like. There are two kinds of Windows Mobile users, business users and consumer users, and Microsoft has completely ignored the second category. They need to play hardball before Apple gets a huge foothold in the category.
(via Mary Jo)

February 6th, 2007 Posted by | General, Tablet PC, UMPC/Origami, Windows Media, Windows Mobile, Zune | 3 comments

See The Origami Experience In Action

JKOnTheRun’s latest video features the great new Origami Experience software, the new program launcher/manager for Ultra Mobile PCs that will ship with UMPCs running Windows Vista. Based on what we see in the video, Microsoft has done a great job with version 2 of the UMPC, with a cool looking, versatile, feature-rich and simple application, making it a hell of a lot easier to do stuff on a UMPC.

In fact, the interface should remind you of something you’d expect from another company, one known for its cool Mac OS and iPhone interfaces. Microsoft is doing a lot of the same things Apple is doing with the iPhone, including the idea that everything should work without a stylus, just a tap of the finger. If someone can release a UMPC for the same price as the iPhone, coupled with this amazing new interface, I won’t be crushing on that iPhone any more.

As usual, my biggest problem will be looking at the UMPC. Last year, I wanted, badly, to see what the UMPC experience was like. Naturally, I couldn’t find one anywhere, making the purchasing decision a hell of a lot harder than necessary. In fact, the first UMPC I found in the wild was in a duty-free shop in London. Worse, I have yet to find a standard Tablet PC in a single store that I could demo; all the display units in New York are apparently cracked and have their stylus stolen.

Microsoft needs to open a store, in order that people can see their products as they were meant to. The fact that I’ve had such a hard time is a travesty, and has got to be hurting Microsoft in the fight against Apple. Who do I have to bribe to demo a frickin’ Tablet?

January 23rd, 2007 Posted by | General, Tablet PC, UMPC/Origami, Vista, Windows | no comments

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Microsoft Details Vista Upgrade Paths

While there has been some worrying, the news is in: If you have any version of Windows XP or Windows 2000, you will be able to get a cheaper upgrade version of Windows Vista. However, some versions will have to perform a clean install, while other can just pop in the new disk and upgrade. The confuzzling chart:

 Home Basic Home Premium Business Ultimate
Windows XP Professional
Windows XP Home
Windows XP Media Center
Windows XP Tablet PC
Windows XP Professional x64
Windows 2000

Requires clean install.
In-place installation option available.

To summarize: If you have Windows 2000 or a 64-bit version of XP, you’ll be installing from scratch. If you have XP Home, you can buy any version of Vista and perform an upgrade. If you have Professional or Tablet, you can only perform an upgrade to Business or Ultimate, otherwise you’ll need to install from scratch. If you have Media Center, you can only perform an upgrade to Premium or Ultimate, otherwise you’ll need to install from scratch.

Got it?

Got a headache?

Here’s the good news: Even if you can’t perform an upgrade, you can still buy and use the upgrade edition, which is usually a lot cheaper. You may need to install Windows from scratch, but, trust me, that isn’t the worst idea in the world.

July 30th, 2006 Posted by | General, Media Center, Tablet PC, Vista, Windows, XP | 4 comments

Microsoft Also Readying “Haiku”, A Smaller Origami

Lots of people are writing about how Microsoft is still doing development work on “Haiku”, the code-name for an even smaller PC form factor than the “Origami” Ultra Mobile PCs. In some ways the Haikus are what the UMPC was supposed to be, and are still being targetted at a $500-700 price point and with all-day batteries, but in a smaller package with smaller screens.

It almost seems like Microsoft is readying an new form factor to accelerate the work to actually make the UMPC what it was always supposed to do. The Origami sacrificed battery life and pricing to keep to Microsoft’s form factor specifications, when they would have been better off sacrificing screen size and some features to keep pricing and battery life at reasonable levels (which they certainly were not). Maybe Microsoft hopes that the Haiku will force them to actually get it right the second time around.

The article at InfoWorld reveals some of the backstory.

“We’d like to see them out in the $500 to $700 range. The closer to $500 the better,” said Otto Berkes, general manager of Microsoft’s Ultra Mobile PC operations, on the sidelines of a conference in Taipei on Wednesday.

The Haiku device he showed off at the Via Technology Forum was basically a display screen about the size of a paperback book.

The original Haiku device was shown off by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates during WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) last year. At the time, the company projected it might ship in 2007.

But this year’s launch of the ultra-mobile PC, code-named Origami, prompted speculation that Origami was the portable PC of choice for Microsoft, and it might drop other such projects. That’s not the case, according to Berkes.

“We don’t think [the Haiku] is feasible today, but we’re very excited about the roadmap [Via Technologies] shared that will make this possible in a few years,” he said.

More coverage at:
Ars Technica
Loren Heiny (who suggest the form factor could make a killer digital camera, rather than a mini-PC)

Engadget has Haiku haikus:

When was the last time
Microsoft got something right
Don’t believe the hype

big and expensive,
origami disappoints.
now wait for haiku

Don’t like this version?
We’ll do better the next time!
Just wait a few years

Don’t you buy this thing
Something better will come out
Surely in a year

June 9th, 2006 Posted by | General, Tablet PC | no comments

Live Dot Com Road Show London

So, I was sent to the Microsoft Windows Live Road Show in London by my future boss, and invited by Kris from MSN BeLux. Microsoft paid for the trip and took care of hotel reservation and any travel expenses I’d have to make. Pretty awesome. Although it hasn’t been that long since I saw Phil Holden at the last road show in Brussels, I was eager to know what he’s been up to these last few weeks. He also brought Koji Kato, the man who codes faster than his shadow and apparently the Group Program Manager at Windows Live. Phil ‘borrowed’ Koji to bring him to London and do some Gadgets demos to show us what they’ve got up their sleeves.

I went to London by Eurostar, for the first time in my life I travelled business class and it was pretty WAW. So much service, free food, free drinks… I had to stop myself from enjoying it too much on the way there, so I wouldn’t arrive drunk or sick or something like that. Something some other folks in the same coach clearly saw no problem in. ;)
Anyways… I arrived in London a small hour before it started at the Zero 101 building in Peter Street. I was quite surprised to find out what kind of neighborhood it was. Let’s say there was a lot of neon light behind the windows. But I wasn’t there for sightseeing. I went straight to the school (yup, in the same street as the neon ‘drive-in’ stores) where it was all happening.

I met Darren Straight and Robert Gale who got there a bit early to interview Phil Holden. Nice people and very nice to meet them, really. Robert had a cool accent. Just like the one you hear in the movies. :) Then Kris from MSN arrived and a bit later Pieter from The Belgian Side was complete.
I also met someone from LiveSide and asked how they got all this info so quickly. Seems they’re pretty networked, and that’s about it. I had hoped for a greater story, but nope. Then the session started and we all sat down and listened to Phil as he explained the status of Windows Live today.

What I remember: At this thime there are about 17 Live services, and if you include the previous marks that adds up to about 20. The day before the session, on May 15th, M6 went live. (Milestone 6) LiveMail (or M6) has an improved performance and has some subtle but effective UI tweaks. At this time there are between 3 and 4 million users, but they’re going to add more invites, so the user number can grow and they can adjust the service in scale.

The Live Messenger has about 8 million users, but Messenger 7 and 7.5 have about 210 million, so that needs some more work. I’m currently trying the beta and I like what I see. There’s still some work to be done, but it’s getting close to what I look for in a chat client. I kicked out Trillian. Let’s see where this brings me. Recent changes in the Messenger are: the shorter login time (from an average 45 secs to about 20 secs), and some smaller issues I forgot.

Main idea is that still needs to improve in performance. Within 2 months there’s going to be a large performance upgrade which would make things a lot more easier to use, and above all: faster. Another big main idea is that they need to enable a decent 1st run experience, so that first time users can find their way more easily and have less to worry about. Also scheduled in the category ‘real soon’.

What’s also pretty impressive is the plans they have for a “Share Setup” mode, where you can export your settings (make it portable) and transfer it to other users so they can enjoy what you’ve been putting together. Incredibly handy if you’re the IT dude in the family and everybody keeps asking you how stuff works. Export, end questions, start fun. Easy as that. Close to this topic will be the appearance of sponsored pages where a news service or sports service introduces a sponsored page filled with content, like for example NBA or Sky. They would offer you a load of content, in exchange for that they’ll have some ads.

Last but not least in Phil’s intro was the demo of the new Live Local service where they’ve started to upgrade all footage with HQ images. In the US it’s already there, it’s going to be rolled out in the UK really soon, in the next few months the rest of Europe will follow. The images are waaaay clearer than those on Google’s Satellite view or Earth. Really. What I’ve seen was wicked to the third degree. I can’t wait to see that for Belgium. So closed-up (not street sight, but bird’s eye view) and so incredibly sharp. A subtle ‘wtf’ came out of some mouths while Phil showed some footage from the London Bridge. Amazing.

On a sidenote, but I don’t have the right URL yet, there’ll be a Greetings platform connected to and the Live Messenger which is linked to, I saw some footage from that. It’s nothing for me, but I can imagine it’ll be used a lot by most ‘regular’ Messenger users.

That concludes Phil’s first contribution. Then he introduced Koji Kato who showed us how to quickly make some gadgets for the dashboard. I’m not that good of a coder, but I could follow every step he did while creating gadgets ‘on the spot’. He showed off a page with a local map that had geotagged pictures on them. Kind of like Flickr has, but then with a Microsoft flavor. Koji created the page while we were watching, it only took him a couple of minutes to have the webpage ready. Nice moves.

Koji also showed off some nice code to search from within an app, but I don’t remember all of the context, so I’m not going to write more about it. If you’re into coding a little, check this out, I bet you can do some funky stuff with it as well. The coolest thing Koji pulled off was a custom search engine for his tablet PC which recognized his handwriting. Some simple coding, seconds of work for him and there it was. He wrote a few words, they were recognized immediately and then yielded search results. Selecting the words and moving them closer to the top of the field would change the priority of the keywords and caused the search results to change. Very nifty. I was really impressed.

Then it was back to Phil, after some food and drinks and some interviewing by the guys from, who organized this evening chat. Phil showed the Q&A of, which is currently still in limited beta. It’s a bit like Yahoo Answers, a community-based directory where you can post questions, answer questions from other people and vote on answers that have been posted by other users. In the Q&A you can tag your questions, and of course perform tag query searches. You can customize your experience in a ‘YourQ&A’ section, have a look at the Top Users and see how many kudos they’ve collected from the community, how many questions they’ve posted and answered… personal stats like that. Kudos cannot be traded for gift vouchers. We asked, but no, you can’t. I think they’ve got to add an incentive or something to motivate the participation of the users. It’s not so big yet, but imagine those millions of Messenger and Live Mail users joining in when it goes live … it has a huge potential.

Then came the top of the bill. The most revolutionary thing I’ve seen with Messenger for mobiles. Really, I was f*cking impressed. On his laptop, Phil logged in with account A, and on his mobile phone with account B. He initiated the Messenger, so far nothing new. Then he took a picture from the audience, and transferred it immediately through messenger to the account on the laptop. It took a few seconds (image size 25kb) and the image was transferred. He then recorded a voice clip on his mobile and that too was directly transferred. That takes away all the time you spend typing answers to your online buddies. You say it and send it. It can’t be easier than that. Video footage isn’t supported yet. A funny note: if you send a nudge from the laptop in the conversation with the phone, it vibrates :) heheheh.

Then the guys from introduced their piece of art. The AJaX RSS Hub (RSS Flux) which hasn’t got a real name yet and is supposed to be released officially somewhere after the summer. It’s a cool flexible RSS aggregator that fetches all the feeds you want it to fetch, but doesn’t capture the content. You can display the feed items by category, language or by site. I preview of how it works is live at, but it’s not really how it looks. It’s more or less an integration of the concept. One thing Kevin Briody (who was also in Brussels the last time) noted was that Microsoft didn’t want to aggregate the full content because that might piss off some bloggers (he didn’t say it in those words, but that was what he meant) so instead the articles are links to the site they came from, which could generate more traffic for the bloggers.

The last notes were vague mentions of subdomain portals which would be launched after the summer and about gadgets for that would have ‘random blogs’ and ‘community sites’ in them. Also that MSDN would become, which is going to be announced at TechEd if I recall it correctly. Windows Live News Groups is also somewhere in the pipeline, but again no release date has been set.

That concludes what I remember of the session. Afterwards we could have a little chat here and there and Phil proposed a lottery where 5 phones could be won by the participants of the event. Everybody wrote his name on a piece of paper and the lucky winners can expect a brand new ‘Messenger Phone’ like the one I wrote about in the previous write-up of the session in Brussels.

The session ended somewhere around 11.30 PM and Kris, Pieter and I took a cab to the hotel. We drank something in the trop cool Light Bar and then went to bed. I woke up the next morning at 8 AM, checked out walked around a bit on Picadilly, enjoying the morning buzz as London awoke. I took a cab to the station and got on the Eurostar back to Brussels. I had a great time. Nice of i-merge to send me there, even nicer of Kris to have me invited. Thanks. Honestly. :)

Cross-posted at Marketing Thoughts

May 17th, 2006 Posted by | General, Live, Local, Mail, Messenger, MSN, Tablet PC, Windows | one comment

More Of Dvorak’s Pointless Linkbait

John Dvorak must be an avid reader of ProBlogger (while ignoring that sentence in every post about writing good content) because he’s released another successful linkbait article. This one lists eight ways (numbered lists are great link-getters) that Microsoft is failing, and none of them make sense. For someone who has always been on the inside of the industry, how he makes broad claims that ignore reality is beyond me.

  • #1 – Vista is late and is barely better than XP. Really? Maybe it doesn’t meet your expectations, but you have to know there are other features in there besides Aero, right?
  • #2 – Office has nothing new, too many versions, and Groove must suck because Lotus sucks. I think Office’s user interface is a huge change, and the number of versions is easy to understand (and the prices make the decision pretty easily for most people). As for Groove, by that arguement, since some MP3 players suck, the iPod must suck. Awful arguement.
  • #3 – Microsoft should abandon MSN, because it is not a media company. Okay, they kind of already are, so I won’t argue with this one. If MSN makes money, fine, keep it around and see if you can do something with it. If it isn’t, move everything important to Windows Live and move on. Still, if Microsoft wants to be a media company and a software company, why not? GE has a huge media empire, and it started as an electric company. You get profits where you can.
  • #4 – I quote: “MSN Search Engine. Again more of the same and pointless. Selling ads Could be the dumbest thing I’ve read all year. Search engines make money. How is that pointless?
  • #5 – Xbox 360 stinks because they haven’t sold enough units to satisfy demand. Disagree. Reason: If there were enough, demand would have died down and people would have forgotten the console. Instead, 6 1/2 months after launch, the console is still sold out everywhere, and still has buzz. PS3 is still months away, and Microsoft needs the console to still have some edge when it arrives. And it’ll have a ten million unit lead, which is plenty.
  • #6 – Tablets suck because they aren’t the dominant form of computing. Yeah, because we all thought that within a few years Tablets would replace 50% of computers. Give the platform time. It is growing. It might fail, but it won’t be Microsoft’s fault.
  • #7 – .NET sucks. What year is this? Where’s the Microsoft Bob reference? Or Windows 3.0? Jeez.
  • #8 – Microsoft is too preoccupied with Google. Really? Look at the budgets and employees working on Windows and Office, vs. those on Windows Live. It’s clear the priorities are in the right place, and Live is doing great with smaller teams.

You know what? Every day I’ll pick a random target and write a “# reason that ____ is [adjective]“. Because I’d rather have links than respect.

May 3rd, 2006 Posted by | Corporate, General, Google, Live, MSN, Tablet PC, Vista, Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

First UMPC Review

Personal Computer World has the first Ultra Mobile PC review I’ve seen, taking a look at the Samsung Q1. Read their review, but I noticed a few things:

  • Like the reports of the other UMPCs, despite support for higher resolutions, they say that it just doesn’t look good at anything but the native screen resolution of 800×480.
  • Microsoft’s Program Launcher has seven categories, which allow a maximum of nine shortcuts at a time.
  • Dialkeys has a tough learning curve.
  • If you block the fan with your hand, you’re not gonna have a good time.
  • 90-minute film ate up 70% of the battery.
  • The built-in stand has two different positions.
  • Barely got 2 1/2 hours of battery life.
  • Thumbpad joystick actually fell off!
  • Will be available in June. Hopefully.

No mention of how the surface deals with fingerprints. Judging by photos, not well, but maybe they’ve come up with some sort of solution.
(via Digg)

May 1st, 2006 Posted by | General, Tablet PC | no comments

Download Origami SuDoKu

You may remember that Microsoft’s “Origami” Ultra Mobile PCs come with not just a custom mini-touchscreen version of Windows, but also a version of SuDoKu. While it refuses to run in non-Tablet versions of Windows XP, Tablet users should enjoy that Microsoft has made available the full program for free to download here.

For the rest of us since the source code is there, someone should be able to recompile it for non-Tablet PCs. Do it, and comment here, and I’ll give you a free two week ad, no fooling.
(via Stephen Toub, who wrote it)

By the by, Dr. Neil got to play around with a UMPC. I’m still waiting…

April 22nd, 2006 Posted by | General, Tablet PC, Windows, XP | no comments

Live Dot Com Road Show

I just came back from the Microsoft Belux headquarters in Diegem where we had a talk and discuss session with evangelist Phil Holden – Director Windows Live, and Kevin Briody – Product Manager Community (MSN Marketing). The session was very interesting and of course it was all about Windows Live and its features. Phil did a demo of almost every feature I knew of. He talked about the integration of the Microsoft Gadgets in the personal homepage, about the progress in the Live Search and where it’s heading to and about Live Mail and its features. He also talked about Live Messenger and about how the contacts would be integrated into Live Mail and about Microsoft’s first steps into social networking with the Australian test run of the Spaces Friends network. Yeah, the session was quite stuffed.

Live Search is definitely not cruising at top speed yet, that was the first thing Phil admitted. It’s only logical, because they’re still rolling out new features and tuning the existing tool to the needs of the users. However, it’s going to be big and the way it looks now it has a lot of good things about it. I like the concept of infinite search, where you no longer need to browse the search results per page, but all the results are projected in one page and you can just scroll down. The extension of the search with a ‘local site search’ included in the results is also a big progress I think. It sounds really obvious that sometimes the excerpt of a result shows there’s something interesting, but you’d like to find out more from that specific domain only. I’m also pretty keen on the feeds search, where you can click on a feed and see previews of the posts in it. I haven’t seen image integration there, but I think that’s only a matter of time. One remark is that apparently Live Search dropped the RSS feed per search query, but Phil said he’d look into it and agreed that functionality should be integrated as it is now on the ‘regular’ MSN Search. In the Live Search, there hasn’t been any experimenting with decent video or audio search and for now it’s not on the todo list. It would be a great expansion though. The image search is quite advanced and very smooth. It shows a lot of details of the image, but one way or the other it’d be great if you could define your query and limit it to small, medium or large images. The fact the size in mb is shown netx to the dimensions is pretty cool and it’s also pretty handy you can zoom the images if you select them.

The Microsoft Gadgets part is pretty nifty, although a lot of the content actually leads to a new page opening as it does for example with the Google Search gadget and the GMail gadget. Kris is right when he says that it looks like an upgraded link. People should expect such a gadget to add true functionality, which means: previews of GMail and loading Google SERPs into the page you’re looking at right now. Not in a new page. Other gadgets come in pretty handy if you really need them, like stock quotes. It’s truly necessary that there is some sort of general policy about the gadgets. Some sort of certification or seal of approval so to speak. Otherwise you might end up with gadgets in the general archive that have adult or inappropriate content, which would definitely not be a good thing. One must also be aware that a lot of custom gadgets are depending on the services of a third party, so if you don’t stick to the official and ‘tested and approved’ gadgets, it might be that at one time or the other, some gadgets might become corrupted. Normally that shouldn’t happen though.

Windows Live Messenger is going to be extended to SkypeOut-alike feature. Phil had a Philips Phone with him (see picture below) that had a base receiver on USB, which is plugged into your PC, and a portable unit that can be used anywhere around the house (wireless, of course). The phone would connect to your Messenger client and displays all your contacts and their online/offline status. You can access the Windows Live Contacts and make VoIP calls if the user you want to call to is overseas for example, or you can make an ‘analog’ call if you prefer to do so. The phone should be available on the market at the end of May. The Windows Live Call service should have competitive charges compared to SkypeOut. One thing to note is that home users who share accounts on their PC should create a family account with shared contacts, otherwise users might have to log on and off to be able to connect to their personal Messenger profile. Another cool feature is the P2P shared folders, where you can drag and drop files into folders that are synchronized with the user you share them with. Sharing with groups is not yet supported.

Windows Live Call Phone

Windows Live Mail has the looks of Outlook, which makes it a lot better and user friendly than the hotmail interface, although the feedback on the beta revealed that a lot of people want to hold on to the ‘old’ Hotmail interface, which I totally don’t understand. In this new Mail client, your contacts would be shared, which makes it easier to maintain a contact list. Phil showed a interface where he grouped his mail accounts, including GMail and the accounts from his provider (Quest) and said you could add any POP3 account to the list. He’s not aware of a maximum number of accounts that can be added. Nobody ever got to the saturation point of that. Presumably nobody has more than 10 or 15 accounts to monitor at once, but it’s possible and that’s cool.

In Australia, Microsoft is experimenting with a social network feature, based on the popular MSN Spaces. Here you can add friends and browse them, add notes to those friends and manage their contact data, wich is linked to the Windows Live Contacts which are also connected to the Windows Live Messenger. A funny side is you can browse the friends of your friends’ friends unlimited. Since it’s only being deployed in a rather limited form, there hasn’t been set any restrictions to the browsable generations. You can keep clicking for ever :) This will probably not be available if the service is scaled, but it’s fun for now.

The Windows Live Local services will be extended too, and the streetside view of Virutal Earth which had its testcase in Seattle will also be extended to other cities soon. There hasn’t been a decent advertising strategy developed yet, but one might suspect the integration of Windows Live Local data to be added in the future.

Phil also talked about Windows Live Expo, which recently aired. I asked if they were thinking about adding a payment module to it, the way they have now with Messenger (you can buy SMS tokens, winks and other things) but it hasn’t been developed yet. Expo looks cool, but without payment possibilities, there’s not much added value. They’re working on a feature which would allow users to rate sellers and their items, the way Amazon en eBay do. Adding credibility to the members of a platform is definitely a good thing. It’s one of the main reasons Amazon survived the dotcom bubble and eBay grew so fast: added consumer value. It’s the glue that keeps things together. Participating users will return, trusted users will sell more and people will step into the formula with more belief in its functionality.

I think this sort of conlcudes my review of the keynote. After the session, David Boschmans stole the show with his special Vista edition for the Toshiba Tablet PC. Awesome tool and it looks incredibly handy and robust. Added to the wishlist. More pictures in the Bubbleshare gallery.

Vista for Tablet PC

Thanks to Kris Hoet, Tom Mertens and David Boschmans for fixing this. I had a great time, really.

If you want to stay up to date with the developments of Windows Live, here are some blogs to tune in to:

Windows Live product teams:

Interesting blogs about Windows Live:

MS Team blogs:

Phil Holden & Kevin Briody

Today’s pictures (I haven’t had the time to remove the red eyes every here and there and I’m not a professional photographer so sorry if it doesn’t look that smooth)

Download all pictures as a .zip file to edit them yourself or just to keep’m.

Cross-posted on Marketing Thoughts.

April 20th, 2006 Posted by | Expo, General, Live, Local, Messenger, OneCare, Tablet PC, Virtual Earth, Vista, Windows, Windows Mobile | no comments

Yes, You Can Rotate Your Origami

One question being asked about the first (dissapointing) crop of Ultra Mobile PCs is if you can rotate your screen, a very useful feature for Tablet PCs (especially for note-taking). Well, the news is that, indeed, you can, although that leaves Kevin wondering why the hell that fact isn’t really being publicized. There are no photos, no screenshots, and no specs, that actually proclaim this feature, one that Tablet PC users love. Why?

My theory: The UMPC is being designed around the landspace form factor. The buttons are positioned as to be almost useless in portrait mode. Additionally, it is being positioned as a lifestyle device, not a replacement for a full Tablet PC. Maybe the goal is to keep the consumer focused on the aspects of the device more similar to CE products (like the PSP and PMC) and not on the computer aspects.
(via Memeorandum)

April 14th, 2006 Posted by | General, Tablet PC | no comments

TabletKiosk UMPC Available For Pre-order

The TabletKiosk eo Ultra Mobile PC v7110 is available for pre-order, with expected late April shipping. There are four variants. The base specs:

  • VIA C7M NaNo 1.0GHz processor
  • 7-inch touchscreen (native resolution: 800×480; supports also 800×600 and 1024×768)
  • Joystick cursor
  • Wireless: Wi-fi (b/g) and Bluetooth 2.0

The four versions:

  • 256 MB RAM, 30 GB Hard drive, in black, for $899
  • 256 MB RAM, 30 GB Hard drive, in white, for $899
  • 512 MB RAM, 40 GB Hard drive, in black, for $999
  • 512 MB RAM, 40 GB Hard drive, in white, for $999

I wonder if there will be even a single launch unit near the $500-600 price Microsoft initially announced?
(via jkOnTheRun)

April 13th, 2006 Posted by | General, Tablet PC | no comments

Disaster: UMPC To Retail For $2,000

Forget it. They aren’t even trying. One of the first UMPCs, the Samsung Q1 (the fingerprint-loving edition) will retail for four times the target price of $500, in Korea. Two thousand dollars (or W2 million in Korean money) will get you more than just the UMPC (DMB TV receiver, USB keyboard, car adapter, optical disk drive, extra battery), but the fact that anyone is willing to quote a $2K price says that manufacturers are blatantly ignoring Microsoft’s targeted specs.

Yes, it is a bit overblown if anyone calls the UMPC dead after this, but the fact is this is yet another case of manufacturers screwing Microsoft because they just don’t get it. The appeal of the UMPC was its low cost and small size. Unless the price is low enough, it should never be sold.

I guarantee you Apple sits on perfectly good products, waiting till they can release them at the perfect price. Apple refuses to release incomplete products, and they refuse to release improperly priced ones. That is why consumers flock to them, because they don’t make mistakes.

Microsoft should have just built the damn thing themselves. If the manufacturers want to be stupid about this, it isn’t going to work out.
(via Engadget)

Oh, for two grand, you can get a Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet PC X41 with a PENTIUM M running at 1.5GHZ, 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, and a 12.1-inch screen. Oh, and $306 back, since it doesn’t cost two grand.

UPDATE: While UMPC Buzz is reporting that Engadget got the conversion wrong from the Korean dollars, what they actually did was get the price wrong entirely. The Q1 is W1,199,999, not 1,999,999. That’s a huge difference, resulting in a price tag of more like $1250, which is perfectly reasonable. I’d apologize to Samsung, but I think that’s Engadget’s job for starting the story in the first place.

April 12th, 2006 Posted by | General, Tablet PC | 2 comments

links for 2006-04-11

April 11th, 2006 Posted by | Bookmarks, General, Tablet PC, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Samsung Q1 UMPC Accessories Revealed

Engadget links to a PDF with the full specs and accessories for the Samsung UMPC. The specs:

  • Intel Celeron M ULV 900 MHz/Pentium M ULV 1.1-1.2 GHz
  • One 512 magabyte SODIMM, and only one slot in total, so you’ll have to replace to upgrade, not add
  • 7-inch WVGA (800×480) touchscreen
  • Stereo speakers, array mic
  • 1.8-inch hard drive, capacities: 20/30/40/60/80 gigs
  • Comm: 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g (or b/g on some), Bluetooth 2.0
  • Multimedia Instant On
  • I/O: Compact Flash Type 2 slot, RJ45, 2 USB ports, VGA-out, optical disk connector, DC-in, audio jack
  • Buttons: 8-way joystick, 4-way user-defined button, Auto-Scale button (switches between 1024×600/800×600/800×480), Enter button, Menu button, Hold switch, Volume Up/Down, power switch, reset pinhole, DMB antenna
  • 1-year warranty
  • Weight: 779 grams
  • Thickness: 24.5 milimeters
  • Standard 3-cell battery, good for 3.5 hours

The standard unit will have a 40-gig hard drive and the Celeron processor.

Accessories are a USB keyboard, organizer bag (holds keyboard and Q1, giving you almost a laptop feel), Optical Disk Drive (DVD-CDRW combo), car cradle (if you want to mount it in your car, and an 8-cell power bank (which should boost it to an actual, usable 10-hours of battery life).

The PDF also says that it comes with the necessary software for a GPS navigation system, which is where that car cradle comes in handy, just add an optional GPS module.

Looks like interesting stuff. Of course, it would be nice if they could give the thing a less slick surface, so it wouldn’t spend all day covered in fingerprints, but I guess that’s what the ASUS is for.

April 10th, 2006 Posted by | General, Tablet PC | no comments

Origami UMPCs To Get Media Center

Microsoft has announced that Ultra Mobile PCs, the so-called Origami devices, will be able to function as Windows Media Center Extenders, letting users access and control their media wirelessly from the 7-inch touchscreen devices. If you’ve got MCE and wi-fi, you’d be able to watch recorded TV from anywhere close enough to your network on your tiny handheld.

CE Pro says UMPCs will act as the ultimate companion to full Media Center setups, letting you control the recording schedule and home automation without having to go to your TV. If you’re investing six grand in a Media Center system, dropping another $500 for a mini-PC that also acts as an interface and extender for that system is practically a no-brainer. Their article has a picture of the UMPC-customized MCE interface, designed properly for your fingers.
(via Chris Lanier)

April 6th, 2006 Posted by | General, Media Center, Tablet PC, Windows, XP | no comments

Windows XP Hibernate Bug Solved!

Oh, thank god thank god thank god thank god!

I’ve been having a terrible issue for two months on my laptop, and today, came cruising through my aggregator the solution.

When I tried to hibernate (the preferred method for shutting a laptop), XP would try and fail, saying:

Insufficient System Resources Exist to Complete the API

And I’d be forced to go to standby, which is far from desired, and which occasionally didn’t even work. Thankfully, the solution is here.

Microsoft explains on their website that the error occurs on Win XP (SP2, Tablet and MCE 2005) system with more than one gigabyte of RAM, which makes sense, since I upgraded to 1.5 gigs not long before the error appeared. The reason:

This problem occurs because the Windows kernel power manager cannot obtain the memory resources that are required to prepare the computer to hibernate.

To prepare the computer to hibernate, the Windows kernel power manager requires a block of contiguous memory. The size of this contiguous memory is proportional to the number of physical memory regions that the computer is using. A computer that uses lots of RAM is likely to use more physical memory regions when the computer prepares to hibernate. Therefore, a larger amount of contiguous memory is required to prepare the computer to hibernate.

Additionally, the number of physical memory regions varies according to the programs, services, and device drivers that the computer uses. Therefore, the hibernate feature occasionally fails.

When the Windows kernel power manager detects that the hibernate feature has failed, the hibernate feature remains disabled until you restart the computer.

Whew! So, Microsoft knows the problem and has a hotfix. Problem is, you have to contact support for the fix. Lucky for us, Owen Cutajar has made the file for download on his blog. I’d say you should grab it (I did), but maybe Microsoft can take this as a lesson to make the fix public and automatic the first time Windows Update detects 1 gig of RAM?
(via Vasanth > Found on Findory)

April 4th, 2006 Posted by | General, Media Center, Tablet PC, Windows, XP | no comments

links for 2006-03-21

March 21st, 2006 Posted by | Apple, Bookmarks, Corporate, General, Humor, Office, Tablet PC | no comments

Blog News Channel Podcast #1

The first podcast is online! I don’t like the levels so much, so will try to work on it for next week. Keep your volume a little low while listening.

Now, show notes:

Filename: bnc-podcast-2006.03.16.mp3
Size: 71.9 megabytes
Duration: 1:18:32
Recorded: 5-6:30 pm on 03.16.2006 in New York

All music is from

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March 16th, 2006 Posted by | Apple, Applications, Blogs, General, Google, Live, Local, MSN, Office, Podcast, Spaces, Tablet PC, Vista, Windows, Word | no comments