Microsoft provides first public demo of the Surface tabletop

Microsoft provides first public demo of the Surface tabletop

Summary: On Saturday, June 9, at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, Microsoft let the public see, touch and test-drive the Surface interactive tabletop system that the company unveiled at the end of May. Check out some of my shots of users giving the Surface a whirl.

TOPICS: Microsoft

On Saturday, June 9, at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, Microsoft let the public see, touch and test-drive the Surface interactive tabletop system that the company unveiled at the end of May.

surface-002.jpgI checked out the Surface demo (left) at the Sheraton on Saturday. Here are some photos of Sheraton patrons giving the Surface prototypes a whirl.

Surface -- the product formerly codenamed "PlayTable," and later "Milan" -- is a hardware-software bundle that Microsoft is building itself. The first models are slated to debut this coming November in Starwood Hotels, Harrah's Resorts and T-Mobile retail stores.

This weekend, Microsoft allowed the public to get their hands on four Surface prototypes. And the demo attendees seemed quite intrigued with what they saw.

Starwood, owner of the Sheraton chain, is planning to make the Surface part of the set-up in its "The Link" areas, where guests can make use of plasma TVs and terminals. Starwood also is planning to make Surface systems a feature in the Club Level lounges of five to ten of its properties later this year, Microsoft officials said.

"This is our first product in the category of surface computing," Jeffrey Gattis, director of product management for Surface Computing, told me. "We have a roadmap for a variety of form factors. Many people want thinner products and more vertical implementations.

Gattis declined to provide details on any of the other forthcoming surface systems, but noted that Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is quite interested in seeing how Microsoft and its partners will find uses for the touch/multi-touch Surface interface in not just consumer, but also business, settings. I asked whether the Microsoft "DigiDesk" might be another example of a Surface system. Gattis said it wouldn't be wrong to think of the DigiDesk as something that could fit into the family.

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • I hate to say this but all I will be seeing is bashing, fear, and hate.

    Everytime there's a Microsoft-related article, expect lots of bashing/hate/fear from ABMers (who always blame and hate Microsoft).

    I thought I should let anyone (who likes/cares about Microsoft) know.
    Grayson Peddie
    • followed by the...

      dimwhits like peddie here, who come into linux articles and mention how he would never use linux and his job(living at home with mommy and daddy) only uses linux. He's also a "self proclaimed" MS guru. Yes everyone really needs his warnings, they would never know better on zdnet, thank you for the useless information Grayson, you truely are a waste of space in this world.

      As for the "surface" it's pretty cool, seen something similar a long time ago that wasn't touch screen, and no, wasn't from MS. Plenty of youtube and google vids on the desktop of it, maybe thats how they came up with this idea.
    • Surface

      Surface would appear in restaurants, if not for it's expense, and the fact a
      restaurant is better served by something less gimicky and cheaper like a simple
      touchscreen. Surface would appear in Vegas if it can wrestle Konami and a host of
      other entrenched gaming machine companies out of their positions. Surface would
      appear in the home if it were not an ergonomic disaster.

      Trust me, Surface doesn't need my help. The image that lingers is several lab
      coats with clip boards standing around what amounts to a coffee table. It
      effectively mocks itself. Not since hotel pong have I seen such innovation.
      Harry Bardal
      • Yeah, that must be why so many are lining up

        to buy one. Harry, your ability to predict what consumers want from MS is always 100% perfect, you are always wrong. Oh yeah, no one wants a tablet PC either...
        • Nah, it's all made up

          The pictures and videos are all faked. They must be, because we all know that Microsoft could never come up with anything innovative.

          Microsoft has a track record of announcing products but never delivering. Remember how Vista is still just vaporware and was never released?

          All Microsoft ever does is copy others' work. Apple, on the other hand, invents everything itself. Haven't you noticed that OSX was created from scratch, building on no one else's work?

          Besides, any day now, Apple will be announcing the iSurface and THEN it will be an innovation. Plus, it will be fancier and come in nicer colors.

          I think I covered everything. :)

          Carl Rapson
      • Hey...ever think outside the box?

        Just because the only surface computing demo you may have seen was for a tabletop version does not mean that tabletops are the only medium for it. It must be really hard for you to envision a drafting board version of this or even a tablet based PC.

        You are right, they don't need your help. Anyone as narrow minded as you can stick with using the same interface for the next 50 years.
  • I don't hate MS...

    but I sure don't **love** them! In balance, they have, in fact, done some good for the I.T. industry, but you have to question how much **damage** they have concurrently done with their predatory-- and in some cases, blatantly **illegal**-- actions. Consider the number of companies they have either subsumed or put out of business by sheer PR power when they saw them as a threat to their own hegemony. Many of these could have made valuable contributions to the industry...
    • you've been a victim

      you've been a victim of all the bad press and smear campaign.

      Anytime in any industry, sport when someone dominates there is a huge outcry, smear campaign.

      Take sports the most dominating race car driver of all time Michael Schumacher (formaula1 racing), when he started to win most races, they said racing was boring, changed rules to favor other teams/drivers.

      If Microsoft wasnt a company that had good engineering and good software, they wouldnt have survived.
      The fact is its companies that dont have good engineering and products to back it up, loose in the marketplace. Marketing will only take someone so far.
      • Not from what I see

        "If Microsoft wasnt a company that had good engineering and good software, they wouldnt have survived.
        The fact is its companies that dont have good engineering and products to back it up, loose in the marketplace. Marketing will only take someone so far."

        Actually history is full of examples of how poor engineering and a poor product can outsell the competition by luck and good marketing.

        The best example I can think of is pizza. Look at all the fast food pizza chains out there that server pizza by the truckloads. They sure aren't serving a good product. In fact it's a complete rip off. You pay a premium for brand name pizza that has less toppings, hardly any sauce, the minimum cheeze and tasteless crust. Then you go to an actually good pizza restaurant to find you can get great pizza for 30% less yet they don't get the business. People would rather pay more for crap products. Why? My only guess is all those pizza ads you see in your mail box, on TV, on the radio, in magazine, on billboards and so on. Marketing sells these crap pizzas.

        Is Microsoft any different? I don't think so. They are there to make money first and good product is second. In fact a good product makes you less money. If you make the perfect software the first time how do you make money on new versions then?

        In the end though I'll use a few Microsoft products just like I order a few of those crap pizzas I complain about. It's all in the marketing.
    • Yeah, competition does that.

      But if you want to play what if. What if the child you decided to not have developed the cure for cancer? Yeah, your right, playing what if is stupid...
    • What does that...

      ...have to do with the Surface tabletop described in the article?

      Carl Rapson
  • A huge HOAX...

    ... and shame on the tech reporting community for not using the tiniest bit of critical thinking, instead of just serving as multiple mouthpieces for MS!

    Here's a (biased, admittedly, but at least thorough) assessment of what "Surface" **really** comprises:

    (You may need to copy the entire link and paste into your browser's URL box).
    • Can you maybe...

      Can you maybe tell us which part of the Surface is a "hoax"? I can't tell from the "article" you posted since all it does is rant about MS' failed projects while leaving out all of Apple's failed projects (Pipen, Lisa, Cube to name a few), gushing over some of Apple's projects, and generally just being your typical Apple fanboy misinformed rant.

      Maybe you know something we don't?

      Or maybe the Apple fanboys just get totally whacked out when they just can't deny the fact that something MS is pretty innovative.

      There is nothing in the iPhone that has not been done by other phones already - we now also found out that it does [b]not[/b] run OS X after all the fanboys told us how it does run OS X(Steve Job's comment: "That would be silly"). Oopsie

      So once again, what exactly is a "hoax", and what "tiniest bit of critical thinking" was the tech reporting community lacking? BTW, I find it funny that you complain about the reporting community being "mouthpieces for MS" when Apple has been having a free PR ride from most reporters for years. You must have drunk deep from the Apple Koolaid fountain to believe that MS is receiving more favorable reporting from the press than Apple does. Really deep.
      • hoax

        "...we now also found out that [the iPhone] does not run
        OS X..."

        Yes it does. From Walt Mossberg's interview with Steve
        Jobs at D5 last week:

        ((( Mossberg goes on to inquire about the iPhone. ?It
        doesn?t REALLY have the whole OS X operating system
        on there?? the tech guru teased. [b]?The answer is: yes
        it does!? Job?s retorted.[/b] ?The entire Mac OS is gigs, a
        lot is data. Take out the data ? every desktop pattern,
        sound sample ? if you look at Safari it?s not that big. [b]
        It?s REAL Safari, REAL OS X.[/b] We put a different user
        interface on it to work with a multi-touch screen? it?s
        an amazing amount of software.? )))

        Quod erat demonstrandum.
    • Where do you see a hoax? All I see are Apple fans whining.

      Nothing unusal in that...
      • The emperor has no clothes

        "[i]Microsoft has neither introduced anything revolutionary, nor improved upon
        existing technologies, nor found a clear and obvious application for multitouch
        the way Apple has with the iPhone. What it has done is ported the general idea to
        Windows, desperately associated Surface hype with the Zune (which has non-
        functional WiFi) and retroactively claimed credit for a wide swath of technologies
        dating back to 2001. [/i]"

        What else needs saying?
        Fred Fredrickson
        • Wow

          Pretty sad when you think a site like the one you link to would be anyone's source of "credible" information. The link you gave to that site got most of the information wrong about the Surface, yet you seem to think we should all bow down and use it as proof to any argument you make.

      • The Wizard works for MS

        I think that's the point, Hoax what hoax? Everything you see here was invented by MS, pay no attention to those patents behind that curatin. No, No one else ever showed one of these before. The Northridge mall has a surface like device projected on the floor that lets the kids play games and stuff while standing on it. It's right outside the Apple store. Cool multitouch interface and all. Been there for years.
    • LOL, there goes your "I don't hate MS" from your previous

      post, and any credibility you were trying to garner by making that statement. You just outed yourself as a rabid Steve Jobs FannyBoy!
  • A complete sham!

    I've got it on good authority (previous ZDNet talkback forum posts) that the whole thing is just video that is cleverly synced to the actors that play out the demos.

    There is NO real Surface product, all smoke and mirrors. Hopefully, the folks "in the know" will continue to post on ZDNet and keep us all informed throughout the year as the product launches, letting us know how we;re being scammed by clever video.

    Thank god for ZDNet forums, the only unbiased authority on all things MS!