Microsoft readies new Surface 2.0 developer kit for summer 2011

Microsoft readies new Surface 2.0 developer kit for summer 2011

Summary: Microsoft officials showed off some of the new functionality that the company plans to deliver in the Surface 2.0 software development kit this summer on April 12 at the Mix '11 conference.

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Microsoft officials showed off some of the new functionality that the company plans to deliver in the Surface 2.0 software development kit this summer on April 12 at the Mix '11 conference.

The Surface 2.0 product, if you need a refresher, is the "smaller ass table" cousin to the Surface 1.0 (known affectionately in some circles as the "big ass table"). Surface 2.0, which is being manufactured and distributed via Samsung, is expected to be priced at around $7,600 when it debuts later this year. The Surface 2.0 is expected to be thinner, cheaper and more versatile (able to be used horizontally or vertically) than the Surface 1.0.

At Mix '11, Surface developer Luis Cabrera touted the coming SDK as enabling developers to create "write once, touch anywhere" applications. He noted that the SDK will allow programmers to create applications targeting both Windows 7 and Surface 2.0 devices, which makes sense, given the underlying UI inside the Surface 2.0 is Windows 7.

On top of the core Windows 7 operating system inside the Surface 2.0, Microsoft is providing a Windows integration layer, as well as a shell UI (user interface) and relevant application programming interfaces (APIs). There will be "core" APIs and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) APIs. The core APIs supported will be for raw images and touch events that are not tied to a particular framework, and mostly used for XNA. The WPF APIs will include framework APIs, common controls and specialized controls, Cabrera said.

The Surface team created its own common controls -- things like SurfaceWindow, SurfaceButton, SurfaceInkCanvas and SurfaceSlider. These controls were necessary because Windows isn't touch-optimized, and existing comparable controls were designed for a mouse. Microsoft also has built an Input Simulator, which will allow developers to create Surface APIs on any Windows 7 PC. The Input Simulator will allow programmers to use a mouse to simulate multi-touch experiences, like grabbing a photo in two places and stretching it to enlarge it, as Cabrera demonstrated during his standing-room-only session at Mix.

Cabrera said there will be a Surface 2.0 configuration tool that will allow developers to choose color themes, backgrounds and specific Surface applications to launch. There also will be a Surface Migration PowerToy tool to allow devs to move Surface 1.0 applications to the Surface 2.0, he said.

I'm curious whether any of the shell/API functionality that Microsoft is building and supporting with Surface will be carried over to Windows 8 -- at least concept-wise. And it looks like I'm not the only one with that question:

Cabrera said the Surface 2.0 SDK will be free and on MSDN when it is ready this summer. In the interim, he advised developers interested in Surface 2.0 to use the existing toolkit for Windows Touch, calling it a "step in right direction."

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Software Development

About

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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4 comments
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  • This Surface 2.0 and Win 8 connection is getting interesting.

    I think this MS tech is cool. It's expensive but cool, non-the-less.

    Speaking of price, I looked up the current price for a Surface 2.0 table and the cost was around $7800 dollars. I had a different info source than MJ

    Just as a comparison, what can $7800 dollars buy in "Apple" gear.

    Well, it is known that the Surface 2.0 table is based on a 40" Samsung display. Using twelve iPads in a 4 X 3 grid will approximate the surface area of the MS table.

    Twelve iPads cost $6000 dollars. Throw in some WiFi equipment, a large screen HDTV and an Apple TV and one can easily construct an "Small Ass Apple Table" that can beam images to a nearby HDTV unit. With some creative software one can simulate the MS Surface table effects quite nicely for roughly the same cost or less. (In fact, if memory serves me, there was a Japanese "iPad Wall" demonstrated recently where school children could perform some interactive action .. which escapes me at the moment.)

    Anyway .. the only reason for mentioning all that Apple "Small Ass Table" nonsense is to make the point that the technology exists today for something MS is planning to do after Win 8 debuts perhaps a year from now.

    I'm looking forward to that. Perhaps in a year from now, MS and Samsung can find a way to lower the price to around $3000 dollars. Now that would be impressive.

    Also, the fact that the MS Surface table can also act as a large surface "digitizer" is a killer feature and why I really like this MS Surface table tech.
    kenosha77a
  • Bridge to Surface

    One thing I hope MS does, is use Windows 8 with its (presumably) touch UI, as a bridge towards the Surface experience. I think Windows 8 could support limited collaboration between two (maybe three) people, standing around one side of a touch screen. (I've heard of touch screens that can recognize up to ten touch points at the same time.) This would allow Windows 8 to support the touch screen coffee table scenario, as well as low costing kiosks, which one or two people could use at the same time.
    P. Douglas
    • RE: Microsoft readies new Surface 2.0 developer kit for summer 2011

      @P. Douglas<br>Well Surface can support more than 50 simulataneous touch points (according to Microsoft), and it's powered by Windows Embedded standarad 7 so yeah Windows can already do this.
      g@...
  • RE: Microsoft readies new Surface 2.0 developer kit for summer 2011

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