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Microsoft's New Clothes
Thursday, 2006 March 16 - 9:44 am
Looks like Microsoft is trying to shove some new stuff down our throats. And some old stuff.

In the past few weeks, Microsoft's ad campaign for a product called "Origami" got a lot of attention. The campaign drew lots of comparisons to Apple, mostly because it was mysterious and relatively understated. (So there you go, Microsoft is copying Apple again. This might be the direct result of that iPod ad parody... which, it turns out, was generated by Microsoft itself in an effort to challenge its marketing team into coming up with better stuff.)

So it turns out that "Origami" is the concept for a Newton. Basically. It's an oversized PDA, or a tiny tablet PC, depending on how you look at it. The reason I say it's a Newton is that it carries the same problems: not small enough to be conveniently portable, not large enough to really be productive, too expensive to be a consumer product. Oh, and by the way, it only has two hours of battery life, so it's hardly even worth carrying around if you're not going to be near an outlet.

Now, that's not saying that the concept is doomed; it's just going to take a few technological leaps that aren't here yet. We need all-day battery life, a reliable and convenient method of user input and control, and super-high-resolution screen that can easily be seen in daylight. It needs to be durable, lightweight, and cheap enough that you don't have to be paranoid about it.

Some Apple fans have long been screaming for Apple to get back in the PDA business, or to resurrect the Newton. Believe me, I'm sure they've considered it. But they won't do it until they feel like they can do it right. And that's the difference between Apple and Microsoft.

In other Microsoft news, they've got a new web search page to replace MSN search, and to compete with Google. One of the tricks is that you can tell the search engine to restrict the search to a set of web pages... and then you can save that set and make it available for searching by others. It's basically a directed search, or a meta-search. And I have to admit, this is pretty clever. The reason it's better than directory-based search services is because it doesn't rely on a single entity to maintain a directory; it's a community-based effort, in true keeping with the nature of the Internet. Of course, once someone realizes it's a trivial matter to make this into an open-source standard, Microsoft will lose its advantage in this area.

Finally, Microsoft announced that its upcoming "Vista" operating system will not support Intel's new EFI bootloader, but will rely on the ancient BIOS standard instead. This probably doesn't mean much to a lot of people, but there are a couple of significant consequences. First, it means Apple, despite its switch to Intel processors, will still have a technological advantage over PCs (EFI provides for faster and more flexible startup, including the ability to boot from a variety of externally-connected devices). Second, it means that it will be even more difficult for hackers to get Mac OS X to run on generic PCs. Third, it highlights just how heavily Microsoft is mired in legacy technology.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch


Comment #1 from olafandyjon (Guest)
2006 Mar 17 - 8:33 am : #
I don't care what anyone says. If it weren't for the Newton, there would be no PDA business!

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