Earlier this week I told you the 10 things you need to know about Microsoft Zune. While that list will get you through small talk at most cocktail parties, there’s one item that merits more discussion — the fact that Zune will not be PlaysForSure Compliant.
Last week Microsoft confirmed the name of its soon to be released digital audio player. It’s called Zune, and here’s what you need to know about it:
Hey kids, remember the Browser Wars? They took place wayyyyyy back in the mid-1990s when Microsoft realized that the Web as experienced via Netscape could steal the desktop right out from under their thumb. So they figured, “we gotta get us a piece of that action,” and launched Internet Explorer.
Which totally sucked for a couple of iterations, until IE 4, which was good enough to combine with their natural monopoly on the business user and eventually lead to Netscape’s downfall.
This all took a few years, and anybody working on the Web at that period had to do QA testing for about a dozen different Browser/Operating System combinations. My guess is that many were somewhat happy for MS to win the browser wars, even as they mourned a technology that essentially changed the world.
I avoided writing about Apple’s new Boot Camp program last week because it just didn’t seem all that important. What’s so impressive about a program that lets you install and run Windows XP on an Intel based Mac? Since the Intel Macs are based on the very same technology that runs millions of PC’s it would be news if Apple had found a way to prevent users from running Windows.
It’s been almost a week since the release of Boot Camp and I’m still waiting to be struck by the epiphany that seems to have hit everyone from ars technica to the New York Times (not to mention Wall Street, which bid up the price of Apple more than 15% in the wake of the product announcement).
You want a hot discussion? Put librarians, Microsoft, Google, and Bob Stein from the Institute for the Future of the Book on a SXSW panel to talk about issues surrounding book digitization (and call the panel “Revenge of the Librarians”). An hour wasn’t nearly long enough for the conversation – and the diverse audience proved that the issues surrounding digitization aren’t limited to a small segment of the population.
Starting with the ideas of what happens after books are digitized and what the impact of a shrinking pool of knowledge might be, the panel started by discussing the elephant in the room (let me say that it was refreshing to see open back-and-forth dialogue between the panelists, unlike the normal nicey-nice stuff you see): Google’s book-related programs — Microsoft’s project isn’t online yet, so escaped detailed scrutiny. Dan Clancy, of Google, explained the various components of the initiative.
The goal for Google and Microsoft (other than making money, and that’s what corporations do) is to build indexes of authoritative works that will provide resources during search. To do this effectively, they need to have a lot of books digitized. This is an expensive and time-consuming process.
Microsoft Geeks (yes, they do exist) are salivating over the official release of Origami. As we told you last week it’s not an iPod killer at all. Instead it’s a UMPC.
What’s a UMPC you ask? Seriously, you’ve never heard of UMPC? Ok, we’ll tell you, but just this once, so please take notes. UMPC = Ultra Mobile PC.
In case you’re still confused I’ll spell this out further. As far as Microsoft is concerned an Ultra Mobile computer is 6 by 8 inches with a 2.5 hour battery life. In other words, it’s too big to fit in your pocket, and you can’t go very far before you need to charge your UMPC. I said UMPC, not Pocket PC.
Origamis will be folded by a number of different manufacturers. As with standard PC’s each will presumably offer their own unique configuration and pricing. In general, though, you can expect these new devices to cost in the $600 to $1,000 range.
Oh, it’ll run some variant of WinXP, ensuring that Microsoft enthusiasts everywhere will enjoy the full blue screen experience on buses and in restaurants.
So, where do you want to go today?
A PC World blog has published photos of a pair of Origami devices — including the Samsung Q1 — on display at the CeBIT electronics show in Germany. It’s really hard to tell much from the photographs, which look like they were taken surreptitiously with a cellphone, and kinda have same perspective as pictures from Mars: is that rock 3ft tall or 300ft tall.
In any event, an accompanying article explains the following:
- It’s a handheld, measuring 6″x8″
- They are calling it an “ultramobile device”
- It runs a “special” edition of XP
- It will support WLAN; bluetooth & 802.11
- It will have an XP independent multimedia player
- It will have camera, GPS & gaming functionality
What the article didn’t explain, and I guess is up to Microsoft’s marketing department, is exactly why I might need one.Ã‚ However, that didn’t stop Microsoft’s stock from going up after the announcement.
The blogosphere is buzzing today about Microsoft’s delayed announcement of the “mysterious” Origami product. The Origami Project website has been updated with a March 9 launch date. Apparently today was never intended to be a launch date — or was it?
A lengthy video of the product has turned up on Google. I’m assuming that today’s date was intended to be the official “leak date” of this new product video. How clever of Microsoft to use Google to promote their latest product.
Based on a PC World report, it’s now not clear whether or not the product will be released anytime soon. Apparently Microsoft is new at this viral marketing thing and isn’t quite clear on the part where it’s also important to manage expectations.
A few observations after watching the video:
- As anticipated the product is a portable tablet-like device that does just about everything.
- It’s clear from the action scenarios that Bluetooth and WiFi will play a big part in all of Origami’s magic.
- This is clearly not an iPod killer.
- Man this thing is big. They call that a portable?
This, apparently, concludes Microsoft’s first attempts at product secrecy and viral marketing
Watch the video:
What’s better than live blogging Microsoft’s unveiling of the mysterious Origami project? Pre-blogging the Origami announcement, of course.
Earlier this week I tried live-blogging the live blogging of the Apple product announcements. To be honest, it was all just a bit too meta — even for me. Instead, I’ll take this opportunity to do one last round-up the various rumors surrounding Origami:
- It’s a portable media device that plays music, video games, and performs handwriting recognition. In other words it’s a portable game machine that you can also use as a tablet PC. Or maybe it’s a tablet PC that you can also use as a portable game machine.
- It’s larger than Sony’s PSP and may cost more than $300. Or maybe it’ll cost more than $500. No one really knows. And really, how could they, what with the legendary ultra-secrecy of the Microsoft Marketing Machine.
- The device will come in either black or a truly weird shade of lime green that has a certain glow-in-the-dark plastic look about it.
- Early suspicions that the Origami might be a Roomba killer may have been greatly exaggerated. There’s no reason to believe the Origami will have the ability to crawl through plush shag carpeting sucking up cat hair.
Regardless of what Origami turns out to be, it’s unlikely to make a serious dent in the lead Apple has taken in the digital convergence race. Unless Microsoft announces a new online media store and partnerships with several major film studios, they’ve got a lot of catching up to do. A single device is only the first step if Microsoft hopes to compete. It’s a new millennium and Microsoft is now the underdog. The sad thing is I usually root for the underdog.