macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, is being interviewed at the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference this morning.

Walt Mossberg addresses similarities with the technology to the Apple iPhone:
Walt notes Surface’s user-interface similarities to Apple’s iPhone and some new HP devices, and wonders about intellectual-property issues. “We’re confident in our IP,” says Pete Thompson, general manager of Microsoft Surface Computing. And, he adds, multitouch has been around for a long time.

Microsoft plans thin-panel versions, vertical displays, and other form factors for the technology.

Mossberg also asks "if Microsoft will stick with Zune, given the seemingly impossible task of catching up to Apple’s iPod", to which Ballmer stated "We're firmly behind Zune." Meanwhile, Ballmer denies that Microsoft will ever develop a Phone.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are to be interviewed later today at the All Things Digital Conference. Jobs will also be interviewed in a separate session alone.


macrumors 65816
Jan 27, 2005
I can't wait for Ballmer to blow crap out his butt and say they are the best at it, and that the iPhone sucks, and says they been working with this from the beginning yada yada yada...


macrumors 65816
Aug 11, 2006
Manchester, UK
which goes back to my previous comments about this infringing on Apple's IP. Steve said he would defend multi touch fiercely..... lets see what he has to say.


macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
Will this be the new 'tablet'? A device that has some really cool potential, but is always just a little too poorly executed and a little too expensive to really take off as a mainstream market.

At $10,000, maybe more than a little too expensive :eek: Still undeniably cool though :)

I wonder if MS's confidence in IP issues stems from their success in making off with the early Mac OS UI :p


macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2005
Red Sox Nation
I doubt problems with IP

From what I understand (and that's not too much), the way in which Microsoft approaches this problem is different than how the iPhone works. The Surface uses infrared cameras underneath the glass to "see" the objects that are placed on it/touching it, whereas the iPhone is a touchscreen using a capacitance-method to interact with the objects. Since they approach the problems differently (albeit, with more or less the same results), there might not be as much of a problem as you think. Then again, like I said, this is just from what little knowledge I have of these devices/the patents behind them.


macrumors 6502a
May 27, 2007
Rome, Paris, Berlin

I am an Apple owner, lover and supporter, but not the type of person that will wish failure to Apple's competitors. This is a very interesting and powerful technology. With the right applications people will go absolutely crazy and could be the biggest revolution since the invention of mouse and windows. I wish Apple was the one to come out with such an announcement, and on Leopard, not the Iphone. Unfortunately it was Microsoft and Apple should have known before. The technology was well known and widely demonstrated everywhere.

Still, knowing Microsoft, they have a history of making colorful announcements, grab everyone's attention, and then blow things and let interest fade away. The latest example that comes to my mind is Origami. Whatever happened to that? But even tablet PCs, I would have gotten one if they were decent and lower priced.

I won't even mention the Zune because that was a loser from the very start. Even the name "Zune" was an invitation to failure. Many people would not want to be heard pronouncing that name :)

It's relatively easy to make the device $10000 price and sell some units to department stores and cafes. But no good applications will be developed until the consumers will get it. If Microsoft doesn't come out with the right combination of hardware, software and accessories, this thing will fail.

The best company I can think of to combine all those factors is Apple, but for some reason I am afraid they are too concentrated on the IPhone. They have not been announcing anything new and are neglecting existing products. Bootcamp is no longer working on some systems and no fix has been announced. ISync is still slow to include telephones, laptops are in serious need for upgrades, Aperture is not usable on most macs...

We'll see. I hope Apple will do something about it. They should, since they have experience with the technology on their iphones.


macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2006
I think it looks pretty cool. And so does my wife, who is very computer illiterate. Obviously, touch screen is where things are headed in general, with MS and Apple coming at it from two directions.

Just curious how many times a day one will have to reboot the MS screen...


macrumors 68000
Jun 4, 2003
Interesting that we are getting a lot of Microsoft/Non Apple stuff on Mac Rumours now... I guess it illustrates how lame Apples hardware offerings have been the last five or six months.


macrumors G3
Aug 6, 2006
lets wait and see if apple indeed has this patent or not. after all, apple didn't invent multi touch, it just invented using it on a phone.


macrumors 6502a
Dec 26, 2006
If this Surface technology is really just relying on sensing light or the absence of light with cameras, and communicating via bluetooth, I can see all sorts of problems that will crop up with this. The lighting in the room would have to be very even, and no shadows coming across the table, or bright lights on certain parts of the table, even somebody waving their hand over what you were doing might mess it up. I would think they would have to really tweak how sensitive it is. And then there's the bluetooth, which could have all sorts of interference in a busy public area, microwaves in use, other people's cell phones or cameras nearby, etc. It's cool when demonstrated, but it's going to be problematic to bring to practical use in my opinion.


macrumors newbie
Jan 10, 2007
Ballmer's Wisdom

I think this product is cool and in the next few years we are in for a lot of neat technology. However, there is one guy whenever he opens his mouth sticks his foot in it and looks like a fool.

Ballmer when replying about the iPhone said, "Ha, Ha, Ha, $500, fully subsidized with a plan. I said that it is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a KEYBOARD which makes it not a very good email machine".

Then why are you making a machine that is being sold to business customers without a keyboard?


macrumors newbie
May 30, 2007

As a Mac user I have to say I'm quite impressed with what MS has accomplished with Surface. It has a nice 'wow' factor. However, most news outlets (CNN, MSNBC) report that Surface will be not be available for 2-3 yrs for the average consumer. As noted above (with Origami) MS has let some promising things slide by in the past. Also, MS is notorious for adding 'hooks' to get more money out of the customer (i.e. Vista multiple versions). For instance, how much would MS support cost on top of the 5-10K price tag?

I'm taking a wait-and-see approach to this; I want to see what others (Apple, Palm, Jeff Han) have to offer up as competition (IPhone notwithstanding).


macrumors member
A lot of room for improvement?

Stability: With rear projection, alignment is a huge factor. What happens when this gets jarred with significant force? (suitcase, baggage cart, drunk dude)
At the very least I would assume that alignment software would need to be rerun. I know that they (MS) is promising new form factors. But for the time being there is a rather large hole.

Touch Sensitive: Maybe I missed it, but I didn't hear or read any mention of pressure sensitivity. That paint app. looks like ass without it. Could have just been scrapped together for demo.

Price: The obvious one.

Maybe I'm way off on these or these issues may have been discussed in the other Milan thread. Still I think there is a gaping hole that can be filled with "killer" improvements.


macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2004
Los Angeles
This technology is not new, I remember seeing an article about this. What really concerns me is that within two years, I did not see a difference in prototype and MS. I mean its very wierd that its using three light sources around the table to function. Just wierd that the concept is still the same as I saw it two years ago.

Practical of this, well honestly I see this more on business, which makes sense since MS does favor businesses for they make more money off them than consumers(long term contract deals). I see this technology more like on tv screens. School might use this technology, heck theres a mall where I live that has this already thats very popular but I dont see home practical use. For photos people will still want print.


macrumors member
May 30, 2007
Will be intresting to hear what Jobs has to say, I was just wondering about what Balmer said "We're firmly behind Zune." I just wonder if the Zune is right in front of a cliff ;)


macrumors 68030
Jan 25, 2002
Orange County, CA
This technology is not new, I remember seeing an article about this. What really concerns me is that within two years, I did not see a difference in prototype and MS. I mean its very wierd that its using three light sources around the table to function. Just wierd that the concept is still the same as I saw it two years ago.

I think there is even a video floating around Youtube with a Microsoft engineer in his lab, demoing the same basic functionality with an early prototype. I can't remember if he had actual devices or just symbolic markers that acted as devices for the demo. But the basic functionality as far as the painting and the photos, maps were shown in much the same way as in this demo. And I saw that video at least a year ago.
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