Microsoft set to reveal answer to iPhone

iPhoneUpdate: news has just come out about the product described below, officially named Surface. It’s a lot bigger than the iPhone, but uses similar multi-touch technology. Here is our write-up.

Over at ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley reports on the imminent unveiling of Microsoft’s own multi-touch technology — code-named ‘PlayTable’ — which could prove to be the company’s answer to the iPhone. Also known as the Milan Project, the technology is designed to “allow users to navigate and manipulate data inside a browser or application using gestures”, says Foley. “Think pinches, pushes, waves, etc”. Even more intriguing is that the announcement could come as early as tomorrow, when Bill Gates is set to take the stage with his old rival, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference.

Foley notes that the project has been developed by Microsoft’s Mobile and Entertainment Division (MED), which is the same business unit responsible for the Xbox, Zune and Windows Mobile devices.

It’s easy to see how Microsoft might incorporate the Milan multi-touch capability into Zunes or Windows Mobile phones. In fact, one source told me that Microsoft has been pitching Milan to various wireless carriers, with the hopes that they will support a Milan-enabled Windows-Mobile phone in the not-too-distant future.

Of course Microsoft doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to marketing consumer electronics — XBox being the exception — and Foley says that the company sees additional markets for ‘PlayTable’.

Multi-touch/gesture-recognition technology also would be a natural fit in medical (think of several doctors collaborating over a shared medical file); architectural (shared schematics), educational, hospitality and lots of other applications, Microsoft is hoping.

Whether Gates tries to get one up on Apple at tomorrow’s event (where Jobs will undoubtedly show off the iPhone), what is clear is that Apple isn’t the only company that’s been working on bringing a gesture-based user interface to market. At this point it’s also worth noting that when Jobs announced the iPhone he boasted that Apple had over two hundred patents relating to the device.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

7 Responses to “Microsoft set to reveal answer to iPhone”

  1. [...] Bill Gates and Steve Jobs will be on stage together in a historic appearance. There is a report out today that Bill Gates will be unveiling Microsoft’s own multi-touch sensing technology for mobile [...]

  2. Peter says:

    So if you find yourself walking down the streat and see people acting all spastic trying to control their phones, you know who to blaim …

  3. [...] Source:last100 Over at ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley reports on the imminent unveiling of Microsoft’s own multi-touch technology — code-named ‘PlayTable’ — which could prove to be the company’s answer to the iPhone. Also known as the Milan Project, the technology is designed to “allow users to navigate and manipulate data inside a browser or application using […] Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  4. [...] sister site last100 reports on the imminent unveiling of Microsoft’s multi-touch technology — code-named [...]

  5. [...] sister site last100 reports on the imminent unveiling of Microsoft’s multi-touch technology — code-named [...]

  6. [...] erano fatte molte illazioni e si parlava persino di un prodotto destinato a contrastare i-Phone di Apple, ma, pur condividendo [...]

  7. Steve O'Hear (editor) says:

    @Peter

    Very Good!