Thursday, March 09, 2006

Microsoft's Ultra-Mobile PC: All about Microsoft Origami

Microsoft has suddenly taken the center stage of technology world with its new product called Origami. Every major media of the world seems to be running after Origami now. All the news websites contain more than one article about Origami. It seems that Origami is the next big thing in the technology world is going to dominate the market in the next few months or may be years. Samsung and Intel are with Microsoft in making Origami. Origami is expected to address a new market for portable computers. It is neither a laptop nor a smart mobile phone or PDA but has can do many works for a user. In terms of size it is in the middle between a PDA and a notebook PC. The only shocking thing is that the device will not be called as Origami but as Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC) and most probably this name will gradually take place of the name, Origami.

Speculations were very high among the tech bloggers from around the world about Project Origami in the last few months. Although scare information was available until recently, every one expected Microsoft to produce something that would create a storm in the technology world.

Microsoft bosses hope that they have been able to address a new market with Origami since it is a unique device in terms of size, price and performance. It is so light that its weight is less than 2.5 pounds and it comes with a 7-inch touch-sensitive screen. Thus Origami is really portable. Microsoft officials are upbeat with their optimism that within a few years Origami computer (UPMC) will become indispensable like mobile phone. Perhaps the main reason behind their high expectations is the versatile nature of Origami computers. It runs on Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system and it can do many works including playing games, digital music, mobile communication, and surfing internet, checking and responding to emails and so on. In future, Origami computers will run on Windows Vista. Origami computers can support both Blue Tooth and Wi-Fi wireless technology. This also means that a user can use his keyboard with the help of wireless technology. They run on microprocessors built by Intel. The only thing that a user may miss is keyboard. However, it has USB 2 ports and thus adding an external keyboard is not a problem. 30 to 60 Gigabyte hard drive means a user can really use it like a regular PC too.

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Taiwan's Asustek Computer Inc. and China's second largest PC-maker, the Founder Group, are the 3 companies who are going to produce the hardware of Origami computers (UMPC). All of them are serious players in the technology world and naturally they will try their best to make Origami computers popular in the market. Samsung's product (known as Q1) will hit the market in this May. However, the price of Q1 is going to high.

Who will be the main customers of Origami computers? Microsoft officials are hopeful that this device will attract everyone. Since it can do the works of a mobile phone, a personal computer, a notebook and a PDA handheld device, Microsoft bosses have the feeling that may be this is the ultimate portable device we all need. GPS, a webcam, fingerprint reader, digital TV tuners, and compact flash and SD card readers will be in many Origami computers (UMPC) in very near future. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet networks can be used to connect between Origami computers and wide-area networking is on the card too.

Many people think that project Origami is an effort to seriously challenge Apple's IPOD, the portable music player. iPOD has remained largely unchallenged since its birth as a portable device and many bloggers have speculated the emergence of Origami from Microsoft as a response to Apple's supremacy in the portable device market. However, Microsoft officials are in no mood to confirm this theory and surely they have a strong point. Origami is not just a music player like iPOD but lot more than that. Microsoft officials can also argue that many players have been trying to make an ultra thin and ultra light but very powerful portable computer but Microsoft could make the breakthrough. Since, Origami computers run with Windows XP operating system, it will be able to do many functions. This feature will also make the works of application developers easier.

The main problem with Origami computers is its high price. When Bill Gates first talked of the idea of an ultra light portable computer, most people got the perception that its price would be under US $500 but we already know that the price will be from US $600-1000. Such a high price may discourage many users. However, it is natural that any technology is expensive at first and later becomes cheaper. The same will happen for Origami computers too. Finally, Origami is not just a source of entertainment but also

Microsoft's bid to enter into the portable device market seriously will surely create pressure on other industry players. It is for sure that other major players both in the hardware and the software world will try to come out with something substantial to answer to Microsoft's challenge. If another company can address the price issue seriously then surely Microsoft and its partners will face serious challenge. On other hand, we are yet to get any reaction from the open source world about Microsoft's Origami computers. Are they thinking of their own version of UMPC?

Until a few years ago, the idea of an ultra thin computer was like a science fiction. Microsoft has successfully brought this idea into reality with its project Origami. We have heard in the recent years that the computers of tomorrow will be thin like paper and users will be able to fold them after using. Project Origami only reminds us that the researchers are not sitting idle to make this idea into reality.


Aruna said...

Hi Razi, interesting, I'd never heard of this before and at first thought you were talking about paper folding! Good luck with your blog

Simran said...

LOL Well, that makes two of us Aruna. Great Blog Razi!


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