updated 02:40 pm EST, Mon February 4, 2008
MS Surface Home Fast-Track
Microsoft is accelerating the development of its Surface touchscreen technology for the home after customer requests, company chief Steve Ballmer said today at an analyst conference. The Redmond, Washington-based company had initially warned that a consumer-friendly version of the interactive table would not be available until four or five years after its early 2007 introduction but has since received a large amount of demand for a release sooner than the 2011 timeframe suggested by the schedule.
"We're going to follow our nose," Ballmer said, indicating that the company had to trust its instincts and react to demand rather than maintain its previous course.
Until today, Microsoft had so far only outlined its plans to introduce Surface at hotels, restaurants, and other service industries where the table's multi-touch technology could be used to streamline ordering meals and other features that would normally require a limited computer kiosk. Each table is currently estimated to cost between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on the role, ruling out most home uses.
Few details have been revealed about a home-oriented version of Surface, though Microsoft has suggested natural-input drawing and photo viewing tools as initial candidates. It should also recognize tagged inanimate objects that can automatically synchronize with the computer or each other, such as two Zune media players.