Thursday, March 09, 2006

Microsoft Unveils Ultracompact Computer

After months of cryptic Web marketing and word-of-mouth hype over Microsoft Corp. 's Project Origami, the company finally showed off the product: an ultracompact computer running Windows XP with a touchscreen and wireless connectivity.

It's everything a full computer or laptop is, minus the keyboard. It has a 7-inch touch-sensitive screen that responds to a stylus or the tap of a finger.

Two models from different manufacturers are expected to hit stores shelves by spring, and Microsoft says they'll be about an inch thick and weigh less than 2 1/2 pounds - about the size of a large paperback book.

It will run on a full version of Windows XP, the same operating system used on larger tablet PCs, and newly developed software called Windows Touch Pack will handle touch-screen functions. Future editions will support Windows Vista, a version of Microsoft's flagship operating system that's due out in the second half of this year.

"It really opens up new possibilities for PC use," Bill Mitchell, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Mobile Platforms Division, said Wednesday.

The device will be officially unveiled Thursday at CeBIT, the annual technology trade show in Hanover.

It won't be called Origami. Instead, the company is marketing it as a category it's calling the ultramobile PC, said Mika Krammer, a marketing director for Microsoft's Windows mobile unit.

Though Microsoft is not manufacturing the hardware, it took a guiding role from the start.

"We've done more than just provide the software. We've built the reference designs to sort of get the category started," he said. "We had the first prototypes about nine months ago and started working with partners early on."


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