Friday, March 10, 2006

'They Blew It'

After weeks of hype, cryptic advertisements and relentless speculation, Microsoft has pulled back the curtain to reveal its "Origami" project. And the payoff after all this buzz — a handheld computer.

Though Microsoft spent a significant amount of effort promoting Origami, many in the gadget community are scratching their heads.

"Both in terms of form factor and functionality, it's somewhere between a laptop computer and a sort of portable media player — or high-end PDA," said Ross Rubin, an analyst with NPD group. "I think that we may see some software developed for it that will establish it as a more unique option, but as of today, it's just a smaller, keyboard-less, notebook."

I'm unimpressed thus far, but I suppose it can only get better," said John Biggs in an interview conducted via instant messenger. "The hype was definitely over the top and the results are sort of frustrating.

Biggs is the editor of, a popular gadget blog and was onhand at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany as the UMPC made its debut.

According to Biggs, this was Microsoft's chance to "pull an Apple" and take advantage of the attention the shadowy project was getting both in the media and among technophiles.

"They blew it," he said. "Apple comes out with finished products that are compelling and exciting — pulling an Apple is a good thing. In this case, [it] is an idea wrapped in a prototype."

No one from Microsoft was immediately available for comment.


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