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Origami Folds Up The Tablet PC

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Microsoft’s most recent venture into hardware has the company issuing a series of requirements to big Asian manufacturers for developing the device.

As with most Microsoft products, the short, easy-to-remember project name, in this case Origami, has yielded to the inscrutable ways of Microsoft’s product naming schemes. Thus, the Origami has an official name now of Ultra-Mobile PC, or UMPC, which sounds more like a college cheer than a well-hyped piece of hardware.

(Speaking of college cheers, did you know Dick Vitale’s favorite cheer is the one for Austin Peay? “Let’s Go Peay, Let’s Go Peay!” Yes, it’s college basketball’s big time of year.)

The Trusted Reviews website listed the must-haves vendors need to include with the UMPCs they produce:

A screen size of 20cm
Touch Sensitive
800 x 480 minimum resolution
Windows XP “Touch Pack” operating system
Minimum 1GHz CPU, 256 RAM, 30GB HDD
USB2.0 and wireless


There probably won’t be too much surprise at the operating system requirement. Once more of these devices enter the market, we expect to see the headline “Linux Installed On UMPC” all over Digg and Slashdot shortly thereafter.

The article also listed other items on Microsoft’s wish list for the UMPC platform:

In addition, Ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity is all recommended with the spec open to the inclusion of GPS, webcams, TV tuners, fingerprint and memory card readers. Initial prices are expected to be between $599 and $999 but Microsoft wants vendors to have these down to $500 sooner rather than later. Battery life on the first models are expected to last around 2.5 hours but again Microsoft wants this eventually increased to eight.


Samsung debuted its version of the UMPC first, at the CeBIT show in Germany; the Smasung model includes WiFi and Bluetooth support. Asus and Founder, both located in Asia, will produce versions of this super-lightweight tablet computer.

Tablet computing has found acceptance in some vertical markets, like health care and finance. The consumer market has been mostly lukewarm to their prospects, and Microsoft would like to change that perception. More tablet users means more tablet OS revenue for the company.

They will have to overcome skepticism in the industry. FoxNews cited one analyst who thinks the UMPC needs some time to gain traction in the market:

“I don’t think it’ll flame out, but I don’t think it’ll take off until 2008,” said Samir Bhavnani, analyst at Current Analysis.

Still, its share of the PC market will maybe at best reach 7 percent at that point, Bhavnani predicted.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Origami Folds Up The Tablet PC
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