by CIO Staff

Microsoft Origami Details Unfold

Feb 27, 20063 mins
Small and Medium BusinessWindows

Customers may have to wait a while for the official word from Microsoft Corp. on its Origami Project, but more details have emerged from other sources.

Through its public relations firm Waggener Edstrom Inc., Microsoft said Monday that it does not plan to make an official announcement about Origami this week, but will share more information in upcoming weeks.

Substantial buzz about the project started last week after the Origami Project Web site appeared, hinting at a major new product announcement, more details of which would be revealed this Thursday. A search of Pte. Ltd. records showed that the domain name is registered to Microsoft.

According to Microsoft, more clues about the product will indeed appear on the Origami Project site that day. The New York Times reported Sunday that analysts also have been invited to a briefing about a new technology at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, on Thursday. But Microsoft said there is no Origami launch scheduled for that day.

However, as Microsoft remains mum on the topic, blogs that keep a close eye on the company continue to publish what they say are more details about the project.

Origami is a portable media player device with a touchscreen that looks like something between a PDA (personal digital assistant) and a Tablet PC, bloggers said. The Unofficial Microsoft Weblog even posted still photographs from a video of Origami on its site. The video came from the site of an advertising firm, DigitalKitchen LLC, according to the blog.

Microsoft confirmed the legitimacy of the video on Monday, and said that it represents “our initial exploration into this form factor, including possible uses and scenarios.” However, the video clip was not available on the DigitalKitchen site at the time of this writing on Monday. According to its Web site, DigitalKitchen also has produced advertising campaigns for Microsoft’s Xbox product.

The photographs from the DigitalKitchen video show a handheld device that looks like a digital version of a child’s Etch-a-Sketch toy. The Unofficial Microsoft Weblog also posted links to the Engadget blog site, which posted similar-looking photographs of what it said is Origami.

According to Engadget, Origami is a portable media player that also includes a keyboard and a stylus. The presence of those two features was puzzling to Ryan Block, Engadget’s managing editor, who noted in a blog posting that Microsoft’s Portable Media Center OS — which already runs a host of portable media player devices from Microsoft’s third-party consumer electronics partners — does not currently have support for touchscreen and keyboard input.

Microsoft executive and blogger Richard Scoble so far has been the only person at Microsoft to acknowledge that Origami is indeed a handheld device. On his blog, Scobleizer, he said on Sunday that Origami is a low-cost, portable device developed by a team at Microsoft headed by Otto Berkes, who had previously worked on the Xbox game console.

For more on Microsoft’s upcoming operating system, Vista, read Microsoft Confirms Vista Editions, Vista Raises More Antitrust Issues for Microsoft and Gates: Security is #1 Vista Priority.

Keep checking in at our CIO News Alerts page for updated news coverage.

-Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service