Feeds

MS, Intel gear up to unveil ultra-mobile tablet PC

Taking the fight to Apple's iPod and Sony's PSP?

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Microsoft's so-called Origami Project, due to be launched on Thursday, appears to be its early version of the ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) concept Intel has been touting of late, if an allegedly leaked Flash version of a promo video of the product is anything to go by. Quite apart from being a potential iPod competitor, the device could well prompt some interesting techology ownership questions.

The video shows a series of media-savvy twentysomethings using a paperback book-sized tablet that's part PC, part PDA and part digital media player. It's wireless too, and would appear to have GPS on board. So, instead of carting around notebooks, we'll all soon be carrying pen-based micro PCs with decent enough handwriting recognition we won't need a keyboard any more.

Another scene shows the machine running a game, so perhaps the unit's also the much-rumoured PSP-rival, MS is said to have been working on.

It's nothing new, of course. Sony has been offering one of these for over a year now, and a variety of compact mobile PCs have come to market from the likes of OQO and others. Many already run full versions of Windows, rather than Windows Mobile or other, 'cut-down' versions of the OS.

The problem, as ever, remains battery life and the provision of sufficient processing power to handle all the intensive stuff running under the hood like true handwriting recognition. Enter Intel, which last August announced its new focus on developing processors that deliver the best performance per Watt. At the time, CEO Paul Otellini demo'd a "handtop" computer - a paperback book-sized tablet with full wireless functionality and a processor capable of running Windows Vista, yet capable of running on batteries for a full day.

More recently, it's been giving up the device the name "ultra-mobile PC", and hawking prototypes around to some journalists. It's been suggested Intel will reveal more at its bi-annual Developer Forum, which kicks off in a week's time, just ahead of CeBIT.

There's a disconnect, and it's timing. Otellini said Intel's goal is to ship a 0.5W processor with sufficient horsepower to run Windows Vista by 2010. Microsoft's Origami Project, according to its website, is due to be unveiled on 2 March 2006.

Assuming Microsoft isn't in the game of announcing product that isn't going to ship for another four years, it will unveil a machine with more modest battery life than that, so early MS UMPCs will not be the ubiquitous wireless multi-mode devices portrayed in the video. At least not if you want anything more than a few hours' usage at a time.

But back to Apple. What's most interesting for Apple in all this is not necessarily the iPod rivalry - CEO Steve Jobs recently talked up the idea of Microsoft offering its own media player rather than simply providing the core technology to third parties - but the unit's use of a clickwheel control, one of the defining features of its music player line-up. An opportunity for a patent infringement spat, or the basis for MS' continuing development of Office:Mac?

And all this talk of MS' Origami Project and Intel's UMPC come at a time when not only is Apple trying to patent a range of tablet-oriented UI innovations, looking for handwriting recognition engineers and gearing up to announce new "fun products" tomorrow. No wonder rumours of a Mac tablet have had such a revival of late. ®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.