So Microsoft seems to now be pushing its “Surface” product/concept of interaction. It has even, according to this article, installed some in Sheraton hotels in some cities in the US. Go to the article to see a video of how it is supposed to work.
So what do I think about it? I think the goal is great. But I’m not sure they have the right applications in mind yet. They love the flipping through pictures idea and the iPhone multi-touch style zoom, but pay attention to the transition: press a light corner of the table??? Also, they show in some videos on their website the ability to integrate with phones and other active elements.
And that’s where I think they are getting things wrong: instead of right now working with everybody to discuss how they can integrate the technology with all devices they are going through a private testing only with selected distributors of Microsoft technology. So, where the innovation can happen will not receive any SDK until who-knows-when. And when this happens, it’s hard to say what the compatibility will be with devices.
In a way, this is what Apple got wrong at first with the iPhone, but now is slowly remedying it. They launched a great new way of people interacting with their phone and at first you had to break into the device to install more useful software. Now you can buy it through Apple. Things are still limited, and will always be, because Apple wants to control the iPhone experience, but you can already see the explosive reaction of the development community. That’s what people are looking for.