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Surface PC for consumers in the works from Microsoft

Posted: 07 Feb 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Surface PC? touchscreen? consumer market?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer disclosed the software giant is looking to create a version of its Surface tabletop PC for consumers.

"We've had more pushback to get a consumer version of the Surface than you can shake a stick at," Ballmer said at a meeting with financial analysts. "We will follow our noses in terms of consumer interest and make a set of investments to try to take some steps toward making Surface a consumer product."

Microsoft last year introduced Surfacea coffee table-sized computer with a horizontal, 30-inch touchscreenas a platform that businesses could use to create interactive kiosks and entertainment devices for customers. "We talked about how we were going to bring it to market for commercial customers," Ballmer noted.

He said a high level of consumer interest in Surface has prompted the company to invest in creating a mass-market version but did not provide a timeframe. Surface is expected to be widely available for businesses in Q2.

Some companies in the hospitality industry already are testing the tabletop, which is powered by the Windows Vista OS and is compatible with numerous Windows applications.

Harrah's Entertainment is contemplating using Surface at its Las Vegas casinos, including Caesars Palace, to create a "virtual concierge" through which guests can reserve concert tickets, view menus at restaurants, or book spa treatments.

Other companies that have show in interest in Surface include Starwood Hotels and Restaurants and T-Mobile USA, according to Microsoft.

While consumers could use Surface as an interactive home appliance, price could scare off many potential customers from buying the device. Microsoft has not disclosed pricing, but large touchscreen displays are typically expensive.

- Paul McDougall

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