Steve and Bill, Then

Here’s a video, courtesy of the D: All Things Digital folks that shows some key moments from a couple of times that both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates shared a stage:

  • The “Macintosh Dating Game”, from 1983
  • 1997’s “Let’s be friends again” presentation


Microsoft Surface, Sun Starfire and Apple Knowledge Navigator Videos

Yesterday, I wrote about how the “cyberwar” in Estonia seemed rather different from the way William Gibson depicted cyberattacks in his “Sprawl series” novels, most notably Neuromancer. I thought that as long as I was comparing speculations of what future tech would be like against how the future actually turned out, I should tie it in with the hot news of the moment, Microsoft Surface.

Microsoft Surface’s Promo Videos

In case you haven’t seen the promo videos for Surface yet, I’ve posted them below. Here’s the first one: Microsoft Surface – The Magic:

Thos one’s called: Microsoft Surface – The Power:

And finally, Microsoft Surface – The Possibilities:

Sun’s Starfire Concept Video (1992)

I mentioned Sun’s Starfire project in my post about Surface, but thought it deserved a front-and-centre mention. Starfire wasn’t a project to develop an actual platform, but to develop concepts that would eventually find their way into future platforms when the technology made it possible and show them in a video. The video is available online in MPEG-4 format, but you’d better have a good connection: it’s 270 megs in size:

Still from Sun’s “Starfire” video.
Click the image above to view the Starfire video.

Apple’s Knowledge Navigator Video (1987)

If the Starfire video gives you a sense of deja vu, it’s probably because you’ve seen Apple’s Knowledge Navigator concept video, shown below:

If the Starfire and Knowledge Navigator videos bear similarities to each other, they should; Apple UI guru Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini helped create both.


I’m going to post some notes on some of the concepts in the Starfire video that appear to have come to fruition with Surface as well as my notes on what they thought 2004 would be like back in 1992.


Microsoft’s Midnight Surprise, Revealed: Microsoft Surface

“Microsoft Surface” logo.Microsoft’s Midnight Surprise? It’s Microsoft Surface, a large-area screen-and-multi-touch-surface computer. Here are some places to get started:

It’s pretty nifty technology, the sort of which we’d been waiting for since Bruce Tognazzini showed the world (okay, maybe not the world, but a couple of really interested people at Sun and whoever bought Tog on Software Design) his “Starfire Project” concept back in 1992, in which he showed a theoretical multi-touch surface computer hooked to a global network in the far-off year of 2004.

That’s all I’m writing for now; this Global Nerd’s gotta go beddy-bye.


Microsoft’s Midnight Surprise

Box in a plain brown wrapper with a question mark.

One minute after midnight tonight, Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division — the folks behind the XBox and Zune — will announce “something totally new…and it’s going to change the way people interact with technology.”

Here’s what Gizmodo has to say

The timing is good, since tomorrow is when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs get to point fingers at each other under the grandfatherly gaze of Grand Vizier Walt Mossberg, and in these heady iPhone days, Gates needs all the ammo he can get. But what the heck is it? We’re convinced Zune 2.0 is still a ways off, but then again, what else would this division be up to? Stay tuned, and we’ll get back to you with the details right around midnight.

PC World takes Gizmodo’s point and runs with it a little farther:

…while the two will likely talk about the last three decades of computing, when it comes to current tech Jobs is walking in armed with major-league cool. I’m sure Gates is hoping this new techno-thingie will let him talk about new Microsoft developments without audience members snickering.

Whatever it is, it’s not likely to be worth staying up for, but I’ll be up at midnight anyway, so I’ll report on what it is they’re unveiling.


A Million Fools and Their Money Have Been Parted

Somehow — Mind control? Bribes? “Buy this Zune or we’ll kill this puppy”? — a million Zunes will have been sold by the end of June, according to Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division of Microsoft.

As good as this news is for Microsoft, this is even better news for you if you’re about to do some dog-and-pony shows for investors. You can simply pull out this story and say “This is why we’ll be able to find customers: somewhere, out there, are at least a million people who’ll buy anything.”

1 Million Zune Fans Can Be Wrong
My apologies to the King for riffing on his album design.

Over at CrunchGear, Vince Veneziani put these numbers in context:

I can understand maybe a smaller company getting excited over selling a million devices, but Apple in Q4 of last year alone sold 14 million iPods. Yeah, 14 million people bought iPods. Now those Zunes seem pretty dinky in comparison, eh?

Other esteemed colleagues in the tech blogosphere are equally unimpressed. Engadget says:

While Bach sees that as a “good start” he admits that the Zune hasn’t quite gotten as social as the company would like, saying that “when your installed base is a million, the benefits of sharing, frankly, aren’t as wide as we hope to see in the future.” Unfortunately, Bach didn’t get very specific about any future Zune plans, choosing instead to talk up the pink and watermelon-colored Zunes, which’ll surely make all the difference.

Dan at UNEASYSilence:

This weekend I made a conscious decision to give my iPod a week off and go Zune only. Come on, the thought of access to unlimited subscription music, and FM radio (not a fan of the brown, but whatever). So, I kicked my second laptop into BootCamp, made the Vista plunge and installed the Zune software.

Long story short; the software installation process was quite possibly the worst experience ever, but that was quickly eclipsed by the HORRIFIC ass backwards annoying Zune software/syncing experience. After HOURS of coaxing I think I have the damn thing working. I’ll report back at the end of the week on how the rest of the experience was, but I am left puzzled HOW Microsoft sold a million of these to suckers customers?


iPod Amnesty Bin at Zune Headquarters

Microsoft may not always crank out the best products, but I will have to hand it to them: they certainly can tell jokes. The best part of any Microsoft keynote is the spoof video — consider their parody of VW’s “Da Da Da” tv spot, their Matrix spoof and the “Bill Meets Napoleon Dynamite” clip. If their stuff worked as well as their spoofs, my Vista laptop wouldn’t be relegated to second-banana duty.

Rex “Fimoculous” Sorgatz recently experienced some Microsoft self-promo humour when paying a visit to Zune headquarters. Here’s what he saw near the entrance: an iPod amnesty bin:

“iPod Amnesty Bin” at Zune headquarters
Click to see the photo on its original page.

The Mac fanboy/fangirl reaction seems to have largely been one of amusement, and as one commenter on The Unofficial Apple Weblog puts it, the Zune Amesty Bin is the store shelves.