While its initially derided UMPC format slowly continues to gain credibility Microsoft has chosen to launch another radical form factor upon the world: "Surface".
The table-shaped computer – initially targeting commercial establishments – does away with the mouse and keyboard in favour of a large 30in multi-touch screen. Much like Apple's iPhone, this interface allows multiple gestures to be performed on the screen simultaneously, think: two businessmen analysing documents or – if you're cooler – picture Minority Report (only on a table).
Little else was given away about the horsepower behind Surface, but we do know it will run on Windows Vista and sport 10/100 Ethernet, wireless b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity. As for the form factor (read: table) itself this is 22 inches high, 21 inches deep and 42 inches wide with an acrylic tabletop and power coated steel interior frame.
Microsoft aims to put the Surface in hotels, restaurants, retail establishments and public entertainment venues before the end of the year and projects costs between $5,000 and $10,000 (£2,525 and £5,050) depending on configuration. First partnerships are with Harrah's Entertainment whose properties include Caesars Palace and the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and T-Mobile USA.
Microsoft said it aims to put cheaper versions of Surface in homes within three to five years. This sounds great in theory though I hope during this time the company considers other shapes (the mirror, perhaps?) for the good of our spinal cords...