I’m at the Gartner IT Symposium this week. We have a strong Windows Vista presence, of course, including Hands On Labs where people get a guided walk through as many cool, relevant Windows Vista features as we can fit into 30 minutes. I have a fun assignment – demo an Ultra Mobile PC, or UMPC (formerly codenamed “Origami”) running Windows XP Tablet Edition. So why, you ask, are you blogging about it on the Windows VISTA team blog? Well because the point is that the Ultra Mobile PC runs Windows – and it’s going to be an awesome form factor that will enable Windows Vista to support your mobile lifestyle beautifully!
For those of you unfamiliar, the UMPC represents a new class of computer that gives you the full power of Windows but with a level of comfort and portability that laptops just don’t offer. It weighs less than 2 pounds but that’s where the “lite” ends – the UMPC we were using today (the EO from TabletKiosk – Samsung also has an UMPC available on the market) has 256MB RAM, a 40GB hard drive and a 1.0 GHz processor. It’s Bluetooth and Wireless enabled, and it boasts full Windows and Office functionality. I can practically hear my chiropractor going out of business as I type… no more lugging that heavy backpack everywhere just because I never know when I’m going to need to get online and get stuff done – nice! Interacting with the device is really natural, with a choice of touch screen interaction with a groovy (yes I used that word) two handed on-screen keyboard (called DialKeys – see the photo below to see why), tablet PC ink, or I could hook up my portable Bluetooth keyboard and tap away.
So why do I think the UMPC is going to be such a cool device to run Windows Vista? Well media consumption would rock for a start – I could use Windows Media Player 11 to enjoy music from my MTV URGE subscription (my whole team took advantage of the 2 week free trial subscription and now we’re all addicted) while I surf the web, touch up my latest PowerPoint deck or catch up on email. Today we were streaming TV over the Web through a third party application and I though how cool it’ll be to have Windows Vista running on the UMPC, so I can stream TV content natively using Windows Media Center, which is built into the Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate SKUs. I could download a movie from Showtime and watch it on the flight back to Seattle instead of thumbing repeatedly through the [insert airline name here] magazine as if I hadn’t already seen it more often than I’d care to count… I could pass time at Starbucks or in the airport departure lounge playing Chess or Mahjong, or IM my friends. I can collaborate with other Windows Vista PCs using Windows Meeting Space – my sleek little form factor would be able to share out a hefty excel workbook with as much ease as some of the bigger notebooks. And if I’m on vacation (or anywhere really), I can download my photos onto the UMPC and do all the touching up I need to, without waiting to get back to my desk, and it goes without saying that the slideshow would be an awesome way to share my cool shots. Windows Vista + 2007 Office System on my UMPC = super productive, super connected and super entertained me!
Overall, I fell a little more in love with the UMPC with every demo I did today. I can’t wait for it to ship with Windows Vista installed. Now, being new on the market it’s still quite expensive but I’m sure that as time goes on, we’ll see improvements in price and functionality just like any other hardware device, and in the meantime I’m totally saving to get myself a Windows Vista UMPC early next year!
Here’s a cameraphone snap of the EO we’re playing with this week. It has a fancy transparent casing so you can see its innards, while the commercial models come in tasteful black or white.