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Microsoft Origami: Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto!

The Internet is buzzing with speculation about Microsoft's Origami Project, as Gates and crew try to talk up a small form-factor touch-screen device running Windows XP. Crave has the skinny

Tablets

Seeing the buzz that always surrounds a new Apple launch, Microsoft must have got pretty jealous that its new releases don't earn the same hype. So after seeing how well the online viral marketing campaign for the Xbox 360 worked, Microsoft has followed a similar teasing strategy for its 'Origami' project, which has been building up to a full information explosion tomorrow. However, Microsoft hasn't exactly kept a tight lid on this thing, releasing details week by week in the source page of the Origami Web site, with cryptic statements such as: "Origami Project: the Mobile PC running Windows XP."

Now the cat's well and truly out of the bag, as some of Microsoft's partners are giving full demonstrations of Origami-like devices at the Intel Developers Conference in San Francisco. The tablet PC shown on the right is one of two Intel prototypes -- this one is touchscreen, and the second model, set for release sometime in the future, is white and has a fold-down keyboard. Intel's Jim Goldman went on CNBC news to talk about the prototypes yesterday, and claimed that the final models would cost around $1,000 (£600) and have a battery life of 3 hours.

Microsoft hasn't talked about Origami officially yet, but Bill Gates spoke last year of a handheld PC that would retail for $800, have 'all-day' battery power and weigh less than 500g. The Intel prototype is some way from that dream specification, but like any new technology the first devices will have to take some sort of price or performance hit.

Is there even a market for this device? At the moment, with email and Web browsing being the most obvious features of Origami devices, Crave thinks we'll stick with our Nokia 770 for browsing and our Archos AV500 for video. Sure, the idea of a handheld PC with the power of a laptop is an attractive proposition, but won't the impracticalities of such a device outweigh the benefits? We won't have to wait long to find out -- the first of these devices are set to arrive within weeks. Further details of Origami are leaking out ahead of the full official announcement tomorrow.

We're sceptical about Origami, but we'll wait to hear from Microsoft when it delivers the full scale of its plans for yet more world domination tomorrow. We'll be reporting direct from CeBIT in Germany, so make sure you keep an eye on Crave for all the latest details. -GC

See our CeBIT 2006 Special Report for all the latest news, product announcements, photos and videos from CeBIT.

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