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Forget Origami: Intel folds in Linux

Intel announces a new type of ultramobile computer: the Mobile Internet Device.

A prototype of an Intel MID device
Intel IDF presentation

This week's Intel Developer Forum has yet to officially get underway (it's only 3:00 a.m. in Beijing), and already blogs are buzzing with news of a new category of ultramobile PCs. Called an Mobile Internet Device (MID) and described in an Intel presentation (click here for the PDF), the new small-form-factor PC will offer a few different features than its highly publicized UMPC (a.k.a. "Origami") brethren. First, while the UMPC was aimed largely at business users, the MID targets consumers with such features as mobile TV, cameras, GPS and built-in navigation, VoIP, and instant messaging, among others.

Intel IDF presentation

The MID, available with 4-inch or 6-inch screen, aims to be a touch more portable than a UMPC. The big difference between the computers, though, is in the operating system: while UMPCs run strictly on Windows, Intel's been working with open-source developers on a new RedFlag MIDINUX OS. Due in May, RedFlag 1.0 is optimized for the MID form factor and the types of users it's likely to attract. In addition to reducing power consumption and boot times, the Linux-based OS ought to help out on the price front as well. Of course, all this is in the early stages and actual MIDs have yet to be announced--though we hope to hear more as the conference swings into high gear.

In other small-form-factor news, our colleague at sister publication ZDNet UK is at the IDF this week and posted the pic at right, showing a prototype UMPC (not unlike the Sony VAIO UX) running Windows Vista. Stay tuned for more reports from IDF as the week goes on.