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Microsoft Operating Systems Software Windows Hardware Technology

Microsoft Is Working On a Foldable Device With a Focus On Pen and Digital Ink (windowscentral.com) 87

Microsoft is reportedly working on a foldable device with an emphasis on pen and digital-ink functionality that runs Windows 10, and it could be here as soon as next year. The company is looking to create a new category-defining mobile device that's aimed at an entirely new demographic, and that puts pen and digital inking at the forefront of the experience. Windows Central reports: At Windows Central, we've been covering two ongoing internal projects within Microsoft: CShell and Windows Core OS. Both of these projects play an important part in Microsoft's next rumored mobile device, which appears to be commonly referred to as "Andromeda" on the web. According to our sources, the Andromeda device is prototype hardware; a foldable tablet that runs Windows 10 built with Windows Core OS, along with CShell to take advantage of its foldable display. I imagine CShell plays an important roll in the foldable aspect of this device. Considering it's foldable, being a tablet doesn't mean much, and I'm told it's designed to be pocketable when folded, kind of like a phone. I make the comparison to a phone because I'm also hearing that it also has telephony capabilities, meaning you could replace your actual smartphone with it and still be able to take calls and texts. My sources make it clear, however, that this is not supposed to be a smartphone replacement but rather a device similar to the canceled "Microsoft Courier." In short, Andromeda is a digital pocket notebook.
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Microsoft Is Working On a Foldable Device With a Focus On Pen and Digital Ink

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  • Why this technology might be even bigger than gesture based interfaces. "Just hold your hand up to the camera and close it into a fist. That's a left click!"

    • They could call it Windows for Pen Computing.
    • "Writing" could be done on smartphones.

      But it isn't.

      For a reason.

      • Have you explained that to the legion of fans that love the Galaxy Note? They will be so bitterly disappointed...

        Personally I use an ipad-pro / pencil combination and it is exactly what I need about 50% of the time: loose division between written notes and diagrams. The other 50% of the time I have a laptop for a real shell/vi combo.

        Hopefully microsoft do *something* with the courier concept because I want a cheap clone that runs linux...

  • Cshell? That'll make it easy to google for. For those not willing to click the link, cshell stands for Compostable Shell.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2017 @02:27AM (#55442557)

    I can't stand modern day software.

    If I tell the computer to do something- like, say, stop pestering me about using Edge, or showing displays on my home screen, or installing updates without my permission- it better well fucking do that. If the computer is in any position to deny my wishes, then I do not own that device- someone else does, and therefore I refuse to buy and run such hardware and software.

    Frankly, I'm at a point in my life where I barely use ~40% of the capability of the software I've got right now. The particular industry I'm in isn't changing that much and the standards we have now will be valid for the next 10-20 years. I'd rather have a good backup + imaging system and some heavy duty firewalls and run "antiquated" (by Microsoft's definition) software for the next several decades than deal with any of this newfangled shit that can run off and do whatever the hell it wants on MY fucking equipment.

    TLDR; fuck walled gardens and "mobile ecosystems". That shit is a fucking disgrace to your personal freedoms as a paying customer. Modern day hardware is practically built with an obsolescence timer built into the software (they're called "yearly updates" now) and hardware (shoddy construction, glued/fused together chassis, glued in batteries, etc). Fuck that noise. And fuck all the companies ran exclusively by their shareholders to perpetuate that shit at the cost of the general public. We should be trying to build better devices that are more flexible and last longer, not the other way around. This project sounds no different.

    • Protip: You can use battery cases to deal with the non-replaceable battery issue. Some also feature microsd slots.

      You're still SOL when it comes to being at the mercy of software updates though.

      • You're still SOL when it comes to being at the mercy of software updates though.

        Funny thing is, Microsoft got going because people were sick of dumb terminals connected to mainframes and minicomputers. The mini/mainframe would go down from time to time when software was updated and that obviously drove people trying to do actual work on the terminals absolutely crazy because there was nothing they could do until the mini/mainframe was back up.

        The original notion of a personal computer was to avoid this. The user controlled what software got installed. If they bricked it, they could fix

    • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Friday October 27, 2017 @02:55AM (#55442617)

      Being in control of my computer is the main reason why I am mainly a Linux user.

      You could build a long-lasting PC from components but you would first have to do a bit of looking for info, and then read up about them ... but there is a whole lot of cruft out there. The PC builder enthusiast community is now largely made up of gamers that just want high performance and run it hard for a short time before they upgrade.

    • "Frankly, I'm at a point in my life where I barely use ~40% of the capability of the software I've got right now."

      That is true about most software. For most people, the OS and hardware from 10 years ago was fine. It just needed security updates. But the computer industry wants you to keep buying. Now they are pushing "as a service" model to get you to pay every month - even if there are no useful changes.
  • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Friday October 27, 2017 @02:42AM (#55442591)

    Andromeda is just a code name. The final name for consumers will be Microsoft Tablecloth.

  • by pablo_max ( 626328 ) on Friday October 27, 2017 @03:03AM (#55442631)

    This is the type of device that I have been waiting for.
    For my job, I need to take a lot of notes. I often need to sketch out things like simplified pulse trains for my customers so they can understand what they need to change on their radio. This is something which "could" be done on something like a surface, but I find writing on a normal laptop screen to be very uncomfortable and unnatural. It tends to make everything I write or draw look like I was doing some finger painting. Large and crappy.
    I have tried that sony e-paper doodad which you can write on. That really did "feel" like I was writing on a paper, but the software and overall usability was supremely bad. Definitely not something which I could live with as a productivity device.
    If MS could get the feel and accuracy of the writing to be at least very close to pen and paper, I would buy it.
    I often use onenote anyhow, and it would be really great to have a dedicated program to manage all my handwritten notes.
    I would prefer that it not try to convert my writing to typed text, but if it were still searchable...that would be fantastic.
    Normally, I would assume MS would F it up, as they always do with HW, but in the last couple of years, their notebooks have actually been pretty damn good.
    So.. I hope they pull it off.

    • by TuringTest ( 533084 ) on Friday October 27, 2017 @05:03AM (#55442875) Journal

      You may want to try again with the reMarkable, [remarkable.com] a new product in the same category as the Sony e-paper.

      It is expensive, and it has very limited software, but that allows them to provide a very focused minimal interface that feels like using paper in a notebook - just editable, with layers and background templates.

    • This is the type of device that I have been waiting for.
      I often need to sketch out things ... This is something which "could" be done on something like a surface, but I find writing on a normal laptop screen to be very uncomfortable and unnatural. It tends to make everything I write or draw look like I was doing some finger painting. Large and crappy.

      Making it foldable and giving it a different name will totally solve that problem.

      Not.

    • Serious question, if you really need a device to sketch and take notes on why not use an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil?

      There are a LOT of really good note taking apps now, not the least of which is just the basic Notes app that ships with the iPad, and lets you write text by hand that becomes searchable...

      The Pencil is extremely precise and accurate, and very fluid - the newer iPad pros all have high speed displays that make them really responsive as well.

      • by skids ( 119237 )

        Real paper has a frictional quality to it you'll never get on gorilla glass.

        Anyway if any of these e-ink gadgets are cheap enough It'd be a great alternative to putting my cell phone under my mouse and making it vibrate every few minutes to keep the lock screen from kicking in on my corporate MS box while I'm busy ignoring my email and working on my linux box. Just a pad with a shifting pattern.

        • Real paper has a frictional quality to it you'll never get on gorilla glass.

          So then you will NEVER be satisfied with any electronic device, because the surface is never going to be paper (not even an eInk surface).

          In reality the frictional quality is not about paper, it's about the interaction between paper and whatever you are writing with. Similarly the fictional quality of a tablet is not about the glass, but the pen you are using - the Apple Pencil has a decent frictional quality, with the upside that

          • by skids ( 119237 )

            Yeah, when they make a stylus that emulates bumps in the paper that I can feel, maybe I'll give it a try.

            But, paraphrasing some football coach recently, you know what you can do with a pad of paper you can;t with a tablet? Throw it on the ground and stomp on it in rage.

            Also it the contents don't tend to accidentally end up on the cloud when you don't want them to.

      • Because an iPad Pro lasts about 10h.
        Sucks in bright sun light.
        Has not even a matte screen (Hello Apple, it is 2017 ...)

        And an eInk device runs for a month, works in every environment, and there are nice ones (for reading, not for sketching) that even have an illuminated screen, like the Nook Glow. Most of them are water tight enough to survive a drop at the beach.

        • Because an iPad Pro lasts about 10h.

          You draw or write more than 10 hours straight with pen/paper? Come on.

          Sucks in bright sun light.

          I've used it in the sun before, it is fine.

          And an eInk device runs for a month, works in every environment, and there are nice ones (for reading, not for sketching)

          Yes I have a Kindle myself, it works really well. BUT we are talking about creating here, not consuming - the iPad with Pencil is really really good at creation that would traditionally be done with paper.

          Also you

    • There are much better solutions for eInk note taking and drawing than a device that requires/runs windows 10.
      E.g. from http://www.remarkable.com/ [remarkable.com] or the NoteTable/NoteSlate from https://boingboing.net/2011/03... [boingboing.net]
      There are plenty with pressure sensitive surfaces, or a combined device, the Lenovo Yoga Book (colour screen, keyboard that doubles as digitizing device, and you can write on paper while the device digitizes it)

    • Here is an overview of eInk devices with stylus: http://forum.tabletpcreview.co... [tabletpcreview.com]

  • by Custard Horse ( 1527495 ) on Friday October 27, 2017 @03:11AM (#55442649)

    Is it the PDA - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] - that MS is seeking to reinvent?

    I don't get it - why would you want to push technology backwards? I get that people still write things down and they still use pen(cil) and paper which serves the purpose perfectly - albeit without SD slot.

    We don't need some awkward bastard child of paper and tablet/phone.

    Please MS, please stick to what you know - Word and Excel. Amazon and Google will bring new ideas to the table and Apple will make them look pretty and more slick, just like it has always been (for most of the elapsed current millennium).

    • They tried that already. Gates himself picked Windows 8 tablets over the Courier because it was easier to integrate into the Outlook/Exchange ecosystem. Given how spectacularly and repeatedly Windows tablets have failed, it's good that they're finally revisiting what everyone thought was their ace in the hole against Apple. Watch this video [youtube.com]. You're right, it's not a product for everyone, but for the creative professionals who make up the bulk of macOS's (ever-dwindling) userbase, it was way more attractive
      • (...And yes, I know Surface tablets sell decently well. Just not "iPad" well. They haven't really found a niche, they've just been forcing their nose into a space better served by a laptop with a real keyboard.)
    • Students?

      No more paper notepads or printed lecture notes that can become illegible by being rain damaged or having coffee spilt on them! And if you can't read your own handwriting, let a machine worry about that!

    • We don't need some awkward bastard child of paper and tablet/phone.

      You may not. That's no reason not to develop it in case someone does want one. People said the same thing about the original Surface, a form factor which has now been wildly successful.

      Please MS, please stick to what you know

      They have been incredibly successful at creating markets for new devices, enough to make every manufacturer add another form factor to their lineup and enough to scare Apple into giving up on one of the original core premises of the iPad (a tablet should not need a stylus).

      • by j-beda ( 85386 )

        Please MS, please stick to what you know

        They have been incredibly successful at creating markets for new devices, enough to make every manufacturer add another form factor to their lineup and enough to scare Apple into giving up on one of the original core premises of the iPad (a tablet should not need a stylus).

        It does seem that the Surface and similar products do have a future, but the narrative that they are wildly successful and overshadowing Apple's products seems a bit overstated. This highly fanboyish article from appleinsider.com indicates that Surface revenues seem to be about one third of Applewatch/TV/other revenues, and about one quarter to one fifth of iPad or Macintosh revenues. Maybe more recent quarters are substantially different, but it doesnt look like Apple should be panicing. It seems as though

        • but the narrative that they are wildly successful and overshadowing Apple's products seems a bit overstated.

          I didn't say it was successful and overshadowing Apple. I said it was wildly successful to the point where everyone has adopted the form factor including a company which was dead set against it from the onset.

          Surface revenues seem

          Surface revenues are entirely irrelevant in the success of what the Surface has achieved: Moving the PC paradigm to successfully incorporate pen and touch across the board, incorporating new use cases for the Windows platform as they go. These efforts date back to Windows XP, and the Surface has now fi

          • by j-beda ( 85386 )

            Meh, I don't see it. Who is this "everyone" who has adopted the surface form factor? Best buy don't seem to be carrying a whole lot of them. If the Surface is "wildly successful" then the Apple Watch is "wildly successful" squared, and I don't really see many claiming that.

            There is a small but significant number of users who have been creating content with stylus devices on Wacom hardware (and others) since forever on both the Mac and Windows platform. Adding a stylus option for a monster iPad might be infl

  • Well it's Microsoft, so I hope they fail but, on the other hand, good luck to them.

    They've avoided the hybrid tablet/laptop form factor, so it's neither a poor man's iPad, nor a poor man's Macbook. And they avoid the app-gap because it's not a direct competitor to iPhone.

    What's the market here? MS added an epub reader to Edge, so I'd assume it's a competitor to Amazon for the online book space. And this foldable e-reader becomes a full-blown ARM64 PC when docked to keyboard, display and mouse.

  • A foldable device with a focus on pen and ink? That definitely seems familiar, where have I seen that before? Oh yeah, a book...
    • Actually, I was sort of interested when I heard that - a sort of read/write kindle could be neat - read a book, scribble in the margins and keep reading. Or just push the text aside and do some doodling while you're staring out of the window.

      Then I saw "it'll run Windows 10" and I lost interest :-(

  • A long time ago I owned one of these

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    It was a clamshell device running Geos. Folded up it had an external display for phone stuff.

    Now I reckon something like this might be viable now. You'd have Windows on both the phone and PDA side. The phone would be somewhat limited - i.e. basically a dumb phone for calls. Everything else would done on the PDA side. They could use one of the Atom descendents like this

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Or they could run on ARM with their x8

  • So far, there is too little information for me to pass judgement. But if Microsoft can produce a portable platform that is not merely something different, but also very useful in the ways that make it unique, I am at least interested. They are talking about a device that will have to have at least an 8 inch screen. Also, if it is going to be writing centric, they better do it right. There is a difference between a screen you can scribble notes on with a stylus, and a screen you can truly write on like a pie
    • That is something that has not been done yet.
      You are living behind the moon. Devices like this we gave since years. Probably a dozen companies compete around specialized eInk devices that are focusing on note taking and sketching. See my other posts from today.

  • Cshell? There's already something called cshell, and it isn't part of Windows. It's bad enough that their naming conventions leave my users unable to tell the difference between a local copy of Outlook and the Outlook Web App, now they have to steal names from linux?
  • Microsoft has a pretty solid history of developing poor quality devices. I almost think they should quit while they are not ahead. If they truly want to get into hardware, perhaps they should hire someone away from Apple. Microsoft is a software company, not a hardware company. Their Surface, Zune, Windows Phones, etc. were all flops. I honestly think Microsoft is better off fully embracing open source and working a similar model to that of Red Hat. I could see Microsoft doing well by simply open-sourcing t
  • But this is Microsoft, so we'll have to have someone else develop it, Apple to make it popular, than Microsoft will jump in the fray 4 years later yelling "Me Too!, Me Too!"
    • Yeah just like the iPad Pro.

      • Yeah just like the iPad Pro.

        Or Microsoft Zune, or Windows phone, Sorry you didn't get the joke, that Microsoft is so often late to the game. Apple has had some duds, but Microsoft is the best.

  • and succeeds before anyone else. I am going to be sick.

    I am still waiting on a replacement for my Newton 2100 with a lighter weight and SIM slot. Hell, I don't even need color or an OS update. Just give me Newton OS running on a Kindle with a digitizer.

    But I seriously hope I don't have to buy it from MS.

    • There is an Newton emulator called Einstein for iOS, but it only runs on rooted devices (aka it is not in the AppStore).
      I would love to have something like that on an eInk reader or an Android device (as I don't want to root my iPad).

      Oh, I just see: there is an Android version. Just google 'Einstein newton emulator'.

  • I came here looking to find people mocking Microsoft for pre-announcing the same thing twice... and was disappointed.

    How could all of you forget the much hyped Courier [engadget.com]?? It was really pushed at the time, then bam - no production.

    Maybe it will really "surface" this time - but at this point you have to take the idea with a grain of salt at least.

    The fundamental question I think it is, do people really want devices that fold. Even though I think it is very cool as a way to get a larger screen area and I'm a f

  • Does anyone actually *want* to use a pen/stylus to write things on a screen? They're great for artists, but obviously that's not what digital ink displays are designed for. I recently had to hand-write just a few paragraphs for an exercise at work and it was so foreign and awful, my hand actually cramped up. Why would anyone want to manually hand-write things? It just makes no sense. A foldable keyboard that is actually nice to use would be far, far more useful.

  • I've been seeing this on and off for so long now. Reminds me of the news last year and earlier this year of a surface phone - http://news.softpedia.com/news/microsoft-s-surface-phone-could-launch-in-2019-as-iphone-9-rival-rumors-513785.shtml - that can run Windows 32 apps and be a phone as well as do laundry.

    However, though my Microsoft rep and my TAM both sport Apple devices, I can see a future cellular connected pen-enabled low-power device that would be of interest.

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