Microsoft to Announce Mini Tablet PCs

On March 2 Microsoft will unveil a mysterious new miniature Tablet PC product family. Code named Origami and previously code named Haiku, the new devices will be the size of a PDA but will include a full Windows OS. I don't know yet whether that OS will be Windows XP Tablet PC Edition or some version of Windows Vista, but my guess is that it will be Vista based.

Indeed, we know very little about the devices at this point. At the 2005 Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) the software giant described Haiku as an ultra portable laptop convertible based on Vista. Microsoft intended this device to showcase how a Tablet PC enabled version of Windows could be applied to a much wider range of devices than PC makers target today. The device was described as weighing 1 to 2 pounds, having an all day battery life and costing from $500 to $1000.

Origami is even more mysterious. It is promoted on an enigmatic Web site called Origami Project which suggests only that the device will be ultra portable and feature a touch screen, a feature promised for the Tablet PC software in Windows Vista. Currently, the site offers mostly questions such as "do you know what I can do?" and "do you know how I can change your life?"

Here's my take on this. Some of the rumor sites on the underbelly of the Web have been suggesting that Origami might be Microsoft's xPod, or iPod killer. Origami is not that product. Instead, Origami is clearly aimed at pushing the boundaries of the Tablet PC platform and will instead be the long promised 9 Tablet PC that Microsoft first started touting two years ago. It's just the next version of Haiku.