What Is Microsoft's Origami?

ByABC News
March 2, 2006, 1:53 PM

March 2, 2006 -- -- Is Microsoft's Origami a new hand-held device poised to change the world? Could it be a new operating system made especially for a new kind of portable computer? What if it's all just hype?

When a video of a hand-held, tabletlike computer appeared on the Internet recently, bloggers, technophiles and journalists jumped at what they believed was the mysterious Origami, and rumors began to fly.

Microsoft's public relations department did little to calm the furor.

"Origami is a concept we've been working on with partners," says an unidentified Microsoft spokesperson in an e-mail. "We are excited to share more details about the evolution of the Origami concept with you in the coming weeks, so stay tuned."

With bated breath, many in the public waited for March 2, when the company was to pull back the curtain a bit to reveal a little more about the clandestine project.

But instead of a high-resolution photo, or a blowout event to reveal Origami, the company simply added another cryptic video on the project's Web site -- origamiproject.com -- that answers few questions but instead continues to raise them.

"From the new information that Microsoft released today, it's obviously some sort of mobile product that consumers can take with them, and now all the speculation lies in what kind of mobile product," says Ross Rubin, an analyst with NPD Group,

The most popular explanation of -- or speculation about -- Origami is that it's a new kind of tablet PC.

Tablet PCs are not that different from regular notebook computers, except they allow the user to interact directly with the screen.

"So far, tablet PCs haven't really taken off in the home and in the general workspace," says Gizmodo.com news editor John Biggs. "Obviously, it has applications in medical and in some other fields where you have to be able to sign things, like real estate contracts."

Biggs doubts that Microsoft would release a piece of hardware given its track record.