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Microsoft Debuts Ultra-Mobile PC

Microsoft today released the reference design for its Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC), formerly known as Origami.

The UMPC was introduced at the CeBIT technology show here after weeks of industry speculation. While the UMPC was thought to be an iPod-killer-type product, the end result is something that looks like a Tablet PC but has all the functionality of an ultra-portable notebook computer.

The unit weighs less than 2 pounds, is 1-inch thick and is centered on a 7-inch touch display. It is intended for consumer, not business, customers

Microsoft said its reference design has been picked up by several manufacturers, including Samsung, which will ship its unit during the second quarter. Pricing will depend upon the vendor’s final configuration, but should fall between $599 and $999, Microsoft executives said at CeBIT. Microsoft said each vendor will name its device accordingly, but they will all fall into the UMPC category.

The device will feature Windows XP Tablet PC and can be built with a variety of Intel mobile processors and have a hard drive between 30GB to 60GB. Since on-the-go connectivity is a primary feature of the UMPC, the units can connect to the Web through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet, and some feature wide-area networking.

The UMPC comes with Microsoft’s Touch Pack touch-screen software, allowing the consumer to use the device without a keyboard. The software can create a touch-screen keyboard on the display for the user.