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Microsoft Unfolds Origami, The 'On The Go' PC

The software giant hopes the ultracompact computer, which runs Windows XP and sports a touch screen and wireless connectivity, will spawn an entirely new handheld market.

MUNICH, Germany — After months of hype and cryptic Web marketing , Microsoft Corp has finally unveiled the product behind its ‘Project Origami’ at the giant CeBIT fair that started today in Hanover, Germany.

The software giant hopes the ultracompact computer running Windows XP with a touchscreen and including wireless connectivity will spawn an entirely new handheld market.

Weighing just under 1kg and with a 7-inch touch sensitive screen, the device, dubbed an ‘ultramobile PC’, is everything a full computer or laptop is, but without a keyboard. The computer is expected to have a battery life of about 3 hours.

Two models are expected to be selling by spring, and Microsoft says three companies have built working models -- Samsung, Asus, and Founder, China’s second largest PC maker. The Samsung and Asus devices are expected to be in stores by April, and the Founder device in June.

They will run on a full version of Windows XP, the same operating system used on larger tablet PCs, and they are powered by Intel's Celeron M microprocessor. New software called Windows Touch Pack will handle touch-screen functions.

"We believe that (ultra-mobile PCs) will eventually become as indispensable and ubiquitous as the mobile phone today," Microsoft vice president Bill Mitchell said in an interview on the company's Website.

"The Origami project is really our first step toward achieving a big vision," notes Mitchell.

Microsoft said it has already held discussions with several other PC and consumer electronics companies about manufacturing and selling the devices, which are expected to sell for between $599 to $999. Microsoft suggests it is possible to sell one for $500 if the manufacturer selects components carefully.

Future models are expected to run on Windows Vista, the next-generation of Microsoft's operating system, which is due out in the second-half of 2006.

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