Microsoft unfolds plans for Origami

Microsoft unfolds plans for Origami

Hard product or paper tiger?

Speculation is growing about a forthcoming Microsoft product codenamed Origami, after a teaser website went live yesterday promising more information on 2 March.

While Microsoft has offered no confirmation, it seems likely that the company will announce a tablet-style PC/phone hybrid that will retail for around $800.

But in an industry founded and run on hype, there are fears of a growing backlash even from within Microsoft.

Robert Scoble, Redmond's technology evangelist, has complained in a blog of the lack of information and the high risk of hype.

"What's the danger of not letting your internal bloggers know about your product release plans?" he asks. "They might not be able to help keep your announcements in proper perspective. Seriously, let's keep our hype in check OK? "

It is likely that the new device will be an expanded PDA, much along the lines of the Nokia 770 internet tablet but with mobile phone technology built in.

Microsoft demonstrated a similar device at WinHEC this year and there are persistent rumours that such a device will be on show at this year's CeBIT.

Such a device would use a cut down version of Windows XP to allow gaming and internet access, as well as graphics capability for handling image files and possibly mobile television.

Origami could fall prey to 'Ginger syndrome', however, in which a new announcement is hyped so much that it fails to inspire on release.

Ginger, which finally emerged as Segway, was hyped as a revolution in transport that would, in the words of Steve Jobs, lead to the " redesign of cities".

In fact the final device proved to be little more than an innovative scooter. The peak of its fame came when George W. Bush managed to achieve the impossible and fall off one.