News Roundup: Microsoft Announces the Surface, DRM-free Tracks Hit iTunes, and More

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News Roundup: Microsoft Announces the Surface, DRM-free Tracks Hit iTunes, and More

Who's got my Frogger emulator? Microsoft has unveiled its newest product, the Surface, a tabletop-like computer with a multi-touch screen. The 30-inch screen can accomodate multiple users, and can interact with objects placed on it (like a camera or a cell phone). Its first applications when it debuts this November will be as a digital concierge in hotels, a touchscreen menu in restaurants, and in casinos, most likely as a gaming device -- it's even being developed by Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division. Forbes described their demo as "It felt like a Mac," a ringing endorsement for sure. Here are links to more demos and videos, here's Microsoft's official Surface site, and here's an interview with Bill Gates about the Surface. Oh, and if the Surface looks mighty, mighty familiar to you, you may be remembering Jeff Han's famous demo of his own lab's multi-touch technology at last year's TED conference. Yup, you guessed it - Microsoft yet again takes someone else's brilliance and merges it with its own marketing brilliance.

 

Out, out, damned DRM. iTunes got an update today: Version 7.2 adds the ability to preview and download DRM-free tracks, called iTunes Plus, which also debuted today. The unprotected songs are so far just from EMI, and there's still no sign of the Beatles' catalog. Steve Jobs says he expects that half of all songs purchased on iTunes by the end of the year would be the $1.29 iTunes Plus versions. If you've already purchased some EMI songs from iTunes, you can upgrade to the higher-quality iTunes Plus versions for 30 cents per song or $3 per album. iTunes also added a section to the Store called iTunes U, which collects all the free content available from colleges and universities, including podcasts, lab videos, and even lectures. And Playlist reminds us of a little-known iTunes Store feature that lets you recover all your purchased music one time if you lose it as a result of a hard drive crash.

 

In other Apple news, here's a response to our exclusive (and popular!) look behind the Genius Bar. Some wild rumors are flying around about additional features shipping with the iPhones. AT&T stores aren't expecting to have that many iPhones at launch, speculating fewer than 40 units per store. MacBook sales are up 94 percent year-over-year in April, and an analyst is calling the possibility of new MacBook Pros at WWDC "a near certainty."

 

Finally: Last-minute news flash: Wired will be live-blogging the Jobs-Gates joint panel appearance at the D Conference. Fortune's Brent Schlender calls the Apple TV a dud, and predicts the same for the iPhone. And Microsoft is dropping VBA support from the upcoming Office 2008 for Mac, which will cause problems for anyone who uses VBA (Virtual Basic for Applications) macros and scripts for cross-platform compatibility. This iPod shuffle is still rockin' after being run over with a car. And if you love lolcats as much as we do, check out lolmacs. We lol'ed.

 

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Steve Koning

Not exactly groundbreakingly new tech there Billy. We've had touch screen controls at work for a while. If you expect me to buy another dos box you'll have to do way better than that.

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OsbotTheRobot

You missed YouTube/Apple TV

http://www.apple.com/appletv/

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Matt

It looks cool but when I hook my camera up to my computer or show a friend my pictures I dont want to play 52 card pickup.

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