Sony unveils 0.3mm thick OLED display

At D6 today Howard Stringer showed off a brand new "thinner than a credit card" 0.3mm thick OLED panel that Sony is working on. They're planning on a 27-inch version of the screen in the short term for the ultra-rich, but the obvious hope is to fight LCD for dominance in the home in the coming years. This could very well be that 11-inch 960 x 540 display we saw last month, but specs are slim at the moment. More shots after the break...

All Things D Live: Bill Gates and Steve Ballm

All Things D Live: Bill Gates and Steve Ballm

Windows 7 to be revealed tonight by Gates and Ballmer, we'll be there

Gates and Ballmer are down at the WSJ's All Things Digital conference to talk tech with Mossberg and Swisher, and it looks like tonight they'll be unveiling the first (official) glimpses of Vista's successor, currently known as Windows 7. We'll be posting live from the event, so be sure to check back at 6:15pm PT (9:15 Eastern) as things kick off.

Live from D: Gates and Ballmer debut Windows 7

We're reporting live from D to see Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher chat it up with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer about all things Microsoft. Live coverage after the break!

6:16PM PT - The joint's filling up fast! Clearly no one's on stage yet, though, so don't go too far.

6:27 - Announcer welcomes Les Hinton, CEO of Dow Jones. Applauding Walt and Kara, discussing the "change in ownership," talking News Corp. Errr.

6:30 - Welcoming out Walt and Kara... aaand here they are.

6:31 - Mossberg: "It's been a turbulent year for a lot of these companies." Swisher: "It's been a big news year." Indeed it has.

6:36 - They want to have a Bill + Steve redux, except this time the Steve is Ballmer, not Jobs. Playing the Gates retirement video from CES.

6:43 - Stiiiiiiiill playing the video. It's still pretty good though, and they added a few new clips here and there.

6:46 - All done! Mossberg: Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer!

6:47 - Taking it back to the beginning, what kind of classmate/roommate was Bill in college? "He was a pretty shy guy... quiet, kind of shy, but a certain kind of spark. Especially later in the day, early in the morning. Bill was usually going to bed by the time I was waking up." Bill's talking about how he constantly played hookey.

6:50 - Ballmer talking about how Gates came and went Harvard. Gates: "You can leave and come back!" Say, is that a hint about Bills retirement? Ballmer's talking up his time spent at Procter and Gamble. Mossberg: Was it about then that you tried to hire Steve? Gates: "Not yet..." they were still way early on in the company.

6:53 - Mossberg: Did you wait to finish business school? Ballmer: "This is classic. Gates calls, 'Hey, what are you doing? Oh, god, too bad you don't have a twin brother or something...' he didn't just come out and say anything. 'Too bad, too bad -- and he hung up!' That was the sales call!"

6:54 - Gates on the early days: "We had so many customers, so many choices about what we could do next. We've always managed the company very conservatively." Talking anecdotally about how early-Microsoft wanted to have enough in the bank to pay its employees for a year if their customers stopped paying. "I had this very conservative view of our financial limits."

6:57 - Ballmer: "I wondered, why did I leave Stanford business school for this?" Eventually Bill gave him the real pitch: "We can put a computer on everyone's desk." Gates: "I needed Steve. I needed the skills he had, I needed a partner." Ballmer: "Bill said, 'Prove we can hire one good guy, and we'll hire 2-18'... and that became our management approach!" Ballmer says Microsoft hedges all its bets, takes all its risks technologically -- "Why take financial risks?"

7:03 - Mossberg: There's this perception that [Bill's] the technology guy, and [Steve's] the sales guy. Is that right? Bill: They've been jointly involved in a lot of crossover stuff, "Steve and I have done all this stuff together." Ballmer: Discussing working on the Windows 1.0 as a project manager. (Remember that infomercial?) "I'm not an engineer!"

7:04 - Swisher: Would you call yourself a businessman? Gates: "Sure. Sales minus costs equals profits. Is there more?" Big laughter. Mossberg: Did it bug you that Bill blew up and became extremely famous? Ballmer: "No. ... It was always clear Bill was the senior partner and I was the junior partner... it's never bothered me at all."

7:08 - Swisher: Do you still get veto on company decisions? Gates: "No." Says he's become the junior partner when he swapped roles with Ballmer. Mossberg asking about Bill's participation these days and going forward. "It's a very different role" he's taking on. Ozzie and Mundie have stepped up, and he's looking to Steve to help pick and choose his future projects.

7:12 - Ballmer: "I want to know what [Bill] thinks." Swisher wants to talk Yahoo! Ballmer gives the quick rundown of events to date. "We are not rebidding for the company -- we reserve the right to do so, but it's not on the docket." Swisher: What are you interested in, in Yahoo? Ha, they're wheeling out a whiteboard for Ballmer to diagram his explanation. Swisher: "This is like crack for him." Ballmer discussing ads, bidders, search, and the scale of it all. "To accelerate scale, it made sense for us to look at Yahoo!'s business."

7:17 - Ballmer says they're still in talks with Yahoo! about a "partnership." Swisher mentions that Ballmer's model of competing with Google is reminiscent of a monopoly. Ballmer gives the who, me? look. Gates: "Guys like us avoid monopolies because we compete!" Naturally, the lot of that exchange was all very tongue-in-cheek.

7:20 - Ballmer: "You need scale, you need business and technology innovation. Large and small... this is a funny marketplace in which to say you're cheaper [than the competition]." Swisher: What's the key element" Ballmer: "The most important thing is that we have a good team and that we're patient." And money -- investment. Ballmer's getting super intense. Mossberg: "You're getting a little scary there." Ballmer: "WELL, YOU GOT THE REAL ME!" Dude, this is Steve, what do you want?

7:24 - Mossberg wants to talk Vista. "Is Vista a failure? Is it a mistake?" Ballmer: "It's not a failure, it's not a mistake. Are there things we'll modify and improve going forward? Sure." Gates is mum, smiling off into the distance. Bet he can't wait to wash his hands of this stuff.

7:26 - Ballmer: "Let me ask Bill..." is Vista up to your expectations compared to '95 and 3.0? Gates: "There's no product that we've ever shipped that was 100% of what I wanted. That's part of the magic of software, people give you feedback... and you get to make a new version. ... We have a culture of 'we need to do better."

7:28 - Ballmer: "There are two unique things: in a lot of our Windows releases in the past, we've always had a second stream. With 95 we were introducing NT in the background... the number one thing people found jarring [with Vista] was that we changed the UI. ... That was ironic." Mossberg: Will you show us a little bit of Windows 7? Ballmer: "Sure! This is the smallest snippet of Windows 7. It's just a small little snippet.'"

7:29 - "This is 'likely to ship within three years of general availability of Vista.'" Demo time! It does multi-touch!

7:35 - They worked with the Surface team on the multi-touch stuff. Microsoft is re-thinking the whole user interface to better accommodate multi-touch for day to day use.

7:37 - Not running on surface. Running on a Dell Latitude XT. They've changed the taskbar, but it was difficult to tell exactly what they did.

7:39 - Swisher and Mossberg: So, what does this represent? Is this the next phase of the way people will do day to day work on their computers? Gates: "We're at an interesting junction... in the years to come, the roles of speech, vision, ink, all of those will become huge. I showed what an intelligent whiteboard would be like."

7:43 - "For the person at home and the person at work, that interaction will change dramatically." Talking about the single-user interfaces we have today. Mossberg: This is 15-18 months from release, your friends in Cupertino probably have one more turn before you get this out the door. They have the iPhone, which is on the market today... is there a risk that the work you're doing here will look like they got there first? Ballmer: "There's a lot in Windows 7, and our goal's got to be, with our hardware partners, to produce fantastic PCs. ... We'll sell 270m PCs a year, and Apple will sell 10m. Apple is fantastically successful, and so are we."

7:45 - Ballmer's talking about Microsoft's "real opportunity" to improve things in the future -- which is another way of saying that things could be better, but there's no real specific commitment to making the Windows experience better.

7:47 - Mossberg's drilling Bill on the Mac vs. PC, Bill's reticent. Ballmer: "Every share point Apple picks up is a share point we don't like. ... But it depends on what your goal is. We like selling 290m units. ... Our model is better." Mossberg: But you CAN'T be happy with this Vista situation? Ballmer: "What's the appropriate response? I kind of like what Bill already said." Gates: "You're kind of repeating yourself." Ouch. Big applause.

7:51 - Q from the internet: Do you feel the unsuccessful pursuit of Yahoo! has tarnished Microsoft at all? Ballmer: "No. ... at very least, people now know we're serious about our online business."

7:53 - Talking about the phone market, Mossberg and Ballmer are debating unit volume between Nokia, RIM, Windows Mobile, Apple. On Android, Ballmer: "It's another person taking another crack at the pie. ... Google comes late, without experience, and no clear business model. ... But we take them seriously."

7:54 - Open floor for Gates as he transitions out of Microsoft: "It probably is the last time I'll get to speak here..." Nawwwwww. "Melinda will be speaking Thursday, you'll hear from here why this will be a fun journey."

7:58 - Audience questions, but unfortunately none have been all that interesting so far.

8:02 - O'Reilly: You set out to put a computer on every desk -- and you achieved that. So do you have a new audacious goal? Gates talking about the future and goals of how Microsoft thinks the future will look. Interactive TV, tablet PC, and so on.

8:08 - Question about apps in the browser, and what that means for the future of software. Ballmer doesn't think it's all or nothing.

Okay, that's it!

Microsoft shows off "snippet" of Windows 7 at D6, reveals multi-touch support

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer got on stage at D6 with Walt and Kara to talk... Microsoft, of course. While the company is still being rather coy about Windows 7 -- some have blamed loose lips early on in Vista development for saddling the OS with too high of expectations and making things difficult for developers -- they were nice enough to show off what Ballmer called "the smallest snippet" of Windows 7. The big reveal was multi-touch support, which utilizes technology developed by the Surface team. The taskbar seems to have been reworked a bit, and the demo was running live on a Dell Latitude XT tablet. Apparently Microsoft is reworking the whole user interface with a multitouch experience in mind. Steve reiterated the "three years after Vista" mantra for availability. Not exactly earth-shattering, but we'll take what we can get at this point.

Video: Multi-Touch in Windows 7

Sellgino shows off GS-200 GPS Photo Tour geotagger

Geotagging devices are cropping up at a pretty steady pace these days, and it looks like you can now add one more company to the bandwagon, with Sellgino now showing off its GS-200 GPS Photo Tour device. Like other similar options out there, this one relies on your photo's EXIF data to match 'em up with the locations logged by the GPS receiver (a SiRF Star III, in this case), with some software provided to merge all that data together and plot out your travels on Google Maps. Somewhat more uniquely, this one will also double as a USB handset for VoIP calls (hence the design), and it can apparently be used as an external USB drive, though it's not clear how much storage space it packs. No word on a price or release date either, unfortunately.

SATA HDD dock becomes mutant card reader, scares pets

We're big fans of SATA HDD docks that let you quickly access whole drives like noisy, overgrown memory sticks. An earlier unit offered just USB connectivity to your Mac or PC, later adding eSATA before rounding out its options with FireWire. Now we have a new model that still accepts bare 2.5- and 3.5-inch disks on top, but ditches the FireWire connectivity on the back in exchange for a card reader and two-port USB hub on the front -- perfect for plugging in storage of the smaller and quieter variety.

VIA, a HP partner, has introduced a new OpenBook Mini-Note reference design with several new wireless connectivity options and an even lighter design.

VIA Technologies today introduced the new VIA OpenBook mini-note reference design targeted at the global market for ultra-portable notebooks. The VIA OpenBook builds on the VIA NanoBook reference design launched last year.

The VIA OpenBook mini-note reference design introduces a host of new innovations, including the next generation of VIA Ultra Mobile Platform, based on the VIA C7-M ULV processor and the new all-in-one VIA XV800 digital media IGP chipset. Together, the ultra compact and power efficient platform is claimed to deliver richer computing and multimedia features, including a 8.9" screen (1024 x 600 pixels resolution), VIA Chrome DirectX 9.0 3D graphics, video acceleration for MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9, VC1 and DivX video formats, a VMR capable HD video processor and 8-channel HD audio.

The VIA OpenBook features a flexible internal interface for high-speed broadband wireless connectivity that provides customers with the ability to select from a choice of WiMAX, HSDPA and EV-DO/W-CDMA modules appropriate to their market. Additional connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and AGPS. In addition, under a unique collaboration approach, the CAD files of the external panels of the reference design are offered for download under a Create Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 license to give customers such as OEMs, system integrator, and broadband service providers greater freedom in tailoring the look and feel of their device.

Measuring 1.43 by 9.46 by 6.9 inches and weighing 2.2 pounds, the VIA OpenBook supports a wide range of operating system environments such as Microsoft Windows Vista Basic, Windows XP and various Linux distributions. The device features up to 2GB DDR2 DRAM and can be equipped with a choice of hard disk drive and solid state storage options. The VIA OpenBook also comes with three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port, audio-in/audio-out jacks as well as a 4-in-1 card reader (SD/SDIO/MMC/MS) and a 2-megapixel dual-headed web camera.

Check out our hands-on impressions of the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC (powered by VIA technology and offers similar physical measurements) to get an idea of how one of these new Mini-Note ultraportables would look like.

Cellphone Cameras to Go to 8 Megapixels with Ominvision's BSI Sensor?

Omnivision is already the the largest supplier of CMOS image sensors in the world, and now its new OmniBSITM chip design promises the world's first consumer 8 megapixel cellphone camera. The new chip uses a technique that's been around for a while, called backside illumination, that allows more light to reach each pixel. And that allows the chip to use a small 1.4-micron pixel that's better than current larger versions.

Normal CMOS sensors use "front side" illumination: incoming light travels through many shallow layers of electronics before hitting the sensor pixels themselves. Backside illumination simply turns all that the other way up, so that incoming photons don't have to journey through interfering layers before they hit the pixels. That means less get lost along the way, meaning the pixels are more sensitive to light, and can be made smaller for the same responsiveness.

Omnivision is busy testing an 8-megapixel camera sensor, and is ready to start shipping sample products out before the end of June. And that should mean that at some point in the future cellphones with 8-megapixel sensors will be available.

Microsoft's LaserTouch prototype brings hand control to any display

We'll go ahead and get this out of the way: the fantastic product you're about to hear more on has "no plans" to go commercial. Now that we've thoroughly killed your buzz, let us introduce to you the LaserTouch. Said device is a prototype that recently emerged from Microsoft Research's labs, which essentially allows people to retrofit any display (monitor, projector, etc.) so that they can use their own hands to control the on-screen action. According to Andy Wilson, who played a vital role in the unit's creation, an infrared camera is used to track how a person touches the screen, while software that he developed handles the majority of the magic. Too bad this could totally undercut Surface sales, right?

Nokia "definitely" preparing Linux-based phones, flavor unknown

by Chris Ziegler, posted May 20th 2008 at 3:42PM

With Nokia's dedication to Maemo and the recent Trolltech acquisition, it's no secret that Espoo has its eyes firmly locked on the Linux prize -- but outside the whole Internet Tablet phenomenon, there hasn't been a lot of product to show for it. Looks like that's all about to change, with CFO Rick Simonson commenting this week that the company will "definitely" be releasing some Linux-based cellphones in the future, marking a pretty big move for a company with strong tradition in its long-lived Series 40 dumbphone and S60 smartphone platforms. Simonson refused to get into the nitty gritty details about what flavor of mobile Linux would be used; borrowing from its tablets might make sense, but the Android and LiMo juggernauts seem like they're going to be pretty hard to ignore as well -- not to mention that Google is said to have chatted briefly about Android with Nokia in the not-too-distant past. So what does this all mean? Is S60 Touch in danger here?

[Via Thumb Report]

Update: A closer look-see at Reuters' report (ignoring the misleading headline) indicates that Nokia has not specifically committed to rolling out Linux on phones -- rather, it has simply said that it intends to expand its use of Linux across its product portfolio. We figure that handsets are bound to get swept into the mix at some point, but technically, we could just be looking at other kinds of devices. Always room for another Internet Tablet or three, we suppose. Thanks, Eric!

Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV Is Way Better Than Cable or Satellite

Microsoft's Mediaroom is the company's IPTV solution that brings TV into to your house (much like cable and satellite) over the internets. You might be familiar with it in its commercially released service forms such as AT&T U-Verse here in the US or BT Fusion in the UK. The features out now—quick channel changing, multiple channel records simultaneously without a hardware (CableCard) limit, multi-room viewing, multiple picture-in-picture—are pretty fantastic, but we had a visit with Microsoft earlier this week and learned that what's coming soon is even better.

First, let's go over the features that Mediaroom offers now. With a simple set-top-box, you can grab high quality HDTV that's better quality (seeing as Comcast has been compressing their HDTV shows like mad) than what you'd otherwise get on cable. If you've got two set-top-boxes, you can stream shows off of each other so you don't have to record a program twice to be able to watch it in your living room and bedroom. You can even watch the same TV broadcast or recorded shows on your Windows PC or Xbox 360, a feature that's been announced since CES by Microsoft, but is up to the actual service provider (AT&T, BT) to roll out. In AT&T's case, it won't be available until the second-half of 2008.

This leads us to the new feature Microsoft showed off: Applications. Since IPTV is a two-way street, your Mediaroom set-top-boxes are able to pull down information from the net, leading to very interesting interactive programs that people can code up for shows.

Full-Screen Multitouch Mac OS X Is Here (But Not from Apple)

It's not from Apple, but it gives a pretty good idea of what to expect from them, specially knowing that only one guy—Christian Moore—got this system running at full speed on a simple Intel-based MacBook. His Lux free open framework enables true multitouch interaction in Mac OS X. In fact, he says it can work under any platform and even a web browser, enabling complex user interfaces and object manipulation comparable to Jeff Han's magic walls or Microsoft Surface anywhere. We talked with Moore about how it works and what to expect from it.
Jesus Diaz: Tell me more about Lux. This is a framework that anybody can use, right? Under any platform?
Christian Moore: Well, yeah, is an opensource framework I've been working on for experimenting with user interfaces. It's more a general framework than targeting one main deployment platform. That video is actually all AS3 running in Flash 9 over Mac OS X, but you can integrate it with any development system and platform.

JD: Why Flash?
CM: Because it's fast to prototype in. However, the software is broken into several segments. One C++ application that tracks hands that talks to Flash... WPF... or another C++ app... and basically everything you can imagine. You can enable multitouch in any environment, like Cocoa.

JD: So anyone can grab the framework and make native multitouch apps right in Mac OS X or Windows or Linux.
CM: Yeah. We have an Xcode-developed app for photo and paint coming, as well as a tracking application. But using Flash for this demo was the fastest way for us at the moment.

JD: How many people did this?
CM: I did the core system, but four people from the NUI Group contributed demos.

JD: What machine is running the demo in the video? Looks amazingly fast.
CM: Just a MacBook.

JD: And for the multitouch screen?
CM: I use a ~box from naturalui. It's ghetto tech, I know, but I developed the majority of Lux on a cardboard box. And it works great.

You can watch the video

Microsoft intros the TouchWall -- maps will never be the same again

If you've been watching CNN's election coverage lately (and we think you have), then you've probably seen anchor John King tripping the light fantastic on the channel's Magic Wall touchscreen. Apparently, Microsoft has come up with its own version of the board -- essentially a Surface flipped on its side and mounted. The device, known as the TouchWall, joins a handful of finger-friendly prototypes that Microsoft Research is working on (including a spherical unit we assume will be used strictly for world domination campaigns). The 4-foot-by-6-foot "wall" uses inexpensive infrared sensors and a rear-mounted camera -- which can be added to a variety of surfaces -- in order to create the hands-on experience. The company appears to be targeting this as a low cost "intelligent whiteboard" solution, so hopefully they'll be turning up in schools, small businesses, and the Engadget offices soon. Check the video after the break to see it all in action.

Google Maps Adds Wikipedia Articles, Geotagged Photos, Real Estate Listings

Google Maps has just added even more information for your geographical perusal, including the option to place links to Wikipedia articles and geotagged photos from Panoramio on top of your maps. It's a cool way to see shots of areas taken with a more artful eye than the Street View vans as well as check out info written by strangers and verified by nobody of authority. It's also added real estate listings, which you can turn on under the "search options" link. The future is now

Intel Germany CEO Spills on Atom-Based Mini-Tablet iPhone

Through the fabulously true-to-life magic of machine translation comes word from that Intel Germany CEO Hannes Schwaderer has confirmed an upcoming, larger (more tablet-y?) "version of the iPhone" based on Intel's Atom platform. Supposedly, the beefier unit size isn't due to the Atom chipset, but to the previously rumored bigger 720x480 display.

This adds to past rumors of a mystery Apple device making use of Atom, though Schwaderer's supposed semantic choice calling it a "version of the iPhone" seems odd, given that Atom is designed more for UMPCs than traditional mobile devices. Also, too much bigger and it's not much of a phone-sized gadget anymore—more like a mini-tablet or as Jesus has called this particular phantasm, the Son of Newton. As always, we'll believe it when see it.

Fujitsu Handy Drive now does 400GB

Fujitsu's long-running and questionably-named Handy Drive line of external drives got a bump today with the Handy Drive 400. As you may imagine, the 400 packs 400GB of storage on a 4200rpm platter and connects via USB 2.0. The entire, sleek case measures just 82 x 141.5 x 22mm and weighs in at 230g. It's available in Japan -- US release and pricing surely to come.