MS Surface gets a service pack, and grows more useful, reliable

May 11, 2009 by Dave Haynes

Tech blog CrunchGear has a nice post up this morning about a service pack release of the Microsoft Surface multi-touch platform. There are some new features, but what I liked was a developer tool that stress-tests the application by emulating a bunch of crazy interactions all at once – the notion being that before these sorts of things go into retail and other environments, it’s pretty certain they can handle whatever the public throws at them.

I fiddled with a Surface table at a bar in Las Vegas a few months ago and found it was pretty easy to confuse the hell out of the thing, and lock it up – so a service pack upgrade and QA tools make a buncha sense.

CrunchGear also notes that Surface appears to be getting real attention from Microsoft and is becoming more than a sexy lab and niche product. “In more prosaic developments, but no less important ones, Surface is now supported by Microsoft Update — and from my talk with them, it seemed like this is just one of many steps they’re taking to really tie in the Surface to other Windows and Microsoft services and APIs. For instance, they’re working hard to make XNA play well with Surface, and it sounds like the Surface team is going to be instrumental in establishing a set of standardized gestures and motion controls for Surface, Windows 7, and Windows Mobile 7. That’s pretty key, and the Surface team has done a huge amount of research into touch and gesture usability, so they’re the right guys for the job. WPF controls and libraries are also being integrated, so more traditional interfaces can be easily adapted to not be immediately broken by being clicked on in 20 different places at once.”

A lot of the multi-touch stuff out there is more razzle-dazzle than actual real-world usefulness, but if software’s Goliath starts taking this stuff seriously, and makes it stable (as much as Windows will be stable), then I can see a lot retail DS apps starting to leverage this sort of thing. 

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