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Microsoft unveils Origami ultramobile-PC initiative


LOS ANGELES (XFN-ASIA) -- Microsoft Corp. on Thursday revealed details of a
much-anticipated initiative to put ultramobile personal computers into users'
hands, unveiling new, lightweight wireless gadgets running on a fully functional
version of its Windows operating system.
Microsoft showcased the devices, about the size of a large paperback book,
at the CeBIT technology gathering under way in Hanover, Germany. The
announcement followed weeks of mounting speculation and a cryptic marketing
campaign surrounding the product developed under the code-name Origami.
The company said the ultramobile devices, powered by processors from Intel
Corp. , will be available starting in the second quarter from hardware makers
like Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. They are expected to range in price from
$599 to $999, according to Microsoft.
While versions of the device will vary by manufacturer, the ultramobile PCs
are expected to weigh under two pounds and come with a 7-inch touch screen that
offers several methods of inputting information.
The initiative represents Microsoft's latest attempt to make inroads into
the lucrative market for handheld devices and will likely provide it with an
additional outlet for selling its software.
The company's shares edged higher in the wake of the news, picking up 7
cents to $27.32. The stock has ranged in price from $23.82 to $28.38 over the
past 52 weeks.
Microsoft easily dominates the worldwide market for the software used to
power PCs as well as for some key applications, yet its earlier efforts in the
handheld market have met with mixed success.
Commenting on the new devices ahead of official details on the launch, RNC
Genter Capital Management Chief Executive Dan Genter said: "It's probably not
going to be something that's revolutionary enough ... to be a significant change
with regards to additional revenue."
The news also comes as Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft prepares to launch the
next version of its flagship Windows, called Vista, later this year.
Some analysts have predicted that the software update will boost sales of
the firm's most important product.
Genter stressed the importance of the upcoming Vista launch. Other
initiatives like Origami are interesting, yet not as critical to Microsoft's
bottom line, he commented.
"We think that a lot of their future is really going to be hinged on Vista,"
Genter said. His firm, which owns Microsoft shares, manages some $2 billion in
assets for both institutional clients and high net-worth individuals.
Genter sees the stock as "somewhat of a weak buy" at current levels and said
that shares would be fully valued at about $39 each under the "best of all
A price of around $22 a share for Microsoft would represent a "really nice
buy point," and its basic value would put its worth at around $31 a share, he
Vista will drive a significant and important replacement cycle among
computer users, which will be "very, very critical as these older products
really get to have a lot more dust on them," according to Genter.
"Vista is just pivotal; it really gives them one of the first really
promising new products that they've had in quite some time."
Although representatives for the software giant remained tight-lipped ahead
of the Thursday's launch, many industry watchers expected the device would be
aimed at the same market as Apple Computer Inc.'s popular iPod line of music
A cryptic Web site, run by Microsoft, heralded a product that "can change
your life," but offered no concrete product details before the launch, as part
of an apparent marketing campaign designed to generate buzz about the product.
The Web site has been updated to include images on the new ultramobile devices.
Analysts and others have been looking to a slate of new products in
Microsoft's pipeline to help buoy its shares, which have remained relatively
flat over the past several years.
Early last week, Microsoft said that it was on track to release Vista, its
latest operating-system incarnation, in six different variations in the second
half of the year. The release will put the software, a cash cow for the company,
on the market in time for the important holiday season.
This story was supplied by MarketWatch. For further information see
For more information and to contact AFX: www.afxnews.com and www.afxpress.com
-0- Mar/09/2006 17:15 GMT
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