Thursday, July 9, 2009

Microsoft Origami 2.0

This was originally posted to the Ultimate Ultra-Mobile PC blog:

Microsoft Origami comes preinstalled on a lot of Ultra Mobile PCs including my Samsung Q1U-V. Unfortunately however it came pre-installed with the prior version 1.0, so I downloaded the latest version from Microsoft here.
  • To install this program, remove the Microsoft Origami Experience 1.0 from the Add/Remove or Program and Features section of the Control Panel.

  • From there, run the installer that you downloaded from Microsoft.
The Microsoft Origami Experience 2.0 is a touch orientated user interface designed to enhance the users interaction with an Ultra Mobile. It has four major areas:

  • Origami Central
  • Origami Now
  • Picture Password
  • Touch Settings
Let me first talk about my favorite (and coolest) feature the Picture Password. The reason this is my favorite feature of Origami 2.0 is because it has the most appropriate use in a Touch Screen environment. If you are using an UMPC you probably don't have much of a keyboard and if you have an Samsung Q1, the keyboard you have is small. So this feature makes entering your password incredibly easy and fun. See below:

For this to work, you tap a series of pictures that will unlock your device instead of typing a password.

The Touchscreen Settings are in Origami make it easier for the user to integrate touch screen capabilities into Windows Vista. This feature is nothing special but it does offer some customization, which with Windows is a huge plus.

Origami Central is basically a landing page that gives you access to media, internet and programs with the touch of a finger - almost exactly in a Windows Media Center type screen. See below:

This is a screen capture of the Internet tab. It looks nice here, but when displayed on a screen that is 1024 x 768 the images are a bit pixelated making it look a bit cheap. When you click on the Browser icon, it launches Microsoft Internet Explorer inside the Origami Experience and after a few uses I found to be a bit more clumsy to do with your finger than with the mouse feature built into the Q1.

Perhaps I'm used to browsing the web with a mouse or just in Windows and using my finger to scroll, but my take away was this interface didn't really enhance my experience. The Feeds Menu is a graphical list of feeds in boxes that you can click on. Again it didn't really enhance my UMPC experience.

I was most perplexed / upset with Origami Now which gives you a display of information in large graphical "gadgets". You can add a clock or notepad or rss feeds or calendar to this display and move them around until your comfortable. However none of these features was truly revolutionary (I can add all that stuff to my sidebar) and they all require that it sync with Microsoft Outlook. I use Outlook for everything, but because Origami needs that information when it starts, it automatically starts Outlook when the computer boots up, which makes me close it out when I start using Windows.

Origami Now didn't offer anything of value to my UMPC touch screen experience. In the end it was all duplicate features. I felt the same way with Origami Central. Why not combine all that stuff into Windows Media Center? Afterall you can only run Origami on Windows Vista and I hate hate hate having duplicate features or software. That's exactly why I removed the Samsung AV Software. Origami also seemed to crash quite a bit (buggy MS software) and that's just annoying.

In the end Microsoft Origami Experience 2.0 offers a lot of redudant features that don't enhance the users experience of Windows or it's possible touch screen capabilities. The picture password is the best feature it installs and I can only hope the next version (if there is a next version) adds far more value or integrates into Windows much better!

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