Microsoft's forays into hardware have been, well, mixed. Ok, it sells a lot of keyboards and mice, made by Logitech and wearing a Microsoft logo. Surface and PixelSense, the previous product known as Surface, have not done so well.
There is, however, a new target for Redmond: giant screen displays. Stephen Elop, Microsoft's executive vice president of devices, said at Microsoft's Australian Partner Conference that Microsoft was gearing up to mass produce large screen displays, according to an Australian publication.
Elop was referring to products from a company called Perceptive Pixel, which Microsoft acquired for an undisclosed sum in 2012. PPI started in 2006 and is based in Oregon. It makes 55-inch and 82-inch giant touch-enabled displays. Since then, the company has been very quiet, not disclosing any plans.
PPI displays are not cheap; the 82-inch version sells for $80,000. The 55-inch is a little less obscene, only $7,500. Elop said they were looking at mass producing the panels to get the price down. Right now the panels are made in Wilsonville, Oregon, but if Microsoft is looking for cheap, mass production, that only means one thing.
PPI is part of the Devices team, which Elop runs, but other groups also work with PPI as well. What exactly Microsoft intends to do is not clear, though. Steve Ballmer liked using PPI displays for demos, but they will likely be used for more than that. Since the Office and OS teams work with Devices, there's a good chance Microsoft is enabling its OS and apps for deep integration with the displays.
Hopefully they can make at least this a success.