Flops and vapor: 10 ways Microsoft tried and failed to rule mobile

Take a tour through Microsoft's forgettable, regrettable mobile OS history

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Ultra-mobile PCs

Typing is a joy

Picture courtesy viagallery.com

In 2006, the Web trembled with anticipation, stoked by viral marketing, of a new product from Microsoft, dubbed "Project Origami." Although initial rumors were that this was some kind of gaming device that would compete with the PlayStation Portable, in fact it turned out to be an attempt to build PDA-sized gadgets that could run full-on versions of Windows. Real shipping products began appearing by the end of the year; at CES 2007, Bill Gates in his keynote presented the Oqo model 02, which was certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's smallest fully functional computer.

But consumer enthusiasm didn't follow the initial splash. UMPCs tended to be underpowered and overpriced, and, as the image above shows, their keyboard arrangements bordered on the bizarre. Oqo, the company that was perhaps most closely identified with the trend, went out of business in early 2009.

But just as one small part of the dinosaur family -- the birds -- flourished and lived on, so too is the legacy of the UMPC still with us. One of the models launched during the early stages of the UMPC experiment was a more conventional looking if tiny notebook from Asus. Called the EEE PC, it's widely regarded today as the ultimate progenitor of the wildly popular netbook.

See also: Businesses That Dumped Microsoft ... and Won

Next page: Future vapor: Project Courier and Project Pink

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