Wednesday, May 07, 2003

WinHEC 2003: Microsoft, HP Unveil Athens PC

WinHEC 2003: Microsoft, HP Unveil Athens PC "During a demo of the Athens PC prototype at the Gates keynote, Chad Magendanz, Lead Program Manager of the Hardware Innovation Group at Microsoft, discussed the various hardware/software features that make this solution so compelling. A 20" version of Athens' 23" widescreen display, he said, might cost several thousand dollars now, but in mid-2004 it will retail for less than $400. The display features a mount for the Bluetooth handset, side-mounted ports, and three lights on the top that alert the user when they have new voicemail or email, or a pending meeting. Similarly, the keyboard features buttons to launch software features like voicemail.
Based on Longhorn, the Athens PC comes out of standby within 2 seconds, and uses a USB flash card with security hardware and a thumbprint reader for user authentication. When you pick up the phone handset, software launches to show you Outlook contacts lists and Messenger changes your presence information to "on the phone." When you do make a call, Athens does a reverse lookup on the person you called, providing you with a list of the email and voicemail you've exchanged with that person, the documents you've collaborated on, and notes from previous meetings. "This functionality makes you more effective on the phone," Magendanz noted. Likewise, you can perform the electronic equivalent of closing your office door by marking your presence information as "do not disturb." In this setting, incoming calls will be routed to voicemall automatically, so that your workflow won't be interrupted. You can also answer voice messages via email with a voice-based reply. "With Athens, voice is a first-class citizen," Magendanz said."

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