Microsoft to unveil Origami, the portable PC

Microsoft is about to unveil the world’s first “handtop computer” that will allow consumers to make free voice and data calls while on the move.

For years, IT giants such as Intel have dreamed about developing a device that could fill the gap between a high-end mobile phone and a laptop computer.

Extensive market research shows that business users require a device that is less bulky than a laptop but still a serious PC, according to an Intel source.

Codenamed the Origami Project, the world’s largest software maker said the final trailer for its next generation of portable computers would be revealed on Thursday.

Rumours about the gadget’s capabilities have reached fever pitch since the teaser clips were posted on a Microsoft-registered website last month.

Speaking yesterday a company spokesman refused to be drawn on the real purpose of the much-anticipated portables. The spokesman said, “As promised on the website, we are offering a few more details today about the Origami, including that it is a new category of mobile PCs that will run Windows XP.

“We’re excited to share more information with you on 9 March.”

In a recent posting, Jason Scobleizer, the unofficial Microsoft blogger, questioned why his readers were e-mailing about a project he knew nothing about.

He subsequently added, “I do know that Origami is the code-name for a new kind of device.”

The delay in producing a fully-fledged handtop PC running Windows has been caused by the technical challenge of creating a lightweight compact device energy-efficient enough to run applications such as spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and open large e-mail attachments without constant recharging. Intel and its manufacturing partners refer to this type of product as an ultra mobile PC (UMPC).

The new Microsoft business software application Office will carry Internet voice software (VoIP) that will enable users to make free voice calls.