Wikipedia UMPC page and Microsoft’s UMPC/ULCPC definition

Posted on 15 May 2008, Last updated on 15 May 2008 by

I suppose as someone who is somewhat well versed in the ultra mobile PC area, I should have taken a look at the Wikipedia page for UMPCs, but I’ll be honest I hadn’t until a few days ago. I found something rather surprising whwikipedia umpc warningen I took a look at the page and it made me chuckle a bit.

As you can see in the image above, there are several warnings about the article placed at the top of the page. The first one states:

This article or section appears to contradict itself. Please help fix this problem.

I’ve never seen this warning on a Wikipedia article before and feel like this really says something important about the current state of UMPCs and the ultra mobile PC definition. Back in the early days, Microsoft created their own definition of a new class of PC which went by the name ‘Origami’. This is rather confusing because Origami turned into the touch screen software developed by Microsoft, and stopped being used as a term to define the group of devices. ultra mobile PC became the de facto term, partly because OEMs were not creating machines that fit Microsoft’s definition of an ‘Origami’ device. For example, the VAIO UX line which featured a 1024×600 resolution screen, was not considered by Microsoft to be a ultra mobile PC because it’s screen resolution was higher than the 800×480 that Microsoft had specified, even though it was smaller than many of the other UMPCs. For this reason, the Origami touchscreen software did not come included on the VAIO UX series of UMPCs.

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Now news has spread that Microsoft is allowing Ultra Low Cost PC OEMs to install XP on ULCPCs at a discounted price. But again Microsoft is taking it upon themselves to try to define what a ULCPC is, and they are telling OEMs that a ULCPC cannot have a touchscreen, or they will not receive any discounts for putting XP on their computers like a true (according to MS) ULCPC OEM would. It makes sense that MS would make incentives for ULCPC makers to keep prices of the hardware down, but why limit it to a specific piece of hardware and not a price. What happens when it can be cost effective for a ULCPC OEM to include a touchscreen on one of their computers? Even though the hardware may be cheap enough to keep the computer in the ULCPC price range, they would forgo the touchscreen so they can install XP as the base OS at a discounted price.

Does anyone notice a pattern here? Imagine the touchscreen of a computer as the 1024×600 screen of the VAIO UX. Now also imagine the XP discount offered to OEMs as the Origami software. Even though a ULCPC might meet price and all other requirements, just because it includes a touchscreen, it will not be afforded the same XP discount from MS, just as the VAIO UX didn’t include the Origami software because it didn’t fit Microsoft’s limiting definition of a UMPC.

Well a bit of a tangent there, but what I am trying to get at is that Microsoft needs to realize that setting hardware limits to classes of devices is counterproductive. I don’t quite see what Microsoft hopes to accomplish by trying to issue a set list of specifications that ‘make’ a UMPC, a UMPC. In the past the only thing this has done is limited certain devices from receiving benefits, blurred the definition of UMPCs, confused many people, and potentially scared away would-be ultra mobile PC users.

The community needs to reclaim control using open sources such as Wikipedia. So what do you say we all take a stroll over in that direction and clean the page up to reflect our views as a community, and to help others who may be trying to learn about ultra mobile PC products.

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