The Surface machines measure 30 inches, or 2 and a half feet wide.

Users will soon be able to interact with Surface machines via touch at select AT&T stores
A cool new toy is coming to select AT&T stores in the new future, courtesy of Microsoft

Surface technology -- computer touch screens that can detect gestures -- is no longer science fiction.  Its found in an albeit crude form in devices such as the iPhone and the newest Zune.  However, Microsoft has even bigger plans to deploy new surface technologies

Microsoft, which believes the technology will be as game-changing as the mouse unveiled its "Surface" computer last year.  The impressive computer was able scan barcodes, move onscreen objects with tactile finger gestures, and respond to multiple simultaneous inputs, ie. multiple people touching its surface with more than on finger.  Microsoft plans on such tactile technologies to be key part of its upcoming Windows 7 operating system, the successor to Vista set to launch in 2010.

Now Microsoft has entered into a joint venture with AT&T to flaunt the promise of its new Microsoft Surface machines.  Microsoft will deploy, starting April 17, Microsoft Surface PCs to select AT&T stores, in locations including New York City, Atlanta, San Antonio and San Francisco.  Based on the level of success and lessons learned from the initial deployment, Microsoft and AT&T say they may choose to expand the deployment to all of AT&T’s 2,200 U.S. retail stores.

The new 30 inch displays, installed in stores will allow users to interact in a unique way to learn more about products.  Users will be able to control the machines via touch, gestures and placement of devices on the display.  Customers will be able to drag phone profiles side-by-side for a unique comparison.  They will be able to navigate by-hand through coverage maps to determine how well there locales are covered.   Additionally customers will be able to transport content into their phone by "dragging" ring tones, graphics, video and more and "dropping" it, all via tactile feedback, into a representation of their phone. 

AT&T is working with Microsoft to expand on these basic possibilities.  Says Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility, "We are thrilled to bring this groundbreaking new technology to our stores so we can introduce customers to their mobile worlds in a very personal and easy way.  We look forward to working with Microsoft to continue developing new ways for our customers to learn about the ever-growing lineup of mobile devices and applications."

Microsoft is excited at the chance to give their device a real world beta test, and hopes other companies will follow in suit and adopt the unique device.  Robbie Bach, president, Entertainment & Devices Division, Microsoft states, "Microsoft Surface transforms the retail environment from a transaction destination to a customer engagement destination.  With innovative and intuitive ways of accessing information and digital content on Microsoft Surface, consumers now have an entirely new, unique and personalized shopping experience. We’re excited to have AT&T bring this to life and be the first company showcasing Surface in its retail locations."

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