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July 24, 2008 2:29 PM

Microsoft's Mundie on the Next Big Thing after search

Posted by Brier Dudley

Speaking to analysts today, Microsoft Chief Research & Strategy Officer Craig Mundie shared a little secret: The next big thing in computing, after search.

In his words:

"An environment where space is the new frontier -- spatial environments where you interact with computers is going to be a big, big, deal," he said.

Mundie said this will "allow us to move the people who already use computers into a completely different metaphor of engaging with them."

It will also make it easier for the 5 billion people who haven't used computers yet to get engaged.

The Surface computing table is an early step in this direction. Another is the robotic receptionists coming to Microsoft's campus. They use facial and voice recognition to help employees request shuttles.

In other words, computers that operate all around you in 3-D, using projectors, microphones and sensors instead of mice and keyboards.

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.