HANNOVER, Germany, March 2 /PRNewswire/ --

- Growing network of partners develop innovative new experiences for Microsoft Surface.

Today at CeBIT, Microsoft Corp announced expanded commercial availability of Microsoft Surface to 12 select markets in EMEA and has broadened its developer partner ecosystem to support those additional markets with local, relevant content. Previously available for purchase by companies in the US and Canada, Microsoft Surface is now also available in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Qatar, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and the UK.

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Microsoft Surface, the first commercially available surface computer from Microsoft, is a revolutionary surface computing platform that responds to natural hand gestures and to the placement of real-world objects on the display. With a large, 360-degree, horizontal user interface, Microsoft Surface creates a unique gathering place where multiple users can collaboratively and simultaneously interact with information, content and physical objects, communicating with each other in a way that feels familiar, just like in the real world. In addition, Microsoft Surface enables companies to attract and convert new customers as well as cross-sell products and services, drive customer loyalty, and achieve operating efficiencies.

Since our initial launch of Microsoft Surface, we've received an overwhelming response from companies worldwide that are looking for innovative ways to engage with their customers and developers who want to create applications that were not possible with other technologies, said Panos Panay, general manager of Microsoft Surface. We're excited to be entering into these new markets with partners who have already begun exploring many possibilities of Microsoft Surface locally.

Growing Partner Ecosystem

Microsoft Surface is at the forefront of the evolution to the Natural User Interface (NUI), a new and intuitive way to interact with technology that uses touch and hand gestures. With Microsoft Surface, users have an entirely new way to interact with digital content, while businesses are able to gain operational efficiencies and have new ways to connect with their customers. As content and applications provide the real context of the Microsoft Surface experience, developers are a critical component to enabling unique scenarios. In addition, a robust partner ecosystem will provide businesses with a wide variety of new Microsoft Surface applications and compelling solutions specific to their needs.

The Microsoft Surface partner programme has expanded to include more than 120 partners from 11 countries, developing applications that use the unique attributes of surface computing. Following is a list of select partners based in and/or supporting these new markets and examples of applications developed:

- Avanade is a global IT consultancy dedicated to using the Microsoft platform to help enterprises achieve profitable growth. Avanade has developed several solutions for Microsoft Surface, primarily for enterprise customers in the retail, consumer goods and finance sectors. Accenture and Avanade have developed a Microsoft Surface wealth management application for use in financial planning, providing users with tailored retail banking services, estate planning and investment management. - EMC Corporation is a global provider of information infrastructure technology and solutions. EMC Consulting helps organizations create innovative user experiences and designs to transform information into consumable and personalized views. With expertise in retail, finance, entertainment and utilities, EMC Consulting is developing applications for Microsoft Surface that include an enterprise search-enabled FAST application that transforms search into an efficient, effective and enjoyable search tool. - Infusion Development is a Microsoft Surface reseller that provides end-to-end solutions for clients in financial services, retail, healthcare and government industries. Infusion develops and supports Microsoft Surface applications that integrate with key Microsoft products and business systems including an application that allows users to navigate real-time, 3-D data using Microsoft Virtual Earth, zooming in and exploring a variety of information. - InterKnowlogy is developing solutions for healthcare, travel and tourism, government services, and manufacturing industries. One of the many applications developed by InterKnowlogy is a medical application that allows doctors and patients to review surgery and procedures collaboratively, exploring 3-D images with their hands and gestures. - IntuiLab is developing solutions for Microsoft Surface for a wide variety of industries including public sector, retail, banking and media. IntuiLab is demonstrating an innovative banking application for Microsoft Surface that will provide customers with an entirely new, Collaborative banking experience. - Razorfish, a digital marketing agency network, is developing applications for the automotive, financial service and telecommunication sectors. Razorfish is represented by the agencies Neue Digitale / Razorfish in Germany, WYSIWYG in Spain, Duke in France and Razorfish in Great Britain. Applications include providing banking customers with instant access to product information and features that can be explored on their own or collaboratively with bank employees. - Sariamo is designing applications for the automotive, retail, broadcasting and tourism industries, transforming the experience of taking a cruise from booking to bon voyage. Customers will be able to use Sariamo's application for Microsoft Surface to explore and compare cruise options before making their purchase; while on board, cruise guests will be able to explore areas of the ship and plan activities. - Telefonica I+D is working on the development of Microsoft Surface applications for the retail, banking, digital signage, leisure and entertainment sectors. The Telefonica flagship store in Madrid features a Microsoft Surface application that provides customers with a personalised shopping experience, enabling them to access information about multiple mobile devices by simply placing them on the display. - T-Systems Multimedia Solutions is combining Microsoft Surface with modern information and communication technologies to provide content and services. Hotel guests will be able to use T-Systems Multimedia Solutions' application to plan their day without leaving the hotel lobby, putting the attractions of the city they are visiting at their fingertips. - Vectorform is a global partner developing NUI interactive experiences on Microsoft Surface for multiple industries, including automotive, education, hospitality, financial services and entertainment. Vectorform has developed a wide range of applications, including one that enabled on-air TV personalities to analyse this year's US presidential election - viewing maps, exploring trends and examining voting patterns, all with the flick of a finger.

What Makes Surface Computing Unique?

Surface computing is a major advancement that moves beyond the traditional user interface to a more natural way of interacting with information. It features four key attributes:

- Multi-user. The horizontal form factor makes it easy for several people to gather round surface computing devices together, providing a collaborative, face-to-face computing and information-sharing experience. - Direct interaction. Users can actually grab digital information with their hands, interacting with content by touch and gesture, without the use of a mouse or keyboard. - Multi-touch. Surface computing recognises many points of contact simultaneously, not just from one finger as with a typical touch screen, but up to dozens of items at once. - Object recognition. Users can place physical objects on the surface to trigger different types of digital responses; in the future this will include the ability to transfer digital content.

Microsoft Surface at CeBIT

This week at the CeBIT conference, Microsoft will be showcasing innovative solutions from the Microsoft Surface developer partners above. A customer event will take place on Wednesday, March 4, at 10.30am and 2pm, at which attendees will be able to learn about Microsoft Surface and engage with select partners in person. For those not attending CeBIT, a video showcase of innovative work by some of the partners will be available at http://www.surface.com.

About Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface brings to life a whole new way to interact with information that engages the senses, improves collaboration and empowers consumers. By utilising the best combination of connected software, services and hardware, Microsoft is at the forefront of developing surface computing products that push computing boundaries, deliver new experiences that break down barriers between users and technology, and provide new opportunities for companies to engage with people. More information can be found at http://www.surface.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft: (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

About Microsoft EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa)

Microsoft has operated in EMEA since 1982. In the region Microsoft employs more than 16,000 people in over 64 subsidiaries, delivering products and services in more than 139 countries and territories.

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