In 2007, Microsoft wanted to stimulate the use of pocket computers, also called UMPCs or Micro PCs. However, the main issue with these little computers was their poor usability. Most Windows applications were designed to be used on a large monitor and with a keyboard and mouse, rather than on a tiny screen and with a stylus.
To make the UMPC devices more usable, Microsoft released Origami Experience for Windows Vista in early 2007.
What is it?
Origami Experience contains 3 utilities: Origami Now, Origami Central and Picture Password
Origami Now can be seen as a launcher which is optimized for touch screens. It contains links and widgets to the most important information , such as your calendar, notes, weather information and feeds. The best comparison would be a Android homescreen filled up with widgets and some app shortcuts.
Origami Central contains a full-featured Web browser and media player which are bothoptimized for touch screens. The browser was good back in its days, but is no longer usable as it is based on Internet Explorer 7, which is completely obsolete by 2020’s standards. The media player supports music, pictures and movies and can browse through various folders containing media files. For pictures, it can also play slideshows which look really cool.
Picture password is a handy utility to make logging in more easily, especially if your UMPC does not have a fingerprint scanner. You basically choose a picture, tap on various elements in a specified order and that is your password.
During its short life, only two versions of Origami were ever made available. The project was likely discontinued in 2009 with the release of Windows 7.
The first version, “1.0”, was only usable on a very select group of UMPCs. The VAIO UX was not one of them, so I could not try this version myself. Upon installing it, a message whas shown that it was not compatible with this computer.
However, in 2008, Microsoft released an updated version, simply called Origami Experience 2.0. This time, it installed on more PCs and so did it on my VAIO UX.
Recently, I’ve tried Origami Experience 2.0 on my VGN-UX. Here, you’ll find my video review of it. Below, you’ll find the written version.
Origami Experience must have been a really nice application which greatly improved the user-friendliness of UMPCs back in the days.
Surprisingly, the weather widget still works and loads the current weather forecast. As well do the calendar and sticky note widgets. The launcher looks cool and everything seems to work fine.
Media Player and Web Browser
The media player, on the other hand, was more of a gimmick rather than a really useful program. The graphic animations in it were extenisve and lagged a lot, even though the VAIO UX was one of the most powerful UMPCs ever released.
While music and video playback work fine, the picture slideshow is a bit too sluggish to watch. The slideshow also causes the fan to rev up really hard in order to keep the computer cool.
The web browser would have been the main feature, I guess. Unfortunately, it is completely unusable nowadays. It’s based on some obsolete version of Internet Explorer, probably version 7. This browser is so old – and lacks TLS support – that almost no single webpage apart from Google loads in it anymore.
My guess is that the Web browser would have been the most useful feature back in the days, as it had a nice touch interface and offered convenient navigation between webpages.
Conclusion and Download
I clearly see the Origami launcher being very useful for people using these tiny computers back in the day. It paved a way into the future, with Zune, Windows Phone and later Windows 8 taking over quite some features of it.
In case you wanna try Origami as well, you can download it from below.