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Microsoft Invents Split Screen PC 348

An anonymous reader writes "New technology from Microsoft Research India in Bangalore could end the waiting game in offices with limited computers. Researchers are developing software that splits a computer screen in two halves, each side with its own operating system, desktop, applications, cursor and keyboard." Mom! Timmy is on my side of the screen again!
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Microsoft Invents Split Screen PC

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  • Fixed (Score:5, Funny)

    by fatduck ( 961824 ) * on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:36PM (#19011041)

    Researchers are developing software that splits a computer screen in two halves, each side with its own Vista CD-Key, desktop, Office 2007 license, cursor and keyboard. And don't even think about copying music from one side of the screen to the other, you pirate!
    • Re:Fixed (Score:5, Funny)

      by keird ( 519534 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:48PM (#19011131)
      it's like a guiness commerical.

      billg: you know how we've forced every computer user in the world to buy a copy of windows for their computer?
      steveb: yes
      billg: well, i've come up with a way to make them buy TWO copies of windows for each computer!
      steveb: brilliant!
      billg: brilliant!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      Researchers are developing software that splits a computer screen in two halves, each side with its own Vista CD-Key, desktop, Office 2007 license, cursor and keyboard. And don't even think about copying music from one side of the screen to the other, you pirate!

      give them credit where credit is due. The same research facility came up with another similar technology where you can attach multiple (unlimited) mice to a single PC and all operate independently. This means that you can put many kids on a single c
      • Re:Fixed (Score:5, Interesting)

        by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:53PM (#19011613)

        if you can have each OS copy on a separate monitor (most cards today handle 2 monitors at least by standard), it's a really really good thing to have.
        Putting several terminals on a computer is a fine idea which has been done since long before the invention of the PC. But this is different; they are actually splitting a single screen in two []. What a horrendous setup that is. And since the price of a display is superlinear in relation to its size, it wouldn't even be cheaper!
        • Re:Fixed (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @04:24PM (#19012709)
          An application window essentially splits the screen and could easily be sized to equally split a single screen in two parts. So, considering that the application is something like VNC and VNC is connecting to a virtual machine running on your computer then you already have two computers running on one computer with split screen support. The only thing they did was implement something like the dual-head/multi-user stuff being done with Linux for that past 4 or 5 years so that the host computer has multiple input I/O channels.

          go see [] and/or Google for "hp 441 linux multiuser multi-head"

          We're talking about some really basic 'remixing' here and it's not THAT wiz-bang IMO. Heck, VMware and VirtualBox already use VNC for their remote GUI display of VM's. But hey, glad to see Microsoft ReSearch catching on to stuff that's been around for quite some time on other platforms.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Eivind ( 15695 )
          True, I wondered about that.

          Having multiple users on a single computer at the same time is a fine idea. But why not put 2 users on, each with a 15" screen, instead of letting them share a 19" ? It'll give them more space, more freedom (you head doesn't have to be 10 inches from mine...) and would actually be cheaper.

          The idea is old though. Really old.

      • Re:Fixed (Score:4, Informative)

        by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:12PM (#19011767) Homepage Journal

        give them credit where credit is due. The same research facility came up with another similar technology where you can attach multiple (unlimited) mice to a single PC and all operate independently.
        Remarkable. I bet no one has ever thought of that before []. This is why Microsoft is so successful. They come up with these ideas first, and then implement basic research prototypes that will likely never appear in any shipping product. By comparison open source and X11 has only managed a complete system that lets you hotplug as many mice and keyboards as like that you can install and have working right now.
      • Re:Fixed (Score:5, Funny)

        by Garabito ( 720521 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:17PM (#19011817)
        Microsoft Research: The place where computer scientists produce cool ideas and innovations that never get into Microsoft products.
      • by ushering05401 ( 1086795 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:25PM (#19011879) Journal
        It doesn't mention this in TFA, but tech support management apps that I have seen could easily fit on 1/2 a screen w/a tabbed interface. Your main tasks are to lookup the customers, record billable time, notate key points of the problem, read some stepped hep files, and pass it on if the fix is not simple.

        And considering this was developed in India there just might be something to this.


    • by iamacat ( 583406 )
      More importantly, a business has money to buy all these software licenses, but can not spare $50 to buy a 15" CRT monitor for a worker educated enough to use a computer in the first place. I really hope this is a hoax designed to attract attention to working conditions in Banglore. A PC with 8 monitors, 8 keyboards/mice and OSS could be useful for light office work or data entry though.
      • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:15PM (#19011353)
        On the second thought, this would be perfect for extreme programming. Remember, you have to sit close enough to smell each other's farts.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The good thing about this is, you can cram eight customer service reps in one Bangalore cubicle, thus generating better revenue. I hail the innovation!

        But the best part is, you can now fit two competitive WoW teams in the same cubicle on the same screen with different views, which is truly awesome.

        Leeeeeeeeeroy Manpat Sunanilimon! Yee haw!!!!!

    • Re:Fixed (Score:4, Informative)

      by eraser.cpp ( 711313 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:32PM (#19011475) Homepage
      To be fair, this is Microsoft Research we're talking about. They don't (directly) exist to fill Microsoft's pockets and mostly research problems/ideas broadly related to computer science. Many famous figures in CS work there, including the creators of LaTeX and Quicksort.
    • Re:Fixed (Score:5, Funny)

      by ticklemeozmo ( 595926 ) <> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:59PM (#19011685) Homepage Journal
      If necessary, a user can move her cursor to the other half of the screen, which opens the door on sharing and collaborating with documents.

      You are right there, just point at the screen. There's no need for virtual collaboration when you have physical collaboration. The ONLY time I can see this being a factor is if my colleague, who is having a heart attack, has the number to 911 in their Outlook Address book and I don't.
    • by init100 ( 915886 )

      ...each side with its own Vista CD-Key, desktop, Office 2007 license, animated cursor and keyboard.

      There, fixed it for you.

  • by 6Yankee ( 597075 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:38PM (#19011061) a Hello Kitty theme. I'd gladly suffer it just to piss the other guy off!
    • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:49PM (#19011143)
      how to split the mouse and keyboard effectively (ergonomic split keyboard?).

      Otherwise, why not just use dumb terminals? Because sharing a computer jostling the person next to you is going to be a nightmare.

      Not to mention the suckage of having your side of the monitor always in ultra-narrow landscape mode when most programs and OSes aren't made for that. Vertical scrolling is okay, horizontal is just plain tedious.
  • by dotgain ( 630123 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:38PM (#19011063) Homepage Journal
    "that's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft."
  • by gvc ( 167165 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:39PM (#19011075)
    Two virtual desktops on one screen! What will they think of next?
    • by thewils ( 463314 )
      Maybe they'll come up with the idea of putting virtual desktops on a cube?
    • by Goaway ( 82658 )
      How is this anything like virtual desktops, exactly?
    • by Threni ( 635302 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:51PM (#19011161)
      Sharing a screen using a high refresh rate and lcd glasses that shows each user alternate frames?
      • Sharing a screen using a high refresh rate and lcd glasses that shows each user alternate frames?
        too expensive. They should just go with red/green glasses. They could even have multiple colors for more than two.
      • I think the purpose of this was to cheaply get two computers for the price of one.
        A $1000 screen and set of glasses that does that isn't going to solve that problem effectively.
    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:54PM (#19011191)
      Well they consider the fact that you have to have two keyboards a major issue, and the mouse for the person on the right is a problem as it elbow the guy on the right. TO fix this bombay engineerd have developed a new spoken and written language based on a 13 letter alphabet. Actually they have invented two languages. The first language uses the letters "QWERTYASDFGZXC" and the second language uses the letters "YUIOPGHJKLVBNM". Punctuation is only allowed in one language, and top engineers are still working on a base-5 math curriculum for schools.

      In a lab down the hall Microsoft chemists and psychologist are experimenting with drops that can be added to Milk to cause children to develop lefthanded allowing better mousing interaction when one child is lefthanded and one is right.

      An unexpected bonus on the 13 letter alphabet was that now the keyboard can be used one handed allowing the griping hand to hold the mouse all the time. Apparently this is fully engaged mouse posture is helping productivity in the telephone sales boiler rooms of calcutta.

      Problems have arrisen between children unable to speak each others language, and a caste system is developing in which the left-screeners or "sinisters" are considered unclean.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hawaiian717 ( 559933 )

        TO fix this bombay engineerd have developed a new spoken and written language based on a 13 letter alphabet.

        Actually, there's already a language out there with a 13 letter alphabet: Hawaiian [].
      • by Saxophonist ( 937341 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:14PM (#19011785)

        13 letter alphabet... "QWERTYASDFGZXC"... "YUIOPGHJKLVBNM"...

        You forgot to mention that there will have to be a protocol developed for sharing the Y and G keys which appear in both of the fourteen-letter alphabets...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        a caste system is developing in which the left-screeners or "sinisters" are considered unclean.
        No wonder. The left-screeners are the ones who get caps lock. And their only punctuation is the exclamation point. Can you imagine?

        WE R GREAT!!!!!!! WE 133T!!!!!!!!!!!! WE ARE #1!!!!!~~~~~~~~~!!!!!!!!!!
    • It is not just two Operating systems sharing the same processor but you also have to plug in a second mouse and keyboard.

      Maybe it is the one PC per two children program?
  • Jetway Magic Twin MiniQ Computer []

    One of our favorite things on slashdot! The obligatory "This isn't news, I've been doing it for X years!" post
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Goaway ( 82658 )
      Except of course that that is not the same thing at all.

      So yeah, this is pretty much the archetypical "this has been done before on slashdot" post.
  • Dupe! []

    Well, sort of.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by myyrk ( 660336 )
      How was he supposed to know it was a dupe, it was on the other half of the screen and since wasn't sharing a keyboard and mouse he didn't think he was supposed to share the screen as well.
  • by ironwill96 ( 736883 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:41PM (#19011085) Homepage Journal
    If you look at the article the whole idea seems rather silly due to extremely limited screen real estate. It would be much better to do this idea in conjunction with this Sharp TV/Monitor that was announced a while back:,39029684,3919085 1,00.htm []

    That way each user gets the full monitor but can be using the two operating systems completely separately. That way you get the same physical real estate being taken up and don't have to buy two completely different machines. Still, I don't think the idea in general is overly practical. Can you imagine sharing your cubicle with Bob the slob working right next to you all day every day?
    • from that article : "will cost about twice as much" How about just buying 2 monitors then ?
    • Splitting the same monitor seems quite extreme, but for most things these days running 2 or more monitors per computer is easy enough to do. For basic office work, internet cafe, school, etc there is no reason why this couldn't work out. For families this could be pretty nice set-up. Of course you'd still have to have your own gaming rig and let the peasants (wife and kids) share a machine.
  • Crash! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gcostanzo ( 938305 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:41PM (#19011089)
    Can the two OS's crash into eachother?
  • how the hell am I supposed to surf porn in peace at work if someone else is sharing the same monitor as me? Well, unless she's cute, I guess...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      how the hell am I supposed to surf porn in peace at work if someone else is sharing the same monitor as me? Well, unless she's cute, I guess...

      Perfect logic.

  • ...I'm running AROS hosted on Linux.... wait a minute....ok, now I'm running two instances of AROS on Linux.... wait a minute... Ok now if I put each on it own workspace....hahah I have prior art for four... uh err, 5 running....

    So what this is really about is trying to justify MS selling more OSs to a company than a company has hardware for.....

    So quick someone patent the split computer chair that holds two people and simply say no to MS.
  • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:50PM (#19011157) Homepage
    So, listen, we've really been working on a solution to customer complaints about the high cost of Vista licensing. So, here it is: we'll help you to afford licenses by keeping them at the same price, but offering technology that will allow you to share a computer and the screen so you can afford the licenses.

    Not having a computer for every employee should make Vista financially feasible for your organization. Plus, you get to participate in the Microsoft Buddy System, Or Binary User Licensing and Limited Software/Hardware Integration Team (BULLSHIT), and you get a MS Dubloon (redeemable for t-shirts and pens) for every time you report your very close neighbor for piracy. We would recommend waiting until he or she goes on break before reporting illegal activity. They're pretty much looking at your screen the whole time otherwise.

    Hey! Where are you all going? You get your own keyboard and mouse!
  • How is this different to running a couple of copies of Windows in VMWare?
    • The difference would be of course that you can run two identical VMs with a single license key, of course.

      You're not in R&D at MS, it shows...
    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      MS's implementation won't necessitate a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science to use it.
  • Invented? only if you consider a second rate and late implementation an invention. Instead of sharing the same OS between two users, they had to license each half of the screen, how typical. MagicTwin did for XP what LTSP [] did for GNU/Linux and it actually worked. Perhaps in a world where screens cost more than the computer itself this makes sense, otherwise it's a real loser. I can imagine trying to split the average 1024 by 768 screen right down the middle and so can you. Just half your browser right

  • I shall throw away VNC and wait for this new solution.
  • by that this is not und ( 1026860 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:54PM (#19011195)
    You young people have it good. When I was a kid, we not only had to share one keyboard, we only had the ONE screen and had to each only use one half, or 40x12 apiece.

    Dad always derided our comments by mentioning that when HE was a kid, he had to share a punched card with all seven of his sibling, so they each only got 10 characters.

    Grandpa would chime in at this point about only getting to use half the dots on a morse code key, his three sisters got the other half of the dots and all the dashes.
    • Bah. In my day, we only had two rocks to bang together, and I had to share those with my sister so we had one rock each.
  • What does that need dual-quad core and 8GB of ram?
    A amd 4x4 or dual quad core with 4GB of ram per cpu should be good or you can buy a few lower end systems with there own os for the same price.
  • Excellent. (Score:4, Funny)

    by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:57PM (#19011211) Homepage
    Now if they figure out a way to reduce my ass by half, the person sharing my monitor can also share my chair!
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:59PM (#19011217) Homepage Journal
    ... micro management.....

    Ok so you have this 52" or DLP projector screen and the whole office working off of it.

    I can hear it now, as the manager tells Fred to move his cursor faster and Julie to stop slowing the computer down doing company graphics. While leroy on his break can no longer check to see how his stock is doing. Of course Jackson has to work after hours to do accounting as a matter of keeping the company numbers hidden from those who get paid less but do more.....

    Michael, That sentence you are writing should be done this way...
  • My understanding is that the the users will still be sharing the underlying processors, I/Os and memory. But since they could run different OSes and there are no mentioning of how the individual schedulers would share usage information, could this lead to worse time sharing behaviour and a further degrade in user experience?

    How about the good old CRTs? Used ones are dirt cheap in my local used markets. (For $10 you can get a 19".)
  • by Tribbin ( 565963 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:04PM (#19011257) Homepage
    Apart from for Siamese twins, I don't see this being applied.

    Spare $$$ on the OS or office-suit; buy an extra monitor.
  • One user gets "QWERTY" and the other gets "UIOP{}".

    Or perhaps its every other keystroke?

    Either way, you'd better think twice about e-mailing a complaint to HR about your cubemates body odor.

  • on the linked page en_tec.html?category=technology&guid=2007042009153 0 []
    the thumbnail of the split screens have start-taskbark-minimized tasks/clock

    but the full size image does not...

  • Wow! Microsoft is ripping off VMWare.... Guess Apple didn't have enough nifty ideas to keep their PHB's drooling...

    2 cents,

    Queen B.
  • kid1: You got WoW in my screen.
    kid2: You got screen in my WoW.

    In Soviet Russia, screen splits YOU!
  • Researchers are developing software that splits a computer screen in two halves
    I feel a chainsaw would be much more effective.
  • I think calling this an "invention" is stretching the term "invention" past its breaking point, given that there are, oh, dozens of ways in which people have done this before.

    No doubt, the real innovation of Microsoft's version is that you end up needing a license for each half of the screen and that they are going to use "trusted computing" to enforce that.
  • ...different than a thin client, really? All this seems like is a thin client/server in one box? Or in other words, one mobo, double the ports.
  • How is this different than synergy? []

    They didn't invent squat..
    • Synergy is something completely different. That is used to control a second pc from the main pc (I use it daily to control my FreeBSD workstation from my Windows laptop). If anything Synergy is like VNC without the viewer on screen.

      This "invention" splits a pc in half so by plugging in a second keyboard and mouse two people can work on 1 pc, something that has been able on Linux pc's years ago for use in schools. Only the Linux invention isn't a half-assed idea as everyone gets to use their own monitor an
  • You work the pedals and I'll steer!
  • Run different applications in different windows (aka different areas of the screen). How original.
  • Combined with the pair programming chair [], this invention will mark a new era in extreme programming.
  • About 20 years after the game industry, MS invents split screen computer use.
  • Microsoft doesn't just copy Apple anymore [], do they?
  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:20PM (#19011841)
    Exclusive photo []. :-)
  • Finally! Now I can open more than 3 windows simultanely!
  • Monitors really aren't that expensive and due to space constraints around the monitor you'd have to get big monitors so the users could sit back far enought not to get in each other's way. This is hardly different from running a linux box with two users on two different monitors.
    But I'm sure microsoft will patent the idea and nobody will actually use it.
  • Maybe the article had it wrong, but separate OS for each half of the screen seems bloated to me. After all, this is targeted at low income families and schools in developing countries, where low-specs PCs are the norm. A single instance of the OS, managing the two sessions seems more efficient.

    And please don't tell me each half will be running Windows Vista Half Screen Edition. A low spec'd PC running not one, but TWO instances of Vista? You'd need a Beowulf cluster to do that!

  • by gentoofu ( 1028702 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:47PM (#19012033)
    will it cover the entire screen or just the half of it?
  • Sun SparcStation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lanner ( 107308 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @03:27PM (#19012299)
    Wow, this like what my 1993 SparcStation 10 can do. You have a single CPU unit with multiple framebuffers, thus allowing for up to four sets of monitors, keyboards, and mice.

    I envision this as the only practical use of this technology; The ability to share a single computer between four office cubes of call-center workers, each with their own monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  • by IntelliTubbie ( 29947 ) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @05:57PM (#19013591)
    "Mother's gone too far. She'd put cardboard over her half of the television. We rented "Man Without A Face" - I didn't even know he had a problem!"


Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"