Visit to the Windows Café in Paris

As I spent these past few days in Paris, I couldn’t help but look up the Windows Café I had read about on TechCrunch.

The café is located at 47 Boulevard de Sébastopol in the 1st district. Here’s a picture of what it looks like from the outside. French site Le Journal du Geek has more including some shots of the inside.

Windows Café in ParisI ordered the only thing on their menu I knew how to pronounce properly: jus de pomme. The irony of ordering an apple juice at the Windows café, however, didn’t occur to me until much later.

There isn’t much to say about the café itself, it’s pretty much your standard café/coffee shop crossbred with a small electronics store. Unlike regular coffee shops, however, they do not only offer wifi, but also a bunch of laptops and PCs running Windows 7 to play with this latest goodie from Redmond.

Besides your everyday laptops and PCs they also had one other machine that immediately caught my attention: the Microsoft Surface (see also this hilarious parody). I have been excited about this device ever since it was announced back in 2007. Priced at roughly $10,000, it’s a bit more expensive than I can afford to spent on a computer, but it is nonetheless a pretty cool toy. Finally, I got a chance to play around with one myself. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one there interested in this device so I only got to play two games of chess with this French gentlemen who was kind of hogging the Surface.

Playing chess on the Surface was very intuitive and the touch interface worked very well. Pieces are moved by “grabbing” them and moving them to their new spot. One can even use two-finger gestures to rotate and/or resize the board. The only irritating thing about it was that it was sometimes interpreting the heel of my hand as I was moving a piece as an attempt to move the board. I guess this isn’t the machines fault, however, as in a real-life game of chess this same action would have probably moved the board to or even have knocked over some of the pieces as well.

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