Microsoft Acquires Perceptive Pixel; Growing Hardware Portfolio Teases Tight Office Integration

Big companies gobble up smaller ones all the time, for reasons ranging from talent grabs to patent portfolio protection to expanding into new markets. Microsoft’s acquisition of Perceptive Pixel wouldn’t be so notable except that Microsoft is in the midst of a semi-mysterious and very aggressive full-scale march on the tech industry. For example, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and the company’s own homemade Surface tablet are coming soon, and all show a departure for Microsoft. Adding Perceptive Pixel to the mix is an interesting piece of the puzzle.

Perceptive Pixel makes large multi-touch workstations and wall screens including an 82-inch LCD monster. You’ve seen the likes of this huge panel on news stations.

Perceptive Pixel's 82-inch touchscreen
Perceptive Pixel's 82-Inch LCD Touchscreen

So what does Microsoft want with Perceptive Pixel? There are a couple of telling quotes in the press release. One is from Kurt DelBene, president of Microsoft’s Office Division; he says: "PPI's large touch displays, when combined with hardware from our OEMs, will become powerful Windows 8-based PCs and open new possibilities for productivity and collaboration."

Another comes from Jeff Han, Perceptive Pixel’s founder: “"By joining Microsoft, we will be able to take advantage of the tremendous momentum of the Microsoft Office Division, tightly interoperate with its products, and deliver this technology to a very broad set of customers."

It appears as though Microsoft could be looking to build powerful all-in-one workstations, and/or large wall-mounted displays that are either PCs themselves or connect in one way or another with a PC. In any case, tight integration with Microsoft Office is evident, and presumably, these machines would run Windows 8.

A big part of Windows 8’s and Windows Phone 8’s combined appeal is that they’re essentially the same platform, essentially unifying all of a user’s screens; it would make plenty of sense to add a few more screens by way of employee workstations and conference room displays. It may also have something to do with the development of Microsoft's PixelSense smart table.