is the first of my articles about Tablet PCs. Although I’d originally planned
to talk more about what Tablet PCs are and how they’re being used, due to
some recent press articles and the fact that TechTrax will be on hiatus for
the next couple of months, I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided to talk more
about what a Tablet PC isn’t–and what it isn’t, is a failure.
Tablet PCs are not only alive and well, they’re thriving!
Although many press articles may dispute the fact that Tablet PCs are successful,
Tablet PC sales are right on track. In fact, there have been record sales
for the past three months, and there’s reason to expect that May sales will
make it four in a row.
The vision for Tablet PCs isn’t narrowing, but continually expanding. More
manufacturers are entering the Tablet PC market. With newer hardware we’ve
seen performance improvements, including screens with better viewing angles
and outdoor visibility, faster processors, improved wireless technology,
fingerprint recognition, array microphones and longer battery life.
software is ink-enabled and more programmers are developing with “ink-enabled” in
mind. Currently, there are over 100 programs shipping today with Tablet PC
functionality. Many more are in development. Within Microsoft, Office 2003,
Windows and Messenger show the commitment to inking while other programs
such as One
Note and InfoPath are
being improved for better integration with Tablets. Microsoft continues to
promote development of third-party programs with contests such as the “Does
Your App Think In Ink?” contest with a prize of $100,000.
With the release of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, Tablet PCs will include
handwriting recognition that far surpasses what we see now. The new Tablet
Input Panel is a huge improvement over the original. Windows XP Tablet PC
Edition 2005 will be a free upgrade to all Tablet PC owners and will ship
with Windows XP Service Pack 2 this summer.
Tablet PCs are not only targeted to the vertical market. There’s no question
that the vertical market is always going to be important to the Tablet PC
market. Although the marketing of Tablet PCs originally focused on corporate
customers, especially those who were often away from the desktop or office,
the consumer market has rapidly grown. This is a perfect computer for students,
and education is embracing Tablets. Consumers who have Tablets won’t go back
to standard notebooks, and with good reason. The Tablet PC can be a notebook
and much more as well.
will be more mobile computers released that use the Windows
XP Tablet PC operating system. This is one of the visions that Bill Gates
had years ago. I see this as the purpose of putting the Tablet PC team
under the Mobile
Computing umbrella. It won’t be very long in the future when many standard
notebooks and other mobile computers will include features currently found
only in Tablet PCs.
As I stated in the opening statement on my website, TheTabletPC.net, Tablet
PCs are changing the way we use computers. They’ll continue to do so
and in more ways than we’re currently envisioning.
NOTE: Shortly after this article was written, I was at
the Microsoft campus and had the opportunity to interview Andrew Dixon, Director
of Marketing for Microsoft’s Tablet PC Team. The following is a synopsis
of that interview, with more details to be included in an article at http://thetabletpc.net,
Andrew verified that bringing the Tablet PC team under the Mobile Team is
a step forward, certainly not a backwards one. This puts the Tablet PC team
engineers, architects, marketing and testers under the larger umbrella of
the Mobile Platforms Division. This is only good news for Tablet PC’s
Microsoft is committed to Tablet PCs, both in current and future
forms. Price points between notebooks with a standard OS and those
with the Tablet PC are decreasing. This also shows great promise for the
next generations of computers. The pen is going to become more mainstream.
Pen functionality in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 is the beginning of
many things to come.
Work at Microsoft is already underway for not only Longhorn, but also the
version set for release after Longhorn. The existing plan is to bring Tablet
functionality to more and more venues. Look for more mobile devices to include
inking capabilities rather than fewer