Tony Lock, Freeform Comment

Several years ago Microsoft launched its Tablet software with much fanfare. Today the platform has almost vanished from corporate marketing programmes despite the fact that Windows Vista Tablet is a very usable piece of software with much to recommend it.

Earlier this year Lenovo loaned me an X series tablet PC to try for a few weeks, and I have to say I was impressed. Impressed by many things not least the sheer usability of the operating system. As is usual with Lenovo ThinkPad notebooks the machine itself was well built and came preloaded with the company’s usual array of handy tools to simplify mundane tasks such as WiFi network switching. But what really shone out was the how well the Tablet software performed, especially in recognising pen input.

Despite not spending very long attempting to learn the ins and outs of the Vista tablet OS, and there is a huge array of pen based functional short cuts available, I was quickly using the Tablet via the pen interface. I was impressed with how well the software managed to recognise my input despite the fact that I frequently resorted to using pen actions I had picked up from my previous exposure to Palm and Microsoft Windows Mobile PDA devices. In fact “unlearning” these actions ultimately proved to be one of my biggest challenges.

All in all the Tablet and associated office applications performed extremely well, which therefore begs the question “why is there very little marketing of this platform or associated business solutions? For its part Microsoft states that it is the job of the device OEMs to promote Tablet, whilst naturally enough the OEMs are keen to push Microsoft to the fore. I suspect that if the interested parties, and to Microsoft and the major OEMs of Lenovo, HP, Fujitsu Siemens and Dell I would also add many ISVs, could get their act together and really promote Tablet that the platform could become very widely used.

There is also the possibility that many of the features of Tablet software will be utilised in the emerging UPC (Ultra Portable Computer) / Netbook market. Already we are seeing that some UPC and Netbook devices are utilising pen devices as the primary input mode. Clearly platform and operating systems boundaries are merging. I sincerely hope that Tablet software manages to come out of the shadows in which it has been hiding for the last few years. This is software whose time has come.

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