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Microsoft's Risky Tablet Announcement 338

itwbennett writes "The New York Times describes the tablet announcement that Steve Ballmer is supposed to make in his CES opening keynote tonight as 'one of Steve Ballmer's riskiest trade show moves in years.' And blogger Peter Smith is in complete agreement. Here's why: 'Whether or not this announcement is intended as a direct response to the much-rumored Apple event that may or may not be happening on January 27th, consumers will perceive it as one,' says Smith. And if Microsoft unveils a traditional tablet then 'they'll be up against the (presumably more expensive) iTablet and the cult of Apple.' But if the device is the dual-screen Courier that we heard about back in September then it'll be up against the (presumably less expensive) enTourage eDGe, says Smith."
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Microsoft's Risky Tablet Announcement

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  • Courier (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:10PM (#30672512) Journal

    The huge borders of enTourage eDGe really put me off. It looks like something from the 80's and only the other screen is LCD, other one is e-ink. While you can probably get more battery power only using the e-ink one for reading, a lot of other possibilities are lost for Courier's 2x LCD screens. And I dont really need that long battery power, as I'm mostly looking for something to use on sofa or bed. I don't think Microsoft has anything to worry about enTourage eDGe.

    I really hope the announcement is Courier. It looks kickass, and it would be immediate choice over iTablet or other traditional tablets. Holding a tablet that is book like while laying on sofa makes just a lot more sense and is a lot more comfortable. And when you're done, you can just close it like a book. If it's Courier, Microsoft is up for a good battle with Apple. If it's a normal tablet, meh.

    • Re:Courier (Score:5, Informative)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:41PM (#30672954) Homepage

      The huge borders of enTourage eDGe really put me off.

      The article says that it's a prototype, and the production version is supposed to be a lot more sleek.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      One of my friends heard from his friend that his uncle's coworker heard that the Courier will be offered at a significantly marked-down price of $99 to people that have a Hotmail account that is at least 3 years old (the device will be $529 for everyone else). They will be partnering with T-Mobile to offer unlimited data service for the device starting at $20/month. They're also going to be announcing a new VOIP service that offers free unlimited calling to and from anywhere in the United States for a fla

      • Re:Courier (Score:5, Funny)

        by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:01PM (#30673238) Homepage Journal
        "One of my friends heard from his friend that his uncle's coworker heard that the Courier will be offered at a significantly marked-down price,,,"

        My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Ferris pass-out at 31 Flavors last night.

        I guess it's pretty serious.

    • Re:Courier (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:03PM (#30673270)

      The huge borders of enTourage eDGe really put me off.

      For me, it is the egregious use of funky capitalizations.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by artemis67 ( 93453 )

      On the contrary, I don't really see a second screen as adding that much more value, particularly when the expanded size looks to be roughly the same as the rumored iTablet -- plus, you have the dead space of the hinge dividing the screens.

      I'm sure that there will be covers for the iTablet that will fold over the screen, just like there are for the Kindle. So the only real advantage of the Courier would be that it folds into half the length of the iTablet (while doubling the height).

    • Re:Courier (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:20PM (#30673496)

      It looks kickass, and it would be immediate choice over iTablet or other traditional tablets.

      Seeing as the "iTablet" has not even been announced, I don't know how you could assume that.

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:14PM (#30672566) Journal

    So the last thing Mr. Ballmer wants to hold up is a me-too device.

    Huh, and here I was thinking that was precisely what he wanted to hold up. A "Me-Too" device that is the only authorized Windows Tablet for Windows 7. And it will sync with all your Microsoft crap and even let you carry around your Microsoft DRM'd media. Just like I'm sure Apple's tablet will do the same thing with Apple replaced for Microsoft.

    Meanwhile here I'll sit with my eeePC running some flavor of Linux wondering when I'll get a tablet that provides support for open source.

    Whether or not this announcement is intended as a direct response to the much-rumored Apple event that may or may not be happening on January 27th, consumers will perceive it as one

    Oh no! Then surely consumers will see this as Microsoft entering another market they aren't experts in and not buy the MS Tablet just like how no one bought the original XBox ... oh, wait. Well, surely all those consumers will see through this ruse just like they did when Microsoft released the Zune ... oh, wait, that's still being shoved down our throats and people are still buying it.

    And if Microsoft unveils a traditional tablet then 'they'll be up against the (presumably more expensive) iTablet and the cult of Apple.' But if the device is the dual-screen Courier, that we heard about back in September then it'll be up against the (presumably less expensive) enTourage eDGe

    And the fact of the matter is that it doesn't matter if the market is large enough. Take the PS3 Vs XBox360 vs Wii console war. The XBox360 wasn't as powerful or as expensive as the PS3 yet wasn't as cheap as the Wii. And yet people gobbled them up.

    The sad fact of the matter is that when you're the top dog in a lucrative industry and you're generating epic revenue, you have this peculiar ability to pay people to assess markets and then simply enter them by mirroring your opponents' every move in those markets. And you know what? With a good enough marketing team and a big enough brand name, you can't fail. Two tired adages: 1) You need money to make money. 2) The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. These apply on all scales.

    For how much us tech savvy people will be able to bash Microsoft's tablet, it will turn a profit. Trust me, I don't say that as a fan I say that as a fact.

    • by psbrogna ( 611644 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:21PM (#30672660)
      Garnering majority market share may be a given but making a profit at it is is not and should be considered an independent variable. They spend a metric-butt-ton of money on marketing getting the market share AND they subsidize costs of entry (and even consumer costs; ie. selling a STB below cost) with other parts of the empire (ie. making a profit on titles when they sell a STB cost). While your evidence is compelling, it supports the former case (market lead) and not the latter (profitability).
      • by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:21PM (#30673512)
        Just to attempt to quantify what a "metric-butt-ton" is: According to wikipedia [], MS had lost about $4 billion on the xboxes by the end of 2005 and about $1 billion to replace bricked xbox 360s. Their most recent quarterly report from Q1 2010 [] (Oct. 23rd) showed that their entire entertainment division posted a $312 million profit. I have no idea what the total take is, but just to recoup the $5 billion we know they lost would take over four years of quarters like Q1 2010. If every quarter has been like Q1 2010, that would mean they would be breaking even just about now, except the entertainment division at MS never posted a profit until 2008! So it's a good bet that MS has even now not yet recouped the losses from developing the xbox. They're rich though, they can afford to wait for years and years to recoup an investment.
    • by digitalgiblet ( 530309 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:34PM (#30672856) Homepage Journal

      My favorite part is the statement in the NYT about MS releasing a "Me-Too" device.

      A "Me-Too" device that is one of a long line of such devices that have run their OS.

      A "Me-Too" device that is announced before the Apple device.

      A "Me-Too" device that is announced before the SUPPOSED Apple device that has not been confirmed by Apple.

      Enough of the silly repetition. It is getting repetitive.

      I can't say whether the MS device will be worth a spit. I can't say whether the Apple device will be worth a spit. I just like saying spit.

      Can't really say if suddenly tablets are going to be cool and people will start buying them. Bill Gates thought so back in the early '90s. Hasn't happened yet. Steve Jobs killed tablet projects like he was playing whack-a-mole for years. Who knows?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        But there have been *ahem* rumors about the Apple tablet for a long time! So obviously Ballmer is just trying to one-up Apple by releasing more than a rumor.

        One thing I have learned: no matter how good a Microsoft product, press release, statement, or design is, it is always bad if you talk to some people, and it's not innovative. Furthermore, Microsoft - unlike most companies - tries to make a profit. Apple, on the other hand, is trying to be innovative and produce quality machines at as low prices as t

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by artemis67 ( 93453 )

          After being stomped by Apple in the MP3 market, the digital content delivery market, and the current-gen smartphone market, I have no problem believing that Microsoft is taking their Apple rumors VERY seriously these days.

          Apple DOES try to make a profit -- that's why they typically have among the highest profit margins in the industry for their hardware.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jpmorgan ( 517966 )

      You know why people buy the XBox 360, and why the ZuneHD is surprisingly popular? Because they're good products. And if the Courier is as good as some of the leaks suggest, people will buy it too.

      You can sit there with your eeePC, ranting about stupid consumers and your holy war against the Microsoft empire. The rest of us will carry on not caring.

      • I normally buy every major console with each generation, so don't assume this some fanboy rant, but I can't imagine wanting to buy a 360.

        Fans and the media wanted to compare the cheap 360 with no HDD to the most expensive PS3 SKU's and pretend there was a huge cost disparity. At most times, the price difference between truly comparable 360 and PS3 models (both having similar HDDs) was $50.

        So for $50 in price difference I get a free BluRay player, free online play, the ability to put in any cheap HDD I want

        • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

          Please tell me again that the 360 is a good product in comparison.

          Because limiting your gaming platforms (if you can afford to not do so, obviously) is a silly idea. Again, money permitting, if you can afford the maximum number of platforms to play games on, why wouldn't you? Project Sylpheed, Blue Dragon, Crackdown/Crackdown 2, Ninja Blade, 'Splosion Man, Fable II, Geometry Wars, I Made a Game With Zombies In It, Shadow Complex...and many others. There are a LOT of great games you can ONLY play on a 360. I don't know about you, but I'm quite happy to have the experie

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Enderandrew ( 866215 )

            The two 360 titles I really cared about were Mass Effect and Bioshock. Bioshock eventually went PS3, but I just picked both up on the PC.

            I thought Fable was horribly overrated. I beat it in 20 hours, and the game became extremely easy once I realized it had a broken mechanic. There was a spell that gave you a shield where you didn't take damage. You could earn exponential experience if you maintained a combo of hitting without taking damage. You cast the spell, hit enemies, lathered, rinsed and repeated. No

            • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

              There were a bunch of games I didn't include (Gears of War, Mass Effect, Bioshock, etc.) since you could play them on other platforms...I was listing games that you could ONLY play on the 360.

              Honestly, for me, Shadow Complex and 'Splosion Man ALONE were worth the cost of a 360. Good platformers are hard to find nowadays, and finding two of them that could arguably be considered two of the best ever made is quite a treat.

              That being said, Mass Effect was an unbelievably amazing game in spite of its technical

      • The Zune? Nope. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:55PM (#30673148)

        According to Amazon's best seller list the top *17* music players are made by Apple. Numbers 18 & 19 are Sandisks. Then comes another iPod. Zune is the 21st in popularity.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Nope, It's ballmers Senility kicking in. This is Microsoft 4th reintroduction of the tablet PC. Every one has been an utter failure, and this one will be as well.

      If I cant get 10 hours of full performance run time from these things, I.E. On and running at full speed the ENTIRE WORKDAY on a single charge then it's a piece of crap. I have owned every Tablet pc from the Very first Dauphin DTR-1 and they all SUCK for usefulness because of the lack of run time per charge.

      If the iSlate is NOT A pc but a giant

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Hasn't Microsoft only lost money on the X-Box AND the Zune? I don't see how comparing the new tablet to either of these ventures can lead to the argument that it will be successful. Sure, it'll sell, but will it profit?
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Sadly, Linux and OSS never get a press conference (who would hold it, after all?). All of these trade shows tend to come down to a pissing contest between Apple and MS, or Verizon/AT&T/Sprint/T-Mobile or whoever, and open source and Linux get overlooked once again. Ask anyone at CES about open source and they'll just stare at you blankly. These trade shows are just a great big proprietary/capitalism/closed-source circle-jerk.
    • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

      Tablet supporting open source? Have you looked at the Touch Book by always innovating? It is a hybrid netbook/tablet with a touch screen that docks with a keyboard unit that run an angstrom linux distro. Last news I heard was they shipped a few hundred of the first release and are currently accumulating orders for a second production run.

    • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:19PM (#30673482)
      Microsoft wishes they could create something which makes a profit but they don't really have to, they've been running on the Windows OS and MS Office gravy trains for over 2 decades. Zune+Xbox+WindowsCE=billions in losses but that's ok, it keeps the perception Microsoft and Windows are important and valuable so Windows keeps racking in the dough. IMO

    • by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:22PM (#30673520)

      Well, surely all those consumers will see through this ruse just like they did when Microsoft released the Zune ... oh, wait, that's still being shoved down our throats and people are still buying it.

      Really? A vast majority of my friends have an iPod (hell, my mother has one and she's a techno-neanderthal) but I don't know a single person who has a Zune. Not one. Nobody. Now, I'm sure some people are buying them but I'd wager it's not making waves and deserves to be overlooked when talking about Microsoft managing to successfully sell a product in a market in which they are considered novices.

      And I'll be kind and let the XBox one go because it has sold in considerable numbers despite the fact that it seems to have a 100%+ failure rate (over 100% because people have had multiple failures with a single XBox...).

    • Well, surely all those consumers will see through this ruse just like they did when Microsoft released the Zune ... oh, wait, that's still being shoved down our throats and people are still buying it.


  • by Vandil X ( 636030 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:25PM (#30672726)
    Including the ability for me to skin the UI with an LCARS theme without "jailbreaking" or flashing custom firmware.

    I'm serious.
  • by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:26PM (#30672744) Homepage Journal

    I hope he throws it while chanting DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:26PM (#30672750)

    I think the NYT is reading too much into this. First of all, Apple has it's own market. The folks who buy their products and are fans are not going to be swayed too much, if at all, by a cheaper price from MS for a similar gadget. Apple has proven that they can charge what they charge and their market sticks with them: the early adopters will pay the price. And those who won't pay the price will wait because we know that Apple will drop the price in the future.

    The MS market is for those of us that are price conscious, the corporate market that locked themselves into MS solutions, and believe it or not, there are folks who actually like MS and HP products and even prefer them over Apple.

    My point is that Apple is in their own league (and market) and any announcement from MS et al. isn't for their (Apple's or their users) benefit - it's for the MS fans that may want a tablet device. It also shows that MS is "keeping up".

    MS isn't the power house that they once were. They're more like the obese ex-college football star that thinks they're still the big fast hunk they once were - that's another post from the Anonymous Business and Marketing Analyst.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rand310 ( 264407 )
      I guarantee that there will be a 'Apple vs MS vs etc' column that will be posted shortly after each device's debut. Not only do MS and Apple want to be on that list, but a whole host of other companies are releasing products right now just so that they too can be on that list. It would be quite possible to suck up a decent amount of free market space by riding off of Apple's announcement. Apple released this device with these features at this price point, while CompanyA released a similar device with the
    • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:24PM (#30673536)
      I know that people are not talking about Windows Mobile anymore and many are talking about Android as opposed to iPhone. And you would be surprised at how many people who've used Microsoft for a long time are talking about getting an Apple computer instead of a Windows based box. The price hits them the most and the financially stable ones are getting Apples while the others fall back on the WinTel bandwagon because of price. The iPod opened up peoples minds to something other than Microsoft, the iPhone blew the doors open along with a compelling OSX operating system and nice looking hardware.

      Microsoft can't afford to look like they are losing anything because when that switch is thrown, the house of cards falls and falls fast. People are funny that way.

  • Windows tablet pc edition is already in the wild, and nobody cares about it. This is just a poor-marketing-dept reply to apple's itablet/hugeiphone.
    • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

      How do you figure? MS has been eluding to getting back into the tablet game for quite a while...

  • Yeah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:29PM (#30672776)

    This is going to be WAY cooler than Windows XP Tablet Edition running on the Compaq Tablet that it was introduced with. Or Vista with built in Tablet Extensions that MS demoed a while back. Yay!!!! Windows 7 Tablet!!! it will be great where the two previous attempted failed miserably because it's new!

  • by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:30PM (#30672796)

    sorry people, you'll all have to stand... we removed all chairs as a precaution

  • by magsol ( 1406749 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:33PM (#30672838) Journal

    ...why Microsoft seems to think it's in competition with Apple. Microsoft built itself on being a software company and has only recently - within the last decade - ventured significantly into the hardware market (Xbox, Zune, now the tablet, etc).

    Apple, meanwhile, has traditionally been the opposite - a hardware company that occasionally ventures into the software industry (arguably the only software they make is variations of OS X for all their hardware devices).

    I am ready and willing to accept naivete as a reason for my above question, but on the off-chance it's not...why does Microsoft care what Apple does? I should think they'd be better off worrying more about what Google does in response to this tablet than Apple.

    • by nomadic ( 141991 )
      why does Microsoft care what Apple does?

      Because Apple makes obscene profits selling hardware and software. And they're able to sell commodity hardware at twice the price to the easily impressed. MS wants to do that too.
    • ... the only software they make is variations of OS X for all their hardware devices

      Um, no... Apple produces a lot of different software products.

    • How exactly can Microsoft be responding to an event that hasn't taken place yet (the Apple tablet announcement)? Is that "pre-sponding"?
    • What about things like Final Cut Pro? That's software...

      That said, I don't know if MS really cares what Apple does... except that because you don't typically buy a Mac to run Windows on it.

      But hey. As long as their wrongfully-supposed competition yields some good products, I don't care :)

    • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:17PM (#30673462) Homepage Journal
      Apple is arguably the last consumer GPC systems manufacturer. MS provide commodity software for commodity hardware, and has traditionally left integration issue to others. Therefore, Apple has some experience with getting components to work together, while MS only has limited experience on the Software side. I say limited because up to five years ago it did little work to make standards based software.

      What MS did for most of it's life is produce good enough software for a good price. MS products were cheap enough, or could be acquired cheaply enough, so that more expensive systems made no economic sense for many common applications. What MS is doing now is trying to upscale the product. The software now costs more than the hardware, something that to many people seem unreasonable. Like IBM, MS now makes little sense for small groups. Once can buy a 3 macs for $5000, and keep them operating through 2 upgrade cycles for less than $1000, including iWork upgrades. The same three PCs of similar quantity might cost $2500, but each upgrade cycle is going to cost another $1500, assuming you don't buy the crippled OS, and don't upgrade the MS Office applications.

      MS is trying to be the upscale systems manufacturer because that is where the money is. The problem is that if they compete on pice, then they alienate their hardware partners. So they have to compete on quality which means they are competing on product quality. In cell phones they have failed as the Nokia phones are just too good. In console they succeeded because they are better in many ways than the Wii, and the sony stuff is very expensive. In the tablet market we are back in the realm of alienating hardware partners and jeopardizing the MS Windows cash cow, so they are likely to be competing with Apple and Kindle, rather than the more commodity products.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'd wager it's because they've seen the writing on the wall and know that their days as the dominant force in the software market are numbered and their only hope of longterm viability is to diversify. With well-funded, experienced, intelligent, and innovative companies (Google, first and foremost among them) directly attacking Microsoft's core business, it's only a matter of time before one of them succeeds. Microsoft probably wants to make sure their house of cards doesn't completely collapse if/when that
  • by protosage ( 752297 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:34PM (#30672850)
    The NYT article is ridiculous. Granted Apple will probably release a tablet like device or at least announce it in the next month or so. However how can MS/HP announce a me-too device without there being a device to emulate? What's unfortunate is that as usual the Mac boosters in the media who believe that the Mac is the be all for all users are going to pass judgement on this device by comparing it to the mythical Apple tablet. It's like comparing a good race horse to a unicorn sure that horse is fast, but it's not a magical and can't fly. (Granted Apple may deliver a unicorn, but the point is it just doesn't exist yet however cool it may be)
    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:54PM (#30673912) Journal

      Apple will release a horse, but it will have sparkly dust on it and the unicorn they glue to the forehead will be very lifelike and you won't be able to see the glue at all. It will be trained so that a 6 year old can ride it. It will run slower, cost more, and never be seen in an actual race or ridden by a professional jockey, except in marketing literature. But, oh, it will polished.

      That's not to say that MS won't show up with a mule and a paper cone taped to it's forehead with duct tape. They probably will. MS has an amazing ability to fuck things up, or start with a good idea and then abandon it (can you say Media Center or WinMobile?). I think a tablet is more likely to be a limited use device, and MS just sucks wind at such things. That's a shame, too, since I'm not fond of Apple's lack of extensibility on anything they make.

  • Software (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kehren77 ( 814078 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:35PM (#30672864)

    But what about software for it. I think part of the anticipation of the Apple tablet is that it will be a larger iPod Touch with added functionality. If the Apple tablet can run iPhone apps it already has a huge advantage over the Microsoft tablet, more so if it can also run OS X apps.

    What software would the Microsoft tablet run? Windows 7? It will have all the speed of a netbook. Windows Mobile? It will be DOA if it runs Windows Mobile.

    As a side note, how much do you want to bet that Microsoft somehow tries to connect their tablet to Xbox Live?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)


      We have a winner. Not only does the MS pre-announce announcemnt sounds too much like the typical "me too" we get from Microsoft. Not only this, Microsoft has already tried "tablet" (and even tabletop) gadgets, and yet somehow nobody wants or cares about them. XP Tablet version is nasty bad and Windows doesn't work very well in "Tablet Mode" (which also requires a stylus yuck). (Just don't remind me of Newton)

      I actually think that Apple's Tablet will be exactly this, iPod Touch on roids! The biggest dra

    • iSlate needs to have all the functionality of the iTouch for games, mp3s, and videos, plus function as a good large print eBook reader. The population is aging; baby boomers don't have the eyesight they once had. Sure, it's a niche squeezed between smartphones with smaller displays and notebooks/netbooks without touch screens, but if they can get the price point below $500 they could sell well as a viable eBook reader. Don't most people like to be able to listen to music while they read? The only way to mak
    • Why would I want to run iphone apps on a tablet? I lose the portability and gain... blurry upscaled graphics? Apps designed for finger tips on a single hand become a nightmare to use too when the screen is 3-4 times as big.

      Tablets have been tried over and over. If people want the portability, they'll get a netbook or a PDA/smartphone. Tablets are awkward to carry, painful to use for any real work and are mix of both sets of disadvantages from PDAs and Netbooks.

      What can I use a tablet for where a e-boo
  • by brxndxn ( 461473 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:38PM (#30672920)

    I swear that sometimes the future is stupidly obvious and these big dumb corporations adamantly try to refuse it.. A $1000 tablet may be a temporary success... but the future is cheap 'netbook' tablets like in Star Trek TNG. The point of a tablet PC is to offer a computing platform that removes the need for paper. Paper is cheap. A dual-screen tablet is the stupidest of the stupid moronic stupid things Microsoft would do..

    So right now, while electronics shops cope with el-cheapo lcd screens being placed in every product, why the hell aren't these big dumb companies seeing that the el-cheapo lcd photoframes are just a few steps away from being the tablets we need? To truly remove the need for paper, we do not need speed or the latest in 3d multimedia. We need el-cheapo tablets that can be passed around while the personal information is contained in removable cards (SD? miniSD? microSD? who cares). Let me write on the screen. Convert my text to type. Let me play a video - but not necessarily a video game. Let me browse the net. Let me read an ebook. Let me write up my notes at a meeting and toss them on my boss's desk. Put this with a slow-ass cheap processor, minimum OS (fuck you Microsoft, but still XP is small enough), minimum other parts, and a touch-screen. Also, make it easily replaceable.. If I lose my tablet, lemme buy another for $200. Let the data automatically sync to my desktop computer when I bring the tablet near it. Waterproof the tablet.. should be easy, right? just one rubber compartment around the storage cards and ports.. let it borrow internet access from my nearby cell phone or my wifi..

    The tablet does not need to do the following:
    - charge me a monthly fee of any kind - so it should not have cell phone shit in it
    - play 3d games
    - rival my desktop in performance
    - weigh more than 1.2 lbs
    - be more than 3/8" thick
    - download automatic updates
    - use front surface area for anything other than a screen
    - cost more than $200 ($300 in 2011, $500 in 2012 to account for inflation)

    This is the future of tablet computing that I remember.

    • by JSBiff ( 87824 )

      I generally agree with the parent, but:

      The tablet does not need to do the following:
      - download automatic updates

      I actually disagree on this point. It's almost certain that someone will find some sort of security exploit in the networking software in the device, at some point, or in the browser, or mediaplayer, or whatever. I think *any* device which has net access needs an automatic update facility for patching security holes.

      "- cost more than $200 ($300 in 2011, $500 in 2012 to account for inflation)"

      Wow -

    • I swear that sometimes the future is stupidly obvious and these big dumb corporations adamantly try to refuse it..

      Or perhaps they're a lot more clever than you realize. Why release the "future" today when you can build up to it, releasing other stuff in the meantime while making a profit all along the way?

    • Sign me up for two of these. In fact, sign me up for one that runs like Ender's desk.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kelz ( 611260 )
      Half the meaningful web is in flash, ajax, and a bunch of other stuff that doesn't run smoothly on a 400mhz small-profile CPU, especially on XP. A version of 7 should be modular enough to scale with the processing power. PROPER touch-sceens, resistive or capacitive, especially in a high enough resolution to be called a tablet don't come as cheap as you'd like to think, and if the performance is crap it won't catch on. We're just coming to the point where we can stick enough juice into a screen big enough to
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bradt ( 682447 )
      Sounds to me like what you want is a modern-day Newton [] priced like the iPod Touch!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      but the future is cheap 'netbook' tablets like in Star Trek TNG.

      They only seemed cheap because TNG had one of those fantasy moneyless economies. Somewhere offscreen were legions of young, green slave girls working in the tablet sweatshops on Memory Alpha before they are "promoted" to being sexual escorts for the Starfleet brass and Federation bigwigs.

    • by joh ( 27088 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @07:10PM (#30676436)

      I swear that sometimes the future is stupidly obvious and these big dumb corporations adamantly try to refuse it.. A $1000 tablet may be a temporary success... but the future is cheap 'netbook' tablets like in Star Trek TNG. The point of a tablet PC is to offer a computing platform that removes the need for paper. Paper is cheap. A dual-screen tablet is the stupidest of the stupid moronic stupid things Microsoft would do..

      Excuse me, but you don't get it. People don't want a "computing platform". People care a shit for "computing". People want apps and games and music and movies and newspapers and magazines. As long as you have to call it a computer, it will fail. Believe me, people are sick of computers. They love what they can *do* with them and this is not computing. It's the net (and this means: connecting to other people) and content and fun they're after. The best hard- and software is useless without easy and one-tap access to things and people.

      As long as you think hardware and software is important, you're wrong. It's important as air and water, but once they can breath and drink, people don't want better and faster air and water, they want other things. Then they care for the air and water only if it smells and has the wrong color.

      Well, maybe you meant exactly this. Sorry then.

  • Year of the tablet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by joerdie ( 816174 )
    2009 was the year of the netbook, 2010 will be the year of the tablet. The problem is, tablets are so niche... and the normal consumer doesn't know.
    • Netbooks sold despite being junk because they were dirt cheap. Tablets aren't going to sell unless they have a price point competitive with a $300 netbook or eBook reader. The $1000 price point being tossed around for the iSlate is silly when one could get a decent Macbook for that much.
    • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

      I think if Tablets went the dockable route (i.e. able to dock to a keyboard/faster hardware, then be taken out as just a touchscreen with decent hardware) they would gain a larger following. For someone like my fiance (a 3rd grade teacher), a computer she can use as a laptop on her desk and then just grab the screen and go while walking around the classroom would be quite an asset.

      yes, I know there are laptops with touchscreens that swivel, but then you are stuck carrying around a laptop, regardless of how

      • by theJML ( 911853 )

        They could just have bluetooth in them. Use a bluetooth keyboard/mouse and a nice little angled holder to use it as a screen at your desk, then just pick it up and walk around. Even an oversized plate display holder would work for that!

    • by SoupIsGoodFood_42 ( 521389 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @05:29PM (#30675178)

      If Apple do release a tablet, then tablets will become about as niche as smartphones and MP3 players.

  • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:46PM (#30673036)

    So what makes Microsoft think that they can make a decent tablet?

    Seriously, think about it for a minute. Forget about all the hype, forget about Apple's tablet (which hasn't even been announced). Forget about prototypes and mockups. Look at what we already know for a fact. Look at the state of Windows Mobile. How much attention has Microsoft given it? Now consider what they did to Danger, and the whole Pink debacle spearheaded by Roz Ho. And look at what they're doing with Bing, trying to compete with Google. Finally, what happened with the Tablet PC? Remember those? I ask you in all honesty: do you think that Microsoft is actually capable of launching a touchscreen tablet device that is going to provide an elegant, rich, and relatively bug-free user experience? Do you think that they will put their weight behind a putative MS tablet?

    The problem here is that I have serious reservations about Microsoft's competence as well as their sincerity in developing and supporting such a device. I look at their track record with past initiatives and all I see are half-baked attempts. This rumor, if true, totally reeks of desperation, and I would not go near this one with a ten-foot pole. Such a device would not only have to be freaking amazing, it would have to be available by next month AND it would need to be bug-free, and cheap. In other words, it would have to be perfect now. Not in five years. Otherwise, it'll be a joke.

    • And look at what they're doing with Bing, trying to compete with Google.

      This does not support your thesis. Bing is actually becoming somewhat nice to use, and the Bird's-Eye view is really nice to have. I just use both.

      do you think that Microsoft is actually capable of launching a touchscreen tablet device that is going to provide an elegant, rich, and relatively bug-free user experience?

      Yes. Will they? I dunno. But how about we wait until we know it's buggy before saying it will be buggy? What's the harm in hoping it won't be?

      The problem here is that I have serious reservations about Microsoft's competence as well as their sincerity in developing and supporting such a device.

      On the software side? You must have had some unfortunately bad experiences. I've had fairly good experiences. And it's telling (IMO) that you have already decided you don't want the presumed Microsoft tablet-thing

    • by Kelz ( 611260 )
      I think you've got the right idea but the wrong reasons. I can't remember the last time MS put out a device with a screen on it. Other than mice and keyboards, their biggest branded hardware peice is the X360, which has a reported 60% failure rate after 2 years. Hopefully they've learned quite a bit about hardware reliability if they don't want this to be percieved as a trend.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by design1066 ( 1081505 )
      As a professional who has used multiple tablet PCs for many years in the engineering and construction fields, most of microsofts OS offerings in this arena are quite easy to use and very functional. No I am not a Microsoft fan boy just stating the facts. As a home linux user what I would like to see is a functioning tabletPC running Linux. All I hear in my linux user group is Linux can do that but I have yet to see it. So from experience I can tell you their tablet PC OS works well. Weather Microslop c
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If you're a Linux user and work in the engineering field, chances are you have a different idea of counts as easy to use from most people. Just like how many people thought smartphones were easy to use before the iPhone came along.

    • by WARM3CH ( 662028 )

      Finally, what happened with the Tablet PC? Remember those?

      Yes, I do. In fact I'm writing this very comment on my Tablet PC running Windows 7.

    • by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @04:30PM (#30674462) Journal

      I'm definitely not an apple fanboy, owning no apple products, but you're spot on.
      Apple pretty much has the tablet foundation in place with the iPod Touch and iPhone. They have fantastic touch sensitivity, all the software already written, a solid underlying OS, the media codecs, browsers, etc.
      How the HELL does MS think they can compete with that? What do they possibly have under wraps which comes within 20% of what Apple already has?
      I hear "Apple Tablet", and think, "2.5x the size of the iPhone, stylus, handwriting recognition, yeah, it'd be pretty sweet". I hear "Microsoft Tablet" and think...... OS? Not any I can think of would be good for a tablet. Good touch screen? None that I can think of. Good mobile software? None that I can think of.
      If MS is seriously considering competing with Apple on a tablet, the only way I can see it happening is if they buy Palm, pump a ton of money into R&D, keep their hands off, and slap their name on it when it's done. Trying to pump out some original hardware and software on a short time-frame is stupid to begin with. "Not in five years" indeed. Trying to do so in less time than that, as a response to a pretty mature line of handhelds which are already approaching tablet functionality is just plain stupid. They'll get eaten alive.

  • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

    by comm2k ( 961394 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @02:54PM (#30673128)

    "The Tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available wherever you want it, which is why I'm already using a Tablet as my everyday computer. It's a PC that is virtually without limits -- and within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America."

    Bill Gates, 2001

  • With both MS and Apple announcing tablets, maybe ONE of them can tell us exactly who those things are targeted at. In the age of netbooks and smart phones on the low end and real laptops on the high end, I want to know exactly who out there is clamoring to spend $1000 for a half-assed laptop with a glorified touch screen. Maybe there are some artists out there who could really use this screen for drawing or something (and some Mac fans who will buy anything with an Apple logo on it, just cause), but why wou

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Sure. Notebooks are great, but they can be heavy and they're difficult to use while you're on the move. A netbook is a good idea, but they're difficult to use when you're on the move and really too small to use comfortably on your lap.

      A netbook-type machine in a tablet format with good handwriting/speech/something else + virtual keyboard would eat netbooks for lunch.

      I just printed off two papers to read on the bus home. Why? Because my iPhone is too small to comfortably read a scientific paper on and my

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:10PM (#30673344)
    This is got to be the longest-running MicroSoft joke: announcing vaporware as soon as a competitor does. Windows is the classic example: announced in 1984 when the Mac graphical interface was delivered. But not an usuable version until 3.1 six years later.
  • seems like it's the third time for Windows Tablet Edition, or whatever you want to call it this year.

    first bunch of hardware around 2000 for it was heavy, clunky, slow, no battery life, and moderately Newton-like.

    maybe this batch will work. especially if the batteries are user-replaceable, which is Apple's achilles heel. yeah, it's sleeker. but you lose your machine to exchange in two or three years, at 1/2 to 2/3 the price of a new one, for a simple battery.

  • Huh. I guess we can now see a slightly clearer picture of Apple's motivations for "leaking" a few choice details about their new tablet, weeks in advance of the official announcement: They must have caught wind of Microsoft's own development efforts and of this impending announcement, and they just wanted to make sure everyone understood that Ballmer is really the "me too" parrot, rather than allowing people to develop the mistaken impression that Jobs is the parrot.
  • ...just like a piece of paper: disposable. It seems that a technology only becomes ubiquitous when it becomes so cheap and common that you're strange if you *don't* have one. Everybody, basically, has a cell phone or access to one. A smart phone, like the iphone or android-anything? Not necessarily, but you can buy an old-fashioned cell phone from vending machines now. Look at the history of "computers", in general, and you see the progression from a few at big companies to grandma posting her kitty pics on

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux