Today Microsoft announced that it would be extending the lifetime for Windows (XP we presume) for netbooks. It had already done so for ultra-low cost PCs, such as the Eee PC.
This leaves the UMPC and similar Tablet-enabled devices even further out on a limb as UMPCPortal points out as they are becoming even more expensive relative to other similar featured devices. I think Warner over at Gottabemobile hints at the product confusion too and reflects on how this all may shake out in the end.
Here’s the problem as I see it: Despite the fact that these low-cost devices are in part being targeted to students, there won’t be ink. There won’t be touch. There won’t be handwriting recognition. All of which make lots of sense for students. These great Tablet features are not included in XP Home, which is what Microsoft is giving breaks to OEMs on.
Now fortunately there’s Silverlight and I guess handwriting recognition can go through a server for these low cost devices, but this is not the ideal situation.
It’s disappointing to see Microsoft’s licensing shifts–that are clearly needed I know–potentially hurting Tablets/UMPCs in the education market at a time like this.
I think part of the problem here is that Microsoft sees the Tablet features more as a premium experience. Like the licensing issue with XP themselves, it needs to drop this and get over it. Tablet features aren’t premium. In fact, Tablet features should be mainstream, native features that are cross platform even (Silverlight, Messenger on the Mac, Office on the Mac). If Silverlight can inch this direction, I’m perplexed why Windows can’t across all its SKUs.
Here’s my plea for Microsoft: If you could just transfer the responsibility of ink and handwriting recognition from Windows and put in under the management of the .NET Framework team, I think developers, customers, and OEMs would all be better off.
Yeah, this is part of my continuing campaign to see Windows as having the core responsibility of saying “No” as part of its objectives of being more stable and secure and the .NET Framework, et al, as our path to the future. Move all the good stuff to .NET so we can get on with it. It’s the new API.