Monday Mary Jo Foley did a pretty good job summing up various tablet and touch efforts by Microsoft (http://bit.ly/7OyMMI).
First, she declares that Microsoft has already ceded the tablet market in part because of marketing. She doesn’t quite get the full touch idea either–no matter what the size of the display. (I’d argue that maybe she’s not thinking big or small enough. What about large classroom sized smartboards or of course our tiny smartphones?)
Then she goes on to plead the case for UMPCs saying that maybe they weren’t that bad after all. Outside of speed and price issues I’d agree–for a first generation. However, the iPhone still trumps them.
Now as to Courier or Surface or some other touch and tablet efforts at Microsoft, let’s just say that I’m also eager to see how this all plays out.
I, for instance, am an enthusiastic advocate of Micrisoft advancing more if its education efforts. Here again, touch and tablets make a lot of sense–from handheld slates little kids can ink problems on, to eReaders that can challenge stacks of books in libraries, to slates with webcam microscopes that can be used in field biology labs, to multiuser touch smartboards, to electronic exchange of documents via a touch-centric kiosk like UI, etc, etc, etc. No smartphone is going to be good enough for all of this, nor is any one smartboard, or eReader, or…You get the idea. It’s a challenging problem, that needs lots of engineering from the ground up–not just dodads plucked onto the backs of business minded products.
OK. Enough soapbox time. (Though I promise to write more about this later.) Back to my regulary scheduled enthusiasm for slates and multitouch.