I’ve been covering Microsoft in the tablet space since tablets first arrived on the scene in 2002 / 2003. I’m also a Microsoft MVP and have had the privilege of meeting with many on the former Windows Tablet team. I’ve written about tablets, reviewed them, carried them everywhere I shouldn’t, taken gobs of notes on them, and evangelized them to friends and customers. I love the tablet experience. Along the way I even managed to convert several of my customers to windows-based tablets, but the experience never got ingrained because of one thing: windows and the tablet experience never went together well. It wasn’t a natural experience. Sure, handwriting recognition was superb, but the whole experience from day one felt pieced together and was never integrated throughout the entire Windows UI ecosystem. It was that way in Windows XP Tablet Edition and it continues to be that way in Windows 7.
In 2010, Apple came along and redefined the tablet and did in one year what Microsoft could not do in 8+ years. AT CES 2011, guess what Microsoft was demoing? The fact that you could use Windows-based apps and handwrite on the tablet and not mess up the ink – yes, the exact same story they’ve been yelling from the top of their lungs from the early days that nobody was interested in hearing about. The problem is that nobody cares that you can run Windows-based apps on tablets. They don’t want Windows-based apps on tablets. They want apps DESIGNED for a tablet to run on a tablet. They want their tablet to feel natural and Microsoft’s Natural User Interface push on Windows ain’t working for them.
Engadget summed up Microsoft’s CES 2011 keynote superbly: the sound you hear is Microsoft missing yet another tablet cycle. It will be owned by Apple and Google for the next foreseeable future. Microsoft has slumbered into the same abyss they found themselves in with Windows Mobile, and it will take them years to recover unless they act swiftly and listen to what people are telling them.
We don’t want a Windows-based tablet. Never have. Never will. Consumers don’t want it. Businesses don’t want it. Get your Windows Phone 7 OS on a tablet – now. Gain tremendous advantage by integrating your handwriting recognition and ink expertise into the whole Windows Phone OS. I love your Windows Phone 7. I want a larger version of it. I want to read on it. I want to write apps for it. I want to take handwritten notes on it while I’m in a meeting. I want that as a tablet. Many others do, too.
Take your fingers out of your ears, Microsoft, and listen.