Microsoft's Mundie: time is right for tablet computing

A confluence of technology advancements may finally popularize tablets, he said

Although Microsoft leaders have spent years promoting tablet computers with only marginal success, excitement around the form factor is finally building, thanks to technology advancements, a Microsoft executive said.

"Bill and I and others at Microsoft have long been proponents of the tablet-based computer," said Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, referring to Microsoft founder Bill Gates. "We've worked at it diligently now for well over a decade."

Gates launched Microsoft's tablet PC platform in 2001, predicting that within five years the tablet would become the most popular form of PC sold in the U.S.

That didn't exactly work out. Tablet PCs are commonly used in some vertical markets, like health care, but they have not become popular in the mainstream.

But now, eight years after Gates' prediction, buzz is building for tablet computers. Persistent rumors of a tablet from Apple continue to circulate. Recently, a video emerged online of a slick hinged tablet device reportedly being developed by Microsoft.

Mundie wouldn't comment on that device, but he said that a confluence of trends makes now the right time for tablet computing. "Today, several factors are coming together that will probably make the concept more resurgent or at least become more mainstream," he said.

One technology development is that now a tablet device can accommodate both pen-based interaction and touch-based interaction. "The two technologies were generally not available together," he said.

In the early days of tablet PCs, design was largely done around the pen because people thought users would want to use a pen to annotate documents and sign names, "and your finger was not pointy enough to do that," he said.

"But then of course came this whole idea of touch, which we pioneered a bit with Surface and got a big boost from the iPhone," he said. "People thought this direct-manipulation thing has some merit."

In addition, computing advanced such that hardware could be light enough to support all the features that people wanted. "I think it's a confluence of small, light devices with the hybrid touch and writing screen technology that will finally probably result in a tablet-type computer going mainstream," Mundie said.

Mundie is spending the week visiting college campuses, continuing an annual tradition started by Gates. Each year, Mundie picks a theme that demonstrates how technology will evolve and shows interesting applications of the technology. This year, he's continuing on a popular theme of his: natural user interface. He'll be showing how areas of scientific computing, specifically energy and the environment, are already using some advanced user interface technologies.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?