The general audience for the Tablet PCknowledge workers who were taking portfolios rather than laptops to meetingsis real, but that audience is also adverse to change, which is why they are taking portfolios to those meetings in the first place. Inspection Solution, a Nashville, Tenn., company, saw productivity increase after it equipped its mobile workers with Tablet PCs. Click here to read the case study.One point she makes is that Lonestar, the new release of the Tablet PC Edition, will miss the back-to-school season. Right now there are few Tablet PCs priced in the sub-$1,500 range required by the education market anyway, and thats likely the bigger problem. This is changing, but the applications that will pull tablets into education, for the most part, have yet to be written. What caused Microsoft to miss the back-to-school window was the linkage between the Tablet PC Edition and Windows XP Service Pack 2. This service patch is the biggest security improvement in Windows ever and it forced Microsoft to make a choice on the Tablet PC platform. As for the applications that will propel tablets into the education market, I am helping to judge a contest (along with several editors from eWEEK, PC Magazine and ExtremeTech) to drive additional application support to this platform. Microsoft, HP, and PC Magazine are sponsoring the contest, which offers a $100,000 prizethat should get a few folks thinking creatively. One contest clearly wont be enough. Before this technology goes mainstream, we will need to see more lower-cost notebooks that use touch screens, we will need desktop monitors (or some other interface) that will support Ink, and we will need to see a continued ramp-up of Ink-enabled applications. None of this can happen unless the bits that make up the Tablet PC edition land in the base Windows platform. In the end, Microsofts move to merge the Tablet PC platform into Longhorn does not represent the death of the Tablet PC, but its continued (painful) birth. Rob Enderle is the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a company specializing in emerging personal technology. Check out eWEEK.coms Desktop & Notebook Center at http://desktop.eweek.com for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.
Microsoft continues to fund the Tablet PC effort at a high level, and like any large initiative from a complex company that is focused elsewhere at the moment (security is driving the company), it has some problems. Microsoft Watch Editor Mary Jo Foley points a number of them out in her recent article, "Trouble in Tablet Land."