When Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates takes the stage in New York on Thursday morning to officially launch the Tablet PC, he will announce the availability of Microsoft Reader for Tablet PC.
This is a special version of Microsofts existing electronic reading application designed for the Tablet. Gates will use his launch address to show a demo using Zinio, which offers digital versions of a range of magazines, and the Microsoft Reader 2.5.
While some Tablet manufacturers are offering buyers a selection of eBooks for free download that are targeted at business professionals, some 50 business and leadership titles will also be available for purchase Thursday at Barnes & Noble.com.
Gates will also use his address to demonstrate a multi-monitor device as well as Far Eastern character sets, in particular the Japanese character set. In addition, he will address how important the Japanese market is for the Tablet PC, sources familiar with the presentation told eWEEK.
During the launch event, Jeff Raikes, Microsofts group vice president of productivity and business services, will demo Grafigo, a "graphics on the go" application from Canadian software maker Corel Corp. The company has plans for various enterprise versions of Grafigo for different vertical segments such as manufacturing, according to sources close to the Ottawa company.
Raikes will also show the Agilex day-planner from Franklin Covey. This is an add-on pack for Office XP users that adds inking capabilities to Word and lets users do things like annotate on PowerPoint presentations and send the annotations to others. It also allows the use of ink for e-mail using Outlook. This can then be viewed as embedded text by the e-mail recipient.
In addition, Raikes will demo a medical application from Stentor, a medical image and information management company, that allows doctors to look at, annotate and mark an X-ray before sending it on with all the comments.
Also at the launch, Microsoft will announce a number of additional Tablet OEMs, including Dixons Group, Electrovaya, Legend, NEC CI and Viglen Limited, while showcasing a number of beta customers, including pharmaceutical group Merck & Co., advertising group Leo Burnett Worldwide and Electronic Data Systems.
Hewlett-Packard Co., meanwhile, will unveil its version of the Tablet PC, which distinguishes itself with a detachable keyboard (click here to check out the new device).
With regard to the inking and handwriting recognition capabilities of the Tablet, Kelly Berschauer, a senior product manager for the Tablet PC, cautioned that the handwriting recognition found in the Tablet will vary from person to person and will not be 100 percent accurate. But it is far superior to the technology available today and has its roots with the Pocket PC engine, she told eWEEK in a recent interview. "We took this base and added in the power of a PC and a stronger recognition engine. Our user studies also showed that people mostly didnt convert their notes to text but rather simply saved and stored those notes so they could search them later," she said.
A number of solution providers are working on enterprise-level applications for the Tablet, such as the MySAP CRM solution, which is expected to ship next March. And a number of customers are creating customized applications for the Tablet.
One such company is law firm Weil Gotshal and Manges LLP, which does a lot of deposition work. The firm took Microsofts journal work and code from the Tablet software developer kit to create a solution that allows it to record the audio of the deposition while transcribing it and then search the audio for keywords, Berschauer said.
While there is no formal certification process for applications built for the Tablet, those that meet the required criteria will carry the "Designed for Microsoft Windows XP Pro" label, she said.
"We are also hard at work on Version 2 of the operating system, which will include some of the features that didnt make it into this product. Our product planners will also be actively working with early adopters to get their feedback and wish-list for the next iteration," she said, declining to say if this would be based on the next version of Windows, currently code-named Longhorn.