Tablet PC Lives On, According to Raikes

At TechXNY's PC Expo today, Microsoft's Jeff Raikes will demonstrate a prototype tablet PC with XP.

NEW YORK --- Jeff Raikes, group vice president of the Business and Productivity Systems group at Microsoft Corp., sees worker productivity doubling over the next decade, with the help of Microsoft technology.

Raikes will outline Microsofts forthcoming information worker productivity innovations - and announce a handful of new tools - in his keynote address later this morning at the TechXNY PC Expo here.

On the hardware front, Raikes will announce the November 7 launch of Microsofts Tablet PC, which the company has been touting for at least the past year.

Prototype Tablet PCs with the beta version of Microsoft Windows XP will be deployed at several customer sites in the next 30 days. The prototype resembles a laptop but with an electronic version of a yellow legal pad on instead of a top cover. That panel can neatly pivot to face the user when the keypad is in use.

The prototype boasts writing recognition technology that learns users handwriting for better deciphering of written text, which can be formatted into computer text and manipulated like any Word document, including word search functionalities. (During a demonstration however, four out of five handwriting examples were mis-identified by the Tablet when, for example, Renee Ferguson became Renee Lyn).

The Tablet will also come with Microsoft Reader 2.5, the latest version of its on-screen reading application that enables users to download online books and read text easier through its large display and high-resolution display capabilities.

During his keynote, Raikes will showcase prototype Tablets from Fujitsu, Motion Computing and Toshiba, as well as software from the likes of Franklin Covey – makers of the more traditional paper day planners – Corel Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc., each which is incorporating functionality into the Tablet.

In the "not too distant future" the Tablet will have voice transcription of notes, according to Raikes.

Code-named "Wallaby," Microsofts Windows powered Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition will also be demonstrated by Raikes. The newest model of the Pocket PC combines integrated wireless voice and data capabilities in a combined Personal Digital Assistant and cell phone device. It has handwriting recognition and syncs with the Tablet.

Later this summer VoiceStream/T-Mobile will offer phone service in the U.S. for the Pocket PC 2002.

On the software front, Raikes envisions a day in the not-to-distant future when a paperless office does exist and productivity is through the roof for information knowledge workers.

"Information workers use technology, but they are from a broader spectrum of work," said Raikes. "They can be nurses or insurance agents and they dont always sit in front of a computer eight hours a day. They are often mobile, use technology to manage information and make decisions and they need more flexible and business appropriate computing solutions."

Microsoft is investing heavily in XML and collaboration technologies, which will in turn be used to boost worker productivity. Raikes will define in his keynote how the company plans to bring together information islands by embedding XML schemas into its applications, including Microsoft Office, Word and Excel apps.

The next version of Office – currently called Office 11 – will be available in a year. A first step down the collaboration path, the next iteration of the Outlook messaging and collaboration client, incorporates XML to help users improve the way they read, search and manage their personal information, according to Raikes.

Further out, the vision is for Office to integrate XML and Web services - and for an embedded XML schema within an application to be able to "do the right thing," said Raikes.

There are also collaborative innovations in Microsoft Share Point processes in the making that will enable a team, for example, to prepare for a meeting, follow up and capture action items through a collaborative process.

This functionality will be available as part of the Windows server release next year.

Microsoft, of Redmond, Washington, also envisions a convergence of audio and video technologies on the network.

Today, companies use an audio conferencing device to bring together disparate teams on conference calls. Within the next several years, cameras and microphones will be part of a smart conferencing system whereby the audio and video systems follow the natural flow of conversation.

"The trick is making it as easy to hook up as the Polycom," said Raikes, in New York.

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