Please buy XP Tablet edition - Steve Balmer, 2002
Recently there was a story on PC world explaining why tablet computing hasn't been successful with businesses despite the fact that hospitals, the sales industry and delivery services have been begging for tablets forever.
Their explaination is that Apple's iPad gave users the freedom to figure out what to do with the tablets rather than force them into certain usage scenarios.
Wrong. iPad was successful and tablets were not for one simple reason: iPad apps were designed only for touch. Microsoft tried to turn a keyboard and mouse laptop into a touch-and-pen tablet and it failed because nothing on the PC was designed for touching or writing on with a pen. Apple started from the ground up with the touch on the iPhone/Touch so naturally every app worked perfectly with touch instead of keyboard and mouse, so when they made the iPad everything was already in place.
If M$ wanted a real tablet they should have made one that did not run Windows programs. I know, shocker, Microsoft making a device that doesn't run Windows, but that would have been the only way.
Instead Microsoft gave us the lame duck XP Tablet PC edition way back in 2002 and it was DOA because it just allowed you to use a pen like a mouse with regular Windows programs instead of forcing developers to make new, touchscreen only programs for a new OS. Sure clicking the screen with a pen was fun and it certainly made signing digital documents simpler but 99% of the time it was easier to operate programs with a keyboard and mouse because that's what the programs were designed to work with.
So there you have it, only 8 years after XP Tablet edition was released Apple comes out with the iPad and sold more iPads in 80 days then all other tablets sold in the past 8 years*. The iPad will continue to be a great success and Windows XX Tablet Editions will continue to fade into oblivion.
What can Microsoft do? Well first they need to start from the ground up with a OS designed for touchscreens. Second, make an app store for it. That's
one of the many reasons why Windows Mobile failed, trying to find software for Windows Mobile was a pain because there was no store, you just had to search the internet for programs and hope they worked. Some programs ran well, but a lot didn't. Third, don't force people to use your store. Make the store built into the OS like iOS but allow customers to download their own apps from 3rd parties if they wish. Fourth, have control over the hardware specs. This is one thing Apple's iOS does well while Google Android can't figure it out: every iOS app works on almost every iOS device. You can't say that for Droid. Fifth, have the OS be completely compatible with everything Microsoft. I want to stream or transfer files and control my Windows desktop from anywhere in the world. I want to open every possible file format and edit it as I please. I want the device to play nice with Google, Yahoo, Facebook and any other new thing that might come out tomorrow. I want to sync files to the cloud, and I want all of this built into the OS and free. Microsoft has already lost the smartphone wars and it looks like the tablet wars are about to be over, if Microsoft doesn't want to see the desktop follow then they need to get their act together, maybe it is time for Ballmer to go.
*I have no proof of this but it sounds good, and Apple did sell 3 million iPads in the first 80 days