Gates Still Going to Champion the Tablet PC

Well, this is good news. According to this CNET report, Bill Gates will still be championing the Tablet PC at Microsoft once he is finally retired. Although, I have to say that it would be refreshing to see other higher-ups like Ozzie and Ballmer to take Tablet under their wings and become a champion for it, too. The potential is huge, and as we are seeing with other competitors on the Origami / UMPC / MID side, some out-of-the-box thinking and dedicated focus is definitely needed.

So – here’s the question of the day: You get to spend some time with Bill Gates to talk about Tablet PC, UMPC, touch, etc. What would you want to discuss?

Here are some of my questions:

1) How many folks at Microsoft are still using Tablet PCs? Has their implementation within Microsoft increased / decreased over the last several years?

2) Vista OS on UMPCs – a good idea, especially as we see processor speeds and memory configs drop? Is it time for a dedicated Vista Mobile OS that is tailored to the experience?

3) Apple – they seem to have taken ownership of touch with the iPhone. Will the Surface change that perception and position in the marketplace? How do we get Surface type usability and design within Vista and on hardware. What’s the time-frame and price point for Surface with the consumer?

4) Is touch and pen UI design a primary design consideration on the Windows Shell team?

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5) OneNote – best app Microsoft has, but no one knows about it. Why?

6) Marketing – when can see some renewed effort from Microsoft marketing Tablet PC?

7) Is Tablet PC today where you envisioned it 5 years ago?

8) When / if Apple ever comes out with a Tablet PC, what will that mean to Microsoft in terms of focus?

From CNET:

For years, the Microsoft chairman has been a fiery advocate, inside the company and out, for the notion that computers should be controlled, not just by mouse and keyboard, but also by more natural means, such as voice, touch and digital ink.

But, as Gates prepares to shift to part-time work at Microsoft next year, his vision is still more common inside the company’s research labs than inside the typical home or office. Unbowed, Gates said he expects to keep plugging away as he takes on a new, more limited role at the company.

“Big screens, touch, ink, speech, that’s something that I think, along with cloud computing, is the next big change in how we think about software,” Gates told CNET News.com on Tuesday. (Cloud computing is the notion that many of the computing tasks handled by individual computers today will instead be tackled by servers in huge data centers connected over the Internet.) “Ray Ozzie is driving our cloud computing stuff…Some of the natural interface stuff, I think he and Steve (Ballmer) will ask me to sort of keep the energy and vision alive there.”

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