This weekend’s discussions here at GBM and elsewhere about Steven Sinfosky’s comments in a recent post using the Tablet PC bits as an example of components of Windows that can be turned off have generated quite a bit of passion. In the big picture that is a great thing. Quite a few folks weighed in with comments to this post (including Mr. Sinofsky). Loren Heiny’s intital response has also generated a lot of good discussion, as has James Kendrick’s post about the topic.
Some see this as much ado about nothing. Others (like myself) see this as, if nothing else, a troublesome comment by Sinfosky given his leadership role. I think the difference of opinion here is both healthy and productive as it certainly is putting a discussion of Tablet PCs front and center again, both here, and hopefully at Microsoft.
A couple of other interesting notes here as the discussion moves along. James Kendrick posted a link to Twelve unnecessary Vista features to disable, this morning. Note that the Tablet PC bits are included in that list of twelve. Also note that some commentors to jk’s post are poo-pooing this specific list for a variety of reasons.
Loren Heiny has illustrated his thoughts further, as only a Tableteer can, by taking Ink to screen with this cartoon.
As the discussion continues let’s keep some historical perspective in mind.
When Tablet PCs rolled out there was a separate OS, Windows XP Tablet Edition. While that distinguished a difference, it also led to confusion as many didn’t understand the distinction. The amount of times those of us evangelizing the platform back then wrote that it was a superset of Windows on top of a fully fledged XP can’ t be counted. There was a separate Tablet PC development team within Microsoft.
Tablet PC got absorbed into the OS and the Tablet PC team got absorbed into the larger Windows platform as well. If you were around the Tabletscape then, you will remember a hue and cry from many that thought this would be the harbinger of bad news for the future of Tablet PCs.
That hue and cry got somewhat ameliorated when it was announced that with Vista the Tablet PC bits would be included with some Vistas SKU’s and that the goal was to make that functionality available to any OEM who wanted to take advantage. The intimal hopes here were that we would see a much tighter integration between the OS and Tablet PC features. That didn’t occur to the extent many were hoping for.
Mr. Sinofsky’s comments here and elsewhere in the discussion can certainly taken at face value that some might be reading more into them than he intended. That said, I think those of us who have been around through the rocky evolution of Tablet PCs and the rough acceptance path it has had within Microsoft, even with Bill Gates as a champion, are always leery of any conversation starter about Tablet PCs and how it is connected (or not) to the Windows ecosystem.