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Microsoft responds to former VP, lists all their Tablet PC application



OneNoteLogoAlright, looks like Microsoft isn’t taking the criticism from their former VP lying down. They’ve fired back on their official blog and ripped Dick Brass’ take on zero Microsoft Office support for Tablet PCs with this…

And in response to Dick’s comment about Tablets and Office, I’ll simply point to this product called OneNote that was essentially created for the Tablet and is a key part of Office today.

In your face, Brass! Microsoft made one Office application specifically for the Tablet PC and now it’s a key part of Microsoft Office, included in the Home and Student edition. A quick breeze through the product description and you’ll see how they gush over the awesomeness of OneNote on the Tablet PC. Okay, maybe not one quick breeze, but a search of the word “tablet” in the product overview pulls up… nothing.

Yes, the big gun in Microsoft’s Tablet PC application arsenal, the one they pull out when defending their support of the Tablet PC, isn’t even promoted as a Tablet PC application. Instead, it’s pitched as a catch-all for your notes, which it is and does a wonderful job at it, but you can’t really argue it’s your support for the Tablet PC when there’s nothing in its product description that highlights its usefulness on the Tablet PC. And of course, it’s ONE app over a course of years. Apple hasn’t even released their tablet yet and they’ve got three iWork apps ready for it. I find this defense almost more embarrassing than the attack.



  1. DRTigerlilly

    02/04/2010 at 7:23 pm

    puhleez. Onenote became a killer tablet pc app, but it wasn’t made for the tablet pc, have you forgotten the videos that used to be up on MS on how to use Onenote?

    MS got called out & rightfully so. Something needs to change over there.

  2. DRTigerlilly

    02/04/2010 at 7:26 pm

    and have you ever tried using excel or any other office program with a tablet??? HELLISH !

  3. Scott

    02/04/2010 at 7:31 pm

    You know it hurt (and has more than a little truth behind it) because they responded so fast. If it gets them off their collective…um…all the better!

  4. Ben

    02/04/2010 at 8:27 pm

    This is the lamest response ever. One application, which is hardly promoted, is not “support”; it’s a bone thrown to us tablet dawgs.

  5. Evan

    02/04/2010 at 9:00 pm

    Wasn’t going to comment, but just can’t resist. Having worked for Dick Brass on both the eReader project and when he was the nominal VP for Tablet – there’s definitely more to the story. But suffice it to say…

    – OneNote wasn’t created specifically for the Tablet. In fact it was being created separately by the office folks for capturing notes and web page snippets, “typed notes” when they realized they could utilize the inking capabilities of the Tablet, but it was more of an after thought that they then tried to capture into the intial product – hence the incompatibility of ink and parsing irregularities in the initial version.

    – Tablet group was moved into the same overall organization as Office early in it’s life – since it was seen as a tool for enabling knowledge workers. Only when it was getting ready to actually ship was it moved into the Windows organization.

    – While Dick was correct that a very senior person in the Office group didn’t want/like Tablets. However, the real problem was shipping schedules between office and tablet that didn’t meet up AND Microsoft not making it a priority to add the features in to a release of Office that was completed before the Tablet was ready. And thus, there was a reluctance to add the features into a service pack for Office since it would have been a whole bunch of new functionality. Of course this created all sorts of issues, and there were actually a few (hard to find and activate) features that made it into Office in the end (e.g. handwriting an email, etc.)

    Of course there’s always more to the story…


    02/04/2010 at 9:29 pm

    what would be funny was if koffice or openoffice started working on tablet adapted interfaces for use with tablet computers running linux ;)

    on that note, nokia is working on adapting koffice for use on the N900. I do wonder if they could scale maemo up to 9″ tablets…

  7. Frank

    02/05/2010 at 3:50 am

    well, OneNote has tablet PC support, but that is all. Ink support is poor, and so the interface which is a real pain on a tablet PC, especially OneNote 2010 with the ribbon interface, rather useless than useful on a tablet PC.
    MS has some great tablet PC apps, like InkSeine, but those are just research projects, nothing really useful and feature-rich again.
    So it’s time for MS to include pen and touch support.

  8. GoodThings2Life

    02/05/2010 at 5:19 am

    Wow. Great to know that OneNote is the end-all-be-all for Tablet PC. Thanks Microsoft, you rock! /sarcasm

    Good grief, at least take it like a man and say, you know what Bill and company had a great idea with it but we didn’t listen, and step and announce something great like Courier being in development… then make it a priority and make it happen!

    Bring InkSeine to the forefront while you’re at it! Make it a PowerToy download on the Windows 7 page!

  9. Tamas

    02/05/2010 at 8:04 am

    It seems to me that Microsoft carries the Tablet Pc consept as if it was an unwanted child: it is theirs because they kinda promised/came up with it but as it is growing it just gives them headache….

    I hope I am wrong and they are just reluctant to talk about all the unannouncedd stuff up their sleeves. Hope….

    I very much agree withGood Things2Life that MS should take a deep breath and admit whatever the situation is with their Tablet attitude.

  10. Mark Payton

    02/05/2010 at 8:58 am

    I’ll definitely second Evan’s comments on OneNote. Craig Pringle himself corrected a post I made here some years ago, stating very clearly that ink was not a part of the original plan for OneNote, hence the abnormal ink support in the first version.

    I’ve listed a slough of complaints about MS in a post in the developer forum here (last post in the forum, about a month ago–which is telling in itself). With the nice improvements in inking in W7, where are the new apps–or even the new powertoys? Not only were there not new apps/powertoys when Vista came out, several of the PTs were broken and not even fixed!

    And Evan, haven’t there been (or rather will be soon) 2 versions of Office since the Tablets were released? We haven’t seen ANY improvement in Office support for the Tablet yet. I think it must be more than just a timing issue re: Office.

    Without doubt Tablet PCs could have had the world like Bill G originally predicted, but MS either lost their way or they lost their will or both.

  11. Mark Payton

    02/05/2010 at 9:36 am

    For what it is worth, I sent the following email as a response to Frank Shaw’s response. Anyone can do so from that page itself. I don’t know if it will do any good, but it can’t do any harm. Actually, it was kind of a cathartic experience…

    This is a response to Frank Shaw’s blog post of 4 Feb.

    Dear Mr. Shaw,

    I have to take exception to your comments about the Tablet PC and Microsoft’s commitment to them. From where I sit–as a user and vocal advocate of them since their public release–Microsoft has not only dropped the ball with the Tablet PC, it has subsequently kicked it nearly out of their reach.

    Just to tell you where I am coming from: I am a charter member of the organizing committee of the Workshop on the Impact of Pen Technology in Education–originally along with Jane Prey from MS. I have blogged mainly about Tablet PCs on HP’s Digital Learning Environments and maintained two of my own Tablet PC forcused blogs for several years. And I am in the process if implementing my second all-school Tablet PC program at King’s Academy in Madaba, Jordan.

    First one comment of yours is a bit disingenuous. OneNote was NOT created for the Tablet PC. Chris Pratley himself corrected me on this point at one time, explaining that the poor ink experience of OneNote 2003 was due to their implementation of non-standard inking in the product rather than using the Tablet PC ink model.

    No other Office application has anything like inherent integration of ink, outside of “ink annotations”. Outlook has inking ability only by dint of its use of Word as an editor. It could be a killer productivity tool if tasks, contacts and appointments could be inked easily and left as ink.

    MS did release several power toys with the XP version of the Tablet PC OS, along with Experience and Education packs (with much overlap among the apps). And nothing since. Actually, some of these apps were broken by the Vista version and not even fixed so there is negative movement there.

    Windows 7 ups the ante with nice improvements in the ink experience but I see NO other support from Microsoft of late. MSDN Magazine hasn’t had an article on developing for Tablet PCs in over a year as far as I can tell, and precious few in the years before that (only 50 total). The MS Tablet PC Developer blog has been shut down though there are a few articles on Silverlight inking in the Mobile PC Developer Center. The Ink SDK was released in August of 2006 and has not been updated since! In fact, all of the Tablet PC related downloads on the Mobile PC Dev Ctr date from 2006 or earlier! Has there really been no work to develop the ink datatype and ink functions since that time?

    I could go on about my discouragement with MS’s handling of this platform, and gladly will if anyone wants me to, but I’ll add only one more key point of contention, a personal one: The long promised Arabic recognizer is STILL not available. Over 1/2 of my teachers and 90% of my students speak Arabic as a native language and they are desperate for this ability. Why after promising since pre-Vista days is there still nothing? The market here could be so hot for Tablet PCs but it is being ignored.

    Microsoft once innovated with this platform and with dedication to it really could have realized Bill Gates’s vision about it–but they didn’t. And they’ve let it languish since. I hope with Apple generating the buzz that they always do that Microsoft will respond by making this platform a priority and allowing it to be the amazing platform it really is and can be.

    Mark Payton

  12. Corrupted Mind

    02/05/2010 at 10:33 am

    This argument seems a little surreal. Tablet-teers are riding to the rescue of a device that doesn’t support inking or even stylus use. I think I read somewhere up in all the bumpf above that apple have three pieces of software and not a single inking solution amongst them. If you remove the iphone evernote app that would mean no ink/styli support period. It seems very much that M$ has a policy of supporting the tablet but as if it were the ugly stepchild and apple have a policy of non-support (get with multi-touch thickos!). So what we really have is begrudging support vs no support. The bottom line for me is that if you’re a serious tablet-teer who uses the keyboard/stylus and touch Win 7 is your only home and onenote will be your go-to tool regardless of whatever Apple brings to the table.

  13. Mark (K0LO)

    02/05/2010 at 12:10 pm

    I’ll second Frank’s comments about Office 2010. OneNote 2010 took a giant step backwards in usability on a tablet PC with the implementation of the “Fluent” ribbon interface. It’s frustrating as hell trying to work with the new UI and a pen when it was so simple in OneNote 2007.

    But the main point here should be obvious. Microsoft probably can’t afford to put more resources into a tiny niche segment of the market. Face it, outside of a few of us tablet zealots, there isn’t a huge demand for pen-centric applications. Sad, but true.

  14. John

    02/05/2010 at 12:38 pm

    All Dick Brass really did was let us know there was fire where we always knew their was smoke.

    I don’t think its an understatement to say that many of our gripes over the years have been due to the lack of software for tablets. Why would a 3rd party developer work on software for a platform that Microsoft was barely supporting–with the exception of a few power toys and the such.

    While starkly different, look at how Toyota is responding to the braking issues in their cars–the CEO is apologizing. That is their culture and unfortunately demonstrated by the occasional Japanese executive who falls on the sword due to harming a companies image. Just as this is their culture, ours is to defend the image of the company at all cost and by all means. Here we have the “Corporate Vice President for Corporate Communications” tell us we don’t understand their strategy. I would have loved for Shaw to come out and say yes, that was an issue and by learning from it helped bring the Xbox 360 to 23 million homes…Or something to the effect of “we screwed you but it made us a better company”.

    To offer up OneNote as justification for their actions is just plain lame.


  15. Evan

    02/05/2010 at 12:48 pm

    Yes there were versions of Office after Tablet came around, but Mark’s point above is 100% correct, Office didn’t see it as a big enough user base to design features for compared to their other demands…

  16. David Howard

    02/05/2010 at 2:11 pm

    Mark Payton – that was a great post! Your analysis and insight right from Microsoft’s site(s) was very good. Thanks for that.

    I have been a Tablet PC user since around 2002, and am on my 4th tablet PC now. I really like the tablet model, and will likely stay somewhat close.

    But I want to be clear, I am typing this on a Mac Powerbook I just picked up yesterday, and the reason is that I think the innovation is occurring there. I want to try the iPad, and think I should understand the ecosystem that surrounds it, including the Macs, iPhone, etc. For the first time in my life, my primary machine may be a Mac.

    We will see what happens, but I see a similar situation with Windows Mobile. They are simply too slow and followers that do not adequately support things to make a real difference, and the phone market is the next one we may see them exit. They are already way behind in terms of mind share and market share, so I am not sure why they bother any more.


  17. RDX.

    02/06/2010 at 3:37 am

    @Mark Payton

    VisionObjects has Arabic handwriting recognition for windows, how well does it work, I don’t know, as I don’t write arabic. They support 26 languages in all.…loadstylus3.htm

    Their MyScript Stylus software also works well with Ubuntu and Axiotron’s Quickscript (the second beta) works fine on TPCs running Leopard/SnowLeopard.

  18. Panchito

    02/06/2010 at 11:09 am

    Love this post. OneNote was developed with ink in mind from the start–lol. Best inking experience for me? MS Journal. Ink in Journal is so natural and truly native to the application. I like to think of it as the Notepad for inkers…stripped down but just works.

    Ink in the later editions of Office has improved, but is still without the ‘scratch out’ gesture (available in all ink specific software).

    OneNote 2010’s ink has resurfaced with its displacement issues of 2003. Can’t complain yet, it’s in beta. The ‘drawings only’ option doesn’t help much when several drawing are required in notes.

    Hope posts like this one along with insight similar Brass’ halt any of Microsoft’s remote thoughts of doing away with native ink support in current applications. How else can I explain 2003 solved ink bugs coming back on a daily basis in 2010?

  19. Zeuxidamas

    02/08/2010 at 12:28 pm

    I’m a little confused, and mostly by the comments and not the PR sparring that the original article was about. I care very little for that.

    But I guess the responses make me ask why anyone who posted is using a TabletPC? And I may have read them wrong; it could be I am associating what seems to be the general feeling that MS’ support of the TabletPC is lacking with a leap to the conclusion that people feel TabletPCs are not worthwhile to use? And is totally a question, not an accusation, so pls let me know what I misunderstand and don’t just bash for interpreting responses incorrectly.

    I seem to run into a lot of differences with my impressions of using the TabletPC platform and others because I do not use it for text entry; I just use it to mark up documents. To me OneNote is great because I can copy/paste/print web content and mark it up with notes that I can share out or use for my own references.

    I like the MS Office support of inking (my work PC is a TabletPC running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and Office 2007) because I can mark up spreadsheets, Word Docs, and Power Points natively in those apps without having to export them to OneNote or another app. I am so happy that Word 2007 allows inking on the doc andf in the comments without having to mark out a discrete inking area like it used to.

    Sticky Notes is great for me as it now allows both typed entry and ink. While not as much a fan of Windows Journal as OneNote, I do use it for my Design Notebooks for various programs and products and technology domains for specific design decisions and criteria. Outlook ink integration is still lagging, but I appreciate now being able to ink in Tasks and Appointments.

    Maybe that is not a lot, and maybe it is still insufficient. And each function has things various users do or do not like. I do know that I can say I am never moving to a PC for work that is not a TabletPC; at least not anytime soon. I tried once. I can also say that the iPad, while a worthwhile device for the users it suits, falls short for me due to not being able to write on it, and I am looking closely at alternatives for that use-space.

    My apologies if I read anything here wrong, but I got the impression from here that the TabletPC is not the preferred platform for a lot of responders, or that many here are thinking about abandoning it due to a perceived lack of support?

    Ok, I am now ducking for cover, but I am interested in seeing the response.
    – Vr/Zeux..>>

  20. Mark Payton

    02/08/2010 at 1:25 pm


    I for one am in a similar place to you–I don’t ever want to go back to a non-Tablet PC. My frustrations stem not from the shortcomings of the platform (relatively few serious ones, several niggling ones) or even the lack of application support (there’s a fair bit there if you know where to look, but room for so much more) but with Microsoft itself. It created this marvelous tool–and then did NOTHING substantial with it. As Brass commented originally, the Office group basically said “up yours” to the Tablet PC, though they did do modest support for markup which you take such good advantage of. But they’ve abandonded marketing altogether, else why could I still meet folks everywhere I go who’ve never even heard of Tablet PCs? They started off with development support but have dropped it or buried it. They started off with power toys/experience pack/education pack support but abandoned that as well.

    It is a love relationship with the platform but it is apparently a bastard platform in the eyes of its parent company and therein lies the huge rub.


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