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Microsoft white paper on Windows 7 slate design



Microsoft’s Windows 7 team has provided a white paper for OEMs to guide them in designing slate PCs for Windows 7, posted in HTML form at In addition to hardware specifications and recommendations, it includes a rundown of the touch features in Windows 7, both in the OS and pre-installed applications.

If you’re unsure of what touch features are offered in Windows 7, the first part is worth a read-through. The rest of it is really for hardware makers but does offer some things to think about when you’re shopping for a Tablet PC, such as button placement and heat dispersal points relative to handhold points. The notes on using an SSD, recommended for lower power consumption, mention when SuperFetch and ReadyBoost should be disabled. Or to put it another way, just because you have an SSD, that doesn’t mean these performance-boosting technologies won’t help you.

While there’s nothing surprising in the hardware suggestions, it is clear why we’re still not seeing “low-cost” and “Tablet PC” used in the same sentence. I’d love a slate with highly accurate digitizer, fast SSD and more than four hours of battery life, per their suggestions, but getting that in an affordable package has always been the real trick.

One thing I finally learned (not that I’d ever bothered to pursue it) was the reasoning behind the left-forward/right-back flicks.

Navigate back: Place fingertip on the page and flick it to the right, as if flipping backward through the pages of a book.

Okay, I get it, but it’s still dumb. A) Flicking your finger across the page of a book isn’t really a normal way to turn pages. B) Why would anyone make the directions the opposite of the standard back/forward buttons in a web browser? I reversed them on my Tablet PC to match the left-back/right-forward system, but I suspect the average user would just get frustrated and not bother.

Original paper posted at WHDC. Hat tip to UMPCPortal.



  1. GoodThings2Life

    06/17/2010 at 10:36 am

    Oh yes, I totally agree on the direction of the flicks. It’s so frustrating to flick the opposite direction, so I reversed them on mine as well.

    Still, it’s an interesting read, and I’d love to see some Inkshows about the Windows 7 touch/tablet functionality (I haven’t done a quick search to see if I’ve missed them along the way), but certainly a bit of a refresher and lesson in what’s really possible is worthy of attention.

  2. Paul Harrigan

    06/17/2010 at 12:15 pm

    I don’t think the issue is with touch capability. Rather, it is with power usage and immediacy of access.

    The immediacy point is a big one. Windows is designed as a desktop system. You boot it up, and it runs all sorts of tests, loads drivers and, after you have breakfast, it’s ready to run. The Ipad is a big utility device. Turn it on, and it’s almost instantaneously there.

    Power usage is a problem due to the huge amount of multi-tasking built into windows. A lot of this could be fixed with two iphone features: (1) more accessible settings than going into the registry to change what processes load and keeping the defaults oriented to fewer processes, rather than more, and (2) allowing applications to add “start-up” processes only with great rarity. Having the update page, rather than a dozen processes all trying to do updates, phone home periodically, and so on, would make for much better battery life.

    With these few changes and a few simplifications, I think Windows would have a compelling advantage in the marketplace. However, they need to get that established rapidly — I think CES 2011 is probably about their last chance.

    • sbtablet

      06/18/2010 at 6:58 am


      Excellent points. Nothing irks me more than discovering that my new program has set itself up to start with Windows for no apparent reason, other than to appear to be “instant on” when I go to open it. I’d rather get my OS going and wait a minute for the program if I run it that day at all. A good utility like CCleaner helps, but still. . . . My daughter can start her MacBook, check her email and shut it off again before my OS is completely loaded on my laptop. ANNOYING.

      • Feralboy

        06/21/2010 at 4:16 pm

        stablet — I’m curious, why don’t you just let Windows 7 sleep between usages? I only shut my tablet off when I need to reboot it after installing new updates or software that requires it. It works beautifully, so well in fact, that I barely remember how long it takes to boot. That said, a couple of weeks ago I downloaded the beta of a really cool program that utilized a software genome concept to identify programs that are causing problems or system slowdowns…anyway, their database needs to be populated before that feature works, but they have another feature that monitors your startup and suggests programs that can be shut down…the interface is WPF goodness, and the whole thing just reeks of cool. I think it reduced my boot time to a minute and a half from over two…but since I don’t boot much, well, it’s kind of moot. Oh yeah, I think the software genome program is called Soluto, if you’re interested (:

        • Nameless

          06/24/2010 at 1:57 am

          Someone else on the Internet knows that Windows supports sleep/standby? I’m relieved.

          While I do wish for a more optimized pen tablet OS, it probably won’t happen since MS refused to follow up on the Courier. In that case, I need full-blown Windows for OneNote’s sake.

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