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Steven Sinofsky and the Tablet PC: What Do We Really Know?



me Yesterday, Loren Heiny responded to a post by Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky about customizing Windows and the many responses that they have received from users, some of whom think that allowing users to turn features on or off based on how they plan to use their computers. In the post he listed the Tablet PC bits as an example that could be turned off.

Some examples are quite easy to see and you should expect us to do more along these lines, such as the TabletPC components.  I have a PC that is a very small laptop and while it has full tablet functionality it isn’t the best size for doing good ink work for me (I prefer a 12.1” or greater and this PC is a 10” screen).  The tablet code does have a footprint in memory and on the 1GB machine if I go and remove the tablet components the machine does perform better.  This is something I can do today.  Folks have asked about Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Windows Mail, Windows Calendar this is good feedback and good things for us to consider for Windows 7. 

Loren’s response was similar to mine:

Yes, he’s saying that even on a Tablet PC, the Tablet bits don’t have enough value for him.

Loren took Steven to task for his comments on screen size and Inking as well, recalling the Tableteers lament for the HP tc1100, which by most accounts was a great, if not the great Tablet PC at a 10inch screen size.

Sinofsky responded in a comment to Loren’s post saying the following:

I think you read more than I wrote :-)

I just said that for me, a 10 inch Prime screen is too small for inking. Maybe I just write too big. When I use ink I mostly use OneNote and I just find that a 10 inch Prime screen at 1280×768 is not enough information density.

That’s all

Maybe, maybe not. Here’s my issue. Sinofsky has clamped down on communication about Windows 7 and now is using the blog, Engineering Windows 7, to talk about the process behind assembling the next version. I applaud the effort to talk about what’s happening behind the scenes. That said, I don’t think Sinofsky is as naive about the impact of what he writes in that blog as he appears to be about Tablet PCs. Maybe I should say I hope he isn’t. When you control information the way Microsoft now is doing, and talk about that control, what you choose to share has powerful meaning, even if used as ““an example.” The same is true with what you choose not to share. This community has been on pins and needles about the future of Tablet PC computing for some time now in the wake of Microsoft’s poor marketing and implementation of what Tablet PCs can and do offer. That only increased when the Tablet PC’s biggest advocate, Bill Gates, retired from the day to day.

That point is driven home to me by Steven’s comment. He chose to focus on the screen size issue rather than address Loren’s larger issue:

The performance fix for the Tablet bits is not to remove them. It’s to address the lower level implementation details. I wish he was signaling that that’s on the Windows 7 to do list.

So do I, Loren. So do I.

So, Steven, you’ve opened the door for dialogue now with the Tablet PC community, and at the risk of making you feel like you need to say even less about Windows 7 in the future, what you wrote ““too big” in this instance, is an invitation we’d love to take you up on. Let’s talk about the future of Tablet PC computing. I think you’ll be surprised by what you hear.

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