Who'll keep taking Windows Tablets in the iPad era?
BillG's 2001 proto-fondleslab that failed
Andrew's Review Notes I have a lot of sympathy for people who steal their technology from the hearse, just as its driving through the gates of the great technology knackers' yard.
While it is obligatory to be savoir faire with the latest in design and innovation, when it comes to my personal spending I'm right there with the laggards, on the extreme right of the Technology Adoption Lifecycle.
You've heard of Early Adopters, and maybe Happy Hour Adopters. I'm a Last Orders Adopter. I made good use of a Palm long after everyone else had sold theirs. I used OS/2 when it was well and truly doomed; BeOS when it had secretly been de-emphasised by Be Inc in favour of kitchen appliances – the dot.com-version of the fondleslab.
I waited until the third iteration of the iPhone to leap in. I got into Ubuntu on laptops just before everyone decided "Good Christ, this megalomaniac has destroyed everything I like about my favourite Linux distro. Bye!"
There are many advantages to being a Laggard: the platform is usually as cheap as chips, and the bugs will have been debugged. It will probably play nicely with everything else. And you avoid all the pains of the early adopters.
I recall developing on what was DEC's first Alpha NT Workstation, when only a couple of dozen were in the UK. Alpha was brand new – and extremely sexy. And NT was so much part of the future every UNIX guru was privately learning to get a handle on the new system. Alas the Alpha didn't always boot – something to do with the keyboard driver, I recall.
And sometimes as an early adopter you just drive down a dead end. When I ditched the Psion for a Nokia Communicator in 2001 I lost the ability to type notes quickly, traded a great diary for a lousy one, and got a brick in exchange. It was a terrible decision – one really based on faith.
Now I see the same faith expressed by people who have begun to store their password files on Dropbox, and boast about how their passwords are always available thanks to The Cloud, and how this is the future, and we should all get with it. Er, good luck, guys ...
So I have some sympathies with the Windows Tablet community and I marvel at how enthusiastic and helpful they still are. It buzzes away at sites like TabletPCReview. Well, mostly it is TabletPC Review.
The Windows Tablet was one of two Big Ideas that Bill Gates spawned in Microsoft's world domination era, from the mid 90s on. The great Bill idea was to put a database in Windows and build the file system on top.
That was actually a great idea – as you old PICK and AS/400 veterans know – and with Longhorn in 2001 Microsoft set to work. But it proved so hard to implement, Microsoft had to throw it all away and start on (what became known as) Vista from scratch. I don't think that will ever be back – there's so much sunk in the architecture as it is. And who, exactly, complains?
Tablet PCs were Bill's other big idea. By 2007, predicted the great man, Tablet PCs would become "the most popular form of PC".