10 Years On And Still Left Behind: Happy Birthday Microsoft Tablet

Microsoft Tablet PC is 10 years old

Before Apple iPad , Microsoft’s Bill Gates was touting the Tablet PC as the future of the computing world. At a 2001 Las Vegas trade show packed with industry manufacturing giants like Toshiba and Fujisista, Gates gave a "state of the industry" keynote speech declaring the 2000s the "Digital Decade". As Gates stated ten years ago:

The PC took computing out of the back office and into everyone's office. The Tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available wherever you want it, which is why I'm already using a Tablet as my everyday computer. It's a PC that is virtually without limits -- and within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America.

So why is Microsoft’s Tablet PC not dominating the market now? Why didn’t Gates’ foresight materialize for Microsoft but instead did so for Apple? There are a number of factors: a $2000 price tag put off consumers along with the tablet’s over-reliance on a stylus. Others believe that it the tablet was just too much—by trying to completely replace the PC with a full desktop OS (Windows XP), the software was mismatched to the hardware and how people would use it. Apple found a slightly different niche by selling their tablet as a cheaper product used for enjoyment while your desktop was for work.

In the end, Gates’ prediction of the Digital Decade was unarguably true, just not for Microsoft.

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