Tablet PC, Tablet PC, Tablet PC

The strategy early on for M$ was to equate “personal computer” with a computer running their OS.
Tablet_PC That’s all gone now. When a retailer like Wal-mart has the temerity to use a term like “Tablet PC”, they are going off-script. A search for “tablet pc” finds a mess of devices, none of which has M$’s OS although just poking around the menus does find 5. While the “talking points” of the trolls for M$ call tablets accessories to real PCs the mind-share is not there. The world of retailers and consumers sees them for what they are, small cheap computers, and consumers love them.
Quoting Bill Gates from 1999: “the PC will morph into many new forms, such as book-size “tablet PCs” but they’ll still be PCs underneath with all the benefits of the universal PC model.

That model will play a vital role in this new world of any time anywhere computing. The PC’s high-volume, low-cost approach will be adopted by many of the new smart devices because it offers amazing value to consumers. The cost of innovation is spread widely, so everyone benefits from billions of dollars of R&D. And the PC’s broadly accepted technical standards – and open Internet standard – mean that when you buy a new device, you’ll know it will function with your existing equipment. In this new “PC-plus” era connectivity will be king, and the PC model’s common standards will be more important than ever.

PCs gave the world a whole new way to work, play and communicate. The PC-plus era will be just as revolutionary. It will take the PC’s power and make it available almost anywhere, on devices that haven’t yet been dreamed up. Given my job, it’s hardly surprising that I’d say this. But I’m betting Microsoft’s future on it.”

Clearly, he envisioned tablets being PCs. He just did not understand that a PC could be without M$’s OS. M$ never understood small cheap computers. In 1997 Joachim Kempin wrote, “OEM division revenue growth over the last 8 years has depended heavily on volume increases and a trend to higher priced OS. During that time ASPs have stayed stable or have gone up which made it easier to ride the wave and get the value we deserve. We have shown larger then 40% growth rates annually and expect in the future that OEMs will take a very hard look in how to avoid paying us more $5 per system in order to hit most aggressive price points. Will this lead to significant higher volumes and thus allow us to relax some prices while gaining share where we need it? The danger does exist that more PCs might get shipped without an OS and we should
not take this lightly!”
He was worried about PCs costing less than $1K… His strategy was to increase unit sales by

  • “1. Moderately more volume by finding new buyers who can now afford to buy PCs (This should be true for consumers as well as small biz)
  • 2. Acceleration of replacement cycles (Knowing that 80M PCs cannot run NTW or WlN 98)
  • 3. Shortening of PC “life time” in general
    The only counter argument to make here is that current PC technology is totally sufficient for most
    office tasks and consumer desires and that any performance bottleneck is not in today’s PCs but
    in today’s COM pipes. This in itself might slow down replacement cycles and life time shortening
    until we find true MIPS eating appIications – a priority not only INTEL should subscribe to.”

How’s that for morality, telling the world how great the product was while sabotaging it at the same time?

Memo to Bill in 1995: “My nightmare scenario is that the Web grows into a rich application platform in an operating system-neutral way, and then a company like Siemens or Matsushita comes out with a $500 “WebMachine“ that attaches to a TV. This WebMachine will let the customer do all the cool lntemet stuff, plus manage home finances (all the storage is at the server side), and play games. When faced with the choice between a 5500 box (RlSC CPU, 4-8Mb RAM, no hard disk, …) and a $2KPentiurn/P6 Windows machine, the 2/3rds of homes that don’t have a PC may find the $500 machine pretty attractive!” (see discussion of this memo at The Register)

No, M$’s concept of a personal computer has always been of a small computer that many could afford with a hefty lump of cash for M$. They even fooled most of the people into accepting the definition of PC as a Wintel machine… Plamondon wrote, “”A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software.” This is the mission statement of Microsoft itself; it is the definition of the conditions under which Microsoft itself can declare overall victory.” They had their “victory” almost within reach about 2003-2005 but it’s slipping away now as they are no longer the goto platform on the only viable hardware on retail shelves. What took them decades to achieve has washed away in a few short years since the netbook with GNU/Linux on Intel and Android/Linux on ARM began to appear on retail shelves. Now everyone knows that other operating systems exist and no one needs M$’s blessing to use hardware they own.

At this rate, this year, I expect GNU/Linux to appear on retail shelves at my local Wal-mart.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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8 Responses to Tablet PC, Tablet PC, Tablet PC

  1. bw wrote of Wal-mart, “in Canada since even their website does not mention even chromebooks.”

    Perhaps they serve you yankees a different look, but here Wal-mart treats us as second-class citizens offering no Chromebooks. however offers a bunch. Heck they even sell cases for them…

    Fortunately, BestBuy has several. I guess Wal-mart doesn’t want my business any more.

  2. bw says:

    Dougman has obviously overlooked the “GNU” qualifier in your prediction, as in “I expect GNU/Linux to appear on retail shelves at my local Wal-mart”. For that matter, he seems to have overlooked the “Wal-Mart” qualifier as well in Canada since even their website does not mention even chromebooks. Then there is a similar disregard for the concept of “retail shelf”.

    It is no surprise that such disregard for detail goes hand in hand with disdain for certifications and degrees obtained through formal education. It is so much easier when you can ignore anything that you find hard to achieve.

  3. dougman says:

    Ahh Yes, I understand now.

    Some websites look like crap when you print them, that is why I have the printfriendly addon for WordPress on my website, if a customer wants to print something sans images they can.

    There is also a Chrome browser extension, that helps as well.

    I use Springpad to book mark stuff, not a user of Evernote.

  4. dougman wrote, “What printing problems?”

    Well, if a document is out there somewhere on Google’s server and your printer is in here on your LAN behind a firewall, printing is problematic. Even printing a web-page is lousy from a browser on a thick client. Such documents were not designed for printing.

  5. dougman says:

    I can readily print from my Android or Chromebook.

    What printing problems?

  6. dougman wrote, “Google is thinking long-term with ChromeOS”.

    ChromeOS still has a printing problem since the data is “over there” somewhere. Screens don’t print well. Eventually, everyone will have a screen and won’t need paper… In my home we have a multi-function printer which gets used very little. We have screens in every room… and mobile ones too. The only time I print is to publish something for outside the home or to use in my workshop.

  7. dougman says:

    Linux is already at retail shelves, I use these two examples as I have personally seen them.

    Google is thinking long-term with ChromeOS, as everything will be in the browser and the exact operating system will become irrelevant.

  8. bw says:

    At this rate, this year, I expect GNU/Linux to appear on retail shelves at my local Wal-mart.

    I don’t. Let’s take a look on Dec 31 and see. I’ll make a note on my calendar.

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