Q: You chose to put Windows inside the Tablet instead of a different operating system designed specifically for the Tablet. Why?
A: You can’t come up with a new OS. It’s just gospel here [that it has to be run on Windows].
Microsoft fans (or Apple critics) like to credit Bill Gates as a visionary for tablet PCs, claiming they’ve been around nearly a decade, and in general minimizing any credit to Apple for the iPad. Um, no…
First, there’s the fact that tablet-like devices using pen (stylus)-based input and handwriting recognition had been envisioned (and in some cases produced, like Apple’s own Newton) long before Gates’ “vision”.
Second, the tablet PCs Gates envisioned have two flaws: They run a desktop OS and use traditional PC hardware. The second flaw is an extension of the first, Microsoft’s insistence on Windows dictated the hardware. These flaws have haunted every tablet PC this century; they’re simply not practical. As I’ve said before, you don’t build the new paradigm from the old paradigm’s thinking.
Finally, Apple questioned all the old thinking about tablets. With the iPad they created a device that not only avoids a desktop OS and hardware, but also bucks conventional wisdom about what a tablet must do. Specifically:
- A stylus is out (most people hate them), touch is in.
- Handwriting recognition makes no sense to a generation raised on keyboard input.
- A new platform needs new apps specific to its capabilities.
The result is the first and only practical tablet computer (the iPad won’t have competition until copycats arrive in a few months). Apple rightly deserves credit for building what makes sense now, and not chasing failed “visions” from yesterday.