Tablet PC: Up-and-Comer or Dead in the Water?

One of the big debates this fall is the status of the Tablet PC, which garnered just 500,000 sales in the past year, a far cry from the 50+ million PCs that the industry likely sold in the same time frame. Microsoft launched the Tablet PC with much fanfare last fall after 2 years of hype, and Gates took on the project as his personal response to the many people in the industry who don't believe Microsoft is capable of innovation. But the question remains: Is the Tablet PC viable, and will it be successful in the long run? Despite huge reservations about the first-generation Tablet PC hardware, which--let's face it--was underpowered at best, Microsoft has clearly nailed the software. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2004 is even better than the original. Best of all, the current-generation Tablet PC hardware is finally catching up with other mainstream notebooks, lending some credence to the notion that the Tablet PC platform will eventually be the future of all notebook computers. But the best news I've seen so far is pricing: First-generation devices were too expensive, and if all Tablet PC makers follow Gateway, which is offering a Tablet PC for just $100 more than a comparable "typical" notebook, Tablet PCs will take off. Mark down the Tablet PC as one bet Microsoft got right.

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