WinInfo Daily UPDATE, December 1, 2003

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1. In the News
- All Not Well in Tablet PC Land as Acer Complaints Continue
- Microsoft Opens Security Beta for Early Windows Versions

2. Announcements
- New--Microsoft Security Road Show!
- Order Windows & .NET Magazine and the Article Archive CD at One Low Rate!

3. Event
- Receive a Free Identity Management White Paper!

4. Contact Us
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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==== 1. In the News ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

All Not Well in Tablet PC Land as Acer Complaints Continue
A year after the debut of Microsoft's innovative Tablet PC platform, the software giant is keeping an upbeat tone despite slow sales. A powerful new hardware platform is in the works that will erase past performance and battery life problems, and a new version of the Tablet PC software--Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2004, code-named Lonestar--will fix some technical problems in the original software. But a growing rift between the hardware makers that create the Tablet PCs and software-maker Microsoft could escalate into the biggest threat to the handwriting-capable systems. This week, PC maker Acer, one of the original Tablet PC makers, reiterated charges that Microsoft isn't doing enough to drive forward the Tablet PC market.
"\[The Tablet PC market\] is a mess," Jim Wong, president of the Acer IT Products Business Group, said. "We are disappointed in the market. We believe it will happen, but it will happen too late. We keep on challenging Microsoft \[to do more\]." Wong's charges follow similar complaints that Acer President Wang Chen-tang made last month when he said that Acer barely sold 100,000 Tablet PCs last year, far short of its target of 2 million units. And all the hardware makers sold only 256,000 Tablet PCs through June 30, according to market research firm IDC. Wong says Tablet PC sales are hampered by high prices and a lack of applications that take advantage of the unique features of Tablet PCs. To this day, large corporations with specific needs build most Tablet PC applications inhouse.
Microsoft says it's addressing these problems. Regarding Acer's charge that pricing is too high, many PC makers are now charging just a small premium over non-Tablet PC hardware models; Gateway is offering a Tablet PC model that's just $100 more than an equivalent notebook computer running Windows XP Professional Edition. But Wong says that the Tablet PC OS should cost the same as, and not more than, XP Pro, as it does now.
As for applications, Microsoft says its constant upgrading of the XP Tablet PC Edition software development kit (SDK) has helped developers more easily and seamlessly add Tablet PC-specific features to existing applications. And the new version of the OS, due in early 2004, makes it much easier for users to input handwriting-based Digital Ink data. In many cases, the company tells me, developers can add new XP Tablet PC Edition 2004 functionality without even recompiling applications--a boon for companies that want to get running on the new system quickly.
Clearly, the platform's biggest problem is communication. Microsoft needs to do a better job of informing key volume markets such as the educational sector that the Tablet PC is an effective and inexpensive solution that can benefit large numbers of users. Most people who try a Tablet PC immediately understand its benefits, but it's a product you really need to pick up and experiment with before you appreciate it. The Tablet PC isn't a product for everyone--many computer users type far more quickly than they write, and many people's handwriting is illegible. But many people could benefit from the handwriting capabilities in XP Tablet PC Edition. The trick is to let them know such capabilities are available. If successful, the Tablet PC, combined with strong Microsoft Smartphone sales, should destroy the market for traditional PDAs. That scenario isn't taking place yet.

Microsoft Opens Security Beta for Early Windows Versions
To aid customers who use early Windows versions and don't have broadband Internet access, Microsoft is considering releasing a CD-ROM-based security-update product that would bulk-install the security updates the company now offers online through Windows Update. A beta test of the potential product, dubbed the Windows Security Update CD, will start soon, according to an email message the company sent to testers last week, and will be aimed at Windows Me, Windows 98, and Win98 Second Edition (SE).
"This special security update CD will benefit customers with slower dial-up Internet connections and those customers who do not regularly visit the Microsoft Web site to download security updates," Microsoft stated in an email message to potential testers. The beta test is scheduled to begin in mid-December, although the company hasn't set a release date.
Microsoft has been increasingly criticized for the security problems in its products, and although for years the company has offered Web-based methods that automatically deliver key security fixes to users' computers, some critics allege that such delivery systems are ineffectual for users who have slow, infrequently used dial-up lines. The Windows Security Update CD would address that complaint, although how Microsoft will deliver the CD-ROM to users or communicate its availability is unclear. Either way, this CD-ROM will likely be a one-off: In future Windows versions, the company will rely on the increasing adoption of broadband to distribute security updates to users' system on a regular basis.

==== 2. Announcements ====
(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

New--Microsoft Security Road Show!
Join industry guru Mark Minasi on this exciting 20-city tour and learn more about tips to secure your Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 network. There is no charge for this event, but space is limited, so register today! Sign up now for our December events.

Order Windows & .NET Magazine and the Article Archive CD at One Low Rate!
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==== 3. Event ====
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4. ==== CONTACT US ====

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