Microsoft announced during the COMDEX Las Vegas 2003 the plans for the release of its Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2004 OS. The new version features deep integration of pen support in Windows XP, making it easier to create text anywhere in Windows and familiar Windows applications. In addition to recently announced tools in the Tablet PC SDK that enable them to create pen-aware Web pages, the new operating system now offers software developers a rich set of capabilities to deliver innovative software applications based on the Tablet PC platform.
Tablet PCs devices were launched in 2002, but are still slowly getting to the market. Sales in EMEA for the first year reach only 100,000 units.
The announcement of Tablet PC Edition 2004 caps the Tablet PC's first year, which has been marked by continued growth in the number of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and independent service vendors (ISVs) supporting the platform, an ever-expanding number of customer pilot deployments, and the first corporate deployments of the Tablet PC as a next- generation notebook PC.
Key features of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2004 include the following:
Enhanced "ink to text" experience throughout Windows and in any Windows application, makes the pen a mainstream input device. Inserting text is easier with the new Tablet PC Input Panel (TIP), and word and case recognition is improved. Developers and users can even add "rules" for how handwriting should be recognized in certain text fields (e.g., e-mail messages, addresses, URLs).
Integration in Microsoft Office 2003 and Office OneNote 2003 offers enhanced productivity by allowing users to annotate anywhere in Microsoft Office Word, Excel or PowerPoint 2003, and send handwritten e-mail in Office Outlook 2003. OneNote on the Tablet PC brings together ink, text and Web content in one application.
New capabilities enable developers to create powerful productivity applications. Developers can integrate pen and ink in Web-based line-of- business solutions. Companies such as FranklinCovey and Corel are deeply integrating pen and ink in their applications. This support makes ink as natural to use as text or any other feature.
"These enhancements to the core Tablet PC software demonstrate how the Tablet PC really is the evolution of the laptop PC," said Bill Mitchell, vice president of the Tablet PC Division at Microsoft. "The increased inking support throughout Windows and Office, plus the ever-growing support of our OEMs and ISVs, is giving customers even more choices in terms of hardware and software solutions that extend the power of pen computing into broad horizontal and vertical, market-specific applications."
Mitchell added that the recently announced Tablet PC Software Development Kit (SDK) version 1.7, which enables software developers to add support for digital ink in Web-based applications, extends the reach of the Tablet PC even more broadly by integrating pen-based computing into the tasks that customers perform every day with a laptop PC. "We are giving developers new tools to enable deeper integration of digital ink into the broadest possible range of PC applications," Mitchell said.
Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2004 is scheduled to be available by mid-2004 as a free upgrade for existing customers and will come preinstalled on new Tablet PC hardware systems.