Microsoft's history with the Tablet PC

Microsoft Slate PC demonstration is just one in long line of tablet device tries

  • Rugged tablet The Xplore Rugged Tablet PC was one of the machines that featured the new Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system.

  • Ballmer's revelation at CES 2010 The giant screen at the CES 2010 conference magnifies what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is holding in his hands – an HP "Slate PC." Ballmer offered few details but said it is "almost as portable as a phone and as powerful as a PC running Windows 7."

  • Evolution of the machine In 2006, Fujitsu announced the ultra-light 12.1-inch screen LifeBook T4215 tablet PC with Windows.

  • The 2005 version of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition featured enhancements that made the stylus pen a mainstream input device, integration with Office 2003 and Office OneNote 2003, and new capabilities for developers.

  • The future In late 2008, Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, began showing off the next step in the future of the Tablet PC. This video shows how the device may evolve.

  • Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shows off the new ThinkPad X41 Tablet from Lenovo at Microsoft's TechEd Conference in 2005. The machine featured Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005.

  • The first prototype In 2000, Microsoft showed off this prototype and said the first Tablet PCs would come to market in 2002.

  • Microsoft's demonstration Wednesday of "Slate PCs" made by HP, Pegatron, and Archos is by no means its first attempt to help develop such a form factor. The Slate PC seems to be identical to a Tablet with only the name changed. In fact, the Tablet PC has long been a pet project for Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who showed the first Tablet PC prototype in 2000 at the now-defunct Comdex trade show in Las Vegas.

  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition In February 2003 Microsoft officially released Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, which was only available to OEMs, and manufacturers including HP, Toshiba, ViewSonic and Xplore responded with machines that featured the new OS. At the unveiling of the OS in November 2002, Bill Gates held a Tablet PC on which he had written "Tablet PC is Super Cool!" The 2005 version of the OS was released in August 2004. Mainstream support for both editions ended in April 2009. Tablet PC functionality was built into the core OS starting with Vista.

  • On the drawing board Microsoft is working on a new Tablet called Courier that features two touch screens and opens like a book. Check out this short video to see how the device works.

  • In 2001, Compaq had a Tablet PC prototype with a Windows OS that it showed at Comdex. Microsoft chief software architect Bill Gates said in his keynote: "The Tablet is a PC that is virtually without limits - and within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America."

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