Tablet PC evangelist Craig Pringle says the future is bright for his favourite computer design.
Pringle, a senior technology consultant with Gen-i, was recently awarded with Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) status for his continued work with Tablet PCs.
Pringle admits that Tablet PCs have had a slow start and that some of the negative legacy from the first Tablet PCs remains. But changes in both software and hardware have made the Tablets more accessible as well as reliable.
Software developments such as Tablet-specific plugins for programs like Microsoft Outlook and Word, along with Tablet-only applications, are all driving the technology forward. The forthcoming release of some versions of Windows Vista will see the first complete Tablet-compliant operating system.
Pringle says there are advances in hardware as well as new software. “In addition to the operating system support, I expect to see a rapid increase in the number of Tablet PC-suitable applications that are either specifically designed for the hardware or have in-built support for it. This trend will further drive adoption rates in the business market and also in the consumer market.”
New Zealand software development company Ambient Design is also pushing the popularity of the Tablet PC. Their newly developed software, ArtRage 2, will be offered to schools around New Zealand for $1, as opposed to the retail price of $20. Though the software will fit most platforms and operating systems, its features work best on Tablet PCs.
While changes have been made in software and hardware, Pringle also believes there is a change in people’s attitudes towards the Tablet. One example of this, according to Pringle, is a business trend in creating a more mobile workforce and eliminating the need to report to a base to enter data.
“Tablet PC technology is more effective in specific business markets such as banking, insurance, health and any other vertical with the need to equip its mobile workforce with quick-to-launch, highly portable computers that allow users to interact using a stylus or pen on a relatively large screen size.”
Pringle believes Tablet PCs are gaining on notebook computers, and that in the future there will be a convergence between them. “As the three categories continue to cross over, we will start to see a continuum of devices rather than three distinct categories. By around 2008, the range of devices available will be much more diverse in terms of form factor but will have relatively similar features and functionality. That is, you won’t be able to point to one particular device and say it’s a Tablet PC.”