If a new demo video on YouTube is anything to go by, HP should abandon it's Windows 7 tablet plans now, says Nicholas Kolakowski. He roughs the prototype quite a bit.
Hewlett-Packard’s tablet aspirations might be in very, very big trouble - and along with it, Microsoft’s hopes for making a dent in the tablet market.
Take a look at the following YouTube video, which comes courtesy of the curiously named “x313xkillax.
If that’s really a prototype of the upcoming HP Slate running Windows 7, and if it’s anything close to the finished product, then they might as well stamp “R.M.S. Titanic” on the side. Why include a “CTRL-ALT-DEL” button on the device’s chassis unless you expect the software to crash on a regular basis? What’s with having a mechanical button to activate a virtual onscreen keyboard?
And yes, the device seems to web-surf pretty quickly, but an unmodified version of Windows 7 on a small touch screen translates into icons roughly the size of theoretical particles: You better have a stylus or small fingers.
We’re not even going to talk about how it takes 25 seconds to boot.
Dead in the water?
During July’s Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference, HP’s Todd Bradley was quoted as saying, “Our focus is working with our still largest software partner, Microsoft, to create a tablet for the enterprise business.” This was relatively soon after HP acquired Palm, whose WebOS is widely expected to appear on the company’s consumer-oriented tablets.
If this video actually shows a near-final HP Slate in action, then I can only assume that HP is pouring resources into the WebOS version of the tablet, and neglecting the development of the Windows 7 counterpart - leaving it to die, in other words, while they leverage their Palm acquisition to its fullest extent. Either that, or else HP assumes that businesses will simply buy anything, provided there’s enough sales muscle behind it.
Although Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said repeatedly that his company intends to triumph in the tablet arena, it’s been an open question whether Windows will be modified to run on the form factor. Some might argue that Windows 7 came with touchscreen capabilities baked into the code, and that all Microsoft needs to do is find a manufacturing partner willing to design a truly kick-ass piece of hardware.
But Google Android and Apple’s iOS4 have both demonstrated the better utility of a smartphone-like OS on a tablet; if I were Microsoft, I’d give serious thought to importing Windows Phone 7’s user interface onto the form factor, and discarding entirely this albatross of an idea that Windows 7 can run perfectly on
anything with a processor and a screen.
And if this supposed HP prototype is the shape of things to come, everybody’s going to learn that the hard way.