For a guy who hand writes nearly everything, you’d have thought I’d been using a Tablet PC right from the very beginning. Up until now, the usage model didn’t work for me, but that’s all changed with Windows XP Tablet PC 2005. It totally rocks! Between it and the new OneNote 2003 SP1, I’ve completely gone electronic. For the first time since I started using computers I’ve finally got something that works exactly how I want to work instead of being forced to conform to how someone else thinks I should work. In case you’re wondering if I’m gushing about the Tablet PC since we’re doing some work for Microsoft on it; I’m not. I spent my own money on a Tablet PC machine (a Motion M1300) because I saw that it was going to make my life better.
Of course, as soon as I got going on Tablet PC 2005, I immediately started looking at developing for it. While the 1.7 SDK hasn’t been released (it will be released publicly with Windows XP SP2), you can get a jump on making your apps Tablet PC aware by taking a look at an article I did for the Tablet PC Dev Center on Optimizing Applications for Tablet PC. I’m working on a second half to that article that will extend the TabletPCTipScope control to handle keyboard regular expressions along with TIP regular expressions. That article is turning out harder that I expected as I had to do a tremendous amount of work to turn a Regex expression into something that the more limited TIP regular expression engine could handle. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read the article. J
This week I got to spend some serious quality time at Microsoft with the Tablet PC team at the Tablet PC Dev Lab. It sure was nice to be a student for a change instead of being the teacher. Along with fellow Wintellectual Jeffrey Richter, a bunch of fine folks were there like Markus Eggers (any guy who starts his own magazine is cool with me!), Julia Lerman, John Box, Neil Roodyn (make sure to download his great e-Book on getting started developing for the Tablet PC), and the incomparable Charles Petzold (who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years). Arin Goldberg, Frank Gocinski, and crew did a great job with the training and soliciting feedback on future directions.
While I was already a Tablet PC convert, I came away from the event convinced that everyone reading this (and most who aren’t!) will be using a Tablet PC in the not too distant future. The price of Tablets are dropping and they are getting powerful enough to use for even intensive tasks like running Visual Studio .NET. I’ve been developing almost exclusively on my M1300 for the last five months and I’m a guy who lives for fast machines. What this means is that you’d better start taking Tablets into account for your applications because you’re going to start getting complaints that your app blows when run on one. Averatic just announced their C3500, which you can get for less than $1,200 USD, so you need to be seeding your teams with Tablets.