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Bill Gates Unimpressed by the iPad

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Bill Gates, in case you thought otherwise, is a genius. He really, really is. Not only was he building a software company at a time when no one believed software had a meaningful future, but his vision of “a computer on every desk and in every home” was nothing short of crazy hugely ambitious.

Even so, geniuses do get things wrong sometimes. In an interview with BNET’s Brent Schlender, he suggests netbooks will be the devices of choice in a post-iPad world;

“You know, I’m a big believer in touch and digital reading, but I still think that some mixture of voice, the pen and a real keyboard – in other words a netbook – will be the mainstream on that.”

Hardly shocking, coming from the man who co-founded Microsoft (s msft). He adds;

…it’s not like I sit there and feel the same way I did with iPhone where I say, ‘Oh my God, Microsoft didn’t aim high enough.’ It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.’”

As TiPB’s Rene Ritchie pointed out, this is remarkably reminiscent of Gates’ dismissal of the iPod in a BusinessWeek interview in 2004;

There’s nothing that the iPod does that I say, “Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that.”

I am not surprised Bill doesn’t “get” the iPad, in the same way he didn’t “get” the iPod, either. Gates’ vision of “a computer on every desktop” was a grand vision. But that’s as far as the vision went; he certainly didn’t describe the computer as an appliance. From the Microsoft perspective, the “computer” is, largely speaking, a screen with a keyboard and a pointing device. In fact, it’s even more specific than that; as far as Microsoft is concerned, a computer is a screen with a keyboard and a pointing device powered by Windows. And if you really want to push the boat out, you can add some flavor of Office into that mix, too.


Since neither Windows nor Office are particularly suited to pervasive, intuitive touch control, the Microsoft definition of “the computer” simply doesn’t accommodate anything like an iPad. Tablet PCs are a bit easier for Microsoft to swallow – at least most of those have a keyboard (making them notebooks in disguise).

And while Microsoft knows Tablet PC’s don’t sell, it also knows that the interest in Apple’s (s aapl) iPad might translate into a short-lived boost in Tablet PC sales, too. But let’s be honest; Microsoft isn’t committed to tablets in any meaningful way because tablets don’t fit into Microsoft’s vision of how we use computers. Or, more accurately, tablets don’t fit into Microsoft’s vision of how businesses use computers.

It’s ironic that Microsoft – popularizer of the ubiquitous spreadsheet software – still have not made Excel (arguably the most popular spreadsheet editor on the planet) touch-friendly. Meanwhile, Apple, considered by some to be makers of shiny toys for posing artistes, have a business-class spreadsheet app ready to go when the iPad launches. (Former Microsoft exec Dick Brass offers a possible explanation for this bewildering oversight in his revealing article on the NY Times last week.)

Just Enough

Apple’s vision has always been diametrically opposed to Microsoft’s. Steve Jobs has long-pursued a desire to make the desktop computer more intuitive and, paradoxically, less like a traditional computer. So, while Windows exposed increasingly complex functionality in each successive iteration, Mac OS X did the opposite, hiding or removing as much complexity as possible, leaving behind just enough to get the job done.

When it came to mobile devices, Microsoft’s desktop vision proved inescapable, and it tried to squeeze Windows into everything. (Only the Xbox and Zune break with that tradition.) Meanwhile, Apple demonstrated that a device’s software must reflect its form factor (like an iPhone OS on a tablet device is an obvious fit).

Therefore, the iPhone OS is designed to be so simple and intuitive that multitasking is intentionally restricted, reserved for a select-few apps. That’s not a lack of vision or coding acumen, but rather a terribly bold statement of intent. Apple has a vision for how people should interact with computers, and they believe it’s better than anything else we currently have. What’s more, it’s willing to stand by that vision, despite the cries of inflexible critics who fail to understand it.

In short, Apple doesn’t sacrifice form for function – rather, Apple allows form to dictate function.

Dream Come True

Back in the early noughties, it was Gates who championed the Tablet PC, and more broadly, the slate form-factor, boldly predicting in 2001 that, “…within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America.”

Microsoft’s hardware partners dropped the ball when executing his vision, helped, no doubt, by Microsoft’s decision to crowbar-in a barely modified version of its full desktop OS – the exact same mistake it’s making again today. Not enough people got their hands on a Tablet PC to arrive at an informed opinion on its utility. Not enough software was developed that made good use of it, either. So, while the iPad is far from Microsoft’s ambitions, it’s the closest the industry has ever come to the realization of Gates’ tablet dreams.

Gates is obviously loyal to Microsoft, but he’s clearly prepared to say when he thinks Apple has done something remarkable. I don’t believe he fails to grasp what the iPad represents, despite his comments yesterday… and I’m pretty sure he’s disappointed Microsoft couldn’t learn from its earlier tablet mistakes. For a man who invested so much in the tablet dream, it must be pretty galling to see Apple succeed where he failed.

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56 Responses to “Bill Gates Unimpressed by the iPad”

  1. Bill Gates was quoted in 2004 as saying:
    There’s nothing that the iPod does that I say, “Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that.”

    Bill was right on the money when he said that. An iPod was then and still is just an mp3 player that caught on like wildfire due to clever marketing and nice designs. I never bought an iPod because I already had an mp3 player and I won’t buy an iPad because i am already doing everything that it can offer.

  2. I don’t understand why its hard to believe anyone could be unimpressed with the iPad. To say Apple just hits things out of the park when they come up with a new product is an understatement. Seriously, how many years has it taken other smartphone manufacturers to even come close to making a product on par with the iPhone? But given everything I’ve seen of the iPad, I doubt that’s going to be the case. It looks cool and I can see how many would find it usefull, but its lacking in a lot of areas. I seriously doubt other manufacturers will have trouble catching up to it or even surpassing iPad’s capabilities. Were they in a rush to get this out, or did they just keep the innovation down to keep the price low?

  3. I work at Best Buy in the computer department, and I can assure you Apple will sell quite a few iPads. In the past few weeks a considerable amount of people have asked me about the iPad and when we will be getting them in. I’ve worked there for 2 years and no other product has had so much interest.

    I might add that 99% of the people I sell computers to wouldn’t need anything more than the iPad provides. Most of those people don’t even know what a USB port is. Trust me, almost everyone is quite computer illiterate. So while us tech nerds debate the merits of features not included in the iPad, the general public simply doesn’t understand or care.

  4. Some random thoughts come to mind:

    -Apple is effectively a mobile company now. Microsoft is less of a direct competitor each day. If anything Google is a bigger threat–to everyone!

    -I hope no one will sit for 8 hours in front of an iPad crunching financial projections.

    -I think Microsoft is on the upswing and not diametrically opposed. XBox and Win7 are impressive. If Courier was a reality, it would all be over and I would sell all my Macs.

    -I use Macs and PCs–so I thought this article was pretty funny. I didn’t realize people were so divided.

    -You can’t remotely criticize someone with the tech and philanthropic clout like Gates and not get some heat–but that makes for good pageviews!

  5. but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.’”

    Right, except maybe sell ten million units of something that expensive in the next few years.


  6. I’m guessing the person who wrote this blog is very young and doesn’t know his/her PC sofware history!

    “Not only was he (Bill Gates) building a software company at a time when no one believed software had a meaningful future, …” WHAT??? What about SPC, Lotus Development, Borland, Wordperfect etc etc they all had market leading apps before Bill!!

    And this takes the cake: “It’s ironic that Microsoft – popularizer of the ubiquitous spreadsheet software ..”. Can I point out the Lotus 123, developed by Mitch Kapor’s Lotus Development, (following on from the forerunners Visicalc and Multiplan) was the killer app in PC spreadsheets. All Bill did was realise he was very, very late to the application party, cobbled together some apps, and as they weren’t as good as the killer apps on the market he bundled them and sold them dirt cheap in OEM deals with PC manufacturers! Didn’t take a genuis to do that, just someone who killed the best companies by “competing” with essentially loss leader prices.

    I like Bill’s commitment to social welfare, but his business practices were not based on “genuis”. And might I also point out if IBM had gone for CPM and not DOS, Microsoft may never have got off the ground.

    • Hi Gypsy

      To clarify, because you seem to have missed it;

      I said Microsoft “popularized” spreadsheet software, I didn’t say Microsoft “invented” it.

      You mention Visicalc and Lotus 123 (both of which I actually used… y’see, I’m not as young as you might think) but even when those products were still viable options, Excel was dominating the market. You say it yourself, Bill Gates was smart and bundled Microsoft’s apps with OEM PCs.

      I know my computer history well, but this wasn’t an article about the intricate weave of software’s past.

      As someone who clearly knows her stuff, I’m curious as to what the iPad means to you and whether, like a lot of tech-efficianados, you have strong opinions about it?

      Thanks for posting.

    • Good insights gypsy. There are not many people who know their computing history who would not hang the moniker “genius” on Bill Gates. Shrewd? yes! Smart? yes!… A great Innovator? no. a Visionary? no. Look he didn’t invent DOS nor any of their other great money making apps they have; Windows and Office. These were “borrowed” from the visionaries and enhanced. Bill gates was a much smarter CEO than Jobs and was able to leverage Windows 3 because of licensing. But it’s no big surprise that Gates and Ballmer have failed to recognize the potential with many of Apple’s products: iMAc, Apple TV, iPod, iPod touch, iPhone, and now the iPad. Apple has won the Mobile segment. Windows may catch up yet… but i doubt it. Hell they missed the boat on the Internet and have never caught up!

      The iPad has not even been released as product and already there is a ground swell of interest in it. By educators, by Doctors, by Business types etc. Jeez even MSoffice is coming to the iPad. Apple and Jobs have announced a product. By the time they arrive in stores we’ll see a different product and many cool apps that will fan the fire of demand even higher. bank on it!

    • Barbara Saunders

      I’m not a Microsoft apologist, except in one regard. Making dirt-cheap OEM deals with manufacturers that enable one’s company to compete and win against better products is as valid a kind of “genius” as any, in my opinion.

  7. I don’t blame him for not being impressed with the iPad. Nothing I’ve read thus far convinces me that it’s in any way useful, what with iTouches, iPhones, e-readers, and regular computers/laptops already on the market.

    • √ “The iPad’s secret sauce: it’s the software, stupid / All the people (including me) who felt underwhelmed by the iPad initially might have missed its true potential.”

  8. Interesting how heated people are getting over this. It’s not an iBabyKillingPad. It’s a product that isn’t even available yet, and another option to choose from if that’s the type of product your looking for. I can see it fitting a lot of peoples needs. For example, people who travel a lot are not all business types, don’t all own a smart phone with web browser, nor do they all want to carry a 4-5lb. laptop everywhere. Portability could be the #1 driver of sales initially, who knows. Yes there are net-books galore, and that is still another “choice” consumers have. It all depends on what type of experience you want to have while using a device. Lets see what happens.

    • LB, I think the problem lies in a lack of imagination. A great many geeks and tech-heads are accustomed to sitting with their laptop/netbook in front of them and apparently don’t mind the discomfort/inconvenience of carrying that kind of device with them everywhere they go.

      I can’t help conclude the iPad is not *for* us. It’s for everyone who does do email and web surfing but doesn’t enjoy peering at the tiny screen of a smartphone and doesn’t enjoy cracking open a laptop while on the couch, or train, or passanger seat of a car, or in the post office, etc…

      Geeks and Nerds say “But we do that with our laptops and smartphones already, therefore the iPad has no utility and is stupid and dumb and pointless and bah! to Apple and their overpriced toys!”

      The vast majority of non-geeks will, in time, say “Yes, I’d love to have an iPad, it is perfect for me.”

      Y’know, this is what happens when you make an appliance. Not everyone can see why it’s useful. When Microwave Ovens first appeared they were expensive and, for a great many people, pointless; “But we already cook our food and heat our drinks, we don’t need this fancy new microwave oven, we already have a REAL oven. Can the microwave brown? Can it roast? Can it grill? Can it warm plates in one place while roasting turkey in the other while heating coffee elsewhere? No. It doesn’t multitask. It’s dumb and stupid and overpriced and we don’t want it.”

      Well, there you have it.

    • thenikjones

      When I travel I carry a netbook – 9″ screen, built in keyboard and webcam so I can Skype with the wife and we can see each other.

      I can see the iPad advantage of instant-on – albeit my netbook boots in a fast-enough minute or so – but I would only carry an iPad AS WELL AS my netbook as it lacks a camera, so there’s no compelling reason for me to buy one – maybe if I didn’t already have an iPod Touch?

      I’m sure it will be good as a web-surfing device, but lack of Flash is a problem there – not to everyone, but I imagine alot of non-tech people buying one will not realise that they can’t use all the sites they may be used to.

      Still, be interesting to handle a device and see them in the wild.

  9. I dont understand why few people get how the average american will use this device – i hear many of my friends so excited by this – when i ask why i get some combo of the following

    “”look its not a laptop – but to have this on the couch when watching tv – and not try to balance a netbook/laptop on my knee, and i don’t want to focus on the small screen on the iphone – but to hold like a book when i am watching catch up tv- and do im, facebook, mail and surf at the same time with a long battery life and storage stand, so i don’t have to have it plugged in for the two hours or so and can leave it charging overnight on the coffee table- wow “”

    I think thats it – its a limited task set that people do all the time which they want done simply. The laptop is still on the kitchen table for more heavy duty stuff and will probably being used by other family members at the same time. The price point is not there, when it drops to 299 it will become the next christmas must have.

    now personally i would like a camera – to take to the coffee shop etc, but then again i would want more functionality, and rarely sit on the couch

    So i see there being an initial core group of couch potatoes who will want this – and as the functionality and price drops the market will expand- 2010 christmas gadget of the year

    • For one, by not trying to be a PC in tablet form.

      And two, Apple loyalists were divided over the iMac (“How stupid can Apple be not to include SCSI. It doesn’t even have a floppy drive!”), the iPod (“What kind of lame letdown is this? Who wants a dumb music player? And what kind of stupid name is ‘iPod?'”), the move to Intel (“Apple betrayed us! There’s gonna have to pry my PowerPC Mac from my cold, dead fingers!”), the iPod shuffle (“WTH? It has no screen!”), the new iPod shuffle (“WTF? It has no buttons!”), the iPhone (“EDGE? No MMS? Are you kidding me?!”), and now the iPad.

      And somehow, yet again, we’re supposed to believe the naysayers’ cries again about how the iPad is going to fail because of all the things it supposedly can’t do.

  10. “I just honestly can’t figure out WHO would want an iPad”

    … for one Doctors. They see the potential and are in line to buy them. Also Schools and Universities. Gates and many others haven’t got their head around the way iPad is going to change computing. Like happened on the iPod there is a whole slew of innovation coming …

    Mr Gates is not a visionary, and never has. he failed to see what the Internet was all about.. .and they have been playing catch-up ever since.

  11. @Jason Harris

    My, but you’re *awfully* wound-up sir! Calm down, it’s just an article! ;-)

    To seriously address your point though – I honestly don’t believe the iPad is for “gadget heads” like us. It’s for everyone else instead. It’s a mistake to conclude that, if we tech-pundits don’t immediately understand the utility of the iPad, no-one else can instead. The same arguments were tossed about against the iPod and, to some extend, the original iPhone, and look where we are now! It’s my opinion (call me a fanboy if you like, I don’t mind in the slightest) that the iPad will follow the same trend.

    BTW, there are dozens of practical use-cases for the iPad on this and many other popular Apple-centric blogs. In fact, it’s all we “Microsoft Haters” have been talking about! LOL

    Thanks for reading, commenting and debating, it’s much appreciated :-)

    • Jason Harris

      I prefer the term “spirited”

      IMO, people are just overthinking the impact of the device. It will sell to some people, and it will find a niche, but we’re looking for something much more like the MacBook Air than the iPod.

      Perhaps the iPad gen2 will up the ante on what the device can do, but I honestly think it’s functionality is far too limited for what most people do. There will be niche markets that can use a device like that for specific applications, education or hospitals being good examples, but that’s not going to change the world.

      It’s also going to be facing a really tough market when the $300 Intel Atom machine running Android or even Windows comes out with more functionality/connectivity in a very similar package.

  12. Just two points;

    1. Why are so many Microsoft apologists reading TheAppleBlog?

    2. Not having settled on a personal use-case for the iPad does not equal everyone else in the world also feeling that way.

    That is all. Carry on :-)

    • Jason Harris

      1. Your blog comes with the Om network RSS feed. If you’re not happy with the extra pageviews, perhaps you can encourage them to take it out.

      2. I have a better “personal use case” for the iPad than most, considering I’m a gadgethead and could justify carrying another device.

      Considering that you write about Apple products for money, I would assume you could give a better reply than “lol if u dont like apple GET OUT!!1” which is basically what your post amounts to. If you’re offended by people politely disagreeing with you, perhaps you should be writing a blog that doesn’t allow comments.

      I’ve yet to see anyone making a case for who would use this device or why, outside of a nebulous “Think outside the box! It’s not for YOU if you don’t like it, it’s for this vague other person that we can’t define!” It’s not a very strong case for the device.

      Frankly, for all the Microsoft hate, Apple is looking more and more like the bad side of MS every day. This device isn’t innovating…it’s resting on their laurels and assuming the world will buy it.

    • Personal use case has nothing to do with your arguments. You are attempting at all cost to prove that Apple is the only company on this planet evolving our computing experience, whereas I politely disagree. You’re limited by your lack of objectivity, but I guess good journalism can also mean being controversial, so I say why not, I’ll read it, doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.
      If you expect only fanboys to read your articles, you need to develop a new technology that will scan all negative thoughts in the readers minds and block them from accessing the AppleBlog.
      Shit, bad idea, Jobs minions might be listening, I think Apple would like nothing more than to have our minds converted to the “Jobyism”.

      PS. Why the tablets haven’t become popular in the last decade has less to do with the fact that microsoft hasn’t provided the perfect interface than it does with the fact that the hardware was simply cumbersome, heavy and expensive. Crunchpad changed the way we think about tablets today, iPad ultimately is a better device than the JooJoo, but it’s just simply not good enough to spend 500 dollars on, not anymore, not since the netbook revolution.
      I see the iPad as a bag of hurt and I will avoid it, just the same as Apple has decided that we, it’s lowly customers, are not worthy of having blu-rays, or esata connections.
      Somehow I think I’ll live.

      And yes, I’m a Mac user, that however doesn’t make me a fanboy, especially not when they’re trying to make an asshole out of me by coercing me to buy another insufficient device.
      Personal use case simply doesn’t exist here, if you can’t do anything very well, then I don’t think it’s worth the time to do it at all.
      Oh, I’m sorry, there is one thing that the iPad will be able to do very well – email !!! Although God forbid should we ever want to save or unpack those compressed attachments…

      I think I’m simply disappointed, and therefore will refrain from further comments on the iPad issue. Everyone has the right to decide for themselves, i think it’s just fair to point out the problems.

    • Jason, have you bothered reading the blogs???

      “I’ve yet to see anyone making a case for who would use this device or why”

      I have already heard that MANY doctors will use it in their offices to check scans and x-rays.

      Which would you want them to use on you, IPhone screen or IPad. I rest my case!

    • Microsoft apologists?

      Wow…Apple fanboys are amazingly thin skinned. It is ok to say that an Apple product will not end world hunger and bring peace to the world.

      Of course, if Jobs becomes President, he will probably enact a law ending all criticisms of anything fruit-related. :)

  13. What about the Microsoft Surface, or Courier (admittedly only a concept thus far), or tablets (existing and coming, way more powerful than anything apple will provide), windows mobile devices which only in the last 3 years have been rendered obsolete with android and iphone, but don’t change anything on the fact that MS was there before apple and only Palm was further ahead of the pack, home servers delivering content to appliances all over the house with media center? The freedom of computing you get with Microsoft can only be bested by linux, which takes things to a whole another level.
    I think you’re clearly overestimating Apple ability to break Microsoft dominance of the computer world. Even if I like the iPad, and quite frankly I do, I would never buy it for myself or anyone in my household, because of it’s limitations, fanboys scream that they’re not limitations, they’re meant to improve the computing experience, to which I’d like to respond – how f***** stupid are you really? I also wouldn’t buy it for my parents either, although it looks like a nice reading device, why? because its display will cause serious eye strain, like every lcd display. Only e-ink provides book-like experience and people will realize that very soon. iPad will however have one positive effect – it will accelerate the technology development in the e-paper area, with color and faster page renderings.
    Apple strategy has been the same since the introduction of the 5th generation iPod, first introduce a low spec device, then release an update every year to improve it. This new revision approach is a huge failure in case of the iPad because its stripped of everything. Ability to flick my freaking finger over glass surface is not really all that enticing anymore, not since the iphone/ipod touch and dozens of android devices. If it’s supposed to be an appliance for using the internet, I expect it to be able to do exactly that, period.
    Also, regarding your comparisons with microsoft – not making excel touch-friendly?? Whats that about? Have you actually tested this app Apple has created? I don’t think I want to poke 2000 cells in a multi-sheet document with my finger, I want a keyboard for my excel editing, everything else is gonna be a disaster, and probably hence the optional iPad dock, but if I’d have to carry a keyboard, why the hell wouldn’t I buy a feature full netbook like the Nokia 3G booklet, or the new Tegra units, which are even capable of pc-level gaming.
    Then there is Windows Mobile – it’s not Windows, just like iphone os is not mac os, the fact is they’re very far behind apple on this, but remember that windows mobile was developed still had their tail between their legs, I’d wait until mobile 7 to render my judgment if I was you.

  14. Jason Harris

    The iPod and the iPhone are great products, and most people believed/realized as such when they came out. They took existing concepts and improved and converged them in a way that made them very useful to people.

    The biggest problem I see with the iPad is I can’t envision HOW people are using it. At work? No. At your home? Odds are you have a regular computer there. On the go? This is the ideal spot for the iPad, but it assumes you’ve got $500+ to spend on an “on the go” machine and haven’t yet opted for a laptop or a netbook for this purpose.

    The device can’t replace your iPhone, it can’t replace your iPod, it can’t replace your laptop….so it’s just a 4th device to carry around. I’ve seen people state that this is a computer for “regular people” but you can bet your ass that your non-savvy computer users don’t want to type on a touchscreen keyboard. If you’re using the external keyboard, it sort of defeats the purpose of the device and I doubt “joe computer user” is in a hurry to buy more accessories just to make his $500+ device usable.

    Also, when it comes to the iWork stuff….again, touch screen keyboard. Spreadsheets wouldn’t be TOO tedious, but I can’t even imagine trying to type up a document that way. Holding the device in one hand while hunting and pecking with one finger to type up a document? Who would EVER want to do that?

    The device isn’t a phone…it’s too big to use as a dedicated MP3 player. It’s not a productivity device. It’s not going to play your DVDs, which limits it as a multimedia player, especially for the “casual” user. So with all this in mind, what is the market for this device?

    With iPod, obviously making an MP3 player and making it easier to use had lots of applications. With iPhone, making a smartphone with a hugely improved interface/UI/browser over current phones had great promise.

    I just honestly can’t figure out WHO would want an iPad. The only place I can see this selling is for big Apple fans and gadgetheads who just want a fun toy. Most people aren’t going to be willing to carry ANOTHER device next to their phone/mp3 player/laptop…there are a few who will, but it’s not going to be a world changer. I predict this sells slightly more than the MacBook air. Same userbase, and might draw a few extras due to the lower price.

    • @ Jason Harris

      I couldn’t have said it better myself. I use and love apple products (macbook and iPhone) but as hard as I try I just don’t get the iPad and just can’t see myself buying one. It’s a big iPod touch, I don’t care what people say! Where would I use it?

      At home? I watch a lot of videos on my macbook (hulu, netflix, etc…) but since flash is not supported, I can’t do that. Using it as a e-book reader might be an option but anyone who’s spent more than an hour reading on an LCD screen knows how much strain it puts on your eyes.

      Commuting? Most people’s commute is short enough that pulling out an iPad is really not practical. And even if you do, unless you spend the extra money for 3G capabilities what do you use it for? Music? videos? maybe…

      At work? Maybe if you’re a teacher or a nurse.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the iPad will sell like hotcakes, but I’m also willing to bet that there’s going to be a lot of buyer’s remorse when people realize they really didn’t need one.

    • “I just honestly can’t figure out WHO would want an iPad.”

      Oh ye of limited imagination. For me it’s going to be great to take it to bed and read/watch/listen/play games on the iPad. I do this already with the beloved iPhone but yearn for something with a bigger screen. And not to be crass but an iPad in the bathroom can supplant a stack of magazines, etc. handily! Key is portability, instant on, instant entertainment pretty much anywhere. And of course other applications are unlimited with software making this thing go where no “Pad” has gone before.

      I can’t wait until the iPad goes on sale, becomes a spectacular success (c’mon, you KNOW it will) and puts all the doomsayers, critical feature set geekmeisters and clueless back into their myopic shells where they belong. (Until the next Apple new product introduction that is.)

    • Barbara Saunders

      I agree.

      The day after the big announcement, I found myself in a cafe, responding to an unexpected, urgent email on my iPhone. I needed access to the Web to get some information. The thought, “An iPad would be great right now,” crossed my mind, and then …

      I remembered that the only reason I had the iPhone with me was that it was small enough to slip in my pocket. Had I expected to need to answer this kind of an email, I would have carried my laptop, which would have been better for the purpose than the iPad.

  15. I am very pleased with my convertible tablet and Gates is right about the keyboard issue. Not having a keyboard is really restrictive when it comes to actually doing work. But the ipad is restricted to the point that it is useless when it comes to doing actual work, but that seems to be exactly the point. It is nothing like a netbook or laptop it is just a MID.

    Also, I keep seeing people talking about how Microsoft failed to bring the tablet to the masses like it said it would. But really, back in 2001 would you have wanted a tablet? Do you remember laptops in 2000? Mobile technology was a joke back then, but now companies are finally realizing that the technology is there to make a decent tablet that consumers would want and could afford.

  16. Agreed Jon….premature. For me, I’d really, really like to kind of find that typing with the on-line keyboard will be easy….or easy enough that I can quickly adapt. I think the posts about the rounded back (thus making it wobly on tables) will change with a proper skin. I am concerned though that every view you see of the person using it to type etc., has them with their feet up and legs bent — that’s not so condusive for the future. Anyways, as before, we’ll just see.

  17. “But that’s as far as the vision went; he certainly didn’t describe the computer as an appliance.”

    That’s not entirely accurate. The first MS tablet protypes shown in 2000 comprised much of what we see in today’s iPad. It didn’t have multitouch of course, and it didn’t run an instant on OS. But the capability was a superset of today’s iPad. More like an iPad with OS X. The competition at the time was really webpads, which would be like an iPad with no multitouch and no app store. MS also had their Mira initiative, which was an appliance slaved off a host, and their embedded group, which then as now does most of their “appliance” work. Gates and MS had the vision. They, along with their partners, just failed on the execution and importantly were a little early technology wise. It happens.

    The iPad is great, but there’s no need to rewrite history.

    • I disagree. I was excited by the tablet form factor, got and carried one for a year. Wanted to love it…but no. It was simply a PC laptop with a pen, bad/inadequate/limited software and I quickly stopped trying to use the pen-based functions. The iPad (and those that will quickly emulate it) is wholly different in its basic interactions and design. I don’t disagree that MS has visions and visionaries, but their historic inability to realize them in a way that changes the way we use computers is, sadly, well documented. Need I mention Surface???

    • shaun Snapp

      There is no re-writting of history here. MS had nothing but a bastardized PC in tablet form that nobody wanted. That is like saying that Microsoft had a computer with a processor, and the iPad has a processor so Microsoft had the same idea before Apple.

  18. That’s it in a nutshell. I remember and have since view the interview on how much he loved his tablet, and his vision for the future. But alas, he’s got the wrong people at the helm and he’s watching Apple rule. We’ll see what the iPad’s like in every-day use before giving the final answer.

  19. Good read, thanks Liam.

    I have to say, over the past few days seeing these posts about Gates’ ambitions and question Apple in a few of the endeavors have brought some light to my eyes.

    Its good to see that even Gates, if plausible would acknowledge the fact that Apple is doing something great, and inquires about it.