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Swaine Manor: Bludger and Larrikin Attend a Press Conference

Volume Number: 27
Issue Number: 01
Column Tag: Swaine Manor

Swaine Manor: Bludger and Larrikin Attend a Press Conference

...and say all the snarky things you'd say if you were there

by Michael Swaine

My friends Tom Bludger and Art Larrikin claim that they recently attended a press conference on Microsoft's presence at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show, and to prove it they sent me this annotated transcript of the highlights of the conference. By "highlights" I see that they mean their own running commentary on the presentation. Frankly, I doubt that the whole thing ever happened. Nevertheless...

...we join the press conference already in progress. And already in italics.

Microsoft has a long history in the tablet computing market...

Bludger: Wow, are you really sure you want to call attention to that history, Microsoft?

Larrikin: Give 'em credit for perseverance: they're going to keep trying until somebody buys one.

A decade before the Apple iPad, Microsoft founder and former chief executive Bill Gates introduced the concept of a tablet computer, offering all the capabilities of a computer in a new form factor.

Bludger: So I guess I just imagined that Go Corporation introduced the tablet computer a decade before that.

Larrikin: That's why we go to press conferences. You learn something every time.

Bludger: So true. Thanks, Microsoft, for explaining to us who Bill Gates is.

Next month at CES, Microsoft will showcase a number of slate devices from companies like Dell and Samsung that will give Apple's iPad some competition.

Larrikin: I love a good fantasy.

Bludger: Wait, are they tablets or slates? I don't know whether my finger is supposed to be a pencil or a piece of chalk.

Larrikin: If they'd let us bring alcohol into these events we could take a drink every time they mention Apple.

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer will take the stage to present one or more of these devices.

Bludger: Prepare to be screamed at.

The Samsung slate will be similar to the Apple iPad in size and shape, but not as thin...

Larrikin: And not as pretty.

Bludger: Well, they're clearly addressing a niche that Apple has overlooked.

Larrikin: People who love fat, ugly devices.

Bludger: I know I'm going to run right out and buy one.

Another innovation is the slick keyboard that slides out of the device when it is in landscape orientation.

Bludger: Great, because moving parts that can get jammed or broken are soooo 2011.

Larrikin: Wait, why is the keyboard "slick?" Won't that make it hard to type on?

Bludger: I think it must be greased to slide faster.

The slate will have two operating environments: one for landscape orientation and one for portrait orientation.

Larrikin: When will this second-class status end? I tell you a slate has the same rights regardless of its orientation.

Bludger: No, listen, I think this means you can turn Windows off just by turning the device on its side.

Larrikin: Big deal. I can do that with my Fujitsu laptop if I flip it hard enough.

Microsoft is confident that there is a large market of business people who want to use slate devices to run Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Larrikin: What incredibly innovative thinking.

Bludger: Microsoft is confident that there is a large market of people whose employers buy their computers and software for them and who will use whatever they are paid to use.

Larrikin: And the Gartner Group has the numbers to prove it.

Microsoft envisions a large market of applications written for these slates. Unlike Apple, Microsoft will not launch an app store to sell these applications, but will highlight them in a search interface on the slate.

Bludger: Translation: Microsoft will sell search results and placement to app developers.

Larrikin: Ooh. I was just going to say that.


Michael Swaine is the former editor-in-chief of Dr. Dobb's Journal (http://www.ddj.com) and current editor of PragPub (http:// www.pragprog.com/magazine), the electronic magazine for pragmatic programmers. You can reach him at mike@swaine.com.

 

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