Microsoft- Tablet PC is not a feature of the OS, it is not even necessary

I love Tablet PCs.  That is no surprise as I have been using them and writing about them for years.  The Tablet PC is a true innovation by Microsoft, one that has yet to be duplicated by anyone else.  The Tablet PC enthusiast community has long groused over the lack of education to the public about what this platform can do for them.  My recent declaration that the Tablet PC has devolved into just a feature of the OS and not a platform of its own touched a few nerves both in agreement with that opinion and disagreement.  It turns out that I was wrong about the Tablet PC being a feature of the OS.  I point to some statements by Steven Sinofsky of Microsoft who is blogging about the work being done in Redmond on Windows 7.  I wasn’t going to comment on this blog post by Sinofsky lest I be accused of MS-bashing but as you might imagine a lively discussion is taking place about them.  I had to read his thoughts several times before I could believe that anyone at Microsoft would state them publicly.  Here is what Sinofsky wrote about the modular approach to Windows 7, the ability to turn off unnecessary bits of the OS to improve performance on some PCs:

Some examples are quite easy to see and you should expect us to do morealong these lines, such as the TabletPC components.  I have a PC thatis a very small laptop and while it has full tablet functionality itisn’t the best size for doing good ink work for me (I prefer a 12.1” orgreater and this PC is a 10” screen).  The tablet code does have afootprint in memory and on the 1GB machine if I go and remove thetablet components the machine does perform better.  This is something Ican do today.

You may want to read his statements again.  Then let it sink in for a bit.  At first blush you may think that he is saying that the Tablet PC bits, part of the OS in Vista, are not always necessary.  In fact, it almost appears that he is saying the Tablet PC functionality is not even necessary on a Tablet PC.  Read his statement again.  Take a deep breath.  That’s exactly what Sinofsky of Microsoft’s Windows 7 team is saying.  The Tablet PC functionality adversely affects system performance and you should turn it off on systems that don’t need it.  That makes sense as not all PCs have the hardware needed to use that functionality.  But Sinofsky is indicating that even on his Tablet PC, a system with the hardware to use that functionality, he doesn’t find the Tablet PC feature to be good enough to use.  So he can turn them off and get better system performance on his Tablet PC.

Loren Heiny reacted as I did and has penned a good response to Sinofsky’s unbelievable statement about his Tablet PC.  Sinofsky then responded to Loren that we are reading too much in what he said.  I don’t think a person in his position of responsibility at Microsoft makes a clear statement like this and then backs off it.  It is clear that Sinofsky believes that for his own use having the Tablet PC functionality on any device smaller than 12.1 inches is a waste of resources.  That is unsettling enough in its own right but the fact that Sinofsky is helping determine what will be in Windows 7 makes this very unnerving.