The tablet-sized personal computer will become the most popular form of PC in five years, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has predicted.
Although Gates unveiled the tablet as a concept at last year's Comdex trade show, at this year's gathering he demonstrated working prototypes during his keynote speech that computer manufacturers, such as Acer, Compaq, Fujitsu and Toshiba, plan to sell in the second half of next year.
"The Tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available wherever you want it, which is why I'm already using a Tablet as my everyday computer," he claimed. "It's a PC that is virtually without limits and, within five years, I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America."
The Tablet is a book-sized computer that uses a pen instead of a keyboard.
Gates also demonstrated a new web service built on the company's .Net technology. He said that Microsoft would sell a financial internet service called MSN Money Professional that will help financial advisers provide services to their clients.P>"I feel myself being particularly excited about the next decade; excited about things we have not yet delivered," he said. "The potential we have is barely started. We have not even scratched the surface of what we can do."
In addition, Gates demonstrated the company's long-awaited X-box machine, and showed off games for the device including NFL Fever 2002. Four consoles were given away to audience members.
Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group, said that the Tablet device had started out as something different but that, as demand had not been there, it had become a laptop variant over the last 12 months.
"What we are seeing is the emergence of a modular laptop design. The name hasn't settled yet, but prices should be in line with their more traditional laptop counterparts," he said.
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