Microsoft kicked off the TechXNY trade show in New York yesterday by announcing that Tablet PCs running its latest operating system will ship this year.
The software giant has been touting its Tablet PC for years but the new hardware developed by its partners has taken longer than expected to arrive. It is now set to go on sale on 7 November.
Jeff Raikes, group vice president of productivity and business services at Microsoft, used his opening keynote at the show to demonstrate a number of the new Tablet PCs and to announce that Toshiba, Acer and Fujitsu are all set to launch the first models in November.
Six other PC vendors are expected to follow suit before the end of the year.
The Tablet PCs, which look similar to notebook computers but can be used without a keyboard, will ship with the Windows XP Professional Tablet PC Edition operating system which is set to go into customer trials in July.
The Tablet version of XP will include applications such as Microsoft Journal, which allows text input by writing on the screen.
This is made possible with Microsoft's electromagnetic pen. Raikes showed how the pen can move the cursor and create an ink-like line when it touches the screen for notes or drawings to be entered directly.
The company also announced loose arrival dates for the latest version of its Office desktop software suite.
Office 11, scheduled to ship by mid-2003, promises to include better support for XML in order to make it easier to link desktop programs with corporate data stored in customer relationship management and other business systems.
It will also help to bring Office into Microsoft's .Net web services initiative which uses XML as a basic tool.
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