Compaq, Microsoft team on Tablet PC

Compaq, Microsoft team on Tablet PC

Compaq is one of several manufacturers that plans to develop Microsoft's Tablet PC with the Windows XP operating system, the company has announced.

The tablet-based PC will be the size of a standard sheet of paper and expected to weigh less than current notebook computers, Compaq said in a statement. The Tablet PC will provide the power of a full-function PC while also offering the convenience of a notepad, said Jeri Callaway, vice president of commercial PC products in the Compaq's Access Business Group, in a statement.

Mobile users will be able to access and input information on the Tablet PC much like reading and writing on a piece of paper, according to Compaq. The Tablet PC is designed to take notes at a meeting, revise existing documents or presentations and read documents.

Compaq and Microsoft will partner on the development of the Tablet PC. Microsoft is expected to release details on the original equipment manufactures that will develop the Tablet PC during the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHec) this week.

Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates first showed the Tablet PC in November at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas. Resembling the well-known children's Etch A Sketch toy, the device will run most standard Windows applications.

Compaq expects to ship its Tablet PC when the Windows XP version for Tablet PC is released in 2002. Formerly code-named "Whistler", Windows XP should be out by the fourth quarter of 2001 and is expected to appeal mostly to consumers. The OS was designed with a heavy focus on running media-rich applications. Compaq partially chose the Windows XP platform because of its handwriting recognition capabilities, said Mike Hockey, a Compaq spokesman.

Pricing information on the Tablet PC is not yet available, Compaq said.

Microsoft also announced last week that it would develop a Tablet PC based on the Transmeta Crusoe processor. Microsoft is using Transmeta's 600MHz TM5600 chip to develop "reference designs" for the Tablet PC, or prototypes that will be sent to manufacturers to show them how the device can be built. Intel also has confirmed that Microsoft is also creating Tablet PC prototypes using Intel processors.

Compaq plans to develop the Tablet PC with an "ultra low-power processor", Hockey said. He would not disclose whether it would use an Intel or Transmeta processor in the tablet. Compaq will announce which processor it will use in the Tablet PC in the next couple of quarters, said Ken Willett, vice president of product marketing for Compaq.

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