IT managers can help convince CEOs to purchase Tablet PC

In an effort to convince senior management and CEOs to extend the IT budget, visiting Microsoft exec Dick Brass is betting that after just a week of using the new Tablet PC, "CEOs will be convinced to buy, and IT managers will get the budget to buy a few".

Speaking at the first official launch of the "technological evolution" today in Sydney, Brass, vice president, emerging technologies, Microsoft US, said he is more than convinced that companies can be persuaded to buy the Tablet PC.

"This is the biggest advance in functionality in a decade or more. While we may have been able to convince customers to upgrade for smaller functionality issues, now, the Tablet PC is a great reason to upgrade," Brass said.

The Tablet PC, a long-term pet project of Microsoft boss Bill Gates, combines the use of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system with the capability to use a digital pen in addition to a keyboard or mouse.

At the New York launch, Gates said the launch of the Tablet PC "marks an exciting new era of mobile computing that is only limited by the imagination of its users".

"The Tablet PC is a great example of how computers are adapting to how people really work, whether they're taking notes in a meeting, collaborating wirelessly with colleagues or reading on screen. We're just scratching the surface of what is possible," Gates said.

Brass said he has been using the Tablet PC for a year and it has positively changed the way in which he works.

While he admits that the handwriting recognition may not yet be 100 per cent, Brass said it is in the high 90s with languages including English, French, German, Japanese, Chinese and Korean recognised.

Brass said with a Tablet PC running Office XP, users will be able to incorporate the comfort of handwriting into everyday tasks such as creating e-mail, annotating word documents and marking up PowerPoint presentations.

Handwriting is captured as rich digital ink for immediate or later manipulation, including reformatting and editing.

According to Microsoft, 26 corporate customers are taking part in the Tablet PC rapid deployment program.

Australian organisations involved in trialling the Tablet PC include Queensland Health, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Worley, Gold Coast Hospital, and the Royal Children's Hospital.

A spokesperson from Toshiba told Computerworld a number of Tablet PC units have been purchased and have already been shipped.

Brass said expected customers include "road warriors" or knowledge workers who travel frequently and would benefit from the productivity as well as "corridor warriors" including information workers, lecturers and school teachers, and legal, finance, government and IT&T professionals.

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