Monday, August 28, 2006

Tech.Ed Australia 2006 and Tablet PC in Motion

A new Tablet User enjoying Vista

This year Tech.Ed Australia 2006 has closed with Tablet PC on its mind. Meandering through the Exhibit Hall, Hands-on Labs and listening to guest Speakers you quickly realized that Tablet PC had in fact made a splash. Could it be attributed to the availability of several new products, like Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) and others; or perhaps the fact that clients were hounding developers for more Tablet related applications? Whatever the reason the effect was evident across several aspects of the Tech.Ed arena.

Dr. Neil Roodyn holding a Samsung Q1

First there was MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Dr. Neil Roodyn, forever enigmatic and eternally evangelizing the merits of the Tablet PC SDK (Software Development Kit). On this occasion his interpretation of Microsoft’s soon to be released Operating System, Windows Vista, and its Inking capabilities left several attendees jostling for a chair at the Tablet PC Hands-on Labs. His presentations covered off topics such as ‘Sync Center,’ ‘Defining an Ink Canvas’ and a memorable rendition of Vista’s ability to receive inking hints via ‘Factoid Strings.’ These certainly were an enlightening array of sessions.

Nick Randolph with Samsung Q1 and TabletKiosk EO

Then there was MVP [.NET Compact Framework] Nick Randolph. Not only was Nick armed with an Ultra Mobile PC for his demonstration but he seemed to be doing his best to evangelize the platform as an answer to “mobility” vs. the “portability” we currently experience in the marketplace. During his presentation regarding ‘Wiping your Mobile Device Remotely’ he repeatedly reminded the audience to think outside-the-square and remember to also include UMPC as a Mobile Device.

New User enjoying 3D Inking on Vista

The Hands-on Labs are always popular and this year they did not fail to impress. Thanks to Dr.Neil’s persistence, and clever negotiation skills with colleagues in Redmond, Tech.Ed Australia found itself in the hands of no less than eight Toshiba M400 Tablet PCs with the Windows Vista Operating System pre-installed. Attendees were overheard to gasp and cheer as the inking capabilities of Vista, and a new Graphical User Interface (GUI) took users on a pen experience like no other.

Hugo Ortega on Stage Talking Tablet (UMPC)

Then there was the official Microsoft Mobility Stand. Even here, in and amongst all the phones and handheld devices, there lay an Ultra Mobile PC. This now infamous form-factor had passers by lining up to garner there own impressions as they stroked through the UMPC Touch Pack, and fumbled through DialKeys. Attendees definitely weren’t short of an opinion, and they weren’t afraid to vocalize it either. At one stage even Australia’s own Tablet PC Guy Hugo Ortega was invited on stage where he hosted a brief session regarding the UMPC platform and Microsoft’s OneNote 2007 Beta; this was a ‘Mobility Wipeout’ to go down in history thanks to a fired up Roger Lawrence and Rick Anderson too.

New Users making the most of the Pen

In Closing, and as in Starting, it was the words of Microsoft Australia’s Frank Arrigo that inspired and conjured feelings of ore and excitement of things to come. It became apparent from its inception that Tech.Ed Australia was destined to proclaim Tablet PC as an acceptable format for conducting one’s information gathering; even at the Blogger’s Brunch held on Day One, and hosted by Frank Arrigo himself, there were no less than three Ultra Mobile PC’s busily accepting digital ink and making use of the Tablet PC’s hand-writing capabilities.

Frank Arrigo/LS800/Sudoku - need I say more!

As the applauding crowd subsided and onlookers soon became bystanders it was clear that Tech.Ed 2006 had drawn to a close. Tablet PC had certainly made itself heard and even found a home with both new and experienced users. At this stage it was a fact which Frank Arrigo chose not to hide at all that caught my attention, i.e. his recent attainment of a Motion LS800 mini Tablet PC. With nothing left to do Frank had but one thing on his mind: Sudoku-in-Ink! Acting as our fearless leader and head of the evangelistic food-chain in Australia he wasn’t afraid to show it off either.


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