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In quick succession, HP and Microsoft reportedly killed off two iPad wannabes this week. With HP's purchase of Palm and its WebOS, it meant that the Windows 7 tablet that Steve Ballmer showed off at CES in January (and which you can see here in this video ) is suddenly shelfware. Meanwhile Microsoft, which has been leaking teasing videos of a so-called Courier Tablet dual-screen digital journal , announced that it had no plans to build the device at this time, leaving some (like me) wondering if they ever intended to build it all.

Two weeks ago I wrote a post called Five Ways iPad Wanabees Can Compete . What's interesting is that these two tablet devices could have (possibly) been real competition for the iPad based on my criteria. Yet HP and Microsoft, two companies that certainly have the money and the clout to compete with Apple, quit before they even started. The question is: Why?

HP, Palm and Leaving Microsoft Behind

The answer, for HP at least, had to do with the other big news from HP this week, namely its purchase of Palm , and with it, its WebOS. The move gives HP its own mobile OS, freeing it from the clutches of its rival Microsoft and enabling it to build its own line of devices running Palm's mobile operating system. HP wasted no time killing the Windows tablet, canceling the project just one day after the Palm purchase. Chances are, however, that down the road, we will see it magically rise from the dead with its new new Palm operating system

Microsoft Cancels Another Vaporware Project

As for Microsoft, who knows if the project ever really had legs from the get-go. It released the video earlier this year when iPad hype and speculation was peaking. Maybe it was Redmond's way of saying, "Look at us! Look at us! We have a cool tablet on the drawing board too!" The device always had a distinctly 90s pen computing feel to it to me, which made it hard for me to take seriously.

Regardless, Microsoft put its potential pad out to pasture, while its partner's project got shoved in the backroom never to see the light of day. It had to be disappointing for Microsoft to see a long-time partner like HP head off on its own like this, but other companies such as Dell and Asus have announced Windows 7 tablets that we should be seeing before the year is out (assuming they don't get suddenly canceled too).

For a while though, it looked like the tablet flood gates would fly open this quarter, hot on the heels of Apple's successful iPad launch in April. But for this week, two possible iPad competitors bit the dust before they ever got out the door and left gadget fan boys everywhere just a little bit sad because of it.

Photo by Bettyx1138 on Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.

Edited by Dani: Image moved

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Last Post by Techwriter10
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Can understand decisions to cancel the HP Slate project, given both the rushed nature it appears the Slate was developed within, as well as the mixed views of HP's computer offerings as a whole (can you imagine how a Slated bogged down with the usual raft of crapware would have "performed"?). I do think both ASUS and DELL have the ability to produce far superior tablet-style offerings with real juice.

Am quite sad the Courier didn't make it however. Where the iPad seems to be solely aimed at the content consumer, the Courier looked to be a far more useful tool. Those who claim the MS can't make decent hardware forget the quality (if a little more expensive) peripherals they continue to roll-out. I had the feeling that if Courier had landed, it would have been decent product.

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Hard to say how the Slate would have performed. It did fill in many of the iPad's holes (USB, Flash, etc.), which would have given it a fighting chance in the market. We'll see how the next iteration does running Palm's OS.

As for the Courier, I think you underestimate what the iPad can actually do as a work device, but I agree that it was compelling.

Thanks for commenting.
Ron

Edited by Techwriter10: n/a

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