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10 years later, Microsoft re-enters tablet business

Company unveils 'The Surface' in bid to knock Apple from its perch; Windows XP Tablet OS launched in 2002

By Davis Janowski

Jun 19, 2012 @ 1:21 pm (Updated 4:20 pm) EST

Déjà vu.

Yes, I got déjà vu reading former colleague Mark Hachman's “Hands On With Microsoft's Surface Tablet” this morning.

He literally had seconds with the device, an ever-so-short amount of time, fairly typical of Microsoft and some other big firms (including Apple) at media events, where the companies are introducing new hardware.

In this case: Microsoft's upcoming entry in the new generation of tablets (not due out until October when Windows 8 ships).

I say “new generation” because I remember the first time I heard and laid hands on a tablet from Microsoft.

All the little kids covering tech today will not know of what I speak.

So here you go: Tablet PCs: The New Experience, in Depth, and yes, you are welcome for the history lesson.

Note the date on the latter piece is way back on June 25, 2002.

    “Long a pet project of company chairman Bill Gates, who even made an appearance recently at the cozy Tablet PC Reviewer's Workshop in Seattle, the new OS has finally found a home in some preproduction hardware we had the chance to look at. We were even able to bring back one such device—the Acer TravelMate 100—for a closer look.”

I remember it as being exciting, something new after months of dealing with tragedy. For those of us in New York especially, we were still recovering from the September 11 attacks of the year before.

Editor in chief Michael Miller had brought back that Acer after Comdex (most of you probably will not remember that show, a rival to CES that everyone still does know).

The magazine had awarded Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system (whew, mouth full) a “Best of Comdex” award.

He called all the editors and our testing partners from the lab into his large office and started to show us how the tablet worked, it was a convertible laptop really, meaning you could either use the pen-like stylus with the touchscreen or swivel the screen around revealing a conventional keyboard underneath it.

It might, he said, be the beginning of a whole new way of computing.

Well sort of, but it would be Apple and the much more perfected first iPad several years later that really made tablet computing a household name.

And 10 years after Microsoft rolls out XP Tablet PC here comes the Surface (well, soon).