On Monday, Microsoft is supposed to make an earth-shattering announcement in Los Angeles in a press conference so secret that not even the press knows where to go yet. Apparently, they’ll find out where they need to go on Monday morning for this ultra-mega-super-secret “announcement.”
My bet is that they’re buying Nokia. After all, they’ve already planted one of their executives as Nokia CEO, who essentially and for all intents and purposes scorched the Nokia earth below his feet and trashed the company, making it ripe for the picking.
Of course, there’s an outside chance, too, that the conventional wisdom may be correct and they’re going to be releasing their own tablet with Windows 8, which is what the New York Times thinks.
Or Microsoft is merging with Canonical to become Canonisoft. OK, so maybe that’s a stretch.
But I digress. Regardless of what happens in Los Angeles on Monday — tablet or Nokia, or both — let’s say, for the sake of argument, that it has to do with one or both of these two topics.
Buying Nokia? Yawn.
Tablet? Oh, good luck with that. Sarcasm alert: Redmond is a hallmark of product quality and customer service. But seriously, if the tablet is as bad as the software Microsoft has put out for the last, oh, generation or so, coupled with their customer service which is the gold standard of awful, arguably releasing a new tablet with Windows 8 could be one of the biggest disasters since the Hindenberg.
Meanwhile, since we’re on the topic of tablets, let’s come up the coast a bit from the shrouded mystery of Los Angeles to sunny Berkeley, California, where ZaReason is busy putting together the final touches on their own tablet. If the activity in the IRC channel is any indication, they’re pretty close to having something ready for prime time fairly soon.
I had a chance to use the Android version of the tablet — rumor has it that the ZaReason tablet is being engineered with Ubuntu OS in mind — since I was entrusted with some of the ZaReason hardware that was shown at the joint ZaReason-CrunchBang table at Linux Fest Northwest.
Truth in advertising: I’m not a tablet guy by anyone’s definition of the phrase. But that said, many folks are drawn to the smaller form factor, and if that works for you, you should give the ZaReason tablet serious consideration once it’s released. It’s a solid machine, and the Android version we got to display at LFNW was met with a lot of enthusiasm by those attendees who are tablet and Android aficionadoes.
Also, when the ZaReason tablet is released, chances are it won’t be in some sort of secret press conference. And it won’t have Windows 8.
My good friend and former newspaper colleague Tom Dunlap wrote in a PC World blog yesterday about how many have fallen under the spell of the tablet and are drifting away from laptops and other “real” computers.
Quoting Tom: “Everywhere I go these days, my friends slam laptops. They tell me my PC of choice is a dying breed and sing the praises of their new, ‘post-PC’ Apple iPad.
“They carefully pull out their Apple device. I admire it, then ask: ‘So where do you insert the DVD, how do you bang out a long e-mail on a touch keyboard, and do you know what I paid for my little (Lenovo ThinkPad X30) laptop compared to what you paid for this iPad?’
Good one, Tom. The fact of the matter is — and Tom eloquently outlines it in his blog, so I won’t be echoing it here (except to say, “I agree!”) — there’s a big difference between the tablet which, for all its conveniences, isn’t really a computer, and the desktop or laptop you use for getting things done.
Same goes for my “smart” phone — the only thing I want it to be smart enough to do is take calls and make calls. If I need to check e-mail or text someone, I can do that from my laptop.
Thanks, Tom, for bringing that topic up.
(Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)