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At least it feels like that’s how many times Microsoft has launched a tablet, not counting the one that several news media believe will be launched today to promote the company’s new Windows 8 operating system and compete with Apple’s iPad despite the latter’s modest lead – a mere 100 million sold.
A decade ago Microsoft told us a tablet was on the way and produced a slick demo showing doctors making hospital rounds with tablets and pianists reading a score on a tablet propped up where the sheet music usually goes.
But alas, in February 2011 I wrote, “Year after year I waited for Microsoft’s tablet to sweep the country but it never happened.”
Why? In a candid New York Times op-ed column Dick Brass, a former MS vice president from 1997 to 2004, wrote, “Unlike other companies, Microsoft never developed a true system for innovation.” (See Microsoft Snoozed Its Way Through Tablet Revolution, Says Former Veep)
In January 2010 – predating the release of the Apple’s iPad by three weeks – MS introduced the HP tablet. But it laid an egg. Here’s PC World’s take on it: “The HP tablet is basically a color e-reader running Amazon Kindle software, with few other details besides a sub-$500 price point and an estimated arrival on the market by mid-2010. So disappointing was the release that Microsoft and HP’s shares fell yesterday according to Business Week.”
Microsoft had a chance to redeem itself with the Courier, but it too flopped and not long after release Microsoft threw in the towel and said it would no longer support it.
Then in December 2011, we wearily wrote Microsoft Re-re-re-relaunches Tablet. The new device, manufactured by Samsung, was to be “similar in size and shape to the Apple iPad, although it is not as thin,” wrote Nick Bolton of the New York Times.
You’ll understand, therefore, why our eyes glaze over to read that yet again Microsoft is going to give tablets a go. But who knows? The 430,344th time may well be the charm.