According to ubergizmo.com, Dell demonstrated an iPad-sized tablet device with a fold-out keyboard that runs Windows 7 at the Intel developer forum. While convertible tablets running a Windows OS are nothing new, it’s a bit surprising that Dell is starting to market one right now to compete with the iPad.
In some ways this makes sense — having a keyboard and being able to run standard Windows applications will appeal to those wanting a light-weight tablet — but the success of the iPad is due in equal parts to hardware and software design, and Windows 7 applications are no match for iPad apps. Without a coherent user experience design and a device-appropriate user interface, the Inspiron Duo will be doomed to compete with netbooks, a rather smaller and less glorious market than the iPad.
I wonder if between Dell and MS, they will try to create some sort of a UI library that would make it easy to build user interfaces appropriate to the device. I bet it wouldn’t be so hard to do the development; the hard part would be to create a coherent look and feel.
The other question on my mind: will it have a stylus? The implication from the Gizmodo piece was that it was finger-activated, but Windows 7 incorporates all the stylus-support of the old Tablet OS. It’ll be interesting to get my hands on this device.