You may be hearing rumors about the Next Big Thing from Microsoft, code-named Microsoft Xpad. Google the phrase and you will soon be totally confused about what an Xpad is. That's because it doesn't exist yet. Or actually, the Xpad or X-pad has existed but doesn't anymore. Also, the Xpad exists but it isn't made by Microsoft yet. See what I mean by confused? Let's clarify things a bit...`
What is the Microsoft Xpad?
Many computing products have been named "Xpad" or "X-pad" over the past 20 years. A 1980s Radio Shack Color Computer had an optional digitizer pen and tablet called the Xpad. "Xpad" is the name of a note-taking software program and a laptop cooling pad available today. But we're concerned with Microsoft's Xpad (or X-pad).
The Microsoft Xpad is, as of this writing, a purely hypothetical mobile computing platform that technology pundits are urging Microsoft to develop in partnership with Apple Computer. (Microsoft owns a minority stake in Apple, so this is not as improbable as it may seem.)
The pundits argue that Microsoft has never gotten a mobile operating system right so it should outsource its next mobile operating system - to Apple, which currently leads the field with the iPad. But Microsoft could give the Apple technology some needed improvements, say the pundits, while blending in certain features of Microsoft's Xbox gaming console. (Now we see where the name "Xpad" came from.)
An Xpad would enable you to play real-time multiplayer games such as Halo wherever you can get WiFi Internet access. The iPad touch-screen user interface would be much cooler than the Windows Mobile operating system. Windows, after all, is fundamentally designed for keyboard, mouse, and other mechanical user input devices. Mobile devices need touch-screens to eliminate the bulk and hassle of input devices.
Where Can I Buy a Microsoft Xpad?
You can't. It doesn't even exist. I know I just said that in the previous paragraphs, but it bears repeating, because people sometimes believe only what they want to believe. You can't buy a Microsoft Xpad, at least not until it's been invented. Sorry.
I've described one vision of the Microsoft Xpad, from the gaming community. Another group of pundits wants to see a Microsoft Xpad that prints and does other things the iPad won't do or doesn't do very well (like email and word processing). They want a Microsoft Xpad that works like an iPad but runs all Windows applications and features. That is not very likely to happen.
Microsoft's bread-and-butter product, Windows for desktops and servers, has grown into a massive operating system. It's not designed for small mobile devices of relatively limited computing power. Stripping features out of Windows to make it smaller and more adroit on mobile devices basically breaks it; Windows Mobile and other stripped-down versions of Windows are notoriously buggy and prone to crashes. So the "Windows 7 in your hand" corner is probably not where you want to place your bet on the Microsoft Xpad.
The Xbox angle is another story, however. The operating system of the Xbox was designed from scratch as a pure high-performance gaming platform. It doesn't even require hardware input devices; it can use touch-screen technology natively. The Xbox OS is small and uncluttered by features that most users will never use. Yet it does most of the things that the iPad falls short on. So a merger of Xbox and iPad makes pretty good sense. But we'll have to wait for it.
Microsoft plans to launch its next mobile computing platform on an Intel processor that will not be ready for market until well into 2011. Even when this new technology is available, it will take several months for software developers and OEMs to learn, adapt, customize, and market it. Meanwhile, Android-based slate, tablet and pad devices are becoming available now. Microsoft may have already missed its opportunity to bring such a device to the marketplace -- we'll see what the future brings.
Do you have something to say about the Microsoft Xpad? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Aug 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Microsoft Xpad (Posted: 9 Aug 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved