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Tablet PC OS To Launch This Week

As Microsoft lifts the veil on the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition this week, ISVs, OEMs and channel partners are sizing up the opportunities.

At the New York launch this week, ISVs plan to demonstrate applications integrated with the Tablet PC OS, including Adobe Systems' Tablet PC plug-in for Acrobat, Corel's Grafigo 1.0, Autodesk's Architectural Studio, Groove Networks' Groove 2.5, KeyLogix's Active Docs for Tablet PC, ScanSoft's OmniForms and PaperPort and ESRI's Tablet PC for ArcGIS. The platform will also have the support of health-care ISVs including Allscripts Healthcare, Amicore and Eclipsys.

At the official launch, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates is expected to discuss an edition of Office XP that supports digital ink within Word, Excel and PowerPoint, said sources close to the company. The Office XP add-on will be available this week as a 1-Mbyte file for download and as part of a special Tablet PC Edition of Office XP included on systems from Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu and ViewSonic, distributors said.

Cap Gemini Ernst and Young is honing in on the Tablet PC's vertical opportunities. "We have some real interest in the pharmaceutical industry for sales-force effectiveness applications," said John Parkinson, vice president and chief technologist at Cap Gemini Ernst and Young. "But the devices will only work if they replace a PDA and a notebook PC. Battery life is an issue, as is ruggedness. [These devices absolutely must have robust wireless connectivity."

The Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is slated to be available on Tablet PCs later this month. Microsoft is planning a second release of the tablet OS as part of the Longhorn wave of products in the 2004-05 time frame, sources said. That edition will include lower power consumption, enhanced display options, quieter and faster disk access, and embedded communications components, according to Microsoft's Web site.

BARBARA DARROW

contributed to this story.

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