It is being announced at PDC05 that OEMs will be allowed to ship Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 (aka Lonestar) on their touch-enabled tablets. Why is this significant? Because a lot of our user audience (and some potential users) have asked for touch input for a while now. Why has it taken til now to get this done? *shrug* I don't know.
What I do know is this: don't think that all touch input is created equally. On top of that, touch input is not nearly as precise as pen input, so it'll take you some time to get used to the coarseness of the input. We generally treat the touch digitizer like an additional mouse, so you can ink with it, but again, with the lack of precision and lower sampling rates of mice, I think you'll quickly appreciate what pen input really means to the Tablet experience.
What does this mean for the business? More sales. Lots more Tablets OEMs and Tablet models featuring customer-proven, customer-accepted touch digitizers. If you've been waiting on the sidelines because ruggedized Tablets were too expensive, or your users lost their pens, or whatever your reason, now is the time to ask your OEM - what's new?
BTW, for you folks at PDC (and the world), we will have a Mobile/Tablet forum at http://msdn.microsoft.com/forums/ in the Windows Vista section. Please give the forums a look and feel free to post questions! There are several Tablet-team moderators, each owning a subarea in the forum (I own Vista Setup on Tablet and Tablet Hardware issues). We are paying special attention to the forums this week, to ensure that you get prompt answers while you are still at PDC, and I hope we will be able to continue to provide very prompt service to the forums through Vista RTM and beyond.