Lora has a link on WhatIsNew to an interesting article in ITP Technology highlighting Steve Ballmer's vision for Microsoft's future. What intrigues me about the vision is the talk of premium editions of Windows Vista that will include the Tablet PC and Media Center.
I understand the marketing logic here. You've got multiple flavors of a product to offer. You can scratch up more dough with different versions targeted at different segments. Here's what concerns me. In the blogosphere and in the forums there has been an ongoing discussion of the premium that OEM's were charged for the Tablet OS and how that affected the higher cost of a Tablet PC as opposed to a laptop.
Back in the day when there was a hulabaloo over Microsoft combining the Tablet team into the Mobile team a lot of the discussion seemed to come around to the idea that there would be one Windows that would include all and depending on your hardware you'd have access to the flavor of your choice.
What I'm hoping does not happen is that this premium edition marketing ploy, in and of itself, doesn't keep the price of Tablets too much higher than a laptop. One of the keys to broader acceptance of the platform has been, and still is, price. If this is an indication that the marketing and bean counters see Tablet PCs as a "premium" target then, in my opinion, they seem to be surrendering the Tablet PC to the niche market. I'd like to be wrong on this.
Here's hoping this is a matter of market positioning and that future Windows editions that don't contain Tablet PC or Media Center functionality will be cheaper and that fuller versions will be priced similarly to today's full blown version of Windows XP. I doubt this will be the case, but, hey, one can always hope.