Microsoft captured the tech world's attention last week with the introduction of the Surface tablet, but two and a half years earlier, the company's CEO Steve Ballmer was on stage at CES promoting a different tablet: the HPSlate.
The Slate was the original iPad killer, unveiled right before Apple announced the iPad. Instead, the tablet suffered a series of setbacks and Microsoft chose to turn its attention elsewhere. Now we know what went wrong with the original Slate tablet.
The New York Times spoke with a former HP exec and a former Microsoft exec involved with the Slate project, who describe how the device encountered major design and software problems as it was developed in the months after Ballmer announced the product.
While its early visual designs impressed many people within the two companies, the product was “completely ruined” as H.P.’s manufacturing organization began to procure the parts they believed would be sufficient to power the device, the former Microsoft employee said.
In the end, the H.P. tablet was thick, the Intel processor it used made the device hot, and the software and screen hardware did not work well together, causing delays whenever a user tried to perform a touch action on its screen. “It would be like driving a car, and the car not turning when you turn the wheel,” the former H.P. executive said.
This experience apparently left a bad taste in Microsoft's mouth and the company reportedly had trouble cooperating fully with other manufacturing partners in its quest to put out a tablet. Eventually, Microsoft decided it was better off alone.