Dear Microsoft: Just Give Up On Touch Computing Already!

Microsoft Fails Touch Computing

Microsoft, why do you bother with touch computing? You haven't helped produce an impressive tablet even with years of experience in touch-based software development. Even worse, you let Apple come in and steal the show without much of a fight. So why do you continue to push this Windows 7 operating system, which is primarily intended for traditional mouse and keyboard usage, to touch devices? It makes no sense!

When will Microsoft learn from the past? Everyone knows that previous attempts to put Windows on touch devices ended up, at best, mediocre. Admittedly, Microsoft did put in a lot of effort into making Windows 7 a better operating system for the touch-happy among us. But what has that resulted in? Not much.

After reviews of various touch-enabled Windows 7 devices hit the newswire, the general consensus appeared that the overall experience is decent — but decent isn't quite good enough in consumer's eyes.

Same Old Story

The reviewers have noted that the Windows 7 touch devices are decent, but not exceptional when it comes to touch responsiveness. This might be a result of the fact that Windows wasn't initially designed with touch in mind. When you look at the iPhone OS and Android, these systems have user interfaces that have been designed to use with fingers: featuring larger icons, bigger text, and intuitive navigation. These systems have the benefit of being created from scratch with touch interaction in mind — Windows isn't.

Another serious but expected point that has arisen in many reviews is that the applications developed for the Windows operating system do not necessarily translate well to touch interaction. Just as Windows itself isn't heavily integrated with touch, the applications are even worse in this regard. After all, when someone develops an application for an iPod Touch, they expect it to be used for touch, but when developing for Windows, developers can't invest the time and resources for touch-enabled applications just for the sake of it.

Toss in the fact that you now have many contenders wanting to get involved in touch-based devices, and you quickly realize that Microsoft could have a serious issue on their hands that needs to be resolved.

In truth, anything less than amazing from Microsoft should be highly disappointing, especially when considering that Microsoft has the Apple iPad and friends to compete with. This could end up as another market that Microsoft gets left behind, even though they have had all the opportunity in the world to create something magnificent.

Time For Change

But there is something Microsoft could do: Microsoft could create a dedicated operating system or user interface that runs on top of Windows 7 that is designed specifically for touch interaction. It would be a great move that gives developers a dedicated place to develop for while improving the user experience for consumers.

But it is easier said than done.

However, just look at Windows Phone 7 — it looks stunning, beautiful, unique, and, overall, amazing. Microsoft decided to tear down the walls and rebuild from within, and it looks like it could pay huge dividends in the future. The problem? It is coming several years late to the party. Where was this thing, say, three years ago?

So surely the tech giant can do the same for a touch-based operating system. But it would involve Microsoft investing millions of dollars to create a new platform that might not necessarily be a success.

Mobile

Apple and Google, for the sake of comparison, migrated their mobile application marketplaces from mobile devices to tablet devices, giving th e touch devices a head start. Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn't really have a rich mobile application marketplace to build off of, especially when considering that Windows Phone 7 hasn't even come out yet — and there are no guarantees that this will be a success either.

So, in the end, Microsoft faces a huge conundrum that isn't easily resolved. Surely touch-based interfaces are going to be something that peaks consumer interest in the future, especially as the thought of carrying around a dedicated keyboard becomes more foreign to us. But Microsoft is not prepared to take the battle to Apple and Google.

It's intriguing when you think about it: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 might be the product that makes or breaks Microsoft's future in touch devices, let alone mobile.

Comparison of Laptop Browsers

Although it may not at first seem
relevant, your choice of browser on your laptop may differ markedly
from your choice of browser on a desktop machine. Desktops, after
all, generally have sufficient memory and power to run without
restarting regularly; desktops are also usually shared among many in
a family, and they have different users over time. For this reason, the
browser you choose for a desktop machine need not run light nor
require less processing power.

However, on a laptop, it's much more
important to use a browser that can be closed regularly without
losing important data, and it's much less important for it to allow
easy usage by multiple people. That's why, among all current
browsers, the best overall for laptop use is Google's Chrome browser.

Of course, this doesn't mean Chrome
will be best for you. Many people confuse “best overall” as being
“best for everyone.” Yet, especially in the case of browsers, one's individual preferences are a strong determinant of which
browser would be best for him. Chrome may be the fastest and
lightest browser on the market today, but Firefox is still superior
in terms of specialized add-on applications.

Other specialized browsers include
Flock, which fully integrates social media like twitter and facebook
directly into the browser experience; or WebbIE, which is best
utilized by the visually impaired for use with screen readers. If you
use a very low-bandwidth internet connection, Lynx is an extremely
fast way to surf the web. Safari is a good choice if you're using a
Mac laptop; because it's coded specifically to the hardware, it tends
to perform better than the competition on Apple devices. Opera is
also a widely used browser, although it has most of its success in
mobile web browsing as opposed to laptops.

As you can see, which browser you
should use depends on what situation you are in. If all you care
about is speed or crash reliability, Chrome is your best option. If
you care about specialized applications built by third parties,
Firefox wins hands down. Other concerns may direct you toward many
other of the browsers currently available on the market.

It should be noted that in no case is
Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) a good choice for browsing. The
latest version of Internet Explorer 8 completely fails the Acid3 test
for browser compliance of web standards, but there is a rumor
that the still unreleased Internet Explorer 9 may finally attempt to
perform well on the Acid3 test. If you currently use Internet
Explorer 6 or earlier, it is strongly recommended that you switch to
a more recent browser, as version earlier than IE7 are extremely bad
at rendering any of the current web standards. If you use Internet
Explorer 7 or 8, your browsing experience could be improved if you
switched to a non-IE browser, although it is not nearly as urgent as
if you used an earlier version of IE.

This article was written by Robin Raven. She also has worked for online dating in addition to Laptop Computers.org.

Laptop Book Reader

Ebooks represent the most influential
revolution in the way we read books that has happened since the
invention of the printing press. With ebooks, book lovers need not carry books with them if they want to read; they can instead carry an entire
library of books. The sheer power of this change is still not yet
fully recognized by many people.

How you read ebooks, though, is what
presents the greatest challenge to readers. If you've ever tried to
read a novel on a desktop computer, you'll know exactly what I mean;
you can estimate how many chapters you've read so far by how badly
your back hurts. A laptop makes things much easier, allowing you to
recline in a sofa while you're reading, making it much easier on your
back.

Unfortunately, laptops have one large
disadvantage: they're bright. At first, this may seem a strange thing
to say; after all, don't paper books also require bright light? But a
moment's thought will serve to explain why it's completely different.
A regular book has black on white text, which you then illuminate in
order to see. However, an ebook on a laptop screen has both black and
white light coming from the screen directly at your eyes. The
difference may not seem like much, but it most definitely is. A few
hours with a Kindle will prove this to you firsthand; unlike laptops,
the kindle uses technology akin to the old etch-a-sketch toys—this
makes the words on a kindle more like a book, with black on white
lettering that has to be illuminated in order to be seen. Reading on
a Kindle is a lot like reading a book; while your eyes do get tired
after a long while, it does not do so any more than reading a paper
book does. But reading on a laptop, despite being better for your
back than a desktop, is still just as bad for your eyes. No long-term
damage is done by reading from a screen, but readers' eyes tend to go
red and hurt after long sessions of intense reading.

Still, if you don't have a Kindle, the
benefits of using a laptop to read trumps the drawbacks for many
people. The ability to read multiple books without having to carry
each one along with you is extraordinary, and well worth the pain
after long bouts of reading. Plus, if you only read for an hour or
two at a time, then the drawbacks never really come into play at all.

Of course, yet another alternative
might be more to your liking: audio books. While definitely more
expensive than ebooks, audio books allow you to read without bothering
your eyes at all, and they also give you the ability to read while
performing other tasks, like cooking or working out. However, if you do
turn to audiobooks, be wary of free tracks. Free ebooks are generally
good. See Project Gutenberg for an example of high quality free
ebooks, but free audio books often use a narrator who is not paid
very well (if at all), and this definitely shows up in the quality of
the work. When using audio books, the quality of the narrator is
second only in importance to the quality of the author.

Apple's Real Motivation Behind Creating the iPad

What was Apple's reasoning behind the creation of the iPad? Well, many have assumed that it was Apple's way of creating a device to fill the gap between the Macbook and the iPhone. But I got news for those people: they are wrong. I don't believe this was Apple's intention at all. I think there is something else to this — something big.

I am convinced that the iPad is a preview of the future that Apple envisions — a future where Apple has total control of the distribution of hardware, software, and everything in between on a full-blown computer platform.

In other words: I believe that Apple intends on moving all of their devices and hardware to an iPhone-like operating system that would unify all of Apple's products and empower the iTunes platform more than ever before, while also significantly reducing the control that any particular user has over his or her computer.

With the iPad, we are lead to think of as a tablet computer — when, in reality, it is an iPod Touch on steroids — but Apple seems to believe that this device could, with time, replace laptop computers for in-home usage. The iPad, like the iPhone and iPod Touch, is locked into the iTunes ecosystem. So we essentially have a locked-down computer that Apple has total control over. Well, the future has come early!

Think about it — what happens if Apple, in time, creates an operating system that is similar to the iPhone OS that runs on computers? Perhaps Apple could create a netbook-like device in the future that runs a custom version of the iPhone OS. This device would also be locked into the iTunes ecosystem as well, having users install traditional computer applications directly from iTunes.

Is it really that far fetched of an idea?

It makes sense (and it makes even more business sense). When you think about it, iTunes has really driven Apple to success. It is the platform that has started it all. There is also so much power and content within this platform that it can't be stopped. So, again, is it really difficult to imagine that Apple would envision having all of its hardware wired into this rich ecosystem of software and content? To have total control?

For yours truly, it would not be that difficult to imagine.

That said, it would be an incredible deviation from conventional operating systems. It would mean that Apple would have the total package with total control. Users would be buying into that ecosystem while being locked into it as well.

This would be the perfect scenario for a company like Apple.

The only question left is whether or not users would be willing to buy into this type of computing platform? (Actually, in retrospect, that is an absurd question.)

The War For Mobile Platform Supremacy

The battle for mobile dominance is heating up as the war rages on. Some have risen to the challenge while others have taken a beating. Some underdogs have presented some new twists while some of the greats have lost their step. But it doesn't seem to matter where your allegiance lies: this competition is brutal, and it is make-or-break for many of those involved. But the rewards for dominating mobile is endless.

So let's take a look at all these platforms to see where they stand at the moment.

MeeGo

MeeGo is a result of the combined efforts of Intel and Nokia. The goal with MeeGo is to create a platform that is scaleable to many different devices, including smart phones and netbooks. However, that could create problems as too broad of a focus for a platform could result in doing many things good but nothing specifically great, which might not win over consumers. That said, MeeGo looks promising.

The project is still in its early infancy, so, with no devices on the market running MeeGo, it will be difficult to tell how far the project will go. However, it will be exciting to see what Intel and Nokia (leaders in their respective industries) come up with in the coming months.

WebOS

WebOS is the platfrom that Palm has created to replace its elderly Palm OS, and it has made appearances on the Palm Pixi and Pre devices. The platform itself looks great. But many people would not know it with all the complaints that have been circulating about it (trust us, it is a great platform). Yet Palm has no one to blame but itself for the lack of adoption and enthusiasm surrounding the platform. Sadly, it all hit a new low when reports recently broke out that Palm is looking for a buyer.

Palm's webOS, as great as it is, is missing a few crucial things including user interest (from poor marketing efforts), third-party support, stellar hardware, and a strong backer. If a company like HTC, Motorola (doubtful), or Dell acquires Palm, it could give them a strong foundation to build their own platform to compete with the likes of Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, and others. But will it happen? Your guess is as good as ours.

Blackberry OS

Blackberry has one of the most popular smart-phone platforms in existence, and, ironically, it is one of the least prepared to compete with all of the platforms mentioned here. Perhaps it is complacency? Maybe it is ignorance? Whatever it is, though, Blackberry needs to consider starting from scratch.

While most other mobile platforms have begun heavily integrating with Web-based services — keeping users connected to their data, their social networks, and their friends — Blackberry has failed to keep with the times. The Blackberry OS is starting to show its age, and many have been calling for a total rewrite of the code. It has yet to happen. True, the company maintains its dominance, but it is slowly (okay, very slowly) falling to the competition.

Windows Phone 7

The Windows Mobile platform has received a kick in the rear and fresh coat of paint with the new Windows Phone 7 platform that Microsoft has been sharing with the world, and it does look beautiful. Unfortunately, many years of Microsoft's previous incarnations of Windows Mobile has left a bad taste in our mouth's.

It features one of the most flashy and unique interfaces I have seen for quite awhile now, and it is sure to catch the eyes of everyone that takes a look at it. However, all the beautiful on the outside can't contain the fact that the vast majority of third-party developers have long but forgotten about Microsoft's mobile platform. But if people are willing to use Windows Phone 7, developers will likely develop for it. So will the glitz and glamour help Microsoft to reassert themselves as a force in mobile? It's a coin flip.

iPhone OS

The iPhone. What can be said about the pride and joy of Apple? It is the hottest mobile phone and platform out there right now, and it is what all the competition envies the most.

Apple has recently announced the iPhone OS 4 platform that will bring some new features: the most prominent being multitasking, iBookStore support, folders, and e-mail refinements. Multitasking is the huge addition, however, and it could be the one addition that really propels the iPhone forward. Still, third-party developers are who Apple needs to keep happy in order for the platform to maintain its growth. But things are on the bright side for Apple.

Android

Android is the brainchild of Google, and it is one of the fastest growing platforms available right now. It has the support of one of the most powerful companies in the world and is quickly attracting developers from many of the other platforms.

Android 2.1 has set the bar high, and with features like voice search, voice-to-text support, turn-by-turn navigation, multi-touch support, and many other features that really push the limits of what a smart phone can do. The platform is also becoming quite appealing because the number of third-party developers is increasing as well.

It's Not Over

In the end, the platform that is going to rule them all is going to be the one with the third-party developers. Right now, that would be the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. But nothing is set in stone.

This war is far from over, but the battle is just heating up. Competition continues to grow more desperate and daring as the world continues to cut the wires and enjoy the freedom of mobile. The company that controls the mobile landscape pretty much controls the future for many technological developments.

In the end, to say that this war is crucial is a gross understatement — it is the future.

Laptop Gaming: The Best Choices

Today, most non-casual gamers use
something other than their laptop to satisfy their gaming urges.
Compared to dedicated consoles like the PS3, Xbox 360, or even the
Wii, laptops just can't compete in terms of the raw power needed for
high-end games. Even if you do your gaming on a PC, it's usually
a desktop machine that handles the games you can get through Steam
and in stores.

However, that doesn't mean a gamer should go
without on their laptop. Many games exist that take up much less
power and space on your machine. One casual game that can eat up a
lot of time is Plants Versus Zombies, a unique twist on the
tower-defense genre that successfully integrates cuteness into the
game without sacrificing on quality. Older games can also be a way to
go; Starcraft is a classic real time strategy game that today doesn't
take up much power at all, yet packs hours worth of awesome gameplay
into a very tight package. Diablo is another great choice from the
past, if you enjoy adventure-heavy RPGs, and don't mind sacrificing
newness for addicting gameplay.

However, by far, the best choice for laptops
is to try out games that you might not ordinarily play, because they
are underpowered graphics-wise. Deadly Rooms of Death is a great
puzzle game with a humorous story line that sports less than stellar
graphics. The adventuring theme gives the game an interesting play
style, but it should be stressed that the game is made primarily for
puzzle-lovers. (So much so, in fact, that you should not expect to be
able to finish the game sans-cheating without many weeks of
punctuated gameplay.)

The Battle for Wesnoth is one of the
best turn-based tactical strategy games available today. This is
somewhat surprising, because Wesnoth is actually completely free to
download and play. All aspects of the game are created and developed
by the public, with all involved donating their time and effort to
the cause. Obviously, 3-D graphics and the like are not available in
such a venue, but the graphics that are available in the game are
surprisingly good considering the fact that all work done on
everything was given for free.

Despite the emphasis given above on how
the Battle for Wesnoth is maintained by the online community for
free, I cannot stress enough how the game competes very well with
commercially-made games of its genre. It's high-fantasy theme makes
it an easy comparison to Fire Emblem, which is the same genre, though
it uses a substantially different system. Although each is unique and
uses rules that are less similar to one another than at first might
be seen, they share enough qualities for me to make the somewhat
controversial statement that I honestly believe Wesnoth is the better
game.

If you decide to try one of these
ideas, you certainly won't regret it. Every game  in
this article is top-tier, and deserves a play or two from any casual
gamer. Even hardcore gamers should take the time to slow down and try
out games different from what they may have previously dared to try.
Either way, these games are the ideal choices for those who hope to try gaming on their laptop.

Futurustic Laptop Design

Now that the iPad has come out, many people have wondered where the future of clam-shell design laptops
will go. Thankfully, designers still have many ideas that will work
particularly well for laptops in coming years. Not everything is
possible in reality yet, but make no mistake: what designers come up
with today is what engineers will make reality in the future.

One idea is to make the clam-shell laptop design hold dual touch-screens, rather than a keyboard side
and a screen side. One of the touch screens could also have a tactile
feedback system; when used as a keyboard, it feels like a
real keyboard. Another idea is to use a display that isn't on a
screen, but relayed to a wall in the house. You could even use
flexible screens to allow your laptop to be rolled up when not used.
(Such screens are available with today's technology, though they are
not touch-sensitive.) A common feature of new designs is to reduce
the size of pretty much everything involved. With a heads-up
projected display, the hardware can get smaller in each iteration
while maintaining the same size display. All of these ideas are of
course just futuristic design ideas, and do not even have working
prototypes available.

The Canova design uses an innovative
way of combining the classic clamshell design with new dual-screen
abilities. Created by Milan design firm V12 Design in 2008, the dual
touch-screen displays can also be held as a book, or even laid flat
to have a single maximal touchscreen. Although many other futuristic
designs are possible (as seen in the previous paragraph), what makes
V12's Canova design special is that Estari, a laptop manufacturer in
the United States, was so impressed with their design that they decided to see
what they could make out of materials available today. Their result
is the second generation Canova, a dual screen laptop that hinges at
a different place than traditional clamshell designs.

The second generation Canova improves
on the first design by allowing the system to be maneuverable in was
the first design couldn't. Each of the 15.4-inch screens can be
locked into positions relative to the other. This makes the dual screen
laptop capable of acting as an easel, propping up as though it were a
backward clamshell design, or even as a dual laptop, allowing two
users to work simultaneously.

Estari claims that they will be able to
release the laptop at a $400 price point. Many experts doubt this claim, especially since it sports dual touch screens of
significant size. However, if they can afford to get it out at that price,
then it will likely be very successful with consumers from all budgets and walks of life.

The Notebook Estari Canova dual-head is
currently still under development, but it should be available
commercially sometime in the next year or two.

Will Mobile Internet Devices Sell To Younger Generations?

A Mobile Internet device (MID) is a blend between a tablet computer and a smart phone. At first thought, that doesn't seem that interesting. And, in truth, it might not be to many. However, there is still a market for this type of device, and the question is who is that market?

Well, the industry is betting heavily that consumers under the age of 30 are going to be the ones investing in MIDs.

From 30,000 sales in 2008 to over 1 million in 2009, MIDs are quickly growing in popularity. Yet, even as impressive as that growth is, only 15 percent of all MIDs make it to a consumer's home in North America. On the flip side, however, the Asia-Pacific region snatches up around 44 percent of all worldwide sales.

Is there room for improvement? Yes, there is. But this is good news — many companies are hoping to cash in on the potential for growth: Archos, BenQ, Dell, Samsung, Sharm, UMID, Viliv, Apple, Microsoft, and a few others are investing to bring in market share.

Armed with the latest in processor and graphics technology — courtesy of the Intel's Moorestown and Nvidia's Tegra 2 chips — these manufacturers are likely going to be strive for performance. They want to give users something more than a device that can only barely run a Web browser.

While many companies are expected to release some impressive MIDs with the power to back it up, others will attempt to win market share by waging price wars, and this is also good for consumers who are looking to purchase MIDs in the near future.

So is 2010 the year of the MID?

I think it is safe to assume this will be the breakout year for these types of devices. People are starting to realize that it is okay to have a device that isn't a laptop or a smart phone, and an MID can fill that void, offering convenience over form. But it is still a young market, and no company has stepped up to the plate and created a knock-out MID yet.

Interestingly, many will be looking towards Apple's iPad Tablet to see if there is interest in this general type of device. Unfortunately, when considering the negative reviews and less-than-brilliant sales numbers of Apple's tablet computer, I remain hesitant about the long-term future of MIDs.

But, again, this year will surely be a breakout year for these devices.

However, I also wonder if this year will also be the peak for these devices as well. As previously mentioned, the iPad is leading a rejuvenated market for tablet-based computers, and that type of device is what is receiving all the media attention.

With as many people that are developing MIDs, there are sure to be far more tossing their hats into the tablet arena.

That said, with so much focus being put into this broad category of device (a non-computer device that can browse the Web and view media) by the tech industry, a person would be silly to doubt that at least one a few of these companies will not get it right.

People will buy them, if even to simply keep up with the Joneses.

Why The iPad Isn't a Laptop

The iPad is not
a laptop. Unlike other tablets, Apple's new iPad just isn't even
trying to do all the things another computer might. Yes, you can use
the iPad to write up documents, play music or podcasts, and enjoy
games of all kinds. However, you may do these things only through the applications that are
purchasable in the app store. While a great many different apps are
certainly available (with more to come each day), you should not
expect the software you are used to using to be available on the
iPad.

This
is not to say that the iPad isn't a great device on its own merits. Yet, you should not purchase it thinking that it will do the same job
as another tablet might. Most specialized needs new laptop purchasers
have--whether it be for real estate, tax preparation, or even
business presentations--cannot readily be had with the iPad. This is
because specialized needs are usually run by specialized programs,
which generally are available only on specific platforms. In the
future, the app store may start offering programs suited to high-end
professional needs, but until then, the iPad just isn't capable of
doing everything your laptop can.

Unlike
a laptop computer, which allows you to do whatever computing need you
require on the go, the iPad is geared more toward light computing of
a different kind. The iPad will go places your laptop never would,
and will allow you to do many things in many places that you never
could do with your old laptop. But this is no substitute for a good
laptop computer. Typing for extended periods on a non-tactile screen
just isn't the same as having a full-size keyboard, and even if you
use the keyboard attachment, it still doesn't quite live up to what
you need when doing serious work. The iPad is geared more toward
casual usage, and any true business use will be optimized only in
places where you need an absolute minimum of computing power and a
maximum of portability.

With
all that said, most computer experts and enthusiasts have fallen for the iPad
fever. If you're familiar with the iPhone/iPod Touch interface, then
you'll already be well aware of how the iPad handles, and of how it
differs from a typical tablet computer. The iPad is an ingenious
device that creates its own market space, rather than competing
against other laptops for the same share of the market. If you're not
already familiar with using an iPhone or iPod Touch, I highly
recommend you try out the iPad before rushing out and purchasing one. If you are unable to imagine life before your iPhone,
then the iPad is probably for you. It will then only take a few test runs of book-reading and game-playing
before you also partake of the Apple iPad Kool-Aid. Just remember
that it isn't a laptop, and is definitely not a substitute for doing
real work on the go.

The Evolution of Laptop Computers

It wasn't until the early 1970s that
“portable” computers finally shrunk in size enough to be truly
considered a laptop computer. The Dynabook, though never built beyond
a semi-operational test model, had the form factor more akin to a
tablet computer than the flip-screen laptop architecture we are so
used to today. Resembling an iPad more than anything else, the
Dynabook had a miniature keyboard built in beneath a rudimentary
screen, and was intended as a personal computer that would be aimed
at mainly children's use. The designer, Alan Kay, more recently
developed the One Laptop Per Child project, somewhat fulfilling his
dream over 35 years later.

Despite this early design
prototype, it wasn't until a full decade had passed that the first
true laptop went on the market. The Osborne 1, first released in
1981, was the size of a full briefcase (poorly designed as being just
a bit too large to fit under an airline seat), yet only sported a
tiny 5-inch screen in the middle of its bulky frame. At $2,000, it was
certainly not cheap. However, considering the price of much larger
computers, it was seen as a steal. Although small enough to literally
be used on one's lap, the computer was not very portable, since it
required power from a standard wall plug to operate.

The Osbourne 1 sold well, and was
imitated wildly by competitors that popped up months after release.
On the success of its premiere unit, the Osbourne Computer
Corporation announced the Osbourne Executive, a new laptop design
that took all the positives from the Osbourne 1 and corrected many of
its predecessor's flaws. Unfortunately, when they announced the
successor, sales of the former computer plummeted; no one wanted to
purchase a computer that was about to become obsolete. The lost sales
forced the company into bankruptcy, and the Osbourne effect is still
spoke of today as a cautionary tale in when not to announce a new
product line upgrade.

Although some taut the Osbourne 1 as
the first laptop, its sheer size and shape made it uncomfortable at
best for being used on an actual lap. By contrast, the GRiD Compass,
introduced in 1982, sports the clamshell architecture that we all
associate with laptops today. Although few remember it today because
of its failure to sell in the consumer market, the United States
government took it as their standard portable computer, and used it
in locations as diverse as paratrooper backpacks to NASA space
shuttles.

The GriD Compass was truly a laptop in
every sense of the word, and performed very well for its time. The
main reason it did not succeed in the open market was not lack of
features, performance, or portability—it was because it ran its own
operating system, and was not IBM compatible. Data could not be
easily transferred from larger non-portable IBM computers to the GriD
Compass, and consumers didn't like this.

Laptop computer sales languished behind
their desktop counterparts for the next six years. Users didn't see a
need to bring computing power on the go, while manufacturers didn't
bother trying to create a need no one was sure would pay off. It
wasn't until 1987 when the US Government put in a 200,000 order for
laptops that computer companies first took laptops seriously.
Afterward, the need for laptops was created through innovative
advertising campaigns, and laptops became ubiquitous among computer
users.