Who is this Blickenstorfer guy anyway?

Good question. And I know, I have a looooong name which I have to spell at least half a dozen times each day. I could have changed it to something short like "Jim Lee" when I became a citizen back in '86, but the prospect of having to explain that to about 67 credit card and other companies in those dark days before the web made me reconsider. So Blickenstorfer it stayed.

Just so you know where I am coming from, I used to be a corporate IS/IT type, even had a CIO title for a few years. Then wearing a dark suit every day became a bit much. I quit, moved to California, and founded Pen Computing Magazine in 1993, just when everyone dumped on pens and the Apple Newton was shredded for its handwriting recognition (does anyone remember that the original Newton was H-U-G-E compared to today's Pocket PCs?). Amazingly Pen Computing took off. We published our first issue just when the old PenWorld published its last, and from the start we covered not just pen computers, but also anything else that used a pen. Which means I got to see a lot of cool and not so cool stuff. And met Hal Goldstein in the process. I always viewed Hal as The Friendly Competition. Good man, Hal. We hung out at a lot of shows. And Pocket Mag Blog Maestro Hanttula was there with us, too.

I was there when Gates revealed Microsoft Windows CE and the original crop of Handheld PCs at the Cirque du Soleil theatre back in '96. We all uhhh'ed and ahhhh'ed over those little Casio, NEC, Philips et al clamshells -- dinky grayscale screens, anemic performance and funky chiclet keyboards notwithstanding. Then, for the next several years, watched as Microsoft putzed around with the platform in often inexplicable ways.

Palm kicked butt, the marvelous Newton died when Jobs came back to Apple, and Microsoft never quite seemed to know what to do with Windows CE. They made the clamshells bigger, then bigger yet, then huge, but pony-tailed Phil Holden almost had a kitten when we put a "Notebook Killer!" headline on the cover of Pen. So, let's see.... we had notebook-sized "Jupiter" devices with 800x600 color screens but they're NOT competition for cheap notebooks?

Then came the Palm PC, quickly renamed to Palm-Size PC, but it really was just a punching bag for Palm til the Pocket PC showed up and Jeff Hawkins meandered off, his mighty brain getting preoccupied with other things, like brain research. So the Pocket PC really takes off, thanks in no small part to Compaq which had the guts to unleash the iPAQ. Of course, at about the same time Microsoft had the not-so-great idea to ditch its multiple processor architecture support, thus royally ticking off Casio and eliminating half the period PSPCs/Pocket PCs in one mighty karate chop.

Now the Pocket PCs were really staged to make it big. Some 2001 projections were for 60 million annual sales by 2005. Mostly Palms, of course, because Microsoft would never catch Palm. Wrong and wrong. It's 2006, the Palm OS has been sold off to Japan, the best Palm runs Windows Mobile, and "traditional" PDAs are hanging on for dear life. Well, we're still talking ten million a year or so, but that's barely enough to keep a couple of mobile mags afloat. Oh well, perhaps they should have spent a few bucks on the enthusiast mags instead of blowing the ad budget for spreads in Ladies' Home Journal and such.

Stunningly, the Microsoft Smartphone is now actually here and alive and somewhat well. I say "stunningly" because the platform had been announced when my hair was still black, and that was a very long time ago. Truth be told, I always wondered how Microsoft might be able to duke it out with the likes of Nokia and Sony Ericsson in phones, but hey, it's Microsoft and you never count them out (yes, I know, why can't those guys even make enough XBox 360s??). Of course, the fact that these days any handheld computer must also be a phone or else it's dead, dead, dead also helped.

So here we are, in 2006. The Pocket PC is on life support, HP hasn't really brought out a truly new model in like forever, the world is still getting used to Microsoft Palms, and just when us Pocket PC aficionados gather a bit of hope, Microsoft throws another curve with the "Origami" Ultra-Mobile PC. I wrote a little intro to Origami when it was released. As you undoubtedly know, it's a really small Tablet PC with a touch screen that runs the full Windows XP Tablet PC edition. So it looks like the boys up there in Redmond decided that small computers should run Windows Proper, and not that halfbaked Windows Mobile stuff. Rats. I really, really like my HP 4700 and had always hoped to see it become ever more powerful, a real PDA. But noooooo! Little computers apparently run Windows and only the phones do WinMo. What's a geek to think? And What Were They Thinking?! Will Hal have to change the name of the mag yet again?

Stay tuned....

Welcome Conrad! It's been quite a ride hasn't it.

Hello Conrad:

When will this madness ever end?
The UMPC looks like an interesting unit. Unfortunately its not a Pocket PC and and it is not a Tablet PC. Somewhere in between. :-(

WIll MS ever figure out that we need consistancy over perceived innovation?

I am looking forward to reading more of your comments and welcome aboard.

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