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Bill Gates, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., said that even though he was a big proponent of touch-screens, the recently announced iPad tablet personal computer should have a keyboard, which would transform it into a netbook.

“I am a big believer in touch and digital reading, but I still think that some mixture of voice, the pen and a real keyboard – in other words a netbook – will be the mainstream on that. So, it’s not like I sit there and feel the same way I did with iPhone where I say, ‘Oh my God, Microsoft didn’t aim high enough’. It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it’,” Bill Gates said in an interview with Bnet web-site.

Bill Gates is by far not the first technology expert who finds Apple iPad to be full of disadvantages, but the former head of the world’s largest software company is definitely among the most radical one. If some other observers think about how to improve the iPad, Mr. Gates proposes to transform it into a netbook. There was a reason, though, why Apple decided to make its iPad a slate, not a netbook: the device seems to be underpowered for serious applications and keyboard would encourage end-users to launch them only to get disappointed with performance.

The prediction that netbooks will be more popular than tablets in the short-term future is completely logical simply because netbooks are available from tens of companies. However, tablets are supposed to suit casual consumers better than netbooks and in the long term their popularity may become at least comparable with that of netbooks thanks to the fact that slate-type PCs may also serve as e-book readers.

Tags: Apple, iPad, Microsoft

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