I have been experimenting a lot with using my iPad as a laptop replacement. It boils down to getting used to a new user interface: designing slides in Keynote works fine, and even building a spreadsheet in Numbers might be more intuitive on a touch interface, it is easier to navigate around cells. Strangely enough picking up a regular pen and paper feels a bit weird the first second after all that digital handwriting.

There is a very big issue though, an issue that was solved on the PC in the mid 1990s: multiple application windows. Quickly getting the data out of a PDF, running a side calculation in a spreadsheet, browsing through your images before putting them in a deck is simply not possible yet.

Here are some features that should be baked into a future tablet operating system:
  • Touch-friendly application switching that does not create the cluttered window mess of regular computers
  • A universal file format so you do not have to worry about in which application to open what
  • A new clever archiving system that is not (only) dependent on file names and directories, maybe find files based on the time you were working on them, based on the people you cooperated with.
Maybe the successor to Microsoft Office is not a new series of software, but a standard file format that covers text, graphics, and calculations on top of which everyone can build applications.

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