Whilst there have been some PADs available for sometime, this year has seen their arrival as fully fledged computing devices. The Pad SKU has been available in Windows since XP. There were some Windows pads mooted earlier this year, but the Apple iPad was first to break the new ground. Dell has released a Win 7 pad and there are now a few others available.
Windows 7 can be used as the OS for Windows pads. It though lacks the Instant-On feature of the iPad and of CE devices. Hybernation can take too long (eg 30+ seconds) and Sleep can consume too much power. Hybrid Sleep can be an improvement.
Intel Atom CPUs are being developed that may address the power issues as they are "driven down" towards the ARM CPU spectrum, whilst ARM capabilities are being driven upwards (eg Multi-core ARM). Will we see Windows on an ARM device in the future as an alternative option? I tend to think that improved Windows CE capabilities would be a better option.
Windows CE has instant on so CE devices may be a way forward for Windows Pads .. and licensing is much cheaper. The problem with this is that desktop apps do not run on CE devices. Pure .NET apps may be a solution, especially if a desktop-compact version of .NET could be developed, as per my previous blog.
Windows Embedded Compact 7 can be the basis of Pads with the ability to cut back on the "bloatware" of desktop Windows and can include some of the Embedded Enabling Features. This is not though as simple as it seems because of licensing. A WEC device is not licensed to be used as general purpose device.