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Microsoft tablets start strong in Europe

Sales of portables running Microsoft's Tablet PC software started strong out of the gate in Europe, according to market researcher Context.

Despite only a partial quarter of sales, Microsoft tablet PCs accounted for 1 percent of European portable sales during the fourth quarter. Microsoft launched its Windows XP Tablet PC Edition on Nov. 7, with Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu-Siemens, Toshiba among the manufacturers selling portables using the software.

The majority of manufacturers use a flat design with 10.4-inch or 12.1-inch display. Toshiba's model is a more typical subnotebook that morphs into a tablet. Users can either input written text or drawings with a stylus or attach a keyboard for input.

While Microsoft has been hot on the technology's rapid adoption, analysts have been cool. IDC expects manufacturers to sell only 425,000 units worldwide--or about 1 percent of all portables--this year. But early sales in Europe suggest potentially stronger numbers than previously forecast.

"Normally when a new technology or form factor is launched, these tend to be aimed at early adopters willing to pay premium prices," Context analyst Jeremy Davies said. "Take-up is therefore slow as the product eventually goes mainstream."

News source: c|net

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