All Things Digital reports that, Bill Gates is not impressed with the iPad.  Really Bill, really?  Why is that?  Is it because the Tablet PC running Windows is such a success?  Or, is it that the iPad might just be better than the new Slate PCs that Steve Ballmer showed off at CES?

Bill Gates explains to BNET why he’s not impressed:

“You know, I’m 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,” he said. “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.’”

Let’s look at the first sentence in his statement.  Bill Gates has always pushed for a mobile platform in a tablet format.  However, he first talks about a Tablet, then he says that netbooks are going to be mainstream.  But Bill, I thought you were talking about Tablets.  You lost me there.  As for his comment on voice and pen inputs, the last time I looked there was no real voice interaction with a Tablet PC.  Don’t even get me started with Pen Recognition.  My company tested one of the early Tablet PCs, and at the time it was quite impressive, but I seem to remember the Pen Recognition not being up to par.  Now Microsoft could have improved on it, so don’t start the hate mail.  I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.

He goes on to complement the iPad as a nice reader, but then he says, “…there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.’”  Really, is that why a week before Apple announced the iPad, Microsoft showed off Slate PCs at CES?  Was Microsoft trying to say hey we did it first, or look we got three different vendors behind us?

It’s like sibling rivalry.  I’m going to top you before you can top me.  I personally think Microsoft saw the iPad as a possible threat, that’s why they announced their Slate PCs the week before.  Out of the three different Slates, only one of them appeared to be working.  And if memory serves, it seemed to do the basics of the iPad.  Read eBooks and watch movies.  When Steve Ballmer was listing off the features of the Slates, it almost sounded like a laundry list of items from the iPad.

Whether Bill Gates is, or is not impressed with the iPad seems to be irrelevant.  Microsoft seems to be playing catch up these days.  You see it in search, in cell phones, and now with the iPad, in the form of the Slate PCs.  I can’t say that the iPad will dominate, nor can I say  the same about Slate PCs.  The only ones that will determine this is John Q. Public.  That’s right, you the consumer.  You’re going to decide with your wallets.  It doesn’t matter if I’m impressed with the iPad, or if Bill Gates is not.  All the pundits thought that the iPhone was doomed before it left the gates.  Now look at it.  It’s out-selling every other cell phone on the market.  Because we decided with our wallets.

Photo Credit: Bill Gates

[via @All Things Digital, @BNET]