Took a few days off over the Fourth of July holiday.  Went backpacking with my sons and the dog while my wife and daughter visited old friends in New York.  We covered some tough miles with a lot of elevation gain, some route finding required, hot, dusty, and no available water for long stretches, but it was worth it as the trail we picked was sufficiently difficult as to discourage most hikers, including us if we had known what we were getting into :).  Only saw one group of two people on the first day. That's relatively unusual unless one is farther from the road than the 11 miles we covered that day. Neither one of them was carrying a Tablet PC so we talked about the bugs and the best spots to camp. They were setting up camp well short of our destination.  We ended up completely alone with no one around for several miles, no WiFi, no email, no internet, no blogs. It was a nice break.  Didn't see any significant wildlife but there were reports of a bear on this trail a couple of weeks ago so we took the usual precautions with the food, etc.  Seattle is excellent habitat for outdoorsy types.  We have large tracts of wilderness area within a one hour drive from my house in the burbs.

It's annual performance review time at Microsoft and I have a lot of writing to do so blogging time will be adversely affected.  At the suggestion of David I will try to post more frequently, but the blogs will probably be shorter.  I welcome feedback so please feel free to tell me if you prefer one style or the other.

Response to selected reader comments:

 Rob, sorry you can't find the screen off button option for your M200.  I checked and you are correct.  It's not there.  Microsoft provides this in the OS and it is available with most tablet PCs but apparently not the Toshiba. I had not yet discovered this until your comments caused me to investigate. Some OEMs choose to remove certain of these features and replace with their own bundle of utilities for managing power, WiFi, display output, etc.  I was aware that Toshiba provided their own utility for many of these functions.  That's OK.  It's an opportunity for value added differentiation for the PC manufacturer.  OEMs like to provide these utilities across their product lines to create a consistent, branded experience. However, I wish Toshiba had at least left that option available in the control panel. We did all the work to make it available, it's useful, so why block it? That's disappointing.  I have not had time to investigate the utilities you posted but I will give them a try.

Mark, your comments about standby (S3) and hibernate (S4) states are right on target.  We are focusing on improving this functionality for LH.  There is a major power saving, battery life extending opportunity there but the state transitions are not as routine and reliable as they should be and managing power profiles is not sufficiently discoverable or intuitive for the average end user.  I think it's safe to say that most people still use only two states: full power (S0) and off (S5). We have a major opportunity for improvement in the power management experience in the next release and we don't intend to miss it.  I also enjoyed your comment that many people referred to your tablet as a giant  PDA.  The typical comment I got when using one of the original MS prototypes on an airplane was “gee, that's the biggest Palm Pilot I have ever seen.“  For a Microsoft Tablet PC person this was a cruel, double insult.  At least if they had called it a giant Pocket PC (ok, it's an oxymoron unless one has giant pockets) I would have felt a little bit better.  I also liked your most recent post about HW requirements and sales.  I'll get to that one next blog.

JK, let us know how the tablet OS works on your Sony U-70....but don't just tell us how great it is (as you have predicted even before you tried it), give us both the good and the not so good. That's useful information as we go forward.

Mary, I agree with you.  Lonestar is a major improvement in the tablet pc experience.  I would be glad to evangelize what I believe are the most significant end user benefits but I don't want to turn this blog into a sales pitch. Let's see what others think.

David, Rob, Mark, JK, Mary, thanks for the good FB.

Everyone else, if you take the time to write it I'll take the time to read it.  FB always welcome.