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Jumping the gun on Apple's super-hyped tablet unveiling in three weeks, Microsoft whipped the cloth off a Hewlett-Packard device at the Consumer Electronics Show keynote on Wednesday night. (Catch up on Wire coverage of what Microsoft needs to do here.) While there were some buzz-worthy moments, techies were groaning that Microsoft didn't unveil the gorgeous "Courier" tablet they've been yearning for--and that's just the beginning of their complaints.

  • Didn't Show Off the Courier, writes Wilson Rothman at Gizmodo. "It's a Windows 7 touch device, so it's nice...But it's not exactly the Courier we have lusted after from Microsoft in our dreams (and waking hours)."
  • Glossed Over Past Non-Starters   Philip Elmer-DeWitt gives a mostly-positive promotion of the tablet PC lineup at CNN Money, but points out Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's omission of some less-positive precedents. "This is not Microsoft's first venture into tablet computing. Ballmer did not mention his flagging Ultra-Mobile PC project, which got so much attention three years ago."

  • No Surprises, shrugs Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle. "You have to feel a little sorry for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer...," Silverman begins. "About a third of the way through his speech, a press release was pushed out to the Web - presumably by automated accident - that gave away what few surprises were in Ballmer's talk...Overall, it was not a shining moment for Microsoft, which badly needed one."
  • Tablet Distracted from Microsoft's Real Challenges, says Nicholas Kolakowsi at Microsoft Watch. "The tablet may be a kind-of-interesting sideshow (based on conversations I've had, it seems that everyone thinks they're mildly fascinating, but nobody seems willing yet to shell out the cash for one), but Microsoft's true fortunes for 2010 and beyond are riding on a wide variety of other products."
  • 'Incredibly Boring,' says Joshua Topolsky at Engadget. Topolsky live blogged the speech, concluding: "And... that's it? Wow. Incredibly boring. Incredibly incredibly boring. Really."

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