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Bill Gates criticizes the iPad

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says he looks at the Apple's forthcoming tablet device and doesn't see anything that he wishes Microsoft had come up with.

Sometimes it's hard to let go of the past. And sometimes it's impossible.

While Microsoft toyed with the idea of tablets for a very long time, somehow, it never managed to find the right creative construction to make an impact on our brittle society.

So how, then, did Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates feel when he saw his longtime adversary, Steve Jobs, hype the hope for the iPad? It was as if he was wallowing in a bath of indifference, it seems.

In an interview with BNET blogger Brent Schlender, Gates seemed to believe that his original concept of a tabletlike device remains solid.

"And I hate the name, too, Steve." Joi/Flickr

"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," Gates said, according to Schlender's Wednesday account.

A pen? Really? A pen? Like the ones engineers carry in the top pockets of their sleeveless shirts?

The conclusion Gates reached should reassure everyone at Microsoft: "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.'"

I wonder, though, in the months to come, how many people at Microsoft will wish Microsoft had, indeed, done something like it--perhaps a few years ago too.

While Microsoft can rightly be admired for many of its achievements, wasn't it in 2000 that Bill Gates first suggested something very vaguely like this might be the coming thing? Well, this with a pen, that is.