by Don Willmott  Back in May, I wrote somewhat dismissively about tablet computing finding a happy home in mainstream enterprises. Why, I wondered, if have they never caught on despite decades of talk and at least five years of usable, if somewhat heavy, pre-iPad designs? Sure, tablets have been deployed in all sorts of verticals, but the rest of us have continued to carry our laptops to get our work done. Let's Talk Tablets... AgainA few months and 3 million iPads later, I'm revisiting this touchy topic (get it?) because the headlines have started screaming about an upcoming tablet deluge that will force IT to bring them into the fold once and for all. The action starts over in the BlackBerry universe, where RIM has finally leaked some solid information about its upcoming plans. In November, the Blackpad tablet will arrive and captivate you (RIM hopes) with its 9.7-inch screen, its Bluetooth, its WiFi, and its tight connection to BlackBerry smartphones that can then connect it to the Internet via 3G. In other words, it will be the ultimate BlackBerry accessory. The idea is to get this on the market fast, before Apple can rev the iPad. As another swipe at Apple, RIM is also planning to release the BlackBerry 9800, its first touch screen model with a pop-out keyboard, in August. Things are getting equally interesting in the Microsoft camp, where CEO Steve Ballmer revealed last Thursday that Microsoft is prepping to help allies such as HP, Dell, Asus, Lenovo, and Toshiba by providing Windows 7 running on Intel processors (rather than mobile Windows). "It is job-one urgency around here. Nobody's sleeping at this point," Ballmer told a group of analysts. He'd better come up with something that will make us forget the aborted "Slate" project, a joint effort with HP that died in January. Microsoft just can't seem to catch a break when it comes to hardware. Maybe this time will be different. Then there's the Android OS camp, filled with other hardware manufacturers, including Asian outfits like LG and lots of other familiar names (see a complete collection of rumors here). Even Google may have a tablet up its sleeve, and that's one I'd really like to see. Okay, so the tablets are coming, the tablets are coming. Let's take a deep breath and think a minute. Why is this happening? There's more to the phenomenon than the simple fact that the iPad is very cool and therefore very successful. Remember: the iPad is not a great tool for information creation. It's mainly designed for information consumption. That was my main gripe about tablet computing in general: You can't type on them. But perhaps I was missing the bigger picture. There are so many amazing things that the Internet can now deliver, with geopositioning at the top of the list, that we are all going to want - and maybe need - a good info consumption device that can handle our work-related endeavors. Our smartphones are Okay, especially for e-mail, but not for watching presentations, getting a quick look at a spreadsheet, or looking at maps. Our laptops can do all that, but tablets weigh 75 percent less. Maybe Steve Ballmer is smart: A cool tablet that's also a Windows tablet may have relatively easy entry into the data center, where IT will at least be familiar with the OS and may be able to integrate the devices into the workflow without too much drama - and certainly without having to bend to Apple's famously controlling ways. And maybe RIM is smart too. After all, everyone has a BlackBerry already, right? I think I'm going to write this column again in December. The tablet landscape may look very different by then. I'll try to keep up.