Microsoft Windows Phone President Andy Lees' restatement of Microsoft's tablet positioning has kicked off again the debate as to whether tablets and PCs are one and the same.
Lees, one of the keynoters at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 12, told the Microsoft partners in attendance that Microsoft is holding onto its decision to ban ts OEM partners from using the Windows Phone operating system as the OS for tablets. This isn't new; Microsoft execs have been saying the same for months. But here's what Lees said yesterday:
"Now, a lot of people have asked me, are we going to produce a phone that is a tablet? You know, are we going to use Windows Phone 7 to produce tablets? Well, that is in conflict with this strategy. We view a tablet as a sort of PC. We want people to be able to do the sorts of things that they expect on a PC on a tablet, things like networking to be able to connect to networks, and utilize networking tools, to get USB drives and plot them into the tablet. To be able to do things like printing, all of the things using Office, using all of the things you would expect from a PC and provide a hybrid about how you can do that with the tablet, as well."
After having used an iPad for a year, I have to say that I don't consider that device to be a PC. In fact, I still use both my PC and my iPad at different times and for different reasons. I am not saying iPads can't be used to do "real" work or that I can't have "fun" on my PC. But on those occasions when I need something small, light, portable, with a battery that will last all day (keeping me from having to lug power cords and/or an extra battery), I grab my iPad and go. When I know I'm going to be typing a lot, I still fall default to my PC.
Some Microsoft partners and customers are believers in the "business tablet" concept -- the idea that tablets are only useful if they include all the same features as "full-fledged" PCs. These are the folks who agree with the claim that tablets and PCs are and should be the same.
I'm not in this camp. I want the kinds of apps that are on my phone -- not the ones on my PC -- on my tablet. With Windows 8 tablets, maybe we'll have the best of all worlds: Both phone/phone-like apps and business apps on the same device. Until then, however, I really feel like Microsoft is continuing to repeat its historical tablet mistakes, and will have similar poor market results.
What's your take? Are tablets PCs? Should they be?
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