Who (if anyone) will build a 7-inch tablet running Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system?

Summary:It's now technically and legally possible to build a 7-inch tablet running Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system. Will any OEM — including Microsoft — do so?

Windows Phone 8.1 Update (1) includes a number of under-the-hood features. 

Among them are new screen resolution options that enable the Windows Phone OS to run on devices that are under seven inches. There also is now the ability to build Windows Phone devices that don't incorporate the radio — i.e., the phone — functionality, as Myce.com noted in an August 8 blog post. (The full list of Update 1 features are available on this Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 documentation page.)

The new 7-inch screen size combined with the ability to omit the phone, at least in theory, means that some OEM could build a 7-inch tablet running the Windows Phone OS. This was not possible from a licensing and/or technology standpoint before Windows Phone 8.1 Update (1), which Microsoft made available in developer preview form on August 4.

Some may recall that a number of us Microsoft watchers were lamenting that Microsoft itself didn't build a line of tablets running the Windows Phone OS.

Supposedly, one of the reasons Microsoft didn't want the Windows Phone OS on tablets was because it wanted to take advantage of the larger Windows ecosystem. 

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The thinking was that the existing pool of Windows apps would be more interesting and stable than the pool of Windows Phone apps. (Microsoft execs also had decided to make Windows RT its Windows-on-ARM-tablet offering and needed to try to get developers onboard to back that play.)

The bigger pool of apps argument sort of made sense if you were talking about Intel-based tablets which were/are able to run Win32 apps in the Desktop. But it didn't in regards to ARM-based tablets, which can run only Windows Store/Metro-Style/modern apps other than Microsoft Office and a few other Microsoft-specific apps.

As of the end of June, there were more than 300,000 Windows Phone apps available in the Windows Phone Store, according to Microsoft (and reported first by WPCentral.com). Comparatively, there are more than 155,000 Windows Store/Metro-Style/modern apps in the Windows Store.

I've heard rumors that Microsoft has experimented internally with the idea and feasibility of putting the Windows Phone OS on tablets. But when I've asked around about the likelihood of such a device coming to market, folks have thrown cold water on the idea. There might be a 7-inch Windows Phone phablet/phone coming from one or more of its OEMs, they suggest. But a Windows Phone OS tablet? Less likely, I hear — especially given where Microsoft is going with Threshold, a k a Windows 9, in terms of bringing Windows Phone OS and Windows on ARM together .

I wonder if any of Microsoft's current or future OEM partners might bite the bullet and be first with a Windows Phone OS tablet. Would you be interested in such a device, readers? Why/why not?

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Tablets, Windows 8, Windows Phone

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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