Some of my ZDNet colleagues are having a "Hey Day" with the possibility of a new "Windows" tablet. Speculation runs wild with, "Will it be an Xbox-based tablet?", "Will it be a Windows 8 tablet?" or "Will it be something different--like Windows mobile?". From a BYOD perspective, it matters very little. Why? Because in a couple of years, you're likely to only have three competing tablet operating systems: Windows 8, Android and Apple's iOS. I expect the playing field to narrow into a small (fewer than ten) tablet vendors. For vendors other than Apple, the choice is either Windows 8 tablet or Android.
There are no crazy implications or bizarre manifestations from having a Windows-based tablet. It won't be that much different from Windows-based phones. You've already seen the truth to that in Apple's products and in Android-based devices. The phone/mobile version looks exactly like the tablet version.
So, what's all the excitement about?
I'm not sure.
Microsoft, while innovative, is conservative in its product releases. I don't know that they're interested in peddling hardware devices like tablets. The Xbox is different. It's a game console. Microsoft has always been big into computer gaming so it stands to reason that they'd create a proprietary device on which to run their games.
Not true with tablets.
I don't think Microsoft will sell a tablet. They more likely will partner with a hardware vendor like Acer, Asus, Samsung, Dell or someone else and provide a customized version of their upcoming Windows 8 operating system specifically designed for the tablet platform.
Windows 8 would be perfect for tablet computers.
The Metro interface has the right look and feel for tablets: large colorful icons, a slidey desktop and a lighter weight shell. Microsoft knows that phones, tablets and ultrabooks are the future of personal computing. Contrary to popular belief, Microsoft isn't stupid. They know what the future is and they know how to capitalize on the changes taking place in the data center, the desktop and on mobile devices. That's why Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 look and act like they do.
You'll soon see that Microsoft will retain its place in the personal computing market with its upcoming announcement.
Hey, wouldn't it be cool if the new tablet could act as a remote gaming console for the Xbox? I'd put money on that capability and I haven't spoken with anyone from Microsoft or their PR firm. It's pure speculation--just like what everyone else is doing.
But, I can tell you one thing for certain. When Microsoft does put Windows 8 on a tablet, you're going to love it. In the end, it's still just a tablet. It's Windows running on a tablet. Windows-based tablets aren't really new. They've been around for years.
That's why it would surprise me greatly if Microsoft did actually go into the tablet business. They're not in the phone business, which is a huge market compared to tablets, so I'm thinking that yes, there will be a Windows tablet, but Microsoft will only supply the operating system and leave the hardware to someone else.
What do you think? Do you think Microsoft would ignore the multi-billion dollar phone market to venture into the fickle tablet market with its own branded tablet computer? Talk back and let me know.