Windows tablet speculation overblown

Windows tablet speculation overblown

Summary: To those who think that Microsoft is going to produce a tablet computer, you don't know Microsoft very well.

TOPICS: Tablets

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.

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Topic: Tablets


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Honestly, why?

    When has it ever been a good idea to compete with your hardware partners? Microsoft already learned this lesson with the Zune, which killed off any of their previous MP3 PlaysForSure partners. They are not about to go down that road again.

    Also, I'm also pretty sure they've learned from the Palm Pre and HP TouchPad not to announce a product 4 months before it's ready to ship. That's ludicrous. And if it WERE a tablet launch, don't you think this would have been in the books for weeks/months. You don't give journalists 4 days notice for something like that. And Los Angeles? Why announce it there? Why not New York or Seattle? And gaming? E3 was just last week.

    My guess is that it's a content deal with Hollywood studios, perhaps an integration of Xbox Video into Ultraviolet plus maybe a TV deal. That kind of stuff would be worth announcing immediately after its signed since it won't stay under wraps for long.
    Jeff Kibuule
    • You said it!

      My thoughts exactly.
  • I agree...

    If at all true it is much more likely a 7 inch, Kindle type device from Nook running content from Microsoft's existing Xbox partners than a Windows RT tablet.

    Why would MS undercut it's traditional OEM partners such as HP, Dell especially and Nokia, Lenovo, Asus and Acer to a lesser extent by making such an announcement before they have an opportunity to announce their own ARM based devices? Seems unlikely.

    I'm not sure a Windows branded RT device would really be a "major" announcement anyway. We've known about Windows on ARM for many months now and even seen a few examples at trade shows already.
    widow maker
    • When push comes to shove...

      Microsoft has thrown their partners under the bus. Remember "Plays for sure"? All the OEMs that paid a license fee, only to get zuned... I believe Sega, was also thrown under the bus, as the xbox was a re-released version of the Dreamcast with a few software incompatibilities. I believe I read somewhere the Dreamcast ran a custom version of Windows CE.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
      • How so?

        "I believe Sega, was also thrown under the bus..."

        Original Xbox was nothing like the Dreamcast. While you are correct that Dreamcast ran a modified version of Windows CE, the original Xbox had a custom OS build from the ground up which was closer to Win32 than to CE.
      • Microsoft never builds from the ground up

        Microsoft only incrementally changes things. This is why flaws from Windows 2000, are found in Windows 7.No matter what the Press Release says, Microsoft doesn't do full replacements, they just change enough to hamper compatibility, with older products. They were world famous for changing file formats, just to push the newer version.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • As Apple had done with their partners

        So all you are saying is that all large companies act this way.

        Are you surprised?
        John Zern
  • That's why Microsoft can claim to bet the farm

    "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." If the OEMs buy several million licenses each, and the product tanks, Microsoft has made its money already and the OEMs are the one's that get screwed. Microsoft tried to do phones, and failed miserably. The "Kin" died a quite death, no matter how much the Zealots claimed it was great. The zune was another disaster, in all the year they were sold, I only saw one in the wild, and it was broken. So now Microsoft has released the "Kin/zune" phone, which hasn't broken the 2% barrier after 19 months, making the OEMs nervous about supporting it. The one company that did "Bet he farm, on WP 7, seems to be losing that bet.
    Jumpin Jack Flash
    • You don't make money selling software once...

      When you're MS your software becomes a billion dollar line of business off of repeat sales, not one time sales, MS has little interest in seeing it's partners buy once and fail. They have every interest, and indeed their very survival, in their partners marketing successful products that then need to be re-upped year over year.
      widow maker
      • Just like they were

        Concerned with the "Partners" that bought into "Plays for sure"? Did that even last a year, before Microsoft threw them under the bus? If Nokia went belly up tomorrow, Microsoft's only concern would be what happens with the Patents, an Management at Microsoft couldn't care less about the 10,000 employees getting laid off, so Nokia can pay for WP 7 licenses.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Hmmm

        [i]"MS has little interest in seeing it's partners buy once and fail. They have every interest, and indeed their very survival, in their partners marketing successful products that then need to be re-upped year over year."[/i]

        Didn't they lose LG as a Windows Phone supplier? LG basically bought once and failed with Windows Phone. Where is the Microsoft support for LG? Google helped prop up a struggling Motorola in buying them.

        Meanwhile Nokia, Microsoft's flagship partner is struggling, Nokia's shares have falling 80% since the move over to Windows (and was recently rated "junk" status). Other OEMs are struggling selling Windows Phones, Microsoft's share of the global smartphone market has continued to decline.

        Let's hope for their own phone "survival", Microsoft announces new ways they are supporting their other partners in the market. Like for instance cutting the OEM license fee or offering it up free for a period of time to compete with Android.
    • And the Xbox

      Let's not forget the Xbox is just a rumor outside the US.
  • The surprise? That it's a surprise.

    Microsoft isn't doing their usual trick of announcing something a year or two ahead of time (I don't think. Maybe they are.) They seem to be taking (another) page from Apple's playbook by trying to whip up rumors and speculation about a product before the announcement. I think they've been jacking up the secrecy about new products recently because they've been burned in the past by letting too many details out before the actual product becomes available.
    • Microsoft jacking up the secrecy because they've been burned in the past

  • Really, If I Wanted More MiB, I Would Have Bought the Comics

    Native and enhanced Skype/Videoconferencing, access to the XBox platforms, games and content deals, Tablet Office and Office 365 with collaboration hooks into Desktop Office. Central management for the enterprise using existing server software. A deal with Amazon for books and entertainment. 10" Screen.

    In short a mobile device whose big stories are affinity with other Microsoft products, excellence as a reader device, and an amazing collaboration and communications device for our new way of doing business.

    If they execute, that product could do well. YDNTBYOD (You Don't Need to Bring Your Own Device).

    Here's what intrigues me. Did Microsoft learn to get their ducks in a row, and the June 18th announcement will be "And this ships tomorrow." or, instead, as per the 20-some year manual, a description of Vaporware Paradise, and somewhere - of course we won't know when - we will stare into a little black rod-like device and forget about Courier or... Or.... What were those teen mobile phones that were the product of the Danger acquisition.

    See how the tech works?

    But seriously, it should take time to integrate os, applications, hardware, and device form factor. How many months were there between the announcement of WP7 and Mango? How many months did it take them to change the Windows Phone 7 name from its awkward original form?

    Okay. On Monday we shall see. I'm prepping. Courier, Courier, Courier. Always remember.

    • Wolf

      Are you saying just because they've done this before, say with the courier, it will be like the little boy crying wolf? Remember, eventually the damn wolf showed up... and the little boy got eaten.
      (I agree with you this time though.)
  • It won't be a low priced Win RT Tablet

    Whatever they introduce, it won't be something that directly competes and undercuts their large OEM customers for the Win 8 or Win8 RT OS. Something that is completely different like a Portable Xbox in tablet form factor would be doable. That wouldn't directly compete with their large OS customers for Win RT, like Asus, Acer and Samsung. It would be directly targeting competitors like Sony and Nintend in the gaming hardware/software market and would possible be another gadget that current iPad/tablet/laptop owners would buy if it was a superior gaming platform, with some media viewing capability, but not able to run more business oriented productivity applications.
    • PlaysForSure

      [i]it won't be something that directly competes and undercuts their large OEM customers[/i]

      Who knows. Microsoft at one time also had a large PlaysForSure OEM partners, before abandoning them and going alone with the Zune.

      [i]"We thought that was a brilliant strategy -- [develop] an open ecosystem, get a lot of people [to support it]." What happened? As Ballmer puts it, "In this particular case, the whole was not bigger than the sum of the parts." And, as a result, "Apple -- with one model that was simple and consistent -- wound up taking 75%-80% of the market." [/i]

      That "large" OEM customer base does nothing for Microsoft if they are not doing well in the market.
  • What is Microsoft Going To Announce Monday

    What is it that Microsoft plans to announce Monday. I'll let you know Monday. I agree with Ken, probably not a tablet and I don't have a clue either. Microsoft what's to make a surprise announcement, so its not unusual that no one has a clue.
  • Not likely hardware

    Microsoft doesn't understand hardware and integration. Ok, my opinion, anyone is welcome to disagree.

    Therefore, Microsoft is most likely to announce services. This is their current mantra today.

    The most likely service to offer would be school textbooks. Why? Earlier this year Apple made big endorsement of this new technology and there are quite few people who mumble "but, why only Apple?". Easy.. here comes Microsoft, the Knight on White Horse to save the situation. Microsoft "too" will offer textbooks, a whole "brand new" and shinning platform for textbooks: here, come, licenses for everybody.

    Timing is perfect.