The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

Summary: I've just finished reading Ina Fried's piece on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talking to financial analysts about a rival to Apple's iPad, and it's clear from what Ballmer is saying that not only did Apple catch Microsoft with its pants down (again), but that Microsoft is floundering about trying to come up with a convincing response.

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I've just finished reading Ina Fried's piece on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talking to financial analysts about a rival to Apple's iPad, and it's clear from what Ballmer is saying that not only did Apple catch Microsoft with its pants down (again), but that Microsoft is floundering about trying to come up with a convincing response.

Let's take a look at just some of the things that Ballmer said.

Talking about Microsoft rival to the iPad, Ballmer said "they'll be shipping as soon as they are ready."

Really? Wow! But like when? Weeks? Months? Years? Vaporware????? I know that financial analysts usually know nothing about tech, but you'd think that someone would have had the idea to pin that timescale down a little.

Also, and I know it's a low blow, but let's remember that Kin shipped too ... shipping isn't what matters, it's making a product that people want.

Talking about Apple's iPad, Ballmer said "they've sold certainly more than I'd like them to have sold." Ummm, yeah, but Microsoft has for years now left a big stonking gap in the market for Apple to fill. Microsoft was too busy trying to shove "Tablet PCs" down people's throats to realize that what people wanted were just "tablets" systems.

Microsoft, through it's mismanagement of tablet development, both hardware and software, has handed Apple millions of customers, folks who when it comes time to buy a new computer, might be more likely to go with Apple.

"We have got to make things happen ... we're in the process of doing that as we speak. We're working with our hardware partners. We're tuning Windows 7."

Two points here. First, and I know that perhaps I'm being pedantic here, but isn't Windows 7 already supposed to be tuned for tablets? The marketing propaganda seems to say it is. Oh wait, that doesn't count.

Secondly, does the OS have to be Windows? Really? Isn't Microsoft really just trying to re-ignite the same old "notebook without a keyboard but with a stylus instead" market again? The exact same market that it has failed to do anything with for a decade?

"We're coming. We're coming full guns. The operating system is called Windows.

Again, back to Windows. An OS designed to be used with a keyboard and a mouse. Take a look at the point of your cursor, and how you manipulate that through the Windows 7 user interface. Now take your finger, which is about a gazillion times bigger, and imagine trying to do the same thing. It's gonna suck, right?

The problem is that Microsoft has a hard time thinking outside the "Windows" box, and an even harder time building a new OS that has all the functionality that people want (simple stuff like Cut/Copy/Paste, stuff that's been around for years). This is why Microsoft wants to shove a monolithic desktop-based OS on every device possible. It's just crazy, and it doesn't make any real sense, but it's the only business model Microsoft really knows how to leverage.

I shouldn't be too harsh on Microsoft here though, because OEMs are to blame too. Because all the OEMs compete against one another in markets that really don't allow them to stand out on anything other than price (the lowness of the price), it all really just becomes a race to the bottom to make the cheapest thing possible, and then shove Windows on it. Also, OEMs make the problem worse by cluttering up the OS with all sorts of crapware that they get paid to foist on end users. OEMs know how to squeeze revenue out of Windows, and are scared of anything different.

Who's holding their breath for a Microsoft tablet?

Topics: Tablets, Apple, Software, Operating Systems, Mobility, Microsoft, Laptops, iPad, Hardware, Windows

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  • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

    Spot on. I have never bought an Apple product in my life. I really wanted a MS tablet but I gave up waiting and bought an iPad. Something I don't regret. Now when it comes to replacing my pc I'm not going rule out a Mac. I've always been a Microsoft supporter but Steve Ballmer is killing the company. Please bring back Bill...
    Moosehouse
    • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

      @Moosehouse cannot disagree.
      sandeep.splash
    • financial analysts usually know nothing about tech

      Wait Adrian. You are not much more knowledgeable than a FA either, which is why all your ranting about Windows on tablets are the same old regurgitated sound bites iTards have been throwing around. <br><br>Monolithic kills fragmentation right off the bat, dummie. That way the developers can built one app and make it run on everywhere be it desktops, laptops or tabtops. Who says UI has to be tweaked to fit with fat fingers? All those URLs on a webpage are designed for mouse clicks rather than finger touch, yet it doesn't prevent people from browsing on a handheld at all.
      LBiege
      • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

        @LBiege Yes LBiege, we all want to be in your world, where point and click takes us into the year 2050 and all touch devices fail..maybe you want a stylus with your tablet PC too?<br><br>People like you can have your archaic and out dated operating systems on modern hardware, we're moving forward with both.<br><br>The iPad caught Ballmer with his pants down raiding the fridge, and he's not going to catch up. Game over for Microsoft...stick to operating systems and video games, you're just throwing money away.
        cyberslammer
      • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

        @LBiege <br><br><i>"Who says UI has to be tweaked to fit with fat fingers? "</i><br><br>Try using this with any finger and a silly floating virtual keyboard....<br><a href="http://www.currentreports.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/office-2010-ms-word-2010.png" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.currentreports.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/office-2010-ms-word-2010.png</a>
        dave95.
      • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

        @LBiege: Err, you do realize that there's already fragmentation in the Windows world, right? When Windows Phone 7 comes out, that will require apps written in XNA/Silverlight. Windows Server (esp. 2k8 Core) is not Windows 7 - 3rd-party devs already have to account for that in programming.

        Also, even if Windows the OS in all variations were one big, fat, unified whole (hint: it isn't), the form factors themselves make it a stinking PITA - an app UI written for touch isn't going to work so hot on a mouse/keyboard desktop, and windows sized/rez'd for mobile phones or tablets are going to look like crap on desktops.

        There's a reason Microsoft hasn't managed to get folks buying tablets, and that reason has nothing to do with the hardware (though the price and specs certainly did not help much) - the interface itself was a turn-off in that form-factor, as evidenced by the fact that world+dog has rejected it for ten years and counting...

        "Who says UI has to be tweaked to fit with fat fingers?"

        ...the consumers who want to be able to actually use the thing for starters. It's one thing to have birth-control-pill-sized keys (a'la blackberry), because fingernails and corners-of-fingers are good for simple tactile precision. OTOH, you don't get that kind of workaround on a touch-screen.
        Random_Walk
    • Microsoft should go the way of the British Empire

      @Moosehouse .. it will be a better company when it isn't expected to win but perpetually failing.
      It will be a better, more focused company when it does a couple things well and other things not at all.
      Take away Windows revenue and what have you got? A fat ugly idiot presiding over a universe of failure.
      I can see the end of his career from my house.
      HollywoodDog
      • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

        @HollywoodDog Yep...Merry Christmas Ballmer, here's your pink slip...try not to cover it in ketchup and mustard and eat it on the way out the door.
        cyberslammer
    • Android to the rescue

      Microsoft has utterly failed in all consumer mobile devices.

      We'll soon see an army of Android slates arrive in stores. They will be much more competitive than Microsoft bloatware, as Android was designed for the touch interface.

      It's kind of both comical and sad that Microsoft misses every new market these days.
      Vbitrate
  • Good Points

    If MS REALLY wants to compete with the iPad, it needs to use an OS that is designed for multi-touch. *NOT* Windows 7. Windows Phone 7 maybe, if the interface scales up to a larger display well. That I can see working. But nobody wants to use a cursor based OS on a multi-touch device.

    And I get this feeling in the end, it will be released and turn out like the Zune. And then it will take another 3-4 years before a half decent one comes out. But ultimately will only grab 1-2% of the market.

    MS just has this issue with designing things by comity, which makes them take longer to get released, and ultimately end up sucking.
    Stuka
    • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

      @Stuka Windows 7 IS designed for Multi-Touch. Have you used Windows 7 with a touch screen? I have... it rocks.
      condelirios
      • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

        @condelirios - I live in the Bay Area, CA. Tell me where a Microsoft store is locally where I can try it out. I ain't buying it first until I can see that Win7 Multi-touch works the way I expect it to.
        The Danger is Microsoft
  • While I agree that MS has trouble thinking outside the Windows box

    The fact is that Windows is their foot in the door. While it's true that the tablet would be better if it did not have traditional Windows, it also needs to be seamless with Windows if it is to gain traction. It also needs to be fast, battery life, a great display, and it needs to be cheap.

    All of that means it cannot be x86/x64 compatible, which is the crux of MS's dilemma. Windows 8 [b][u]NEEDS[/u][/b] to be platform independent if MS is to compete in the long run. The fact that it is not is the cause of all this delay.
    Michael Kelly
  • Microsoft is a two-trick pony

    Windows and Office. It's all they know how to do, and when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
    frgough
    • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

      @frgough Hahahaha!
      anardo
    • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

      @frgough you're right if you mean their consumer products, but on the enterprise side Microsoft has tons of products. Apple is in the opposite situation. That's why they are hard to compare.
      Spatha
      • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

        @Spatha: "but on the enterprise side Microsoft has tons of products."

        ...all of them designed to keep you locked-in to Windows.
        Random_Walk
    • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

      @frgough Give them some credit, I love the XBox 360, they may have launched it with bad reputation but they have gained the #2 spot in the console market.
      cyberslammer
      • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

        @cyberslammer <blockquote>I love the XBox 360, they may have launched it with bad reputation but they have gained the #2 spot in the console market. </blockquote>

        Is there a number 3 any more?
        Yagotta B. Kidding
      • RE: The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down

        @cyberslammer

        Nintendo
        Microsoft
        Sony
        cyberslammer