Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Don't get your hopes up

Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Don't get your hopes up

Summary: Is there a secret Windows Phone slate waiting in the wings? I'd say the answer is no. Here's why.

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Windows Phone 7 phones are coming, starting next week in Europe and November 8 in the U.S. But what about slates running the Windows Phone OS 7 operating system?

There are slates out there running Apple's iOS phone operating system (the iPad) and various slates based on  the Android phone operating system. So what about the Windows Phone 7 operating system? Is there a secret Windows Phone slate waiting in the wings?

Microsoft officials said no earlier this year. And after asking around this week at Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch and Consumer Open House in New York, I'd say the answers still is no -- at least not in the foreseeable future. Too bad, as some of the elaborate mock-up concept videos and screen shots for a Windows Phone slates we've seen look pretty darn compelling.

Microsoft is restricting its partners from putting the Windows Phone OS on certain form factors by limiting device screen size. The roughly 4-inch phone screens on Windows Phone 7 devices are the biggest that Microsoft will allow to run the Windows Phone 7 operating system, I was told by Microsoft officials this week.

Microsoft allegedly did the same with Windows 7, as some may recall. Microsoft made changes to the maximum hardware specifications allowed by OEMs who wanted to preload Windows 7 Starter and Home Basic. (Supposedly 10.2 inches -- measured diagonally -- was the "defining boundary" between what constituted a "small notebook PC" vs. a "full-featured laptop.")

That seemingly means that any PC maker who wanted to tweak the Windows Phone 7 OS to run on anything bitter than a phone screen would be barred by Microsoft's licensing terms and conditions.

So manufacturers who want to offer "Windows slates" have two choices: Preload Windows 7 or preload Windows Compact Embedded. While it is true that Windows Compact Embedded is the same "core" which Microsoft tweaks (heavily) to build its Windows Phone operating system releases, it's highly doubtful that any OEM would be able to "recreate" the Windows Phone OS itself on top of the same core without violating Microsoft patents and licensing rules. In other words, while some slate maker possibly could make its device look and feel similar to the Windows Phone 7, but it wouldn't actually be the same operating system.

Could this all change at some point? Maybe. Microsoft could remove the restriction on screen size if company officials decided that would be advantageous or necessary. Additionally, Microsoft did sign a deal with ARM earlier this year that set off speculation that the company will -- at some point -- release a version of Windows (and not just Embedded Compact) that can run on ARM. And then there's the whole Project Menlo work happening inside Microsoft Research. Could that lead to the arrival of a Windows Phone slate someday? Who knows....

If you could buy a Windows Phone 7 slate, would you? After getting some hands-on time with the Windows Phone 7 devices this week, I, for one, would be very interested.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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38 comments
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  • That sucks

    WP7 could go pretty far running on Slates. The MetroUI is [u]perfect[/u] for them.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Dont' get your hopes up

      @Cylon Centurion 0005

      Yep, everyone wants to carry a jumbo phone with them. If I need to carry a brick around with me, it better be a lot more functional than my smartphone. The iPad is even more of a joke. A jumbo phone without phone capability.

      I'll have a Win 7 tablet please, if you want Metro on top of that, fine, but at least I'll be able to do some work with it.
      tonymcs1
      • Great minds think alike

        @tonymcs@... <br><br>I happen to share your viewpoint. I love my Win7 tablet to death, and think "Average Joe" tablets such as the iPad to be under developed and have greater potential than what is currently being <S>developed</S> explored.<br><br>I can't wait to see what comes along with the way of Windows tablets, because they have the power to be an even greater asset than a stinkin' iPad or iPad wanna-be does.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Dont' get your hopes up

        @tonymcs@... @cylon@
        Let me second that. My Tablet PC, even though it's over 3 years old, is still my 'go to' device. I've seen the iPad and it doesn't come close for 'real' work. The TabletPC doesn't have the 'sizzle', but it has everything else (now, if they could just get it down to 2 pounds :)
        batpox
    • RE: Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Dont' get your hopes up

      @Cylon Centurion 0005
      The problem is there are no apps for WP7 and even fewer apps for a WP7 Slate. The reason Apple is so succesful is that they figured out what the consumer wants, even before the consumer figured it out... simplicity, tons of apps and no viruses. The way MS is going about it, it will end up being the opposite.
      prof123
  • Microsoft needs to learn what Apple did right

    A slate with a full blown OS will never be as snappy as something with a Phone OS. They might not make as much profit per slate, but making any profit on them is something they should enjoy.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Dont' get your hopes up

      @goff256 - ermmmm ... you do know that WinPhone7 is currently running atop the Windows CE kernel, right?

      I for one would love to see the Windows Phone "metro" UI running on an ARM-based tablet with a 10" screen. I think it would be a killer experience for all those times I don't want/need a full-blown laptop. And if it was able to sync and integrate with SkyDrive, Mesh, XBox Live, SharePoint, Exchange, Hotmail/Gmail, Media Center, etc., then it would be an exceptionally useful tool - particularly around the home.
      De-Void
      • RE: Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Dont' get your hopes up

        @De-Void <br><br>From Microsoft's perspective, won't such a device be a threat to their core PC market? The same way iPads are now becoming (or feared becoming) a threat to the PC market? <br><br><a href="http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/can-we-drop-the-charade-that-apples-ipad-isnt-hurting-pc-sales/40503?tag=mantle_skin;content" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/can-we-drop-the-charade-that-apples-ipad-isnt-hurting-pc-sales/40503?tag=mantle_skin;content</a><br><br>I think there's a reason MS is not allowing anyone to put WP7 on tablets, and not going there themselves, at least not right away. Tablets pose as a great threat to their Windows OS. Every iPad that's sold is potentially one less Win Netbook (or Win notebook) being licensed and sold. So look forward to more Win Slates, Win Tablets, Win Embedded and more Win Netbooks to combat this war, not WP7 tablets. Unfortunately.
        dave95.
      • More accuratelly, dave95

        is that the problem right now is that it is feared that the iPad will become a threat to the Mac line of computers, much like the iPhone had slowed the growth of the iPod line.

        Now, I understand that you like to believe tha tall companies, including Microsoft make all their decisions based on what Apple is doing, but that is not true.

        Just as Apple is carefull not to lose their higher margin products to their lower margin products, so too does every company.
        Tim Cook
      • RE: Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Dont' get your hopes up

        @Mister Spock

        It will be up to Apple to avoid iPads taking sales away from their lower end Mac lines. We will see how they innovate the lines with future releases. I wont doubt their ability in this area though. But they could very well see more halo effect from the iPad, just as they're seeing with iPhones and iPods now. The more new customers walk through their stores (50% new to Apple) the higher the chances of them getting a new Mac sold.

        The iPhone did not necessarily slow the growth of the iPods. More accurately the iPod growth continued on with the iPod Touch (and iPhone). The iPod Touch is now the best selling iPod.
        dave95.
      • dave95, possibly, but

        I was refering to articles:<br><a href="http://thenextweb.com/apple/2010/05/06/ipad-killing-netbook-ipod-touch-sales/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://thenextweb.com/apple/2010/05/06/ipad-killing-netbook-ipod-touch-sales/</a><br><br><a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-npd-mac-ipod-sales-data-2010-5" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-npd-mac-ipod-sales-data-2010-5</a><br><br>They will have to be careful in the balancing act. My question would be why should not Microsoft be carefull balacing their products moving forward?
        Tim Cook
      • RE: Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Dont' get your hopes up

        @Mister Spock<br><br>Regards to the links, the studies were done just one month after the iPad was release. Don't think you can truly judge the affect on other products with the iPad being out just one month in the market (they were done in May). Besides these are two very separate markets, iPods (iPod Touch) and iPads. With the new iPod Touch 4 with FaceTime and Retina display, I expect to see a surge in sales. Don't think Apple have much to worry about there.<br><br><i>They will have to be careful in the balancing act. My question would be why should not Microsoft be carefull balacing their products moving forward?</i><br><br>Microsoft should be just as careful balancing their products. I was just pointing out the dilemma they're in right now. They're not the ones that have the hot selling iPad out in the market that's eating away at Apple's core Mac market. They're in a tuff spot of having to push more <b>Win</b> tablet PC and <b>Win</b> slates to consumers that were never really receptive to the idea. In the mean time Mac sales keep rising. Up 24.1% since the iPad launched back in April.
        dave95.
    • I prefer functional to "snappy"

      @goff256

      I'd give up super battery life for a highly portable device (ie, tablet) which I can install/run my regular applications... would not even consider a device which did not provide that option. If I need to write up a doc on the fly, I do NOT want to have to turn to the Cloud, especially here in Australia where decent Mobile Internet plans are expensive, and service still leaves a lot to be desired.

      And FORGET paying for an App to supplement software I already own for the desktop/notebook!
      kaninelupus
  • RE: Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Dont' get your hopes up

    I'm a Silverlight / WP7 developer and already considering the slate form factor - I hope that MS does something in this area soon.
    dimension.three
  • RE: Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Dont' get your hopes up

    They aren't available yet. Sooner or later Microsoft will lift those restrictions. If not, someone will hack it so that WP7 is put on a slate.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Are Windows Phone 7 slates waiting in the wings? Dont' get your hopes up

      @Loverock Davidson Translation: Waah waah Microsoft doesn't have WP7 on a slate, I have to deal with iPad dominating the market, waaah!!!!!
      cyberslammer
  • Controlling a market you cannot control

    This is just one more example of MS not "getting it". They are WAY behind in smart phones and now they put up restrictions to put themselves further behind in tablets.

    I realize that Google has done a similar thing, because they feel Android is not ready for tablets. My guess is that WP7 is not ready for tablets either, but by making the statements they apparently do, they make MS fans buy iPads or Android tablets instead, because nothing seems to be forthcoming from MS.

    Clever. Real clever.
    Economister
    • For all their good

      I think the recent uptake of tablets is something that is really confusing Microsoft. They're used to the idea that people want a complete experience, and people are happy with a crippled one (iOS is crippled next to Windows 7).

      Maybe they'll figure it out within a year or two, or maybe they're just hiding it from us to spring a tablet they make. One can hope.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • "complete experience"

        @goff256

        I think that there are many different needs out there, from developers/power users who want all that they can get ("complete experience"), to the majority of users, for whom the functioning of personal computer HW and SW and the "complete experience" is a complete mystery that they would rather not be part of. These users just want a simple appliance that will meet their needs and not cost a fortune to clean or repair. Technology has now advanced sufficiently that this is becoming a reality.

        Even power users will want something small and light from time to time. I think MS was caught completely off guard by this whole thing, as has happened several times before. MS has great difficulty moving forward from the mindset of selling Windows and Office to the whole world. Unfortunately for them, the world seems to be passing them by.
        Economister
      • Economister, is teh world really passing them by?

        or is that your/many's perception based on these boards?

        Tablet sales are actually incredibly small compared to the sales of PC's (Macs are included in that PC reference).

        Yes it is a market that one would like to make money from, but is it really that large of a segment to risk their largest money making products on?
        Tim Cook