What's on Microsoft's Windows holiday gift list?

What's on Microsoft's Windows holiday gift list?

Summary: A year ago, shortly after the launch of Windows 7, Windows 7 PCs were a hot holiday gift item. But what about this year?


A year ago, shortly after the launch of Windows 7, Windows 7 PCs were a hot holiday gift item. But what about this year?

HP's Slate 500 Windows 7 business tablets may be on back-order (less surprising given their reportedly limited supply), but they're nowhere near as likely to be on wish lists as iPads and color Nooks. And even the soon-to-be-unveiled Dell netbook-tablet convertible, the Dell Inspiron Duo, is not likely to be a runaway holiday hit -- at least not on the magnitude of other consumer tech goodies.

Microsoft is holding a press event on November 23 -- the same day the Dell Inspiron Duo is rumored to be launching -- in New York City, where the company is expected to show off more Windows 7 PCs.

Update: It looks like Microsoft is having two Windows holiday events. There's also another slated for December 6 in New York City. I've asked for more info as to what will be different. No word back yet.

Make no mistake: The emphasis on the Windows front this holiday from the Softies is PCs, not slates.  CEO Steve Ballmer said as much during Microsoft's annual shareholders meeting today. Ballmer noted that Windows is now on 1.2 billion PCs. He said in the next month, expect from Microsoft a number of "new form factors based on Windows." These will start off with "new form factors of PCs, rather than something trying to be something else," Ballmer told shareholders.

He restated his previous guidance: In the next year to 18 months, once Intel rolls out its Oak Trail processors, which have the kind of battery-life and processing power needed by Windows slates, expect other form factors to arrive. Ballmer said it will be during that 2011+ period that there will be "new advances and changes in our software" to support these kinds of devices. (He didn't elaborate on "changes in our software," but the Softies have said not to expect an interim version of Windows with more touch-centric capabilities. They have hinted that the kind of "big button" interface pioneered in Windows Media Center may come into play.)

In addition to highlighting new PCs from Microsoft partners at the November 23 event, Microsoft also will likely play up Windows Live Essentials 2011. That bundle of software plus services is key to Microsoft's new "To the Cloud" ads. I'm not so sure most consumers are going to understand "the cloud" after viewing these ads. Things are a little less cloudy if you know to go to Microsoft's Windows 7 plus Windows Live site, which explains that a PC user who wants to extend Windows 7 needs to download Windows Live Essentials 2011 to get additional creation and collaboration capabilities. I haven't heard Microsoft using its "Personal Cloud" terminology lately (maybe company marketers decided against it after floating some trial balloons this summer), but this is essentially the same campaign.

Obviously, Windows 7 PCs aren't the only holiday gift items the Softies are pushing this year. Kinect/Xbox 360 and related game titles, of course, are at the top of the company's list, as are the newly released Windows Phone 7 phones.

Stay tuned next week to hear more about what else, if anything, Microsoft unveils during its Windows holiday announcement....

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


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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  • As long as they show Windows 7 accessing the cloud

    consumers may just believe it another Windows 7 feature.
    Tim Cook
  • Windows Live Essentials 2011 Preload

    I have worked on three Windows 7 based laptops throughout the year: HP, Dell Inspiron and most recently a Toshiba and all three came preloaded with Windows Live Essentials, albeit wave 3, but then again, if you have WLE installed, Windows Update will automatically get the latest version. But a lot of OEM's are preloading it by default, the only persons who have to download it are those upgrading from Windows XP which is still a large percentage of the Windows user base (59%).
    Mr. Dee
    • The worldwide figure is deceptive.

      @Mr. Dee

      The 59% number includes a large number of unofficial copies on computers in former Eastern Bloc and Third World countries. I don't think they're in the same game.
      Lester Young
      • Misleading, perhaps ...

        @Lester Young ... because most of those 1.2 billion Windows desktops are NOT running Windows 7 but if anything the number of probably low becasue, if it includes pirated copies at all, it probably misses lots of them.

        There is no douibt in my mind that Microsoft knows exactly how many licenses (OEM, Retail, Upgrade, and Enterprise) it has ever sold. They also undoubtedly know how many licenses have passed WGA (which would be XP SP2 or later, Vista, and WIndows 7).

        It's worth noting that customers would rather run an ILLEGAL copy of Windows than a LEGAL copy of Linux.
        M Wagner
    • RE: What's on Microsoft's Windows holiday gift list?

      @Mr. Dee <br><br>I have a new computer I ordered with Win7 Ultimate and had to download WLE myself. There are many of us who will not buy a PC from OEMs that insists on loading it up with crapware and trialware so we have to download stuff like Windows Live Essentials and Microsoft Security Essentials ourselves.<br><br>Kinect is definitely the big one for Microsoft this Xmas. Windows Phone 7, despite having the most boring name in the business, is also compelling. <br><br>Maybe we can throw in an "i" and unofficially brand Windows Phone 7 as WiPs :). Still not as cool a name as Android, Blackberry or iPhone but anything is an improvement. <br><br>Microsoft is back and on roll with the best of versions right across the spectrum: Windows 7, Office 2010, IE9, Visual Studio 2010, SQL Server 2008 w Reporting Services, Windows Phone 7, Kinect, etc. But their marketing is dumber than ever and why dont they just clean house and start over with marketingit must not be fixable in steps.
  • RE: What's on Microsoft's Windows holiday gift list?

    I am expecting a Windows Phone 7 device (Samsung Focus?) under a Christmas tree.
  • So what, Apple will lead in tablets by 2 to 3 years?

    Is anything special coming for the slates? Does the WP7 app store work for distributing slate appilcations as well? In short, is there an alternative ecosystem to Apple tablets?
    • Microsoft could never get away with an Apple-style ...

      @HollywoodDog ... eco-system. Anti-trust regulators have different rules for Apple because they are #2 (and they are number 2 because they chose to be in the late 1980's - and they haven't looked back since Jobs rejoined the company).

      Apple sells sexy-looking products to well-healed customers who are willing to pay premuim prices for style - but Apple has no idea how to sell to the enterprise.

      Microsoft sells a commodity operating system in huge volumes to the enterprise - and to OEMs who sell a wide range of products to average users who choose to pay for performance. They pay the price they want to pay for the performance they need.

      Apple sells "appliances" and Microsoft sells "tools".
      M Wagner
      • RE: What's on Microsoft's Windows holiday gift list?

        @mwagner@... "Well-heeled," not "well-healed." Though we hope they are healthy...!
  • RE: What's on Microsoft's Windows holiday gift list?

    Considering Windows Media Center begat Windows Phone's "Metro", I am REALLY hoping that whatever software updates arrive for Windows Tablet come from the Metro side of the house.
  • RE: What's on Microsoft's Windows holiday gift list?

    Softies? Is this a company PR chick or what? God how corrupt you are.
    Black Barack
    • Yeah, you would think this is a Microsoft blog or something

      Ignore the title of the Blog being "All about Microsoft", we all do. It's one of those pesky fact things.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: What's on Microsoft's Windows holiday gift list?

        [i]Ignore the title of the Blog being "All about Microsoft", we all do. It's one of those pesky fact things.[/i]

        Yes, you do. Typical of non-critical thinking, of course...
        ahh so
  • Don't copy Apple!

    Dear Microsoft, I hope your "touch-centric capabilities" will be better than what the iPad offers. Give us easy data entry and easy copy and paste. Whatever you'll do, just don't copy Apple.

    Apple's UI has always been lousy. It looks polished though. But what about these genius designs: Single button mouse?! All menus go on to the top of screen no matter how large the screen is?! Touch-only keyboard that you can only type with your wrists suspended?!
  • The Spirit of Christmas Future

    I can't think of anything more ludicrous than asking for a Microsoft product for Christmas. That's like asking for a new office chair. Even a lump of coal would be more interesting. While I was a Windows enthusiast for two decades, the truth is that Windows is now the Ghost of Christmas past. Microsoft just hasn't figured it out yet. The future holds the increasing marginalization of Windows as most of us (not just techies and geeks) swing our attention to iOS, Android, and similar efforts on a personal scale. Windows may survive on the corporate scale, but people are losing interest.
    • In an odd sort of way, I agree with you ...

      @Cresence ... because I buy "tools" from Microsoft - not "toys". I would't trust others to buy me the "tools" I need. Trusting them to buy the "toys" I want is another matter.

      Last year, I bought myself a Dell Core i7 desktop for Christmas and I paid less than Apple's least expensive computer. (The Mac Mini, which is equipped with a lowly Core 2 Duo.)
      M Wagner
  • Windows and the world

    Windows will continue to dominate for at least another decade. People liek to use what they are familiar with and developers continue to build products specifically for the Windows Platform.
    • I agree but users are also fickle ...

      @blackfridaysecrets.net ... so, when someone comes along with an attractive alternative to Windows on the desktop, Microsoft's fortunes could change overnight.

      Apple does not offer the price-performance of Windows and - despite its low cost - Linux is not attractive to most buyers.

      Sooner or later, someone will step in to challenge Microsoft but I don't think it will be any of the players we see today.
      M Wagner
      • RE: What's on Microsoft's Windows holiday gift list?

        Correct! And, it certainly won't be any of the posters here at ZDNet. I tried to persuade some of the notorious complainers/critics to challenge the CEO of Microsoft, since they seemed to know how to fix Microsoft's ills. Donnieboy, Deitric, zammerhead, and others; got your resumes in yet??
  • RE: What's on Microsoft's Windows holiday gift list?

    I like it... floating personal cloud trial balloons...