Why IE 9 is key to Microsoft's tablet push

Why IE 9 is key to Microsoft's tablet push

Summary: Internet Explorer (IE) is important to Microsoft for a variety of reasons, some obvious and some less so. It turns out that IE -- specifically the IE 9 release -- is also key to Microsoft's tablet/slate strategy.


Internet Explorer (IE) is important to Microsoft for a variety of reasons, some obvious and some less so.

IE is the most used piece of Windows, in terms of both time and frequency. It's the bridge between Windows client and Windows Live. It is the gateway to the "Windows Web experience." And it's seen inside Microsoft as a vehicle for improving the "attach rate" for Microsoft online services.

It turns out that IE -- specifically the IE 9 release -- is also key to Microsoft's tablet/slate strategy.

As I blogged last week, Microsoft is scrambling to come up with its answer to the rapidly growing market for Apple and Android slates. Until Windows 8 is on the market, the Redmondians are seeking ways to make do with Windows 7 as the slate OS of choice. How to you gussy up Windows 7, which isn't touch-centric, to make it more viable for tablets and slates? You stick IE 9 on it, according to the Microsoft game plan.

In addition to the slides from a "Microsoft Commercial Slate PCs" deck which I posted last week, I also had a chance to see a related script aimed at partners and Microsoft employees to help them demo Windows 7 slates for businesses and consumers. The script suggests how those demoing these devices should set them up to convince users that Microsoft and its partners have viable alternatives to other tablets/slates.

Microsoft suggests the demo-gods configure slates and tablets with Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate (or Windows 7 Home Premium or higher for consumer-focused demos); install Windows Live Essentials 2011 and IE9; enable Internet TV with Windows Media Center; pin Photo Gallery and "good" IE 9 demo sites to the taskbar (suggesting the demo folk use sites mentioned on Microsoft's www.beautyoftheweb.com); and install a full copy of Office 2010 and Lync 2010/Office Communicator.

These guidelines are interesting for several reasons. Windows 7 ships with IE 8, not IE 9, as "part" of the operating system. IE 9 is still not finalized; a nearly done Release Candidate test build is expected on February 10. And Microsoft still is declining to provide a final release-to-Web target date for IE 9, though many company watchers are expecting that to be this April.

So why the IE 9 push? From the aforementioned demo script:

"With IE9, web sites feel like applications. They can be pinned to the Taskbar, just like any other Windows application. Even Jumplists are supported, so that I can directly jump to a certain section of the site."

In other words, even though Windows 7 isn't touch-centric, IE 9 makes the OS more usable on touch devices.

Microsoft also is attempting to stem the defection tide from Internet Explorer with IE9. Net Applications has issued its latest worlwide browser usage share data, showing that IE now has 56 percent of the market. As WinRumors.com notes, that is the seventh straight month of decline for IE. The bright spot is IE 9, which already has 1.83 percent of the market, even though it is only in beta.

I'm curious to see how the RC of IE 9 works on my Windows 7 PC. As I've noted previously, I am currently using Google's Chrome because I have not been happy with the speed and performance of the IE 9 beta. Standards compliance -- and leadership -- is great. I'm not keen on the IE 9 pinned sites concept; I prefer to have many tabs open in a single browser instance. That's just the way I work. Ultimately, what matters to me as whether my frequented sites work as well in IE as in Chrome.

Topics: Software, Browser, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Tablets, 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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  • RE: Why IE 9 is key to Microsoft's tablet push

    i like IE and i hope it goes well. For me firefox still the best but the heavy usage of resources and regular memoy leaks i find myself using IE more than firefox. The main reason i like firefox is the ui, the magic ability to fix web developers mistakes and echofon for twitter.
    • IE9 is the real deal, but, it will not make up for Windows 7 on tablets.

      People want lighter, thinner, longer battery life, cheaper, AND, a touch interface designed from the ground up for tablets.
      • RE: Why IE 9 is key to Microsoft's tablet push

        No matter of what Android fragmented version it is Android Tablets also would be DOA. Even Honeycomb wouldn't rescue it. So get real DonnieBoy.
        Ram U
      • Wake us up with Honeycomb 6.0, DB

        Maybe it'll won't be such a snooze. Only the Linux Propeller heads are excited about that one.

        Everyone else, not so much.
        John Zern
      • RE: Why IE 9 is key to Microsoft's tablet push

        hey smart one did you think maybe that ie 9 would be shipped with windows 8 but then again i guess linux propeller heads cant understand that.
  • Again, MS needs to forget Windows 7 for tablets. For the next year or so,

    Windows tablets will be thicker, heavier, hotter, more expensive, and less battery life. Then, there is the user interface problem. This will relegate them to niches.<br><br>But, even after a year, Apple, Google, and all of the Arm partners will not stand still either, so, even after a year, "full" Windows tablets will NOT be viable except for niches.
    • The Tablet Market is a niche market itself

      Don't act like it's anything more than that.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Meanwhile, Apple is making a small fortune on iPad and iPhone, and has

        a market cap higher than MS. And, the tablet market is mainstream, ordinary people buying them, NOT just for niches like health care. Do you have ANY idea how many iPads and iPhones have been sold?
      • Alright, now you're delving into irrelevant.

        The number of iPhones sold has no relevance to the tablet market. The amount of money that Apple makes on tables has no bearing on the relevance of the market. That has more to do with 50% profit margins.

        The number of tablets (iPad, Galaxy Tab, etc) were somewhere in the 10,000,000 range last year. I'll even be nice and say 15,000,000, on the basis of not being sure. Roughly 350,000,000 computers were sold in the same year.

        This is why I call it a niche market.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • There was a time...

        ...back in the 1980s-1990s when home computers and cell phones were a niche market all unto themselves. So much for today's argument.

        My oh my, how times have changed...
      • Sure, try all you want to make fun of iPad and iPhone success, but, it fa

        falls flat. If tablets are a niche, then Windows 7 tablets are a niche inside of a niche and practically irrelevant. But, for the first year on the market, and the majority sold to every day consumers, this is far from niche. This is the real deal, and MS has no answer.
      • You're unreal.

        It is a niche market right now. Am I insulting anything? No. A niche market is not a bad market, get that out of your head. Also, iPhones are irrelevant to the TABLET MARKET in the same way the iPod Touch is.

        They might not be niches forever, but right now the tablet is a niche market. Argue that it won't be forever, that might be true, but you can't argue that it isn't one right now.

        Also, Microsoft does have an answer. Just because it doesn't sell as well as the iPad doesn't make it bad any more than Macs selling less than PCs make them bad.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • iPad is a lot more than a niche right now. It is the first mass market

        tablet success. Now, full Windows on tablets is for nothing but tiny niches.
      • The Tablet market is a niche

        repeating that it isn't doesn't make it any less a niche.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • @goober256, you need to reassess that

        [i]It is a niche market right now. Am I insulting anything?[/i]

        Yes you are.

        [i]No. A niche market is not a bad market, get that out of your head.[/i]

        By calling something a "niche market", you are implying that it's irrelevant and that only specialized eggheads would be interested in that sort of thing. Therefore, 'we' get to belittle it because 'we' think it's barely worthy of consideration.

        Like it or not, tablets (and mean REAL tablets) are going to be a major part of the future.
        search &amp; destroy
    • *Yawn*


      Take a look at a true Windows tablet. You may be right about less battery life, but you're wrong about them being thicker, heavier, and hotter.

      And their more expensive, because they're not toys ;)
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • *Yawn*, as iPad sells millions, Windows propeller heads trying to pretend

        it does not matter. Really pretty funny.
      • So, sales are a measure of how good a product is?

        I just want to make sure we have a good metric, Donnie.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Sales of the iPad indicate it is a lot more than a niche product. It is a

        huge mass market success. The iPad is very good quality, and will remain the top seller through 2011.
      • Still a niche product

        And you didn't answer my question:

        Are we going by sales= quality?
        Michael Alan Goff