'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

Summary: It is beginning to look like Microsoft is about to repeat the Tablet PC history with Windows 8, and that is not a good thing.

SHARE:

Microsoft is trying to excite the tech crowd with Windows 8, the next version of the platform that the company is pushing for computers of all types, including tablets to compete with Apple's iPad. The folks from Redmond have been showing early prototypes of Windows 8 that look a lot like the Windows Phone 7 interface, with live tiles sliding around the screen. It is obvious the attempt is to keep the Windows platform as the dominant line for Microsoft, while the rest of the mobile world has realized that full-blown computers are not what tablet customers want. It is beginning to look like Microsoft is about to repeat the Tablet PC history, and that is not a good thing.

"We view a tablet as a PC".

This statement given yesterday by Windows Phone president Andy Lees at the Worldwide Partners Conference as reported by Electronista was directed at putting to bed any ideas that outsiders have for a tablet OS based on Windows Phone.

According to Microsoft's transcript of Lees' talk the PC theme remained, but had a few caveats (emphasis mine).

One of the key important things here, though, is the change that's yet to happen, but it's about to happen, and that is the bringing together of these devices into a unified ecosystem, because at the core of the device itself it's possible to be common across phones, PCs, and TVs, and even other things, because the price drops dramatically. Then it will be a single ecosystem. We won't have an ecosystem for PCs, and an ecosystem for phones, one for tablets. They'll all come together. And just look at the opportunity here.

In 2010, if you count all of these things, there's just under 700 million units sold in that year. And yet if you look at the predictions from IDC and add them up, that will increase to over a billion units that are sold in 2012. And notice how it's additive; it's not that this is about replacing the PC. And that's why our strategy is that these new form factors are within a single ecosystem and not new ecosystems themselves. Windows has always spanned different PC form factors. And with Windows 8 we're going to take this to a whole new level including tablets.

Now, a lot of people have asked me, are we going to produce a phone that is a tablet? You know, are we going to use Windows Phone 7 to produce tablets? Well, that is in conflict with this strategy. We view a tablet as a sort of PC. We want people to be able to do the sorts of things that they expect on a PC on a tablet, things like networking to be able to connect to networks, and utilize networking tools, to get USB drives and plot them into the tablet. To be able to do things like printing, all of the things using Office, using all of the things you would expect from a PC and provide a hybrid about how you can do that with the tablet, as well.

The comments shined a light on Microsoft's view of the tablet market that is not accurate. It keeps alive the mistaken view that drove Microsoft's Tablet PCs, that full-blown computers are what consumers want in a tablet. That didn't work with the original Tablet PC, and that is not going to work for today's consumer tablets. It's looking like Microsoft is determined to repeat history, and a failed one at that.

Apple set the consumer space on its ear with the release of the iPad, the first tablet that breached the mainstream market in numbers. The iPad defined an entire market that has companies scrambling to penetrate, and none have done so successfully to date. What caught consumer's eyes in the iPad was the fact that it wasn't a full PC with all of the complexities those bring. No, the iPad was a pure mobile OS that focused on bringing a touch tablet experience that was simple yet full-featured enough to let users do the things that matter. Getting on the web, playing games and consuming media were the focus of the iPad with iOS, and consumers bought into the system by the millions.

The original Tablet PC designed by Microsoft is a full PC that nobody bought in significant numbers, and it has been around for a decade. The iPad sold more tablets in the first nine months than all of the Tablet PCs bought combined over a decade. That is a significant indicator of what consumers want, a simple mobile tablet and not a full-blown PC.

Microsoft seems to be pushing the 'tablet as a PC' philosophy in a desperate attempt to keep the Windows line driving everything it does outside the smartphone space. The choice to repeat history will likely have the same results as the first time; nice products that nobody buys because they are too complex to operate, maintain and develop apps for. Consumers don't want tablets that are PCs, they want them to just work.

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

212 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

    Just because a tablet has similar capabilities to a PC does not mean it is one
    raffimaurer
    • I have a win7 tablet, and I like it.

      @raffimaurer <br>I wil upgrade to win8 when it is availiable. But for new tablet, I will wait for 2013 intel 22nm cpu (with 50% TDP, <20W).
      FADS_z
      • I have Asus Transformer and I like it

        @FADS_z Contrary to Microsoft's views here, it is a computer and it couldn't get much more personal. It's a personal computer, only better.
        symbolset
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @symbolset
        So right!
        I am typing this on mine now. :-)
        rhonin
      • I view tablets as can-live-without

        Love that UX my 24' desktop provides. Not sure why I'd spend money on a 10' tablet.
        LBiege
    • Despite seeing how consumers are using iPad ...

      @raffimaurer

      ... and other tablets, Microsoft is still pushing their decade-old Windows Tablet Edition mentality.

      They are so clueless.
      RationalGuy
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @RationalGuy

        It is you who is pushing a decade old argument and applying it to Windows 8. Yes, a tablet is suppose to be a PC in that its limitless with its capablity just like a desktop is...just in a more portable form factor.

        MS is far from clusless with their approach to Windows 8. A fully touch first UI that runs fully touch based (full screen) apps, with a smartphone-like integrated app store all running on ARM chips...sounds to me like they know what their doing.
        timotim
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @RationalGuy Since when is Windows 8 a decade old OS dumba$$? That's what I thought.
        JoeHTH
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @JoeHTH
        The kernel is decade old.. slow, buggy .. not efficient.. for those people who came from ancient age..
        pinkfloydhighhopes
      • Reading is Funamental

        @JoeHTH<br><br>The MS mentality towards tablets is a decade old. Parts of the OS are older than that.<br><br>So, go f--k yourself.
        RationalGuy
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @timotim

        <i>A fully touch first UI ...</i>

        The Metro UI in Windows 8 is just bolted on top of the Windows 7 stack. In the demo videos I've seen, when you go into Word, or some other non-Metro application, you get down shifted into regular old crappy Start-Button-in-the-lower-left-corner, completely-not-optimized-in-any-way-for-touch Windows.

        Fully touch UI? Keep dreaming.

        Microsoft is sitting on some awesome technology that could completely revolutionize how people use computers. They just don't have to guts or the vision to make it happen.
        RationalGuy
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @RationalGuy
        Loving my Microsoft tablet. It even has Flash support. Clueless is placing limits on the user. Anything less than a full OS, is simply a lesser OS.
        TechNickle
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @timotim [i] Yes, a tablet is suppose to be a PC in that its limitless with its capablity just like a desktop is...just in a more portable form factor.[/i]
        So what makes you think you get to decide what a tablet is supposed to be? Or are you just making that statement because it fits what MS is doing?
        non-biased
    • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

      @raffimaurer
      I totally agree. Basically Microsoft sells a hammer (Windows), so it sees everything as a nail. They should instead be trying to make other tools to sell for nuts, bolts, and screws. Windows tablets have been tried and tried forever with very little success. I don't want a Windows tablet. Period. Windows just doesn't work for tablets. Windows is for the desktop. (Even that might change.)

      Hey Microsoft, start from scratch and put your smartest people on it. Sure, make it sync data natively with Windows, but it should be a totally new instant-on, secure, self-repairing, OS that is built from the ground up to be touch-centric. Learn from the mistakes of everyone else and create something totally new with a tight hardware spec. People are tired of doing periodic driver updates and waiting for systems to boot before they check email or browse. The success of the iPad is proof. We don't want more of the same. We want something better.
      BillDem
      • There should be no Windows tablet because you don't want one?

        @BillDem
        From the posts below, it seems that there is a demand for a Windows tablet.

        Microsoft doesn't have to start everything from scratch. Microsoft has spent the last few years preparing for Windows 8 on the tablet.
        * Instant on: All modern OSs instantly wake from sleep and my Windows PC doesn't take much longer to wake from a powered off state than my iPad does.
        * Secure: Windows is secure.
        * Self Repairing: Windows actually has better self repairing features in it than any other OS I've seen.
        * Touch Centric: How deep does the UI have to go? It shouldn't be in the kernel so no kernel rewrite needs to happen. MS did the right thing here. They wrote the Metro UI from scratch.
        * Tight hardware spec: I agree. Microsoft has shown they are willing to do this with WP7 so there is little reason to believe they won't do the same with the tablet.
        * Driver updates: I'm not sure what you are talking about here. All devices have drivers, yes, even iPads and iPhones. Driver updates happen with OS updates. No reason why the same couldn't happen with a Windows 8 tablet, again, assuming a tight hardware spec (which I agree is a requirement).
        * Waiting for systems to boot: I don't understand this one. What are you talking about?

        As for "We don't want more of the same", I would suggest that creating yet another iPad clone is exactly "more of the same". A Windows 8 tablet would actually be something different.

        "We want something better" Yes, something better than Windows XP and Windows 7 tablets. I agree. Will a Windows 8 tablet be something better? Hopefully. If not, it will fail.
        toddybottom
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @BillDem
        To use your analogies, MS is selling a multi-function tool, Windows. Windows tablets have been tried with XP-time technology.
        Tablets today are still a niche product. Sure the numbers sound impressive. But compared to the existing base of desktops/laptops/netbooks they are laughable.
        I have been toying with the idea of a tablet. But then $500 to $600 for a very limited device?
        As low powered chips get cheaper and more available, we will see full fledged OSes on tablets. So I think MS has the right idea.
        Juergen Hartl
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @BillDem
        Do more research on Windows 8 before commenting. Instant-on, secure and updates have all been talked about by the Windows 8 team. What dont you understand about Windows 8 running on ARM?
        timotim
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @BillDem LOL! They did. It's called Windows 8. Windows 8 tablets will be instant on. It will be smooth. It will be fast.

        "We want something better. "

        No, you just want a gimped piece of crap like the iPad, that is extremely limited and restrictive in what you can do on it. I have a smartphone. I sure as hell don't need another one with a big screen.

        If you love Apple so much, have at it.
        JoeHTH
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @BillDem dear sir have you seen windows 8 demo? please go to you tube i am sure you will be blown out of your socks.
        augustus_rome
      • RE: 'We view a tablet as a PC': Microsoft chooses to repeat history

        @toddybottom
        Windows is secure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what have u smoked?
        pinkfloydhighhopes