Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

Summary: Pundits responding to rumors that Microsoft will build its own tablet indicate the company shouldn't do so. I would even take it a bit further and put forth that it cannot make a tablet without dire consequences.

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Mary Jo Foley has a good look at the rumors popping up that Microsoft is going to produce its own Windows 8 tablet. Her take that Microsoft should let its partners get some Windows 8 tablets to market is right on the money. I would even take it a bit further and put forth that Microsoft cannot make a tablet without dire consequences.

The argument that Microsoft needs to take its own destiny in hand and make its own Windows hardware is not a new one. Pundits made the argument for a Microsoft phone before Windows Phone 7 products entered the market, and for largely the same reasons that are given now for a tablet. While the company could have tested entering the hardware business with a Windows Phone product with relative ease, it passed on building its own Windows Phone. It would be hard to now pick up the production of a tablet as it would throw the entire Windows ecosystem into disarray, and not even Microsoft cannot afford that.

The mobile side of Microsoft's business is not a big part of the company's revenues, but that's not the case with the Windows division. A Microsoft branded tablet would upset all of the company's Windows partners, and that represents a big chunk of the company's business. No matter how a tablet was approached, partners would perceive that a product from the platform owner would have an insider's advantage, and that would be the case. It's hard to compete with a player that holds both all the cards and produces the deck, and that's what partners would be up against no matter how fair Microsoft tried to be.

Microsoft has always counted on its major partners to push the envelope for new hardware running its software, a practice that would likely end once it starts competing with those partners. Who will be willing to make a big investment in time and resources to work with Microsoft on new types of products if the company starts directly competing with them, even in a different area?

The competitive nature of Microsoft's entering the Windows hardware game would affect its dealings with all partners. The company has discussions with others constantly, all of which would start taking a hard look at what is shared. Businesses cannot afford to divulge too much to the competition, even if normal dealings are required; the relationships become guarded out of necessity.

Microsoft is full of bright people who could no doubt produce a great tablet internally. The question is not can they do it, rather should they? My answer to that is a resounding no.

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

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69 comments
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  • No problem. Tablet is a separate segment

    Companies segment their product offerings all the time; some things are available in one chain which are not available in another.

    I totally agree. Partners have done a PATHETIC job designing, marketing and selling Windows tablets. MS should make it clear it intends to take over the tablet segment for itself.... they could buy manufacturing capacity from their partners to smooth things over.
    croberts
    • Cmon the OS has held them back

      What MS hardware has been any good?
      Richard Flude
      • RE: Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

        @Richard Flude
        Everything but the xBox. They are, in fact, known for *excellent* hardware.
        x I'm tc
      • Mostly not OS, but hardware, especially cpu

        @Richard Flude
        Intel X86 CPU is either under-performance, or overheat. With ARM compatible windows 8, MS has more choices.
        FADS_z
      • Jdakula, like what? FADS, CPU choice restricted by OS

        MS held back it's hardware partners with poor OS offerings.
        Richard Flude
      • RE: Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

        @Richard Flude MN-510 USB Wireless Adapter
        I've had it for 5 years. I still it to bench test PC's. The problem with it is that by it being a Microsoft product you should not need device drivers. Thats the problem support and a bad customer experience.
        rolandrich
      • to Zune to tell

        @Richard Flude Not sure if you can call anything they make "good" It takes them years to Develop anything that works, thats why 75% of all Windows used is still XP
        MacNewton
      • RE: Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

        @Richard Flude

        Exactly.
        BrentRBrian
    • RE: Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

      @croberts Microsoft doesnt have the talent or confidence in itself to produce it's own hardware I was a fan of it's networking products they pulled it. I was a fan if the Zune there pulling it. Tablet PC's have been out for about 7 years remember. But Microsoft is like Blockbuster they can't innovate, they can't provide a smooth customer experience across the PC and mobile devices, and they have horrible product
      Support. It feels like it being ran by a bunch of old fogies who are living in the 80's
      rolandrich
      • RE: Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

        You're the only person on the planet I've ever heard say that the Zune was not a POS. It's shorthand for "imitative product even MS couldn't sell" in my circle, even among Windows lovers.
        orangemike
      • RE: Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

        @orangemike: that means the set of people on the planet that you've ever heard and the set of people who've used a zune do not overlap.

        Granted, they're both pretty small sets.
        ALISON SMOCK
    • RE: Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

      MS will have to do some 'MS innovation' and buy a company to make it for them.
      john_gillespie@...
      • You might be joking, but that's actually a good alternative and a plan

        which could work if Microsoft were to decide that, it needs to get into the hardware end and produce products which work well with their software.

        Real innovation is good, but, there are times when one doesn't have to re-invent the wheel.

        Acquisitions are a way to get into a field that otherwise would take many years to break into.

        Microsoft might eventually end up acquiring a hardware company, and it's going to be a biggie, such as HP or even an AMD or both.
        adornoe
    • MS should take over tablet segment...in (emerging markets)

      @croberts With MS wanting to be everywhere in our lives for future generations to come, I agree they should get in the game, but they should do so to compete against the "white box" mfgs that are filling emerging markets w/ andriod tablets. They should produce solid low cost tablets for consumers that can't afford the Motorola's/HTC's/Samsungs. They need to do this in order to increase their market share and slowly and eventually transition this segment into the windows environment and ecosystem. MS should be able to get competitive manufacturing costs with its large scale orders. Let the high end tablets continue to be produced by their main OEM's. Everyone wins then.
      logic103
      • RE: Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

        @logic103 ...Agreed.
        dwcfastrice
  • Wasn't the same thing said about a Microsoft Game Console?

    NT
    bobiroc
    • How is that working out for MS?

      Least innovative offering in the market. Lost second place for this generation. Hasn't made a dent in the money amS has poured into it. If a MS tablet is that successful how will it help MS?
      Richard Flude
      • RE: Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

        @Richard Flude
        If the xBox hadn't been a complete POS on the hardware end, they would have raked in billions. As it is, the console has been profitable, just not very. That said, MS' efforts to command the living room are tens of millions of places ahead of both Apple and Google combined.

        I think they'll take it.
        x I'm tc
      • Xbox has only a few profitable quarters

        Yet billions have been spent on it. It's likely it won't return half as much as was spent on it. A very poor ROI.

        MS hasn't yet proved it can get away from windows and office revenues. Its a real problem for them.
        Richard Flude
      • RE: Why Microsoft cannot make its own Windows tablet

        @Richard Flude

        Making up your own figures are we? MS is still in second place and has took on and single handedly diminished the power of the Playstation brand by tons. MS is making billions off Xbox Live and more than both Nintendo and Sony combined and Kinect is the fastest selling electronics device in history. least innovative on the market my ass... first to have a marketplace, background downloading, party chat, Netflix, 1080p movie streams, indie game movement, PC streaming...the list goes on and on.

        Even though Zune HD was a seller...its hardware and build quality is still to this day one of the best around.
        timotim