Here's a round-up of a few Microsoft news items I didn't have a chance to blog about earlier this week.
Windows 7 tablets with just 1.5 percent marketshare? I have to admit I almost never see Windows 7 tablets in the wild. But that might not be too surprising, given their share of the overall global tablet market market is only 1.5 percent (just like Windows Phone's share of the smartphone market). That estimate comes from Strategy Analytics -- via the SuperSite for Windows -- which claims that number is up from near zero, to about 400,000 units, as of the fourth quarter of 2011. Strategy Analytics also claims that Apple's iPad now controls 58 percent of the tablet market, compared to 39 percent market share for Android tablets (from a variety of vendors, including Amazon with the Kindle family; Asus, Samsung and more.) The $64,000 question is whether and how quickly Windows 8 tablets will be able to rev Microsoft's position here.
Will Kinect be integrated into some Windows 8 PCs? Microsoft officials posted earlier this week on the "Building Windows 8" blog a post about sensors that will be integrated in Windows 8. There was no mention of Kinect, Microsoft's gesture/voice sensor that originally debuted as an add-on peripheral for Xbox consoles. (Kinect for Windows sensors and software begin shipping next week, as of February 1). But now there's a report from The Daily that Asus could be integrating Kinect technology into some of their coming Windows 8 laptops (with the Kinect sensors replacing the spot usually occupied by Webcams). I figured Microsoft wouldn't allow Kinect integration directly into PCs, at least initially, hoping to grab a little extra cash from a $250 peripheral for those who want to control their PCs with gestures/voice. As The Next Web points out, this just could be Asus doing its own sensor work in conjunction with PrimeSense. But, as with most things Win8-related, who knows...
Windows 8 Consumer Preview to provide better mouse navigation. In other Windows 8 news, word from a Microsoft communications spokesperson (via TechRadar) is that the next public build of Windows 8 -- officially known as the Consumer Preview, though it's actually what traditionally has been called a "beta" -- will improve navigation for those of us who don't have/want touch PCs. Microsoft officials showed off some improved panning using a mouse during the Windows 8 demo at the Consumer Electronics Show. But it sounds as if there could be even more navigation improvements coming for us mouse-centric users. (I'm just hoping the new navigation controls are easier to master than they sound in the TechRadar write-up.) On the down side, it sounds like Microsoft seems to have decided to prevent users from customizing the Windows 8 startup screen with their own photos because they might not look so hot. Hopefully that's not a permanent decision, but I fear it might be.
System Center Advisor now available to Software Assurance licensees . The System Center Advisor -- an Azure-hosted service formerly known as codename "Atlanta" -- has been released to the Web as of this week. Yes, the rest of the System Center 2012 suite is in the Release Candidate (RC), not final phase. But in spite of its name, System Center Advisor isn't part of the eight point products in this suite. System Center advisor, is designed to help users access current and historical configuration data for their deployments, as well as make suggestions for improvements to their configurations. Windows Server and SQL Server are the first workloads to be supported.
SQL Azure Data Sync preview gets another refresh. SQL Azure Data Sync, which aims to enable customers share data between on-premises SQL Server and SQL Azure applications, as well as provide cloud-to-cloud data sync, got another refresh this week. It's still in Community Technology Preview (CTP) form, but this is the third update to the CTP since it originally was released in October 2011. The latest update provides a number of bug fixes and localizations. From a January 26 Windows Azure blog post: "The team is hard at work on future updates as we approach General Availability."