Microsoft has come under a constant barrage of criticism for its failure to launch a real competitor to Apple's iPad. When the iPad initially seemed like a consumer-only-focused device, that was one thing. But now that Apple's slate is gaining real, measurable traction with enterprises, Microsoft -- and its partners -- have a real challenger on their hands. Microsoft and its OEMs are not expected to field the first credible iPad competitors until 2012, however, when Windows 8 machines hit the market. Until then, Microsoft and its partners will need to find a way to beat the "commercial slate PC" drum and look for ways to slip through cracks not being addressed by Apple. The following slides are from a PowerPoint deck Microsoft is making available to its partners as part of its strategy to help them try to sell Windows 7 slates against the iPad in 2011.
What do enterprise customers think matters when it comes to slates/tablets? Here's a list of what Microsoft says its customers are saying.
There are plusses and minuses about the iPad, according to customers Microsoft execs have been surveying. On the plus side are the usual suspects, like portability and battery life. On the down side, the Softies say, are manageability, security and form-factor choices.
Microsoft is advising its partners to position Windows 7 tablets and slates as ideal for both content consumption and creation, able to handle offline and online situations equally well.
A centerpiece to Microsoft's Windows 7 slate campaign is the issue of customer choice. Microsoft is emphasizing a diversity of form factors and input methods as an advantage for the Windows slates over the iPad.
When calling on customers not yet committed to deploying the iPad, Microsoft is advising its partners to push the "one size does not fit all" message.
With customers who have committed to going with the iPad, Microsoft is advising partners to encourage them to implement a VDI infrastructure to "reduce risks."
Microsoft is pushing the familiarity and productivity benefits of its core applications and services as a way to keep enterprise users loyal to Windows when faced with the iOS alternatives.
Microsoft also is emphasizing device manageability as a place for its partners to delve when taking on Apple and iOS.
Security is another place Microsoft is suggesting its partners press when positioning Windows 7 slates and tablets against the iPad.