no secret that Microsoft's tablet efforts are somewhat of a mess
right now. After scrapping
its much anticipated Courier concept, Bill Gates assured
Microsoft's fans that his company hadn't
given up on tablets -- but that didn't stop several key
players from the tablet team from jumping
ship.Now Microsoft is left staring at Apple's fiscal
third quarter, which featured sales of 3.27 million iPads.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer commented on a recent call to analysts
"Apple has done an interesting job of putting together a
synthesis and putting a product out, and in which they've -- they
sold certainly more than I'd like them to sell, let me just be clear
about that. We think about that. We think about that in competitive
sense."Ballmer made it clear that his company is not
interested in pursuing a separate OS for tablets like Apple (the iPad
uses a variant of the same tweaked and stripped down version of OS X
found in the iPad). He states, "We’re coming.
We’re coming full guns. The operating system is called
Windows."Windows tablets will soon get a boost from
Oak Trail low
power CPU that's perfect for mobile applications, according to
Intel's name for its upcoming successor
to the Atom series of processors which will launch in early
2011. Among other things it features full 1080p video and HDMI
support, all while reportedly cutting power consumption 50
percent.Ballmer insists that Windows tablets are just around
the river bend, stating, "Some of you will say, well, when?
When? And I say, As soon as they're ready. They'll be shipping as
soon as they are ready. And it is job one urgency around here."The
real question, though, might be -- who? ASUS has
Windows CE for Linux in its smaller upcoming tablet (the
larger 12.1" still presumably uses Windows 7) and HP is using
webOS from recently acquired Palm instead of Windows 7.
That leaves a handful of other players -- MSI, Lenovo, Acer, and Dell
(among others). However, some of those -- like Dell -- are
considering instead jumping ship to Google's Android OS.At
this point it's anybody's game to step up and challenge Apple.
Windows 7, webOS, and Android seem the top contenders. The
first Android tablet (or Mobile Internet Device, if you prefer), the
Dell Streak, will reportedly hit
before the end of the month in the U.S. A 5-inch model
will come first, followed by others.With Android being the
first to hit the market, Microsoft may be left vying for third place
in the tabletsphere. And that's something that's bound to get
Ballmer real worked up.