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Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer promised the world Windows tablets at last year's CES, but thus far has failed to deliver. Speaking to an audience Tuesday, he promised that they would see Windows tablets by Christmas.  (Source: Reuters)
"You'll see new slates with Windows on them. You'll see them this Christmas." -- Steve Ballmer

One of the technology industry's big Steves -- Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive of Microsoft -- on Tuesday promised that Windows tablets won't take much longer to hit the market and compete with Apple's popular iPad and upcoming Google Android/Chrome OS tablets.  He remarked, "You'll see new slates with Windows on them. You'll see them this Christmas."

Of course "see them this Christmas" could have a variety of meanings -- anything from "see them" as be unwrapping them, or "see them" as in reading an online press release that they will be available in March.

Google and its hardware partners has been a bit slow responding to the tablet craze.  They only recently have aired 5-inch (Dell Streak) and 7-inch (Dell Streak, Samsung Galaxy Tab) designs, and are still awaiting full-sized 10-inch tablets, comparable in size to the iPad.

Microsoft, however, has been even more lackadaisical in pursuing this lucrative market.  The company showed off a slew of tablets at a presentation attended by DailyTech at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, yet has failed to deliver a single Windows tablet from a major player. 

HP, the world's largest personal computer maker, was reportedly close to releasing designs like the HP Slate this spring, but has shelved those plans, instead focusing on webOS tablets.  WebOS is a product of Palm, which HP acquired earlier this year.

Meanwhile July's numbers indicate that Apple is unloading at least 2.3 million iPads a month.  If it can sustain that sales pace (which seems likely due to holiday demand and lack of competitors), it's on the mark to hit anywhere from 15 to 20 million tablets sold this year.

Mr. Ballmer also hit on one of Microsoft other key problem spots -- the mobile phone market.  Microsoft's Kin project was a colossal sales failure perpetrated by miserably outdated hardware, bizarre commercials that bordered on disturbing, and a lack of carrier support.  At the end of the day Microsoft pulled the plug.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's veteran Windows Mobile brand has languished, bleeding market share to Apple and Google.  Microsoft's answer is a brand-new smart phone operating system dubbed Windows Phone 7, which will air October 11th.

Mr. Ballmer addressed his company's challenging state of affairs in this sector, summarizing, "The job right now is we've got to get back seriously into the game of phonesWe've got to have a comeback against the competition and I think with our new Windows phones we really have a beautiful product."

WP7 faces an uphill battle when it hits the market, but Microsoft's CEO seems to realize that.  At least he can take comfort that he will quite possibly be putting some in peoples' Christmas stocking...even if that something isn't a Windows tablet.


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RE: What version of Windows
By robinthakur on 10/7/2010 11:52:29 AM , Rating: 2
This has been tried before many times and they don't generally sell. The question that has to be asked is whether the form factor was the problem, i.e. heavy and bulky with jutting out batteries or the price, or in this case the OS. Obviously a combination of all three have killed the idea of a windows tablet stone dead, even without Apple's runaway success, not just to the buying public, but seemingly to the industry as a whole. Hence the lack of such a specimen so far appearing on the market post iPad. Manufactureres have been burned by this many times before.

I used to think having a full Windows experience on a tiny mobile device like a phone was the holy grail of mobile computing back in the early 90's world of Palm Pilots and Newtons. I thought this way until technology progressed enough to make this a possibility with WiMo and the original Tablet PC's. Whilst in their heydays, there was no competition in terms of OS, i.e. nothing better, the benefit of having all the same applications on identical devices with smaller form factors results in iStrain and frustration, notwithstanding the important consideration that most Apps are not designed for touch operation and the best you can hope for is a direct finger-as-cursor replacement. MS's interface for Media Centre is a good example of MS putting in a proper interface because they realised the standard start menu interface was not a one-size fits all solution! In this regard Apple's use of touch was the first time touch control was implemented on a device correctly (or at least, the best so far)

Putting a full desktop version of an OS on a slate is a bad idea. Bad battery utilisation versus horsepower required, no mobile aware applications (unless everything is delivered through silverlight etc) and despite being touch enabled by default, touch is NOT central to Windows 7 in the way that it is central to iOS and other mobile OS's. It is a 'nice to have'. You also have to have a 'mobile touch profile' which is easy to enable for OEM's, pre-customised and tweaked so that when it gets to the customer it just works. As obvious as it sounds, this is rarely the case.

You also have the weight of the public's newly advanced expectations to deal with. The only successful slate is the iPad so far, so the expectation from the public is that a tablet PC will be simple to operate, be always on and wake within half a second, have long battery life, will be virus free, aesthically designed, have an Appstore and have cool animations. If this list seems Apple-centric and the very antithesis of Windows, that is natural because Apple have set the standard in this new space. There are no wasted App icons, no "subscribe to AOL" widgets and clutter, everything serves a purpose.

The key is to sell the Tablet PC as a commodity appliance which is a best-fit solution to as many people as possible particularly business, which should not be a colossal challenge given that MS are still at the centre of that universe...


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