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Microsoft isn't overly concerned about its struggles in the tablet industry, according to a top executive.  (Source: Reuters)
Company is unconcerned about the iPad and its Android counterparts

Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, in an interview with Reuters, delved into the topic of tablets.  When asked whether Microsoft was concerned about the iPad and other tablets affecting the company's dominance of the PC market, he states, "Devices are going to go and come."

Microsoft is currently partnering with Intel to roll out 10 or more Windows tablets this year.  But those tablets, like the currently available HP Slate 500, don't have an operating system refined for touch (they run Windows 7).  And while they may offer compatibility for some files that competing tablets cannot (e.g. the iOS-powered iPad and Android devices), they are expected to also have inferior battery life, as Intel Atom SoCs are currently less power-efficient than competitive ARM SoCs used in these rivals.

In the long term Microsoft plans to fix those problems by embracing ARM and releasing a version of Windows fine-tuned for tablets.  Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer announced that Windows 8 will support ARM processors at CES 2011.  Much like Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Microsoft’s Windows 8 will also have a build refined for a touch-driven tablet world.

But Windows 8 may not arrive until 2012 -- or later.

Recent reports revealed that when tablets are factored in to Apple's PC market share, it jumps to number two on the list of top worldwide PC sellers, passing Dell.  And Android devices are heating up too, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab selling well and Honeycomb devices launching this Spring.

Mr. Courtois says that even if Microsoft faces an uphill battle in the tablet market, those problems will be offset by Microsoft information technology gains in developing markets.  He states, "We see some growth across the world both in developed countries and in emerging countries and that helps the IT spending (outlook)."



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The future of Microsoft and tablets
By Tony Swash on 1/29/2011 6:04:02 AM , Rating: 3
In summary this is how I see the situation in relation to Microsoft and tablets.

Microsoft has openly and strongly promoted the notion of a tablet computer for over a decade now. It has urged and worked with it's OEM partners to produce Windows tablets based on at least three versions of Windows (XP, Vista and Windows 7). Many different Windows based tablets have been available in the market for several years. All have been product failures. All have sold in small numbers. None has generated any traction in the market.

Apple's has sold 17 million iPads in nine months since its launch in April 2010. The iPad in nine months has out sold many times over all previous and existing Windows tablets. Demand for the iPad appeared to accelerate throughout that nine month period. The iPad now has over 50,000 dedicated Apps specifically written for it and there is a large, growing and thriving iPad developer community. The adoption of the iPad in educational institutions, the media and in the enterprise also seems to be robust and accelerating.

All I have said above is indisputable fact.

The question is how should we interpret these facts and based on these facts what is the likely future in relation to tablets and Microsoft?

Here is my interpretation of the facts and my view of the likely way things will unfold.

a) It does not appear that the iPad is a short lived market phenomena and there are good reasons to believe that demand for tablets will continue to grow.

b) Many, many OEMs have announced plans to release tablets in 2011. Most will be running versions of Android, a minority will run Windows.

http://www.engadget.com/features/tablets-at-ces-20...

c) I see no reasons why a Windows based tablet should succeed now when all previous Windows based tablets have failed in the past when there was much less competition.

d) The only real competition to the iPad will come from Android tablets using ARM not Intel chips.

e) Whether the iPad does or does not remain as dominant as it is now the tablet market will be large, significant and growing going forward.

So Microsoft appears to be facing a situation where a major new market segment of personal computing is opening up and in which it will be an insignificant player with any existing version of Windows. For the first time since it established it's hegemony in the personal computing market Microsoft is facing a situation where a significant numbers of OEMs are adopting a non-Microsoft OS.

If faced with such a situation Microsoft can either:

Decide the rise of a large market for non-Windows tablet won't effect it's core PC business and ignore it.

or

Rewrite Windows and Office to run on touch based tablets running ARM and hope that by the time both are ready (probably in 2012 at the earliest) that OEMs are interested in paying to adopt a new non-Android OS and that the tablet market will have space for a late arrival to make an impact.

Both options seem bad and risky to me. But I cannot see a third option.




RE: The future of Microsoft and tablets
By SPOOFE on 1/29/2011 10:57:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
c) I see no reasons why a Windows based tablet should succeed now when all previous Windows based tablets have failed in the past when there was much less competition.

What does lack of competition do? Raise prices. Why did previous generations of tablets fail to catch on in the common market? High prices. What is all this tablet competition going to do? Lower prices.

I understand your point, but we've seen Microsoft enter a market with strongly entrenched and successful competitors, and from everything we've seen they've done it quite well. That's no guarantee they'll repeat their success, but it certainly shows that they can pull it off.


RE: The future of Microsoft and tablets
By themaster08 on 1/30/2011 4:32:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why did previous generations of tablets fail to catch on in the common market? High prices.
Not forgetting that tablets were virtually unheard of. It's not because people didn't want them, it's because people didn't know what they were (at least until Apple's marketing team got in on the act).

I've seen one or two iPads in some businesses. They're mostly used for note-taking, remote desktop and VPN purposes. They're easier to carry around and have longer battery life than traditional Windows-based tablets, allowing users to carry them for longer periods of time, and allowing the user to be more portable.

Beyond said tasks, they're virtually useless in business. As soon as those Microsoft tablets are released with the right size/weight and consumer attention, the iPad's existence in the business world will become less so than it already is. Minimal integration in the network. Exchange set up is dire. No remote assistance. Fragmentation of platforms. Lack of provision of software installation/updates. No multi-user capabilities. Need to sync with PC. High price for minimal business features.

Tony has quite clearly never worked in the IT industry. He seems to believe that the consumer market is pushing the business market. Some businesses may be enticed by consumer-oriented devices, however most companies are trying to spend as little as possible, and get as much as possible out of their investments. Most of our clients are still running 5 year old PCs and seem content enough with them to not even consider an upgrade, let alone spend £400+ on each employee purchasing iPads for them.


RE: The future of Microsoft and tablets
By Tony Swash on 1/30/2011 7:09:27 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not forgetting that tablets were virtually unheard of. It's not because people didn't want them, it's because people didn't know what they were (at least until Apple's marketing team got in on the act).

I've seen one or two iPads in some businesses. They're mostly used for note-taking, remote desktop and VPN purposes. They're easier to carry around and have longer battery life than traditional Windows-based tablets, allowing users to carry them for longer periods of time, and allowing the user to be more portable.

Beyond said tasks, they're virtually useless in business. As soon as those Microsoft tablets are released with the right size/weight and consumer attention, the iPad's existence in the business world will become less so than it already is. Minimal integration in the network. Exchange set up is dire. No remote assistance. Fragmentation of platforms. Lack of provision of software installation/updates. No multi-user capabilities. Need to sync with PC. High price for minimal business features.

Tony has quite clearly never worked in the IT industry. He seems to believe that the consumer market is pushing the business market. Some businesses may be enticed by consumer-oriented devices, however most companies are trying to spend as little as possible, and get as much as possible out of their investments. Most of our clients are still running 5 year old PCs and seem content enough with them to not even consider an upgrade, let alone spend £400+ on each employee purchasing iPads for them.


Nice reassuring narrative for Microsoft fans but the reality seems to be oddly different.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/01/26/ipho...


RE: The future of Microsoft and tablets
By themaster08 on 1/30/2011 7:21:02 AM , Rating: 2
A comparison of iOS vs. Android adoption in enterprise bears absolutely no relevance to anything I mentioned.


RE: The future of Microsoft and tablets
By Tony Swash on 1/30/2011 8:36:22 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
As soon as those Microsoft tablets are released with the right size/weight and consumer attention, the iPad's existence in the business world will become less so than it already is.


How long will it take in your opinion before we see these "Microsoft tablets" and why do you think it hasn't it happened already?

Personally I think the RIM Playbook is a bigger competitor to iPad in Enterprise than anything we have seen from the Microsoft OEMs.


By themaster08 on 1/30/2011 9:16:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
How long will it take in your opinion before we see these "Microsoft tablets" and why do you think it hasn't it happened already?
Windows tablets are readily available, yet virtually unheard of. Whilst they have seamless enterprise integration properties, they're in essence just full-size laptops with swivel touchscreens. That makes them a not-so-good choice for lugging around the office simply just taking notes.

The iPad has opened this market further, but its business properties are very limited. This so-called new market will allow OEMs to gain traction in the business world with seamless enterprise integration at a price point that will entice businesses to consider them.

Netbook tablet hybrids such as the upcoming Samsung TX100 fill a gap that not even the iPad can. A fully fledged OS capable of full enterprise integration, with the size/weight and battery life necessary for comfortable portability, and price point to justify purchasing over devices such as the iPad.


RE: The future of Microsoft and tablets
By Taft12 on 1/30/2011 8:39:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Tony has quite clearly never worked in the IT industry. He seems to believe that the consumer market is pushing the business market.


It was the consumer maker pushing the business market that led to so many Microsoft shops in the first place. There was a time DEC and Sun boxes were the tools of business.


By SPOOFE on 1/30/2011 9:30:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It was the consumer maker pushing the business market that led to so many Microsoft shops in the first place

There's overlap, to be sure. People that work on Windows at the office all day will be more comfortable working on Windows at home. And dominance in the consumer space can give you the funds to push into or dominate the corporate space.

But it's not a given; what consumer products does IBM make these days, for instance?


RE: The future of Microsoft and tablets
By Tony Swash on 1/30/2011 7:04:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
What does lack of competition do? Raise prices. Why did previous generations of tablets fail to catch on in the common market? High prices. What is all this tablet competition going to do? Lower prices.


The previous generation of tablets failed because they were not good products. The hardware (often dictated by the Windows OS requirements) was bulky and clumsy. The Windows OS means a stylus, which is a product killer, poor battery life and poor user experience. And all previous tablets lacked the Apple ecosystem of dedicated apps, and easy and familiar iTunes media purchase.

Apple is very, very good at supply chain. Its Tim Cooke's special area of expertise. Apple has the scale and upfront cash to secure very reliable and very good component and manufacturing deals. Apple's margins are very high. What's noticeable is how hard competitors are finding beating Apple's tablet prices, look at the Tab, a smaller screen and no price advantage to speak of. Competitors are unlikely to beat Apple through lowering prices.

It's possible that Apple will follow the same strategy they do with the iPhone for the iPad. Annual hardware upgrades and last year's model offered as a very cheap entry model. If they do then when the iPad 2 is introduced sometime in the new few months Apple might continue to offer the current model but with a significant price cut.

quote:
I understand your point, but we've seen Microsoft enter a market with strongly entrenched and successful competitors, and from everything we've seen they've done it quite well. That's no guarantee they'll repeat their success, but it certainly shows that they can pull it off.


Except against Apple (the new Apple post Jobs return). Zune went no where. WP7 hasn't exactly caught fire and could well be a market dud. The tablet wars will wait for no one least of all Microsoft. The OEM's are already jumping ship, when they are gone getting them back from using a free established product (Android) will be extremely hard.


RE: The future of Microsoft and tablets
By SPOOFE on 1/30/2011 10:32:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The previous generation of tablets failed because they were not good products

And why? Because there was no competition.

quote:
Apple is very, very good at supply chain.

Apple is very, very good at fleshing out their closed ecosystem. They are not so good at integrating into other ecosystems.

quote:
What's noticeable is how hard competitors are finding beating Apple's tablet prices

Are they even trying? It's obvious that Apple is the 800 pound gorilla in the tablet space; it's hardly a unique business tactic to avoid a direct, head-to-head market clash.

quote:
Except against Apple (the new Apple post Jobs return). Zune went no where.

An excellent example of a product in which Microsoft's advantages don't come into play. The Xbox benefits greatly from Microsoft's excellent developer tools and documentation; such is hardly a major plus in a consumer media player.


By Tony Swash on 1/31/2011 7:09:35 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
quote:
The previous generation of tablets failed because they were not good products

And why? Because there was no competition.

quote:
Apple is very, very good at supply chain.

Apple is very, very good at fleshing out their closed ecosystem. They are not so good at integrating into other ecosystems.

quote:
What's noticeable is how hard competitors are finding beating Apple's tablet prices

Are they even trying? It's obvious that Apple is the 800 pound gorilla in the tablet space; it's hardly a unique business tactic to avoid a direct, head-to-head market clash.

quote:
Except against Apple (the new Apple post Jobs return). Zune went no where.

An excellent example of a product in which Microsoft's advantages don't come into play. The Xbox benefits greatly from Microsoft's excellent developer tools and documentation; such is hardly a major plus in a consumer media player.


No tablet running on current, or in the pipeline, Intel chips will succeed.

No tablet running a variant of Windows 7 will succeed.

Windows 7 is not a touch OS. It is apparently "touch enabled" but that just means it allows users to have a dreadful user experience whilst touching the screen instead of using a mouse.

Windows 7 tablets have no ecosystem of apps designed for touch.

Nothing Microsoft currently has on offer will make the slightest dent in the sales of iPad.

Microsoft is dependent on OEM's to bring Windows tablets to market. Most seem to be jumping ship and adopting Android because it is designed to run on ARM and shortly in it's next iteration it will be designed for tablets and it does have touch enabled apps. A new phenomena, Microsoft OEMs abandoning Microsoft for a new OS. Times are changing.

Android tablets, although a bigger competitor to iPad than any of the Windows based pitiable offerings, will not make a major dent in iPad sales. This is because the Android OS is inferior to iOS in terms of user experience, because the Apple ecosystem is vastly superior to the Android ecosystem (number and quality of apps, volume and ease of purchase of media content, number and range of physical accessories, quality and range of retail outlets, etc) and because of the power of the Apple brand.

We can argue about whether my statements above make sense or are justified until hell freezes over. Let's just see what happens in the next year.

The Xbox is a good example of what is wrong with Microsoft the business. Spend billions to make millions. Xbox's may sell in quantity but that does not make it a good business. Microsoft would have made more money if it had just kept the billions it spent on Xbox in a savings account.


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