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Microsoft will be releasing Windows 7 tablets this year, but its dedicated tablet build of Windows 7 reportedly won't land until next year.  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft looks to arrive VERY late to the tablet game

According to Bloomberg, sources at Microsoft state that the company will be making a very late tablet push, unveiling a dedicated tablet operating system sometime next year (2012).

With Apple announcing its entry-level priced iPad 2 and with a host of Android competitors like Samsung and Motorola releasing higher-powered, more expensive entries, the tablet market is on fire.  The competition is particularly fierce on the operating system side where Apple has poured a great deal of effort to make iOS better suited for a large-screen device.  Similarly Google has put tremendous effort to complete Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which overhauls the past Android UI and makes it truly tablet-friendly.  Even HP's webOS and RIM are looking to get a piece of the tablet business

Microsoft, meanwhile stands watching on the sidelines.  While it will release some Windows 7-based tablets this year, the outlook for them is somewhat poor.  They require Intel x86 processors, and the chipmaker has struggled to deliver energy efficient Atom chips for tablets.  Another trouble spot is the Windows 7 OS itself.  The operating system isn't exactly optimized for a tablet experience, and with dedicated competitors like iOS 4.3 and Android Honeycomb 3.0 on the market, that could seriously stall sales.

Bloomberg quoted Michael Gartenberg, a New Jersey-based analyst, as meeting the news with pessimism, stating, "If 2011 is the year of the tablet wars, Microsoft will be awfully late suiting up for that battle."

And he's not alone; Goldman Sachs was scathing in a recent assessment of Microsoft and Intel's combined tablet efforts.

Then again, a late entry may not spell doom for Microsoft's tablet efforts.  Its other key mobile offering -- smartphones -- looked like a mess after the downhill slide of Windows Mobile and the abysmal failure of Kin.  But by going back to the drawing board and taking the time to reinvent, the company has delivered arguably the most innovative smart phone user interface currently available.  And with a new partnership with Nokia in hand, Microsoft could pass Apple to become the world's second largest smartphone OS maker in terms of sales if it plays its cards right.

The one worrisome sign is that Microsoft is reportedly choosing to build on top of Windows 7, adding more touch features.  While Windows 7 is arguably a great personal computer OS the question is whether even a modified version will be up to speed on tablets.  While such an approach is a quicker and easier, many were hoping the company would port the Windows Phone 7/Zune operating system to a tablet, given its more touch-centric UI.  To Microsoft's credit, many users -- including DailyTech readers -- have clamored for Windows 7-tablets.

Interestingly, Microsoft appears to be preparing to follow a similar approach that Google is following with its upcoming Chrome netbook/notebook OS, giving out test units to commercial partners and the public.  Microsoft will reportedly begin distributing device with test builds of the new OS before the end of the year.

It is unclear whether current generation Windows 7 tablets releasing this year will be upgradeable to the new OS next year, but this presumably would be the case, if hardware makers cooperate.

According to reports [1] [2] by In-Stat, the tablet business will be booming over the next several years, and will, in part, cannibalize PC sales.  In-Stat predicts over 100 new designs from Apple, Android makers (Motorola, Samsung, HTC, Sony-Ericcson, Archos, etc.), RIM, HP (webOS), MeeGo tablet makers (no major named partners), and Windows tablet makers (Dell, Lenovo, etc.) to enter the market this year.  And it predicts sales by 2014 to rise to 58 million units and by 2015 to 118 million units. 

Microsoft is also reportedly preparing its next generation version of Windows, which will support ARM CPUs for notebooks, Windows 8.

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RE: Hope they get rid of legacy support
By Mitch101 on 3/4/2011 1:40:23 PM , Rating: 2
For a guesstimate I might reference the original X-Box specs and Doom 3 requirements of a PC although GPU's in portable devices today probably have a lot more oomph in them.

The PC Version Requirements for Doom 3
* A 1.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4 chip or AMD Athlon 1500
* 384 MB RAM
* 2 GB hard disk space
* An nVidia GeForce 3 graphics card or better; or an ATI Technologies 8500 or better

X-Box 1
64megs of ram
733mhz processor
8Gig hard drive

Im Amazed they were able to do so much with 64megs of ram.

When I think of all the things I was able to do on my original X-Box its pretty much in line with tablets today.

By tekzor on 3/4/2011 1:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
you forgot to mention that a PC is running multiple programs in addition to your game which will require more processing power. Oh and you can chose the resolution you play at,therefore, the developers have to expand their programming to cover all ranges.

While for a game system, you run 1 main process at a set resolution. It is easy to see how DOOM3 ran on low end hardware.

By omnicronx on 3/4/2011 1:57:19 PM , Rating: 2
Its not that amazing, general purpose computing will always be less efficient, but it also has far greater scalability and applicability.

You can always get more performance out of a dedicated piece of hardware that houses dedicated components that are meant for specific tasks.

This holds true even for the PC, we have graphics cards, dedicated video decoders and such for this very reason.

I.e Pretty much every manufacturer is constrained by this and is not limited to the PC but general purpose computing in general.

By KoolAidMan1 on 3/5/2011 12:38:02 AM , Rating: 2
That's what happens with focused hardware and software that is written specifically towards them. Nothing special, that's just how it is. God Of War 2 looks amazing, yet it runs on hardware from 2000. Again, a different approach, and one that is partly based on hacky workarounds on both a hardware and software level to make it happen. Nothing wrong with it, that's just how it is.

Generalized platforms like PCs are more about throwing brute force at a problem. It may not be as efficient a solution, but it also has a much much higher ceiling in terms of fidelity and performance.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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