Print 65 comment(s) - last by Smilin.. on Mar 7 at 4:53 PM

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: Industrial strength failure
By Tony Swash on 3/4/2011 1:40:28 PM , Rating: -1
Sure Kin was a colossal black mark on MSFT's record, but consider that after that most dismissed MSFT's chances expecting it to be distantly behind the trifecta of Android, iOS, and RIM OS. Now with a partnership with Nokia in hand, MSFT is replacing Symbian and looks virtually assured a #2 spot in the world market AHEAD of Apple. Not only that, it arguably provides the most innovative smart phone interface, more so than Google or Apple.

The idea that the current Nokia global sales will transmute into WP7 Nokia phone sales thus propelling Microsoft into some sort giant market share is not very plausible. I read the analysis of Tomi T Ahonen a lot and although a bit wordy and full of himself he seems a very knowledgable and perceptive dissector of the global mobile markets. He wrote a series of scathing articles immediately after the MS-Nokia tie up was announced and then summed it up with this piece which looks at the likely impact of the deal on Nokia and all the major hand set makers this coming year. Its very much worth a read. It's here

His view is that by the end of this year Nokia will have fallen to 12% of the global smart phone market and that's before we can expect a Nokia WP7 handset.

My view is that the Nokia deal stopped Microsoft being utterly crushed in mobile but they look like remaining a small scale player for a long time to come.

I also see no hope of MS being a tablet player - none. This year is the inflection point year for tablets.

RE: Industrial strength failure
By omnicronx on 3/4/2011 2:34:17 PM , Rating: 2
His view is that by the end of this year Nokia will have fallen to 12% of the global smart phone market and that's before we can expect a Nokia WP7 handset.
You've clearly taken that entire article out of context. Instead of cherry picking numbers, perhaps you should actually read the article.

"Please understand, the above change is ONLY related to the Nokia Microsoft announcement and how its 'windfall' market share gift would be allocated to the major rivals. It is not my forecast for the year 2011"

He then goes on to make a far more conservative drop of 10% to 18% share, which as he explains is not neccesarily a doom and gloom story, but a natural part of the transition from one OS to another. This makes sense as now that consumers know of the switch, Symbian sales are going to wind down until the Windows based OS is implemented.

In fact the article is not necessarily a doom and gloom story at all, but about how the 10% drop (or 50 million phones including this years growth) will be dispersed among other manufacturers. Which as the article explains is more than all iPhone's sold last year which also shows the market growth in the smartphone industry. (in which 10% now accounts for more phones than 20% of the market covered last year)

Either way, Nokia still has a huge presence outside North America and even 12% share before beginning to rebound is a great thing for MS. That means 12% plus any share due to other Windows Phone manufacturers. So even conservatively that would put them into the #2 or #3 spot.

By snakeInTheGrass on 3/5/2011 11:40:13 PM , Rating: 1
Wow, I was going to say that this 'transmutation' of Nokia/Symbian phones into Nokia/WP7 has yet to be logically explained. Given, Symbian share will drop, but there's no logical reason to assume those users then start to pick up WP7 devices unless the assumption is that people are too dumb or lazy to switch to an OS that has more apps and market share - and will jump ship to Apple/Android or even HP if you want something more interesting. But apparently you get rated down for pointing that out, looking back up at Tony's post.

The only reasonable explanation for users to stay with Nokia/WP7 would be if they're at businesses that are too big and stodgy to change their procurement contracts - which as users are about the least likely to buy anything interesting on handsets or stimulate a real consumer market. There's nothing quite as exciting as corporate users, especially in the new world of 'You better not run anything not approved/screened by the IT security staff on that device!'. Exciting place to be.

Sorry, of course WP7 will do great now that people can switch to Nokia. I'd be surprised if there were still any competing devices in a year or two. Ballmer told me, so no worries at all.

RE: Industrial strength failure
By Smilin on 3/7/2011 4:53:29 PM , Rating: 1
The idea that the current Nokia global sales will transmute into WP7 Nokia phone sales thus propelling Microsoft into some sort giant market share is not very plausible.

We don't agree often, but here we do.

I think the partnership is a great move and will benefit Microsoft enormously while keeping Nokia afloat. The idea that there will be a 100% conversion of Nokia marketshare to WP7 marketshare is downright naive.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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