Are you kidding me? No Windows tablets ’til next year?

Reporting on an analysis by Jefferies, a securities and investment firm, Business Insider posted this headline: No Microsoft Windows Tablets Until Mid-2011. Apparently some of you are reading this on a device that is a figment of your imagination.

Microsoft can’t simply port Windows 7 to a tablet right now, it appears. [Jefferies analyst Katherine] Egbert writes, “Windows 7 is currently not supported on Qualcomm’s popular SnapDragon processor, and Intel’s low power Oak Trail processor (part of the Atom family) for tablets is not due out until March 2011. Microsoft could introduce Windows-based tablets on the existing Atom chips, but the risks associated with the introduction of a less optimized system outweigh the risks of waiting for the right technology to become available.”

Am I in the Twilight Zone? Did I step through the Scary Door? Not only are they talking about the introduction of Windows-based tablets like an event yet to happen, but the processor issue is reminiscent of the Transmeta vs. Pentium forum discussions back in the early days of the Tablet PC, in particular the processor switch from the Compaq TC1000 to the HP Compaq TC1100. These discussions were among the factors that led me to my first Tablet PC, the Electrovaya Scribbler SC500 with Pentium III processor (which was rendered obsolete by Pentium M).

The idea of waiting for a better processor has existed since Tablet PCs were introduced. That didn’t stop us from having Windows-based tablets then, and it makes even less sense now after we’ve had these tablets for years. Furthermore, lower power consumption won’t improve the interface. The interface is what’s dazzling people about the iPad. That’s what Microsoft, not Intel, needs to improve in order to compete.

Coming on the heels of Ballmer’s comment about Windows 7 being on slates “when it’s ready”, this is more fuel for the fire that’s consuming all memory of Windows-based tablets. I feel like I’m going to wake up and discover my Tablet PCs are just notebooks, and my ink blog was me scribbling in a paper journal this whole time.

Comments

  1. Dan says

    Sumocat,
    It just dawned on me that what the ‘rest of the world’, aka general news folk or marketing moguls, have a different perception of what a ‘tablet’ is from the rest of us.

    Cases in point:
    – there are many more processor choices for TabletpC’s than Snapdragon or Atom.
    – Blackberry’s claim that their 1.0 GHz ‘tablet’ is the fastest ever…never mind my ancient LS800 is 1.2 GHz or my 2730P has a dual core 1.83 GHz processor.
    – Win 7 is already being used on a train load of TabletPC’s.

    Me thinks that what is really going on here is that we are in the middle of a shift in nomenclature and we just haven’t figured it out yet. Those of us that have intimate knowledge of what a ‘tablet’ is have an idea that is different from the masses that were just recently awakened with the coming of the other fruity little slate.

    I am thinking we have a big time communication issue; when ‘they’ say tablet ‘we’ think TabletPC. I think what is really happening is when ‘they’ say tablet ‘they’ think iPad, slate versions of netbooks, etc…low power stuff.

    ‘Tablet’ appears to have become a marketing word that means something other than what we think it means! I had no idea that when people were asking me ‘oh, is that an iPad’ that they had absolutely NO IDEA that there was anything else out there already available. Marketing hype 1, tech winnie’s 0.

    We have to somehow figure out what all these newcomers are thinking because it isn’t aligned with what we all know!

    Dan
    P.S. I already have a win 7 slate…my LS800 is running it just fine, irregardless of not being ‘ported’ yet!

  2. billzilla says

    I have been trying to explain this to people for some time. Somehow physically showing them my M1400 with Windows 7 running just fine on it (with a ram upgrade of course) fails to register with them. I don’t understand how this kind of rhetoric doesn’t piss off companies like Lenovo and HP, who are making BEASTLY windows tablets that can be in your house right now, today, if you’re willing to pay for them.

    Thanks for reminding me this blog never goes on the chopping block when it comes time to prune the RSS tree.

  3. aftermath says

    Amen. If there are no Windows 7 tablets, can I have the day off? Otherwise, I’ll keep using mine to feed my family.

    In coverage of RIM’s PlayBook, Reuters dutifully educated the casual reader with the following gem:

    “tablets — touchscreen devices larger than a smartphone and smaller than a laptop”.

    What? Really? Once again, since I apparently don’t actually have a tablet, can I get the day off yet?

    This is not a perception issue. The definitions of words should not be up for renegotiation in technology. These words had well defined meanings and usages before most people started caring. Their involvement shouldn’t ruin that for those of us who already did. We should be educating them not giving into them. A reliable, specific meaning of words is in the best interest of consumers. It would be a terrible world if we just decided to call “Wi-Fi” “3G” just because both are types of network connectivity. Wouldn’t that be pretty bad for consumers? It’s just as bad for them to confuse a “tablet” with a tablet, or to think that there are no tablets because there are no “tablets”. I’m all for the evolution of language, but I don’t really think it’s in anybody’s best interest to allow people outside of a technological area to redefine words for everybody, including those within. It’s those of us who are tablet people, and I’m glaring at you “MVPs”, who have let down the conversation. We’ve been calling things that are merely slates with touchscreens “tablets” because they share a familiar slate form factor. We’ve been failing to correct the language or educate the consumer. We’ve been failing to compare “tablets” to tablets or highlight the distinct history or today’s “tablet”, which is just a larger version of yesterday’s PDA, many of which were also larger slates with touch screens, ARM processors, and embedded OS’s also founded on phones.

    Agree with your objections, but you’re late to the party. You’re mostly complaining about the plant that flourished from the seed, but we should have been whining at the planting of the seed in the first place. Do we give up? No. These are just weeds, and we can still remove them.

    • Dan says

      aftermath,
      I like your thinking! So I propose that ‘tablets’ be changed to Personal Digital Assistant II.

      So from now on when I hear Ballmer say ‘no tablets with Win 7 yet’ I hear PDA2.

      To me all Tablets are TabletPC’s…always have been and always will be…and that started in 2000.

      Dan

      • gEEk says

        No offense Dan, but “Personal Digital Assistant II” sounds like something Microsoft’s lame marketing department would come up with.

      • DNel says

        It probably is time again to come up with a meaningful naming scheme to describe all these new devices. When I hear tablet, I automatically think of active digitizer PC (convertible or slate). Slate is an adjective describing any device that does not have a keyboard (ie i-Pad, LS-800, etc.)For these new consumption devices, whether iOS4 or Android the main differentiator is size. My suggestion is to follow Apples lead. Those with screen sizes 9in and larger should be called Maxi-Pads, those with screen sizes 7in and smaller should be called Mini-Pads. Any that are truely creative devices (as opposed to consumption devices)and have active digitizers should be called tablet PCs. Those creative devices with just touch should be called touch PCs.

  4. gEEk says

    The 10 hr battery life and relatively low weight are important features of the iPad. Any tablet device (as the term is now used) needs to have similar specs to compete with it directly. This probably requires new processors and a different OS than full Win7.

    Also, I think it is interesting Blackberry didn’t provide a battery life spec in their PR.

    • ChrisRS says

      I am more business oriented than consumer oriented. I will trade portabilty and batteryu lifer for higher functionality. If all ther is is teh iPad and iPad-clones (Android – Rim, Palm, Web-OS, Win ce Win Phone 7, ….), I am not interested,I guess nobody wants my business.

      • gEEk says

        Then you should keep buying TabletPC’s. The tablet segment is not being marketed (outside BB’s new device) to users such as you.

        There is much more money in the consumer segment right now. Consumers are likely to buy such a device. IT departments, which control the enterprise purse strings, have shown they are generally not interested in paying a premium for TabletPC’s. The tablet-type device needs to take root in the consumer space, become common, and change the perception in the C-suite and IT dept about their usefulness through home use.

  5. leMel says

    It’s a sad day when Microsoft can’t even hold onto the generic term for the genre they themselves pretty much defined.

    • ChrisRS says

      I think the Microsoft term is TabletPC (one word).I suggest we try to differntiate but using TabletPC and Tablet/iPad-clone. Truth be told, manufactures aree abandoning TabletPC infaveor of tablet/iPad-clones.

      TabletPC support has been minimal at Micrsoft (OneNote – YES! Office? meh.)

      TabletPC was BIll’s dream .,. It looks like he didn’t fill in Balmer. Seriously, It would be a waste of time for Balmer to suggest that a TabletPC was useful or successful. After all, the iPad is magic – who would want anything different. Win 7 tablets will be promoted as “DOES EVERTHING THE iPOD DOES …….. whisper: and more …. win7 ……

      Active digitizer, Ink, text recognition, voice input, real OS, real programs, etc are just fluff …. and if you don’t have at least a couple dozen fart apps – FAIL!

  6. acerbic says

    What amazes me the most is how anybody would pay to get investment advice from these “analysts”.

  7. gEEk says

    I think all of you but Dan are missing the point. I too have (and enjoy) a Win7 based TabletPC. However, it is not a tablet as Apple, the general press, and the many companies bringing Android tablets to market have successfully redefined the term.

    A slate device running Win7 does not address the same market segment as these devices unless they can drammatically increase the battery life, decrease the weight, develop a new GUI, and restructure the Win7 license cost. Microsoft doesn’t have a product that addresses the tablet market (as the term as been redefined). This is why Android is being used right now for almost all iPad competitors.

    It is great that you all have TabletPC’s that you find useful. But it is not a product that can be marketed to compete directly with the iPad or any of the various Adroid tablets on the way.

    • WellThen says

      I’m on my 3rd Tablet PC, would not have anything else, hate that the name Tablet is being co-opted. But saying all that, gEEk is right. There’s a certain amount of whiz-bang that these devices need (the combination of features that gEEk mentioned) to ignite interest in the general public. A user interface that takes more than 30 seconds to master (which our Tablet PCs surely have) will be intimidating to Joe Average. Hopefully, Microsoft can find a way to mask the compex, creative things that can be done, and provide a simple captivating interface to ignite interest.

      • acerbic says

        “intimidating to Joe Average”

        These days Joe Average can use a computer. Does he suddenly become a total moron if the computer happens to in tablet form…?

        • gEEk says

          No, he doesn’t become a moron. Although you can interact with the Windows GUI with touch, it really isn’t designed for it. It was designed for use with a mouse, which a pen stands in for in a TabletPC. Both pen and especially touch are afterthoughts that were bolted onto the Windows GUI after the fact. To have a browsing, light work, and gaming experience on par with the iPad a new GUI is needed that is designed for touch to begin with. If you don’t do this you are not marketing a competive product for this tablet market segment.

          This situation is analogous to what happened in the mobile segment. Until WM7, Windows Mobile had a UI metaphor similar to desktop Windows. Geeks like us used it for many years and dealt with the rough edges (that became more apparent when devices with only touch screens became common). Then Apple introduced the iPhone, which was designed for touch from the beginning and offered a desktop like browsing experience with few rough edges. Mass adoption followed. Microsoft will not really be a player in the tablet market until they create an OS that is designed for touch without any compromises.

      • ChrisRS says

        Microsoft does not have to do it all. Manufacturers and third partries can customize the interface or a shell. It would be nice if MS helped. (do tool tips still drop down right where the pen or your finger obscures them?)

        • gEEk says

          Why would a manufacturer want to pay Microsoft for a product that doesn’t meet their needs then spend more capital to change it to meet their needs? If they have to modify the OS to the extent of a completely new UI they will just use Android, which doesn’t have the same licensing costs. Or, in HP’s case they’ll just buy the whole company.

          Also, currently a consistent GUI is a significant piece of the “Windows experience” and has a big impact on the Windows brand. I doubt that Microsoft wants the sort of brand fragmentation that would come from every OEM creating their own GUI and wouldn’t license Windows for such use.

          • ChrisRS says

            Quote: “Why would a manufacturer want to pay Microsoft for a product that doesn’t meet their needs then spend more capital to change it to meet their needs?”

            The manufacture needs a product that meets use needs. For many consumers, the need is to run standard WIndowes apps. Win 7 meets these needs. Adding a UI overlay is frosting on the cake.

            All that is really needed is a desktop replacement. Once you get into the application it tkakes over the UI. MS usually sets a standard, or buys out popular addons.

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