Microsoft UK Director Says No Tablets While Showing Off Tablets (Maybe)

At a UK event showcasing a selection of Windows PCs called The Collection, Pocket-Lint spoke to Microsoft’s UK managing director Ashley Highfield who put the skids on talk that Microsoft was jumping into the tablet market… not counting the tablets at The Collection… maybe.

“We won’t do anything in the tablet market unless we can be distinctive,” he told us.

That’s the statement Highfield made to Pocket-Lint, which Pocket-Lint and others are translating to “we won’t do tablets”. That would make sense, except they are actually showcasing three tablets at The Collection: the Dell Inspiron duo, Acer ICONIA tab W500, and Asus Eee Slate EP121. The site includes taglines and descriptions such as “With touch screens and tablets that let you get even closer to your content,” and “Lightweight mobile PCs, netbooks and tablets, built to travel anywhere you go without weighing you down.” (emphasis mine)

Out of context, it certainly sounds like Highfield is saying Microsoft is holding off on tablets pending a level of distinction. But in context, it seems more like he’s emphasizing how their tablet offerings are distinctive. The Duo certainly stands out with its unique swivel design, as does the ICONIA with its keyboard dock. The Eee Slate may look like an ordinary slate, but active pen input and Intel Core i5 processor put it on a different level than the iPad.

Against that backdrop, I think Highfield is saying “our tablets are distinct” rather than “we’re not making tablets until they’re distinct.” Of course, that does not take into consideration tone and delivery of the statement, so I admit it could go either way, but I think the former makes more sense amid a showcase of distinct tablet form factors. (Not that I normally accuse executives at Microsoft of making more sense.)

Alleged Apple fanboi, accused Android apologist, and confirmed Microsoft MVP for touch and tablet Mark Sumimoto a.k.a. Sumocat dabbles in all areas of mobile computing with a focus on Windows-based Tablet PCs and pen input. A mobile computing enthusiast since 2004, he pioneered the field of ink blogging via his personal blog, Sumocat's Scribbles. His current tools include a Fujitsu Lifebook T900, TEGA v2, and iPhone 4. Email: sumocat [at]


  1. He means Microsoft hardware, not software. Microsoft won’t make tablet hardware unless they can do something distinctive. He did not mean that Microsoft is not going to make a Windows UI for tablets or that Microsoft is not doing everything to ready Windows for OEM tablets.

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