Microsoft has no tablets… not counting Tablet PCs and UMPCs

The double hit of news that both Courier and the HP Slate are not on the schedule has led to rampant speculation about where this leaves Microsoft now that they have NO tablet prospects. None, zero, zilch, not a tablet to their name according to the reports. Excuse me while I scream.

&*^#$@!!! Donkey $^%(*!!! Toilet *&$%@#! Ascot-wearing %&*&#$!!! I’ve been breaking my *&%# blogging on and about &*#@^ tablets running Windows for four years! And you guys keep saying Microsoft has no tablets?!?!? %$*&#@$%!!!!

Ah, that’s better. So as I was saying, if I have to read one more mention or hint that Microsoft is without tablets, I am going to hurt someone. Most likely myself, but still someone. What am I talking about? Here’s a snippet from Gizmodo’s Courier cancellation report.

Perhaps the strong launch of Apple’s iPad, currently the only available “mobile tablet” from a major vendor, caused Ballmer to reassess the commitment of Microsoft in a soon-to-be-crowded market.

The iPad is the only “mobile tablet” available from a major vendor? The top five PC vendors as of the 15th are HP, Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and ASUS/Toshiba (tied). Do you know how many of them currently offer a tablet that runs Windows? All of them! We can argue the definition of “mobile tablet” perhaps, but Acer and ASUS both sell convertible netbook tablets that are about one keyboard away from what the HP Slate was supposed to be. Maybe you meant “slate”, but a convertible in slate mode functions like a slate. The iPad is the stand-out, but it doesn’t stand alone.

A worse offender is an article from Business Insider littered with these gems:

Microsoft’s plans to enter tablet computing just took two steps backwards, and now it has no obvious challenger in the race with Apple’s iPad.

This leaves Microsoft with just ASUS, MSI, and a few other PC makers as potential tablet computing partners. (emphasis mine)

By the time it gets its new mobile OS on a phone, Apple will working on the SECOND version of the iPad. Microsoft, meanwhile, will probably not have its FIRST tablet out yet.

You can argue whether any of the current Windows-based tablets can really challenge the iPad, but it is ridiculous to refer to PC makers actually making Windows-based tablets as “potential” tablet partners, as is the claim that Microsoft will probably not have its FIRST tablet out when there have been Windows-based tablets, including slates, for years. You can buy a slate running Windows 7 right now, but if you only read the major tech blogs, you’d think there was only the iPad. And since other news sites also rely on these sources, this misinformation spreads, with one asking, “Will Microsoft be tablet-less?” They aren’t, but unless this misconception gets turned around, they might as well be.

To me, the real question is whether Microsoft will finally take tablet computing seriously and customize an operating system for the form factor. The HP Slate running Windows 7 wasn’t going to cut it. Even with its Touchsmart system, it would have been no different than the UMPCs we’ve seen in the past, running the Origami overlay UI to compensate for the desktop-based OS beneath, and we know how well they did. So media people, please, before I explode, stop saying Microsoft has no tablets and start asking when they’ll have a better one.