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iPad: Should Microsoft + Partners Worry?



Just finished taking in the iPad press event.

The question I’m asking myself: Should Microsoft + partners worry? Not yet, but they need to respond quickly and present a better solution.

That better solution is a Courier + Zune integrated experience that completely hides Windows 7 from the user. With Windows 7 multi-tasking, handwriting support for marking up those text books, plus an integrated experience with media, Microsoft could keep Apple at bay and give consumers something really exciting.

If Microsoft + partners don’t respond, I do see the next version of the iPad making tremendous headway, especially in vertical markets. The current iPad isn’t compelling at this point due to not having a camera, but I suspect version 2 will have it. Cameras are huge in the vertical space, consumers love them too for video chatting. Multi-tasking is a HUGE miss for Apple and one that Microsoft can capitalize on. Apple left some big holes that Microsoft could take advantage of if they act quickly. They have awesome solutions, but shoving Windows 7 down consumers throat won’t win it. Apple iPad has no camera, no multi-tasking, no handwriting reco. Tie it all together in a drop dead simple UI solution and Microsoft, et al might just come out the winner here.



  1. Scott

    01/27/2010 at 2:32 pm

    Totally agree!

  2. kah

    01/27/2010 at 2:34 pm

    Agree lots of lost opportunities, I think people are after a Netbook replacement with a Tablet with power of low-end laptop.

    Lets hope someone gets it right soon, I want something by May as I’ll be away from home for 4 months. I Wanted something more mobile than a laptop but more useful than the iPad.

    Note: The name iPad doesn’t do much either!

  3. Eric

    01/27/2010 at 2:36 pm

    Respond to what? This may sell a lot, but it’s not impinging on anything that MS or it’s partners even try to sell. OK, I’ll grant you e-book readers, but is that the future of computing? No, and neither is the iPad. To me, a big bunch of hype and show for a device that’s not as impressive as tablets from 5 years ago.

    BTW, today in class I grabbed a picture from a web page and pasted it into OneNote, resized it and started inking and talking about it–all while projecting onto the whiteboard. I heard numerous students say “that is awesome” at just about the same time. This is years after the intro of such a device. MS and it’s partners could respond by making a really nice, inexpensive tablet that is light and has some charm. I believe that device might actually be the iPad killer, if it has some horsepower under the hood. Then again, if MS didn’t care about tablets when they were the only game in town, why would they care now that they still don’t have any competition ;-)

    And I can’t believe I said “iPad killer”, but the perception is that this will sell (lots) and people will think it’s really a neat “invention” of Apple’s. Well, I’m sticking with my tablet and Macbook Pro to do all my computing/internet entertainment needs.

  4. Antimatter

    01/27/2010 at 2:39 pm

    I am really frustrated by this device. It does absolutely nothing I want it to do. No flash, no ink, no multitasking, no camera, no GPS. It’s for movies, music, books, games and the internet; basically content consumption, something I think we need less of these days.

    I like the courier concept. I was hoping Apple would take that and run with it, and they would really have something on their hands. Instead we have this, just a big iPod.

  5. Scott

    01/27/2010 at 2:49 pm

    Nice Job, Eric!

  6. locked down

    01/27/2010 at 2:50 pm

    Rob, I really don’t understand why you’re still so fixated on the iPad as a vertical market device. You can’t do good vertical market software development/deployment through the App Store, and Apple’s clearly not giving up their role as overlord of all software on its devices. MS, Motion, et al may have dodged a bullet with Apple’s laser focus on the consumer market, but there’s zero evidence in the iPad release to suggest that the vertical market space is remotely on Apple’s radar. Now let’s just hope the folks that are still capable of delivering fully-functional Tablet PCs don’t f*** it all up by, say, slapping a “drop dead simple UI solution” on top of Windows 7, especially if the goal is to stay strong where they remain strong.

  7. Medic

    01/27/2010 at 2:52 pm

    I agree. I think that the improved inking and handwriting recognition already in windows 7 will give microsoft the advantage over apple, but also give the consumer a more complete, compatible and holistic experience. Capacative touch, to a point has its limits. I mean, just look at apple’s notetaking app for the iPhone and iPad, it’s just begging for a pen to ink on it!

  8. Scott

    01/27/2010 at 3:08 pm

    While Microsoft + Partners have a better product, it won’t do them any good since they do such an incredibly lousy job of telling the world in general abort it when compared to the total worship Apple gets every time it does something.

    That is the big problem they have.

    As Eric demonstrated in class so aptly with onenote, when people see a tablet actually getting used as only a tablet can, *everyone* thinks it’s the coolest thing ever.

    This should be seen as wake-up call for Microsoft + Partners to get their respective acts together and ADVERTISE!

  9. Scott

    01/27/2010 at 3:10 pm

    Hah… that’s “about,” not “abort”

  10. GoodThings2Life

    01/27/2010 at 3:14 pm

    Sorry Rob, but what possible significance or benefit is there in hiding Windows 7? I want Courier + Zune in some format, but not at the expense of hiding the core OS and therefore limiting functionality. But I’m a technical user, so I will never understand why people want to “dumb it down”… which is why I can’t understand why people like Apple at all.

  11. Mickey Segal

    01/27/2010 at 3:15 pm

    Antimatter summed up the problems very nicely – it is missing a whole list of things, to which I’d add the obvious ones like phone, and others such as jacket-pocket portability, and presumably Java. (But is it really missing GPS? That would make the map application a lot less useful).

    Various people I know were considering getting an iPad, but it is hard to see how this fits the needs of any of them. So what is the prototype of someone who would get this? It will be great for sales people but it doesn’t really work for generating content. Without a camera is is not great for teleconferencing. I suppose it will run Skype’s screen-sharing, but not WebEx’s Java-based screen sharing.

  12. Rob

    01/27/2010 at 3:38 pm

    @gt2l – the significance in hiding in windows is to present something simple that just works to the consumer. For me, personally, I like to have access to the OS, but the consumer just wants a cohesive solution. Windows messes all of that up for the consumer and is overkill in presentation. That’s where Courier + Zune (with a hidden OS, but ability to see it if necessary) shines.

  13. borax99 (AlainC.)

    01/27/2010 at 3:51 pm

    Personally, I *want* Win 7 on this type of device. Why? My app store is the world !

  14. Rob

    01/27/2010 at 3:53 pm

    @borax99 – I’m not saying don’t put Win 7 on it. I’m saying hide the implementation of Win 7 from the consumer. Win 7 is MSFTs strength, just don’t clutter up the presentation with it (unless folks really want to see it).

    I’m with you my app store is the world, too, with Win 7.

  15. Paul Harrigan

    01/27/2010 at 6:14 pm


    I agree with what you have said, so long as MS doesn’t (a) hide Windows 7 behind Bob (their last attempt to do this), or (b) use such a custom OS that one cannot run one’s applications on it, making it still another device, rather than a replacement for a notebook when traveling.

    Can we get the story on the HP slate now? Soon?

    I fear that Courier is too much the “add still another device” type thing, and that is what I, for one, do not want.

  16. elijah

    01/27/2010 at 6:19 pm


    The problem with Win7 is it is much more CPU & battery intensive. A Win7 tablet can’t run for 10 hours & fit into such a small shell.

    MSFT has two options:
    1 – completely revamp Windows Mobile (I wonder what they’ll show at Mobile World Congress in this regard – anyone else going?)
    2 – port Windows 7 to ARM while cutting the fat out (eg: background processes not needed on a tablet)

    Just my .02

  17. Antimatter

    01/27/2010 at 6:36 pm


    There’s nothing I would want to do on this for 10 hours.

  18. Stuart

    01/27/2010 at 8:26 pm

    I was thinking it has the same screen resolution as the Intel MCA reference design. So maybe it will eventually consume those XGA medical apps. (Doctors can get the iPad and the rest of the staff gets the MCA device.)

    Personally, I think that someone needs to talk to educators and get a tablet that can display books and take notes. Many people love One Note but I love Journal…simple as pen and paper and I use it all the time.

    I think a great tablet for colleges should be able to contain all their textbooks and let them also take notes on it. I hope wacom can come up with a great dual digitizer and people can have their multitouch and inking.

  19. elijah

    01/28/2010 at 12:21 am


    Just one use case for 10+hrs on a tablet: read book/watch movie on international flight, upon landing go to a conference and use the device to take notes/browse the web.

    Have you ever tried using a Windows Tablet PC while away from the plug? They always run out of batteries — especially irritating if u’re using them to take notes.

    (I have the Latitude XT with extended battery, and would never take it offsite for more than 2-3 hours without a power chord!)

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