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Microsoft Could Be “Closer To Competitive” On Tablets Than We Think (but probably not)



According to Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt, when it comes to tablets, Microsoft could be “closer to competitive than some realize”. Unfortunately, that’s not saying a lot. In fact, it’s actually a little depressing.

Before the iPad, almost every tablet computer on the market was a Windows-based PC. Whether it was a Tablet PC, UMPC or convertible notebook or netbook, they almost all ran Windows. Granted, that market was a lot tinier, but they still dominated it. So a statement that Microsoft could be “closer to competitive” is just a reminder they are no longer even considered a player in a market no one knows they once owned. At this point, simply being known as a competitor, which they already are, would move them “closer to competitive than some realize”.

What’s more, the heart of Holt’s statement is that Windows 8 (or whatever the next version will be called) will be ready for ARM chips as soon as the end of the year or the start of 2012. That’s great if true, but that still only brings them back to being known as a competitor.

For Microsoft to actually be competitive, not just “closer to competitive”, they need to finally treat tablets as a distinct form factor, not just as PCs in tablet shape. That takes devotion to the user interface and experience. That means developing an ecosystem of interactive devices (that are not all PCs). That means doing a lot more than adapting to a new processor. This report indicates they are closer to competitive, but it doesn’t mean they’ll be close to competitive. Show me the analyst who raves about a new mind-blowing GUI, then I’ll get excited.

Via Business Insider



  1. Jeff Jackson

    02/18/2011 at 8:30 pm

    I’m extremely happy with my Windows 7 HP Slate 500 tablet. Much more so than I could ever be with an iPad because I can actually run the software I own and use on all my other computers: NetBeans, OneNote, Logos4, Office, FrameMaker, Photoshop, Bibble, etc. I can actually be productive, and not just play Angry Birds or Solitaire (neither of which are even installed on my Slate) like I see most people using their iPads for.

    • Adam

      02/20/2011 at 3:35 am

      I have a Jailbroken Wifi-only iPad with 10 hour battery life. I can tether it for free to my Jailbroken iPhone 4 (which runs MyWi). If I need to access my Windows machine (from anywhere in the world), I use Jump Desktop to RDP from my iPad. I’ve also installed DisplayOut, which allows me to mirror my iPad’s display onto any monitor or projector (using my VGA-out adaptor).

      Yes, you’re right- if a user is confined to using the device as it was intended (in its stock firmware form) then the iPad truly succumbs to a number of limitations. Unfortunately, as productive as one might be on a current Windows tablet/slate (w/ lackluster battery life- anything under 7 hours should be considered atrocious)… while the slate is plugged into the wall gasping for life… wishing it would have been born with at the worst an SU7300 chipset… Jailbroken iPads are unplugged (Eric Clapton style), out and about, and getting stuff done.

      Gotta be Mobile, baby! No strings/wires/outlets are allowed!

      I do want to play with the HP 500 when I get a chance… I definitely love any and all gadgets.

  2. Anonymous

    03/21/2011 at 5:16 pm

    Microsoft, or at least Microsoft Research, already knows how to be more than competitive in this market. The Courier concept videos were proof enough of that.

    Microsoft as a whole deciding not to produce the Courier was a bad move, unless the technology wasn’t ready yet. I have no reason not to believe that the technology to realize Courier isn’t here yet. The digitizer technology exists. They have the Ink library and the tools to create an outstanding UI. ARM CPUs are more powerful than ever while still being energy-efficient. Qualcomm’s new mirasol displays would help a ton with outdoor viewability and battery life if they’re even half as good as promised.

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