Mullets and the Definition of Insanity: Microsoft’s “New” Tablet Strategy
Holiday activities have limited me to skimming the tech news lately. One thing simmering in the back of my mind though is the report on Microsoft’s “new” approach to tablets. It seemed familiar and not because it only rehashes old ideas. No, it was something else, something I couldn’t put my finger on… until now.
Per the report on NYTimes.com, Samsung is working on a convertible tablet (“Gloria”) that will run normal Windows 7 in landscape mode with the keyboard and a presumably touch-centric interface in portrait slate. Their source claims Microsoft is aiming for “business people who want to enjoy a slate for reading newspapers and magazines and then work on Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint while doing work.” So in slate mode, you can do all the fun stuff of an iPad, while in notebook mode, you get the work stuff of a PC. Or to put it another way: party on one side, business on the other.
Yes, Microsoft’s “new” approach to tablets is the tech equivalent of the mullet. Oh sure, the mullet was rockin’ back in the day. MacGuyver had a mullet. Superman once had a mullet. I had a mullet. I’m sure a couple of you guys are still sporting mullets. But eventually we (and hopefully someday you) realized “business in the front, party in the back” is horrible all around (looks good on you though). Not what I was hoping for with Microsoft’s “new” tablet strategy.
One other thing: you’ll notice I keep referring to this strategy as “new” with quotation marks. That’s because it’s really not new. A touch-friendly overlay for media and fun stuff? Microsoft tried that with the now abandoned Origami Project. No tablet-optimization for Microsoft Office? Same as always and don’t pretend that Office is fine for tablets. As demonstrated by such great plug-ins as InkGestures (Word), TipX (Excel), and Tablet Enhancements for Outlook, Office on tablets can (and should) offer a lot more than it does. Tablet with a keyboard? That idea was old five years ago. Waiting for the next-gen processor to change things? We’ve been buzzing about processor upgrades since Compaq bumped up the Transmeta Crusoe in the TC1000 to the Pentium M in the TC1100.
Basically, what is being reported is that Microsoft’s tablet strategy doesn’t offer anything they haven’t already done. That’s fine enough for those of us who are happy with our Tablet PCs, but if anyone thinks that’s going to lead to a market boost for Windows-based tablets and serious challenge to the iPad, I refer you to Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.
12/15/2010 at 4:36 pm
Too, too true! This idea can go up there on the dusty shelf with weird but memorable Microsoft marketing ideas like “join the Social” (!?) and hardware like the clunky thick brick that was the Zune. It’s interesting though to see an embarrassment in its early formation stage.
12/16/2010 at 2:21 am
12/16/2010 at 5:34 pm
I don’t care whether Microsoft sells a lot of tablets or not. I want a tablet that works for me.
So Apple sold a few million iPads. Now what? Do I buy products because they’re selling well or because they’re good?
I couldn’t care less about how many iPads Apple is selling, because that’s a product I have no use for.
It’s too big and heavy as an e-reader and doesn’t have the features to replace my Tablet PC.
I hate Microsoft for dumping Windows Mobile and creating that useless, crippled shit called Windows Phone 7. And I don’t care how many of those phones get sold, they’re crap, whether they sell in thousands or millions.
I will hate Microsoft even more if they abandon the Tablet PC.
The iPad is and always will be a useless product. iOS is bad software that doesn’t have the potential to ever replace any of today’s fully-featured operating systems (Windows, Linux etc.). I have hopes that Android tablets will some day replace the Tablet PC, but until then, I want Microsoft to get their act together and refine their product, instead of once again dumping it altogether and create a crippled, useless “replacement”. Better sell a few thousand Tablet PCs to some smart people than a million crippled iPad clones to all the morons who don’t know how to use a pen.
12/28/2010 at 2:07 am
The iPad is a very useful product. iOS is bssed in OS X. OS X is based on Unix. On fast enough hardware iOS and Android should be able to run the same kinds of mainstream applications Windows can. Tablet PC manufacturers will give up on Tablet PCs before Microsoft does. Currently I enjoy using my HP tc1100 because it runs MS Access and old PC games. A modern tc1100 with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Intel HD graphics, 128GB SSD and 5-hour battery for $700 would be a hit.