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back to article Apple under threat from ... Windows tablets

It's not just Android-based alternatives that will threaten the iPad's dominance of the new tablet market - so too will Windows machines. The battle will commence in 2013, says market watcher IHS iSuppli, which reckons that is when Microsoft will introduce a new version of Windows for tablets. Assuming it's rather better than …

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Windows Tablets

have a pretty good advantage over the iPad in some areas- if you want to use one in a corporate environment then it's just a few drivers away from a normal laptop. IT don't need to learn anything new or modify anything about their existing infrastructure- they can just deploy them as they would a wireless-enabled laptop.

IT departments in bigger companies will really like this as it makes their job easier while giving their dependant staff the tabletty goodness they desire.

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Anonymous Coward

Paradox

I agree that an IT manager would (typically) prefer something familiar. However, MS faces a terrible paradox here. They have the attraction of a monopoly on desktops, which is a good selling point to corporates. But the fact remains that Windows in that form is completely pointless. They've tried that for the last decade, and it's mostly painful to use Windows in the form. To really compete, ME needs something that has a reason to be in tablet form.

But if they introduce a new OS for tablets (as Apple have done), they lose the familiarity selling point. So, do they struggle on and hope they can win converts to a solution that has failed for a decade, or bite the bullet and start afresh (which puts them at a huge competitive disadvantage)?

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Disadvantage

But unfortunately, Windows has multiple disadvantages over the iPad in major areas which is why it is going to take MS two years to fix Windows so that it can compete in the tablet space. In the meantime, a lot of PC duties are going to be reassigned to Android and Apple tablets.

1. Windows is missing a thoroughly touch based interface--stylus and/or keyboard should be completely optional on a good tablet OS.

2. After fixing the OS for touch, MS must also make a version of their Office suite that is thoroughly touch based or create brand new apps that seamlessly integrate with the PC versions. That is no small feat.

3. Windows still lacks completely modern battery management routines for ultra low power consumption.

4. Windows lacks ARM support both in the OS and the mission critical apps. This is absolutely huge and even MS admits it will be at least two years before good things start to happen.

Windows and Intel wasted an entire decade not fixing the slate issues above, even though it was obvious that those problems were preventing their slates from selling. They just assumed that everyone would be locked into the Wintel/Office universe through eternity. Now, 100s of millions of Android/ARM/iDevice/non-MS-App users later, people realize that Wintel and Office aren't really that important to their happiness.

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FAIL

Journalist?

You really are in danger of turning into The Inquirer.... (which I gave up reading a good while ago)

Is this a speech to text fail or what?

"Assuming it's rather better than previews Tablet PC editions of Windows"

Eh?

"Apple, we feel sure, will not feel to hard done by"

too maybe?

How about sorting out the slack in your journos, it just makes the site look like an amateur blog.

We all have jobs to do, and you are failing.....

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Anonymous Coward

Can't see a problem, in theory...

Windows totally dusts Apple on the desktop (as you'd expect given the price difference in hardware). So if you work on that principal then it would make sense that if Windows based tablets were cheaper than Apple's offerings Windows would beat Apple, especially if you assume that people are familiar with Windows on their desktop/laptop.

However you have to make a lot of assumptions, perhaps the biggest one being that Windows tablets will be significantly cheaper. Will they be cheap enough for it to make a big difference in sales? Who knows.

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You're forgetting...

You also need to factor in the 'droid equation. By the time these (currently vapourware) Windows-based tablets appear in 2 years time, anyone hankering for instant fondle-goodness will have had a large selection of devices running Android available for a year or more, so the idea that a Windows version could win purely on price isn't necessarily as cut and dry as you think. Neither, come to think of it, is the idea that people would go with a WinTablet because they're familiar with it - by then there's a good chance they'll be very familiar with Android, particularly because their choice of mobile phone may already be running it alongside their tablet.

(Sorry, but can't ignore the 'price difference' FUD! Haha! MS don't build PCs so you can't compare the price of Apple's hardware to Microsoft's unless you're talking mice and keyboards. Also, if I run Windows on a Mac the hardware cost is identical. ;p )

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But....

I guess it depends on how you're defining dusts... On sales sure, but on user experience?

In 2013, windows tablet is going to face the same uphill battle as the modern mac - the programs/apps that people want and are already using are on one platform - not the other. I don't think people buy windows on it's features - they buy it because it runs the stuff they want to run.

Its hard to beat the incumbent in this situation.

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Megaphone

... but I do, in practice.

Windows has been around in tablet form for years now. Absolutely no one wants them, except for when the usage case dictates a tablet form with some custom software. Your argument that people 'will be familiar with' Windows is therefore fallacious; if Microsoft wants a chance to enter the tablet market they will need to come up with a new interface a la the Zune.

As for Microsoft 'dusting' Apple, if you care to look at the only important metric, profits, you'll see that Apple is handily beating every other pc maker out there and is, in fact, woth more now than Microsoft.

Apple does not charge for iOS, but Microsoft will for its Windows for Tablets Ultimate Edition, and not just a little bit. Even now, with Android tablets cropping up, having a FREE OS still doesn't make those smaller tablets cheaper than an iPad. And you expect that, somehow, magically, Microsoft will come up with a way to undercut Apple on price.

A pc is not a tablet, the components are not yet commoditised. Apple has been clever to make good deals on memory and displays.

The only way Microsoft could make a dollar in the tablet market is if they build one themselves. That would do nothing for their partners, but as they are all fleeing the ship (HP) anyway...

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JDX
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Some 17.4 media tablets shipped last year

Not again...

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17.4 media tablet shipped

Imagine getting the .4 tablet in a box ;-)

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Coat

If it's made by HP

It'll be the 0.4 in 17 boxes. Cable-tied to a pallet.

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Coat

The .4 would be..

a Dell Streak (bleh).

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Netbooks

Ipad are only first if you separate Netbooks from Tablets - we don't separate phones based on whether they have touchscreens or physical keyboards, so why netbooks from tablets? (I know the answer - because it makes Apple look number one...) In future, I suspect we'll see "tablets" with physical keyboards, and more "netbooks" with touchscreens.

I don't see why Windows being a threat is strange. Yes they are hopeless on phones, but that's not the issue here. On netbooks meanwhile, Windows is dominating.

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FAIL

Netbooks ?

Quote:

On netbooks meanwhile, Windows is dominating.

Yeah right. What other choice do I have as an O/S when I buy a Netbook?

Answers on a Postcard to

S Balmer

Microsoft

Redmond

Washington

USA.

By all recent reports, the netbook market is shrinking rapidly thanks to ... Tablets.

Sure there will be a market for small screen laptops. 12in is about the smallest I want to use for long periods. But in the very near future tablet will rule this segment of the market.

How soon?

When decently priced Android ones start to appear in any number.

The Galaxy Tab is (from my quick search) is in places even more expensive than an equivalent iPad. WTF!

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Ummm

But we do separate smartphones and feature phones, there's a bigger difference tablet to netbook than there is featurephone to smartphone.

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Anonymous Coward

@Interestin' 3

>By all recent reports, the netbook market is shrinking rapidly thanks to ...

No, they show the market for netbooks is expanding more slowly........more than likely as the price seems to creep upwards instead of down.

>The Galaxy Tab is (from my quick search) is in places even more expensive than an equivalent iPad. WTF!

That's because there isn't an equivalent iPad. Samsung don't need to be cheap, they're also getting a very healthy commission on every iPad sold so win either way.

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iPads as computers

If you count iPads as PCs then Apple is the number three PC OEM in the world.

Market watcher Canalys said Wednesday that Apple's share of worldwide PC shipments, iPads and Macs included, increased 241% in the fourth quarter of 2010, giving Steve Jobs' company an overall share of 10.8%.

That puts Apple in a tie for third place with build-to-order giant Dell, and not far behind Taiwanese powerhouse Acer, whose share came in at 12.8%. HP led the pack with a share of 17.7%, according to Canalys.

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Tablet or Netbook?

"In future, I suspect we'll see "tablets" with physical keyboards"

You mean like large Blackberry phones (top half a screen, bottom half a keyboard)?

Imagine the 7" Samsung tablet with a 3.5" screen (like the iPhone) and the other half covered by a keyboard. Would you actually want to buy something like that???

Not very likely.

The other option might be to have a keyboard & trackpad slide out from under the 7" or 10" screen, but doing this you double the weight and thickness of the tablet, making it less portable... and ending up with what we currently know as a "netbook".

So do you want a multi-touch tablet or do you want a netbook?

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It cuts both ways

Have you seen all the headlines about Android being the number one OS on phones by quarterly sales recently? In that case, distinguishing devices with a 3G radio (like the iPhone) from those without (like the iPod Touch) has put Apple in a substantially worse position than it would have been had its aggrandisement been the only objective when dividing device sales into categories.

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Anonymous Coward

the OS is only there to run the apps

at the end of the day users don't care about the OS. they care about the apps, how long the battery lasts and if the browser is any good (and has an incognito mode!)

unless there's a finger friendly version of IE and the Office Suite making a Windows tablet will hit the same hurdles it does today... apart from a few thrown together apps the experience will be mostly suckage with some frustration thrown in for good measure.

I've tried to love windows on a touch device three times now, and ended up with buyers remorse every time. Metro (the new phone UI) would actually make a great, clean tablet experience but politics between the Windows and the Phone divisions will probably kill that

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WTF?

Title.

Not a c*ck in hells chance can MS compete for tablets. Without some massive overhaul of their OS and policy.

Seriously, hands up who wants a tablet that runs anti virus? Anyone? ANYONE?

Don't worry about the excess heat, it is just running anti virus while it spins the hard drive like crazy because windows can't run on an SSD and needs a spinny old tech HDD.

Oh and you like the MS price hike? Yeah that is called windows tax.

Market share is very heavily dependent on them organising their OS to suit hardware and nothing so far can shape up to the form factor of a small, light weight touch screen, fast and responsive (one that doesn't need quad core) without generating the heat in basic menial tasks. MS can't do that with windows 7.

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WTF?

Point of order...

'... windows can't run on an SSD... ' um, what? I'm reading these comments on a Windows machine with an SSD as I'm sure are many others.

I'm as convinced as anyone that Microsoft has missed the boat for tablets. I have a Origami UMPC which runs Windows 7 way better than it ran Vista but it's still not a patch on my iPad.

I try to be operating system agnostic, with Windows, OS/X and Linux in use as appropriateness and whim dictate and I just can't see Microsoft winning this one.

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Boffin

"Netbook tablet" or "laptop tablet"?

Windows XP (tablet edition) works splendidly well on my old TC4200. It gives me a sufficiently accurate pen-input on display*, which is what I wanted from it - the iPad wouldn't do that because it doesn't intend to - it is well designed for a different market.

Horses for courses I supsect.

*Cintiq's costs are insane as there's still no effective competion.

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Tried them at CES

They need a hard drive, so are thicker and heavier.

The windows gui hadn't changed so you had to hit the same little close icon - except with your fingers and it's about 2x3mm - the guy demo'ing it suggested that you use a pen

(great your capacitive touchscreen comes with a dumb stylus)

Startup times were longer than a windows netbook cos the drive was slow and it didn't have much memory, can't remember if it had a fan.

Basically a tablet in the same way that the Osbourne was a portable.

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Wow

In two maybe three years time there will be a Windows tablet that will be somewhere between iPad 1 and iPad 2 in functionality.

You can see what the problem with Microsoft is right now, following the leaders but way behind.

Microsoft used to let the competition shoot first, take their innovative but flawed product idea, fix the flaws, add a few of their own and release their own product much cheaper.

These days it seems Microsoft just clones the competition and makes the product look like their own, adds links to their Live services then release for the same price.

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Happy

Win8 for ARM folks?

Unless Steve Ballmer was merely whistling Dixie recently Win8 is being developed for both Wintel and ARM architecture and the softies are busily compiling Office to run on the ARM version of the os. Given that we are now only at the beginning of 2011 and the rate of hardware development for slates/pads is accelerating at a ferocious pace if MS and their industrial partners cannot produce something that really rings a lot of people's bells in the best sense then they will have no one to blame but themselves. Having _full_ functionally and power for content _creation_ rather than largely content consumption on a slate and that it does _not_ keel over crying for its wall socket after a handful of hours would be a major step forward. I must admit that I look forward to it. Well. I am at any rate hoping!

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Can't see it in the long run, myself

I suspect that for an awful lot of "tablet" users, they just need a simple way of web browsing, watching videos, and sending e-mail. You sure as hell don't need a Windows machine to do that, with its inevitable proprietary client-side apps.

One eye on Google here...

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RE: Can't see it in the long run, myself

"You sure as hell don't need a Windows machine to do that, with its inevitable proprietary client-side apps."

It depends on your perspective of proprietary really... In terms of applications and utilities Windows has a greatly broader market and their media player or the new IE9 are very capable at what they do.

Also, in terms of development there aren't many programming languages that you can't actually write and run in windows thus leading to a broader selection of apps.

The only thing they miss right now is a good 'App' store to help the people who don't want to/don't know how to find useful applications.

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Pint

Google can't do it

Google can't even manage to copy Apple's work. They have no developer environment. They are totally winging it. The developers are making virtually no money, apps are not selling well, and they are also having to use Java unlicensed. It doesn't fit the platform well at all. Apple, OTOH, has a beautiful, free developer environment that is also promoting Objective C quite well (and resulting in many new Mac apps). Oracle is about the sue Google over their unlawful use of Java, which Oracle owns. Java works on iOS too, but Apple is paying the license. Google is making no money, so they think they can pirate Java I guess. No commitment from Google on this supposed 'platform'. It's like the massive gerbil cages in their office--a diversion, that's about it.

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Happy

Fondle slab botherers?

It doesn't seem likely. The odds of the next version of Windows arriving on time and being any good are both remote, and the two are probably mutually exclusive. We're more likely looking at 2014 for Windows+ARM and 2019 for the decent one. By then we won't remember what Windows was, nor care.

What we get instead is a bunch of companies like Dell and Asus holding up mockups as if they were actually going to be products one day. Here's a clue: if they can't even build a working model of the thing they sure as heck aren't anywhere near production on it. HP's new boss, Apothaker, has promised to stop doing that - which is good - HP used to be one of the worst about this.

Oh, and we get a bunch of people shouting "Don't buy anything yet! The REALLY good stuff is RIGHT around the corner." For years. They were saying that in January 2010, and they're no closer now to a good product than they were then.

You know what? If it makes you happy and you have the spending cash, go get yourself a fondle slab from whomever is selling one that suits you now. You deserve it. They're not that much more than a nice camera. They make great gifts. And if you take it to work you may find that these things come with a bunch of enterprise apps that let you do almost everything. It's good for the economy. If you don't care for it you can always take it back or find someone dear who craves it.

Yes, better ones will be out this month and next, and the month after, and all summer and so on. If what you require in a technology device is that it halt progress for everybody else the moment you buy it, you're being silly. When it wears out or the new version is just appealing enough, upgrade.

You've plenty of time to do that two or four times before we see the next reasonable version of Windows, so why wait?

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Aha! I broke the code!

Disappointing "preview Tablet PC editions of Windows" actually means "previous Tablet PC editions of Windows"!

I'm disappointed myself that it therefore appears that you created this article with speech recognition, as I was about to recommend it. Oh well.

I use a Windows touchscreen with the funky FITALY on-screen keyboard due to disability, but now, after several years of Windows Tablet PCs I admit, there are tablet PCs portable enough to be, um, portable, and powerful enough to make speech recognition really work.

I've just bought an HP TouchSmart TM2-1010 - which is about as heavy as you'd expect a solid slab of metal and glass to be. Good stylus, though!

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FAIL

The stench of FAIL

is upon Microsoft.

Firstly, they are giving apple and android a whopping two years (well, three actually) head start to gain widespread market acceptance. The only thing that Windows has going for it is the so-called "comfort factor", which is something Steve Ballmer is constantly banging on about to anybody who will listen. Essentially, the idea is that it is the ubiquitousness of Windows that keeps people on the treadmill. Simply put, Joe Public has been, until only recently, utterly unaware that there are in fact alternatives to Microsoft products and when introduced to one is to afraid/lazy to engage it.

"I think I'll just stick with the "Blue E" thanks, I'm used to that."

But now tablets are all the rage and people don't have the option of using the Start Menu and the Blue E. If they want to get their own piece of the shiny-shiny they have no choice but to go cold turkey on their Microsoft habit.

In another two years people will well and truly come to realise that there is no need to slavishly stick with MS and do battle on a daily basis with their unnecessarily overblown and clunky OS.

By the time MS does manage to get their tablets out Joe Public will have been edumacated by the market into understanding that Computer != Microsoft like they once thought and their MS addiction will be long gone.

And this is the time that MS intend to foist a Windows tablet on the market.

As has said by other commentards, MS has to make a choice. Stick with the "comforting" look and feel of Windows to try and keep hold of the people who remain being too afraid to try anything different or design a completely new OS and user interface to make the tablet user experience as smooth as possible.

They can't do both, although I can't help thinking they will try.

Then there are the hardware difficulties with supporting Windows. Spinning disks, poor battery management, an inability to do instant on, a seemingly ever present need for cooling fans, these things do not fit well into what people expect from a tablet device.

Simply porting Windows + Office to ARM won't do the trick. Even if ARM magically fixes all of the massive hardware requirements demanded by Windows, can you imagine a clueless punter with a device that looks like it is running vanilla Windows downloading some random crap EXE off the intertoobs and completely not understanding the difference between x86 and ARM binaries?

Once that starts happening en masse the whole "Windows is much easier for n00bs and has millions and millions of programs" argument goes right out the window. The same applies to drivers. Apart from vanilla thumbdrives, most of the billions of USB devices that are out there will be totally unusable on ARM based Windows, unless MS does a spectacular job of convincing hardware manufacturers to port their drivers over, which I think is unlikely.

I just can't see things working out well for Wintel in the tablet space.

MS should relocate their HQ to Fail Town now so as to not prolong the agony.

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WR
FAIL

From the coal face

As an IT professional who is half way through deploying a fleet of iPads in a corporate workplace, I would cut off my left leg for a better alternative. Fanboi's be dammed; that device is a piece of junk in an enterprise environment.

Yes.....apparently I have the rage.

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iOS and Android...

... were both built on desktop OSes, not cut-down, buggered-about, bespoke designs. Apple simply whipped off their existing desktop-centric user interface shell ("Finder") and built a new GUI from scratch. Apple also made good use of their iPhone / iPod Touch range to provide stealth training for their customer base: by the time the iPad came out, its user interface paradigm was already well-known.

(Android leveraged iOSes innovations here too by copying it so closely. If they'd gone for a completely different metaphor, Google would have also needed to create umpteen ads explaining their UI to potential customers the way Apple does. Instead, they can simply rely on people being familiar enough with the groundwork and user education Apple's own ads have effectively provided for them.)

The key to success with the tablet form-factor was always the *user interface*. The "WIMP" user interfaces of old are simply not fit for this purpose.

However, iOS' origins in full-fat OS X also help too: the iPhone and iPad run the same core OS—and libraries and development tools—as the Mac. If you know how to build apps for a Mac, you know 90% of how to build apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. (Similarly, Android is basically Java, and there are lots of Java is as much a platform as it is a programming language.)

For Windows 8 to succeed on the tablet form-factor, Microsoft will need to rebuild their current GUI from the ground up. The Zune-derived GUI they've built for Windows Phone 7 is arguably a much better starting point than the ageing Explorer. Whether their desktop and phone teams will be willing to bury their hatchets long enough for such cross-pollination to happen is another matter. Both teams will need to work very closely together to pull this feat off. It's not a given that they'll succeed, but I sincerely hope they do. Apple needs genuine competition, but that's not going to come from Google.

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All alone at the dance

Aside from the late start, Microsoft's biggest problem is that all the dance partners are taken. All of Microsoft's OEM partners are falling over each other to get an Android-based iPad killer out to market. Android will be properly tablet-ready in matter of months, not years, and OEMs don't even have to pay a dime to license the OS (though they often pay to license other Google apps).

OEMs are Microsoft's real customers. If Windows Tablet Edition shows up in a couple years, its main competition will be Android, not iOS.

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"People made me buy Windows, honest"

"Yeah right. What other choice do I have as an O/S when I buy a Netbook?"

Linux, which was available on plenty of netbooks to begin with.

By your logic, "what other choice do I have when I buy a tablet?"

The point is, Windows is doing well, and people buy Windows netbooks. If this was really only through lack of choice, netbook sales should have plummetted when people could buy the wonderful IOS based tablet. But no, plenty of people happily still buy netbooks (myself being one of them - I actively preferred Windows to Linux, or any OS that was designed for phones).

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200 million?

So roughly 1 in 10 of the developed world will buy a tablet in that one year alone, eh?

Prices will have to fall *substantially* for that to be anything other than a tablet-maker's fantasy.

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Businesses neither need nor want WiFi and tablets

The majority of businesses, Microsoft's current customer base, have spent BILLIONS of pouns/dolllars/Euros getting the environment just the way they want it, cubicle farms where they can keep a watch on what the employees are doing.

They're not going to suddenly change their minds.

As far as the consumer space, I don't see people giving any company three tries to come up with something mediocre.

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Happy

All I can say is...

Keep taking the tablets

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Microsoft have to be brutal to survive

They'll have to make a highly restrictive specification for these tablets and make vendors stick to them. How many buttons, where they go, what sort of things are allowed and what aren't. Otherwise they'll end up with hundreds of wildly differing devices offerings different experiences for users. All these devices will have to behave in exactly the same way or customers will get scared away. They've done something similar for Windows Mobile 7 and the handsets and the software are excellent.

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Jobs Horns

They will introduce a "new" OS for their tablets too

It will be dubbed Windows Cement.

The combination of Windows CE, Windows ME and Windows NT, will combine technologies to become windows CEMENT... Just for tablets.

It will be difficult for hardware developers though, as they will have to find hardware keys to locate <ctrl> <alt> and <delete> keys on the tablet device.

No news as to whether or not Microsoft will be providing magnifying glasses to read the tablet, or that will be left to the hardware vendor.

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WTF?

Delusional

"The battle will commence in 2013"

OK Apple & Google, stop advancing your tablet operating systems, and wait a few years so that Microsoft can catch up to you ;-)

Of course, we can expect the strong possibility that Microsoft won't have Windows 8 in 2013... or 2014... or...

But everyone just stand still so that Microsoft can try to compete with you. Because we all know that the world REALLY wants to use Windows on their mobile tablets. Just look at how many Windows tablets have sold since Steve Ballmer presented all sorts of Windows tablets at CES 2010... 13 months ago!

Uh yeah, never mind that.

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WTF?

Delusional

"The battle will commence in 2013"

OK Apple & Google, stop advancing your tablet operating systems, and wait a few years so that Microsoft can catch up to you ;-)

Of course, we can expect the strong possibility that Microsoft won't have Windows 8 ready in 2013... or 2014... or...

But everyone just stand still so that Microsoft can try to compete with you. Because we all know that the world REALLY wants to use Windows on their mobile tablets. Just look at how many Windows tablets have sold since Steve Ballmer presented all sorts of Windows tablets at CES 2010... 13 months ago!

Uh yeah, never mind that.

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There is more to making a tablet than porting to ARM

Suppose I ported windows to the PowerPC - does that mean I could comfortably use MS-Office on my Wii? Perhaps with the Wii controller and an onscreen keyboard?

You could make a netbook that used Arm rather than Atom. But once you add up the power consumption of the screen, the hard drive, the graphics chip and used a high clocked dual core ARM - you have saved 30% of the power on the component that is only using 25% of the total load.

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