back to article Microsoft plots entry into tablet trade

Microsoft will launch its own tablet device next week, entering the booming slate market without the help of a separate hardware manufacturer, it has been claimed. The company has promised to make a major announcement at an event on Monday, 18 June said to be related to its tablet strategy. Sources close to the matter say …

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  1. Anomynous Coward

    Microsoft Hardware

    Is often rather good - I'm using one of their keyboards right now and it's comfortable and robust and I generally pick one of their low-end mice for the office.

    It will be interesting to see if they can keep up the quality on something (considerably) more complex.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft Hardware

      They just "rebadge" Foxconn hardware. Most people do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft Hardware

        Foxconn don't make much of the hardware, they just put it together.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft Hardware

        I just replaced my fan on my old P4 machine. I notice "Foxconn" impinted in it. Seems INTEL use(d) them too. Let's face it, Foxconn is ubiquitous.

        1. Benchops
          Mushroom

          Re: Microsoft Hardware

          Are we saying that Foxconn is behind the scenes, controlling the supply of "components" to two global rival camps, building up to a war that it cannot lose? When can we expect order 66?

          1. Bugs R Us

            Re: Microsoft Hardware

            No we are not. Foxconn is an integrator, they are supplied components by the designer, who buys direct from component supplier but has the components delivered to Foxconn direct to leverage an optimzied supply chain. Foxconn slaves then put the bits together into a finished product.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Microsoft Hardware

          Exactly, so why is nobody asking to see Microsoft, Intel or Nintendo's record of audits into safety? It's always Apple that gets the blame.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft Hardware

      ***Xbox***Cough..

      The most unreliable piece of consumer hardware ever....

    3. Nigel 11
      Thumb Down

      Re: Microsoft Hardware

      Not my experience. MS keyboards seem prone to wearing out. It's Logitech keyboards that are nigh-on everlasting and pleasant to use (even the cheapo ones).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Logitec

        No way, I have been using Logitec for years and the quality has definitely suffered in the past 2 or 3 years on keyboards, mice and headsets. Now started to use various other brands to see what's better, including MS.

        1. Hardcastle the ancient

          Re: Logitec

          Burn the Heretics!

          Cherry make the one true keyboard!

  2. Frosty840

    Good for them

    Now they might actually have a platform that *wants* their new operating system, 'cause there's bugger-all of us in the desktop world that seem at all keen...

  3. The BigYin

    Bingo

    Convicted monopolist to now become hardware vendor and sell products that will only run its OS (SecureBoot on ARM cannot be disabled on Win8 badge devices).

    Unleash the regulators!

    Oh, and before someone mentions Apple; I have a rather dim view of their lock-in as well and there is case to class them as a monopoly in the smartphone/tablet arena already.

    1. Arnold Lieberman
      WTF?

      Re: Bingo

      Why should the regulators care? You don't *have* to buy it and there are plenty of alternatives. That's the beauty of a market economy. As long as M$ doesn't stop selling Windows to other manufacturers then it's business as usual.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bingo

        The regulators should not care about MS lokgin thier own hardware, but they sure as hell should care about MS locking out other OS on other manufacturer's hardware.

      2. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Bingo

        Actually there are nearly no alternatives when it comes to mobile devices. Nearly all of them have locked boot loaders.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Curious...

    It seems an odd move, if true. Considering that they have the inside track on windows itself, they should be able to make a better tablet than the OEMs. Which, of course, would effectively mean they're competing with their own OEMs with a potentially better product released before their partners - a pretty odd business decision.

    I'm beginning to suspect that what they'll 'launch' will be a reference platform / developer device, rather than a mass-market device. That would make a lot more sense. But then it's MS, who knows what will happen :)

    1. dogged
      Boffin

      Re: Curious...

      I agree.

      On the other hand, they did make noises about an ebook reader and they've climbed into bed with Barnes and Noble, so something in that vein might not be an unreasonable expectation.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Curious...

      Odd maybe but about time MS introduced products like the Surface RT and Pro. The Windows OEMs have done such a pure job of competing with each other and Apple in recent years, witness the low res Ultrabook displays while Apple are starting to fit high res Sharp and Samsung panels into the top of the MacBook line with not a peep from Dell, HP, Acer and their ilk.

      Well done MS. Looks like cool hardware for Win8/WInRT systems. Hope they aren't priced out of the market.

  5. fishman

    Google-MS deathmatch

    The 7" Google tablet is supposed to come out at the end of the month. I expect that the MS tablets won't be shipping for a couple of months at least, so this is partially an attempt by MS to take the wind out of the Google announcement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google-MS deathmatch

      The Google tablet has been supposed to come out for a few months now. Who knows when it will, really.

      Plus it would not surprise me if it was released as a US product since the US is the only country were Google supports their media stores properly (e.g. Music not available anywhere else)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who cares?

    I picked up a pristine, a slightly used iPad 2 64GB 3G for a very very reasonable price. I don't play movies on it that much, so the iPad3 is overkill for the extra cost, and with the hardcore fans upgrading, the bargains are to be had in the secondary market.

    Why compromise, when you can get the real thing?

    1. James Chaldecott

      User accounts

      Well: because I can't afford multiple iPads.

      That means I have to share the one we have (bought cheap, like you suggest) between me, my wife & my kids. Without user accounts I can't actually leave it signed in to anything (mail, facebook, websites, etc) unless it's a site/app that 1) I don't care about other people in my house seeing & 2) the kids can't "accidentally" trash or spend my real money on.

      Windows 8 has proper user accounts (including admin/non-admin) == BIG WIN (in my use case)

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: User accounts

        > Windows 8 has proper user accounts

        I very much doubt that WOA/Windows RT does.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Haters 6, Sentient beings 3

      Title keeping score

  7. Robert E A Harvey

    Price

    I suggest they let the HP experience dictate their price, rather than the Apple experience. Or they will end up doing what HP did.

    I'm actually all for this. Back in the dark days before the IBM PC manufacturers delivered the hardware and the software. That gave us things like the VAX. It seems natural and good to me.

    It seems to work for Apple and for Vtech. perhaps this device will be somewhere between Apple and Vtech?

  8. Big_Ted
    FAIL

    Oh dear

    MS are going to show all the OEM's just how little interest there is in their tablet/OS

    Most of them will then not bother to bring anything out and just prepare to in the unlikely event they are a big hit.

    MS are deluded if they think people will buy their tablet unless it is priced at 25% or more lower than the equivelent iPad with at least as good specs.

    Either that or it will have to be a 7 inch job and with some of the ones already announced for $199 or less they will not find it easy even when no ipad to go against size wise.....

    Lets be honest most of us would only end up with one if out company decided they want to give us one, otherwise we would go for iPad or Android every time......

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Thanks Ted, it's always nice when someone has the inside track on what we think and can save us the effort.

      1. Big_Ted
        Angel

        No Problem

        Now your thinking of sending me your next pay packet as a gift for saving your brain from wearing out

    2. Nigel 11
      Meh

      Price

      Shouldn't be hard to get 25% cheaper than an iPad. Look at the prices you can buy low-end Chinese Android-hack Tablets for. It'll be Microsoft versus Google fighting for the section of the market that's rejected Apple for being too dear and Chinese no-support tablets for being too cheap.

      Microsoft will be locking their tablets, so you won't be able to run any software not Microsoft-sanctioned. Google will presumably leave theirs open, both to non-Google app stores and to non-Google o/ses being installed on jail-broken Google tablets. I'd like to think that makes it no contest, but of course the average drooler doesn't give a monkey's about open-ness.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Price

        The rumor is on Tom's that they are going to charge OEMs $85 (i.e. full price) for WINRT.

        Could be wrong - rumors being what they are and all - but I wouldn't hold my breath on them being cheaper.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    branding?

    Excellent, I wonder what completely random and meaningless branding they'll use for this and how many times they'll change it before the devices actually get released? The Bing tablet maybe? Surely not the Zune tablet?

    1. captain veg

      Re: branding?

      Zablet, obviously.

      -A.

      1. Magnus_Pym

        Re: branding?

        xTablet360?

      2. captain veg

        Re: branding?

        Or Zlate.

        -A.

  10. Shagbag

    Zune

    I hope it's better than that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Zune

      You've never used either a zune or the zune service, have you?

    2. MikeS

      Re: Zune

      or maybe they'll decide to use the Skype name given thats huge user base (and that most people dont associate with Microsoft) , could be a clever move.

    3. Charles Manning

      Zune was a fantastic success

      When compared to the MS Kin phone.

      Unfortunately Kin infected the MS mobile folks. Kin is what spawned the whole tile nonsense.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Microsoft Tablet

    Coded internally, designed in Finland (yes, I'm pointing to you Nokia), and assembled in China. The Nokians (shareolders) will praise the good news with tears in their eyes :-P

  12. IGnatius T Foobar

    oooh, it's the ZunePad !!

    Give it up already. Even *Google* hasn't been able to make significant inroads into the tablet market against Apple, even after having overtaken Apple in the smartphone business. How the heck is Microsoft going to manage to even come close, with a product nobody likes and nobody wants?

  13. Mike Brown

    Was nokia not talking baout making a tablet a while back? Could it be that?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What if extension...

    On the Window 8 is not for business comments, I commented that you can make sense of what Microsoft is doing with Windows 8 if you assume that every PC with Windows 8 ships with a tablet as an input device (so equivalent to a touchpad, but a live device) instead of a mouse. Metro runs on the tablet, while the desktop runs standard Windows. It completely shafts Apple and Google will be none too pleased. Now we have Microsoft announcing it's launching a tablet...

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: What if extension...

      > every PC with Windows 8 ships with a tablet

      Making them have two Metro interfaces when no one wants even one. It would also make them more expensive than an Apple Mac, I can see that working - not.

      There may be a point to having a mobile device able to run both as a phone and/or tablet and as a desktop OS when plugged into a TV (HDMI) or base station. Then your data would be available. MS wouldn't do that, they want you to buy a Windows 8 desktop _and_ a Windows RT tablet _and_ a WP8 phone and use their cloud to shuffle data. That is how they will generate revenue growth.

      Apple, Google and OEMs, Ubuntu, etc _will_ combine their phone/tablet and a desktop OS so that you only need one.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The last time Microsoft decided to go it alone with hardware...

    The Xbox360 abomination, that took 4+ years to sort out...

    God help us if Microsoft are trying to do hardware again....

    1. dogged
      Trollface

      Re: The last time Microsoft decided to go it alone with hardware...

      Barry is still butthurt that Microsoft make money on the 360 now and haven't had their multiplayer network pwned.

      Poor Barry. Not much resale value on a PS3 these days, huh?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The last time Microsoft decided to go it alone with hardware...

        Really make money? The problem is, too many kids on the internet too stupid to understand how business report earnings.

        Microsoft won't make a single dime from the Xbox this generation, because of the $11bn poured down the drain (development costs and RROD cover).

        What Microsoft did (and what lots of other mostly American companies do), is pile all their losses into a single REALLY bad quarter, and then claim the next quarter looks rosy. Microsoft "reserved" a huge boatload of cash to cover RROD warranty claims, and drew from this pot (and topped it up) many times over the years. However it mean the books LOOKED like they were making money.

        In the same way, Microsoft channel stuff at the end of a particular slow quarter, pushing more stock into the channel to bolster the "shipped" numbers. They did this famously with Kinect, and claimed 8m shipped soon after launch, but a whole year later, they had still only sold 10.1m The reason: They lied about those 8m....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The last time Microsoft decided to go it alone with hardware...

          They didn't "lie". You may think of it as being non-truth, but in practice this is merely a business technique. They didn't get where they are by telling the truth. No business tells the absolute truth, if they did they wouldn't last long. All successful businesses take advantage of accounting. It's expected, and in the case of listed companies, they have a duty to the shareholders. If they start telling the truth about their financial dealings, the secondary shareholders would panic and businesses would be undermined.

          Why do people always think they deserve to be told the truth? A truth or a lie is just a means to an end.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The last time Microsoft decided to go it alone with hardware...

            Sarbox.

            I work for an American owned company, and I can't take a piss without following Sarbox. We have to have monthly audits of accrued holiday on our holiday cards, as this is perceived to be a hidden profit/loss.

            Yet somehow Microsoft are immune to Sarbox and can do what the fuck they want.

    2. Mikel
      Devil

      Re: The last time Microsoft decided to go it alone with hardware...

      You forgot the KIN. Of course, so has everybody else but Elcoteq and I.

  16. Mike Bell
    Meh

    Critique

    Those 'desktop' screen grabs look a bit like Tetris to me. Do you think Windows 9 will look like Pac-Man?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are those tablets/pad/whatever screens supposed to be attractive?

    I don't like Apple and won't buy their products because of their business practises, but at least what's on and under the screen looks good, that MS stuff just looks shite!

  18. John A Blackley

    Features

    Will take seven minutes to start - thereby giving you the time to eat breakfast.

    Will be memory-bound if you ask it to do two things at once - thereby giving you time to practice your deep breathing relaxation techniques.

    Will require software updates several times a day - thereby giving you time to take frequent stretch breaks.

    The Microsoft Tablet - encouraging you to lead a healthier life!

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Features

      Have you used a Windows PC this century? It sounds unlikely unless it was one you bought last century and keep running only to demonstrate how slow Windows is.

  19. brules-401
    Angel

    Tablets are like turds..

    ..just because you make them yourself doesn't mean they'll stink any less..

  20. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Not a realistic photo

    The actual unit is going to have a 4" wide bezel in order to fit all the "Designed for Windows8", "Intel inside" "Trial office included", "With McAffee Antivirus" "Windows is kewl" etc stickers all over it.

  21. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I'm sure all the OEMs are going to love that MS are producing their own tablet, especially since MS will no doubt get a preferential rate for the OS license since its their own software, so they will be able to undercut the OEMs on pricing.

    Yes Google are releasing their own tablet PC but there is no OS license for Android OEMs to have to pay so at least there is an even playing field in that arena, although Google may sell the tablets at a loss to begin with to get buyers interested which the OEMs would definitely not be happy about.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > I'm sure all the OEMs are going to love that MS are producing their own tablet

      It seems that the OEMs had already decided that with the $85 cost of Windows RT (granted is has some version of Office, probably a 'starter' edition) and design costs they could not build tablets that matched iPads without being far more expensive.

      Anyway Apple can afford to cut prices yet again, especially on iPad2 where design costs were amortised long ago.

      With x86 tablets there is no way that an OEM could get the component costs down to the price of an equivalent iPad let alone have software or profit. And it is likely that Windows 8 will require even more hardware than that to run at a competitive speed.

      So I don't think that OEMs will be upset about not having Windows tablets, though I think that HP may be spitting tacks that it dumped WebOS for this crap.

  22. jim 45

    looks nice, but...

    ... can we please have back the roughly 30% of the screen now devoted to the word "Start"? I think we've all gotten the idea that this screen is where we "start". Yes. Thank you.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Secure Boot

    How secure is it, really ? (serious question)

    I think I can see some of the hardware hackers chomping at the bit for the chance to defeat this.

  24. Christian Berger Silver badge

    I'm all for it

    If Microsoft makes its own hardware it will scare away other hardware vendors from their platform. That would be a good way to prevent much of the harm coming from Windows 8.

    1. hazydave

      Re: I'm all for it

      Ditto... that IS a good way to scare off other Windows ARM tablet vendors. Microsoft could also offer options that the other companies don't have access to. I was kind of surprised that MS totally blew off the gaming market on the Windows Phone platform, given their strength in gaming and Apple's dominance in mobile gaming. But even the Nokia 900 has a slower GPU than the old iPhone 3GS.

      Could be they're planning to go it solo for good gaming on mobile. That SHOULD be a slam-dunk. The X-Box 360 today is the most respected Microsoft platform... everyone puts up with Windows, but plenty of gamers actually live the X-Box. And it's got that moronic tile interface these days, so the X-Boxers are already prepped for this. Keeping the hot gaming hardware to themselves would ensure Microsoft a leg up on all possible competition.

      It's already very clear where MS stands on the old Monopoly thing. They believe their monopoly ends at the x86, and despite past problems with using their Monopoly powers to "embrace and extend" (it was actually Internet Explorer and Office that got them into trouble), they definitely seem to believe they can draw the line at x86. So on ARM, they're going back whole hog to the bad old Microsoft. Should be fun to watch.

      1. Andrew 63
        Thumb Down

        Re: I'm all for it

        Your iTardness annoyed me.

        N900's GPU is the same as of the iPhone 3Gs (some sources say that the iPhone 3Gs has a slightly more powerful SGX535, but it's not fully confirmed).

        Source: http://my-symbian.com/other/preview_n900.php

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