Is the tablet PC dead?

Mashable: “Microsoft will release a tablet-oriented version of Windows no sooner than 2012, Bloomberg reports, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Despite Steve Ballmer’s bombastic statements in July last year, when he said Microsoft is “hardcore” about tablets and that we can expect “a lot” of Windows-based tablets by the end of 2010, none of the tablets that actually did hit the stores made any significant impact on the market.

The reasons for this are quite clear: Windows 7 simply isn’t optimized for use with modern tablets with finger-based input. Remember the long, painful transition from Windows Mobile 6 to Windows Phone 7? Once again, it will take time for Microsoft to deliver the user experience it needs to be able to compete with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Honeycomb.”

While the tablet PC may not be dead, it’s certainly on life support. The lack of a significant “Windows” presence in the new tablet market is troubling to say the least. I use a tablet PC nearly every day and for the life of me can’t figure out why Microsoft hasn’t taken a different approach to this market. Apple is kicking the crap out of them, as are Android tablet makers Motorola and Samsung. Why? Because Microsoft isn’t making tablets that people are interested in using.

I believe that a tablet PC running Windows is a better machine for work productivity than any of the current tablets running iOS or Android. With that said, it’s not enterprise that’s defining the new market for tablets; it’s casual consumer users. And eventually those consumers will force enterprise users to adopt the same technology and Microsoft will be sitting out in the cold wondering what happened. You boys, and girls, up on the hill in Redmond will simply have to do better if you want to stay in the game.

With the arrival of various operating “ecosystems” Microsoft will have to change their game plan. Some would argue that they’ve managed to resurrect their presence in the smartphone industry with Windows Phone 7. I’m not sure if I’ll ever use a Windows Phone 7, but I happen to think Microsoft did a great job on the UI and functionality. I now have at least one friend using a HTC HD7. I was impressed enough to consider trying one for myself.

With the improved UI and integration with Windows 7 why hasn’t Microsoft taken advantage of the new Windows Phone 7 platform and used it on a tablet? Seems to me that that’s exactly what they should be doing. People no longer want the full “Windows experience” on a tablet. Users want simplicity. They want smaller tablets with great user interfaces, long battery life and instant on/off. Unfortunately Windows 7 can’t offer such a mix of features. While I don’t think Microsoft should forget about using the Windows operating system on tablets – I for one would be greatly saddened by that – I do think it’s time for Microsoft to create one of the “in-between-a-full-desktop-and-a-smartphone” devices that everyone is begging for these days. Unfortunately Microsoft is out of the game if such a device isn’t already sitting on someones desk in the R&D department. 2012? Really? C’mon Microsoft, get back in the game.

3 thoughts on “Is the tablet PC dead?”

  1. I have no doubt we’ll see an iPad like device at some point. Microsoft, like Google, depends on OEM hardware to ship their OS. I’m certain the Windows Phone 7 OS will work fine on a larger form factor. Question is, with Android’s Gingerbread OS looking so good on the new breed of slates who’s going to be the first to do a deal with Microsoft?

    Microsoft is also making high strides to “cloud” connect Windows so moving between computers will be easy. E.G. I log in on a random box and it’s configured the way I want, with access to all my documents. That will be critical to their Desktop integration with any future Mobile/Slate/Tablet offering.

    The Android Market has some leaders on this front. HTC’s Sense service is a 1.0, imagine what it’ll provide moving forward. If Google doesn’t provide a complete set of services I’d be shocked.

  2. i stay focused on windows mobile and umpc because there’s nothing better for my usage. Am i getting old?

  3. Nah, I’m pretty much in the same boat. Although I do use Android for my smartphones of choice.

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