Thursday, August 26, 2010

Could Microsoft Get Shut Out Of Tablet Computing?

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The introduction of Apple's iPad earlier this year has made tablets the fastest growing segment of the computer industry.  Multiple hardware manufacturers are said to be ready to launch competing tablet computing devices featuring Google's Android operating system by the end of the year.  HP is working on a tablet of their own running WebOS, the operating system HP acquired when HP bought Palm last year.  Research In Motion is also rumoured to be working on a BlackBerry tablet as well.  With all these tablets about to go head to head with the iPad, running different operating systems, one question is top of mind. Where is Microsoft in all this?  Where is their operating system for tablet computers?

Just before the announcement back in January when the iPad went from rumour to reality, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show, Ballmer announced that tablet computers running Windows 7 were on the way from HP, Dell, and other PC manufacturers.  Since HP bought Palm all the talk of a Windows 7 based tablets have vanished.  Potentially Microsoft could find themselves on the outside looking in if the tablet computer market takes off when more tablets from more manufacturers end up in consumers' hands.

Just shoehorning Windows 7 onto a tablet would be the wrong path to take to try to move into the tablet computing operating system market.  Despite calls from many tech industry analysts and journalists to put a full version of OSX onto the iPad, and went with iOS instead because Apple understands that a full sized computer operating system is just unworkable on a tablet.  The Windows Phone 7 OS and user interface would be much better suited for a tablet than a full version of Windows. 

Could it be that Microsoft executives are asleep and are just not seeing the potential that the tablet market holds, or are they consciously forfeiting the tablet market to Apple, Google, HP, and Research In Motion?

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