Can Microsoft be this clueless?


14, 2010


This has to be one of those stories that I hope is absolutely wrong. The New York Times is reporting that Microsoft plans introduce a new set of slates running  Windows 7 next month at CES 2011. One of the devices, purportedly made by Samsung (according to engadget), has a slide out keyboard in landscape mode and a layered interface in portrait mode. Color me unimpressed! Haven’t they tried this for the past decade, cramming a fully fledged OS onto a tablet with no success? What makes them think it will succeed now? Even if the new Oak Trail platform somehow produced stellar battery life and performance gains (highly doubtful), Windows 7 is not suitable on the tablet for a majority of users. For people who need such devices, there are products already on the market like the HP slate that fulfill that need.

To make matters worse, the NYT reports that Microsoft will not have a central app store for these slates, but will instead encourage their partners to host applications on their own sites which in turn will be featured on the devices via search. The report also mentions the possibility of Windows 8 being previewed but that is another waste of time because it is still two years out, an eternity in the tech world. I have also seen some reports elsewhere that there maybe some Win CE devices as well. So, how can we on one hand come up with Windows Phone 7, an excellent platform that learnt from all their past mistakes and started from the ground up optimized for touch with a consistent and great user experience across devices then on the other hand, a failed strategy of trying to shoehorn a heavy, legacy, mouse and keyboard OS into a touch centric tablet?

Why is Microsoft that obstinate about not letting WP7 be scaled up to the tablet? If they are that clueless and Steve Ballmer’s keynote at CES features Windows 7 based slates instead of Windows Phone 7 ones, then, they deserve to lose handily in that market. At that point, maybe the Xbox and Windows Phone 7 division together with the Windows Media Center guys should break off and  form their own company. I hope that this Times story ends up being  untrue so that my little rant here ends up being nothing but the wailings of a mad man, otherwise, I can see the Blackberry Playbook in my future.

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