Analysts Skeptical of Microsofts Tablet Plans

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-08-01 Print this article Print


"A tablet needs a lighter OS like Apple OS, Android or even Meego," Xu said. "Look at the tablet: touch screen, no physical keyboard, always connected. Usages of a tablet are simple. You won't use it to input a large amount of information and process complex tasks, while Windows is designed for these tasks."

The result will be poor user experiences on tablet devices, Xu added.

Forrester Research analyst Sara Rotman Epps agreed that the user experience is a concern for non-iPad machines, especially in the case of Windows, where Microsoft seems intent on "shoehorning" a PC OS into a tablet form factor.

"The concern about Windows tablets, and Android tablets, is that they won't provide as tight an experience as the iPad because OEMs won't have the same level of control over the OS: With the iPad, Apple controls both the device and the OS and so has complete control over the experience it delivers for users."

Even so, Epps said tablets that run Windows or Android could eventually collectively outsell iPads because multiple OEMs will be selling them.

Caris and Company analyst Sandeep Aggarwal is also reticent to count out Microsoft, calling the competitive risks from iPad/Tablet and mobile "overblown."

"We think that in the coming months Microsoft will very likely emerge as a strong force in the tablet market and will be able to offset some of the cannibalization of Windows-based PCs/netbooks that is happening because of the absence of compelling tablet devices running the Windows OS."

Another thing bothering analysts: Asked when Microsoft would ship its tablets, Ballmer said: "They'll be shipping as soon as they are ready. It is job one urgency. No one is sleeping at the switch."

But how long is too long to wait to ship? How many iPads will sell by the time a suitable Windows tablet appears? Will there be 60 tablets running Android by the time Microsoft ships its slate machine?

For Microsoft's tablet strategy, there are more questions than answers. This is not a good thing. Lubin believes the fight is already finished.

"Even if [Microsoft] announced today that they were going to start development of a new operating system for tablets, it would be several years before they had anything viable, and by that time their competitors would have been well-established as leaders in this product category."



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