News Analysis: Windows 7 tablets are scheduled to be discussed at Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch event. But the chances of those devices performing well seem quite slim.
Microsoft is planning
to hold a Windows Phone 7 launch event next week
to show off a new slate of
smartphones from its partners. The event should be quite important for Microsoft
as it will be an essential first step in its plans to reinvigorate its mobile
But reports are swirling that Microsoft could also show off
some Windows 7 tablets at the event. There's no word on how much time Microsoft
will spend on that or how many products it will show off, but a discussion on
Windows 7 tablets seems like a logical addition to its event.
However, the chances of Windows 7-based tablets doing much to
beat the iPad in the coming months seem rather slim. Microsoft has been touting
its tablet strategy for months, and yet the company has been unable to field an
When it eventually does, most will be hard-pressed to see why
they should choose Microsoft's option over any other.
Here's why Windows 7-based tablets will have a tough time
gaining ground on the competition.
1. It's Microsoft
Microsoft has been offering tablet versions of its software
for years. Yet the company has been unable to deliver a product that has
captured the allure of customers the way the iPad has. Realizing that, it's
hard to see why its Windows 7-based tablets would be any different. Yes, the
software might be more capable of running on a tablet, but it's still Windows.
And most folks aren't keen on seeing that on a tablet.
2. Vendor support
It should be interesting to see how many companies follow
through on actually offering a Windows 7-based tablet in the coming months. At
CES earlier this year, Microsoft CEO Steve
Ballmer said that a slew of vendors are signing up to build the mobile devices.
Now he is predicting we will see some of them by Christmas. So far though,
device makers have been silent on the possibility of releasing such products. Vendor
support could prove to be the biggest issue
standing in the way of
widespread Windows 7-based tablet adoption.
3. Apple has cornered big displays
Apple is unique in the tablet market for one major reason: Its
iPad's display is much larger than competing products. In fact, the RIM
PlayBook boasts a 7-inch display. So does the Cisco Cius and the Samsung Galaxy
Tab. The Dell Streak has a 5-inch display. Unless Microsoft unveils partner
tablets that offer iPad-like screen sizes, the company could have a hard time
getting its devices into homes around the world. After all, the bigger the
display, the more likely the product sells. Apple has proved that.
Microsoft plans to unveil Windows Phone 7 smartphones next
week that will run on GSM networks, T-Mobile and AT&T. Verizon, a CDMA provider,
currently has no plans to double down on Windows Phone 7 the way the
competition does. Whether or not that will spill over into the tablet market is
unknown. But if Microsoft's partners are forced to partner with either AT&T
or T-Mobile for 3G networking in their tablets, the companies could have
difficulty selling their products. The iPad has AT&T 3G networking, and
many view it as a mark against the device. How will they view it in a product
that pales in comparison to the iPad in every other way, including 3G?