Choosing the Right Tablet Operating System

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-06-01 Print this article Print

5. Innovation trumps all

Innovation doesn't always matter. In some markets, the best product in the space wins by virtue of the size of its user base. But Apple has been smart enough to operate in markets where innovation matters above all else. And the tablet space is no different. That's something that Microsoft must keep in mind if it ever wants to be more than also-ran in tablets. As useful as Windows is, and as nice as it might be to have a full operating system within arm's reach on the couch, it's innovation that consumers want. And so far, innovation just isn't present when it comes to Windows 7 on tablets. 

6. Microsoft won't control the hardware

Microsoft has a relatively good track record when it comes to developing its own hardware. The Xbox 360 is arguably the best console on the market today. Even the Zune HD, which pales in comparison to the iPod in terms of total market share, is a fine device that has made users happy. But when it comes to tablets, Microsoft doesn't plan to follow that strategy. Instead, the company wants to offer the software to vendors that will then build their own hardware. In the tablet space, that's not a good thing. PC vendors aren't so reliable when it comes to hardware design. Their products are typically ugly compared to Apple's. If Microsoft wants to make its mark in the tablet space, it needs to find a way to control hardware.

7. Apple and Google know consumers

Microsoft's key battleground is the enterprise. The software giant knows how to appeal to consumers to some extent, but it really "gets" corporate customers. When it comes to consumers, both Apple and Google have a better understanding of what folks are looking for. Look no further than iPhone OS and Android OS for proof of that. But because those companies understand consumers, they will likely block Microsoft out of the tablet market. They will know what consumers want and deliver that before Microsoft even has a chance to respond. It has happened time and again in the mobile market. Why wouldn't it be the same in tablets?

8. Security will play a role

Security issues have been a constant problem for Microsoft throughout the years. The software giant has tried time and again to improve the security of Windows, but the issues keep coming. If and when Microsoft starts bringing Windows-based tablets to the market, security will again be a problem for the company. Undoubtedly, both Google and Apple will start chiming in, saying that their operating systems are more secure than Windows. They will also make the point that if consumers want a reliable operating system that won't have issues, they should opt for one of their devices. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it will have little to say in response. Until it locks down Windows, it will be tough for the company to combat security critics.

9. Windows might not be ideal for tablets

Windows is a fine operating system for those that need to be productive. But when it comes to tablets, it might not make the most sense. If full-fledged operating systems worked on a tablet, Apple would have delivered Mac OS X, rather than iPhone OS to the iPad. Google would have opted for Chrome OS over Android OS. Microsoft needs to remember that. When it comes to tablets, consumers are looking for simplicity and usability. They don't want to get bogged down with a full-fledged operating system that was originally designed with a mouse and keyboard in mind. Windows just might not be the best option for tablets.

10. Entertainment, not productivity, reigns supreme

If the tablet market was all about productivity, Microsoft would win the space without any trouble. After all, it's arguably the best operating system on the market for those that want to get work done. But when it comes to tablets, consumers want entertainment. They want to be able to come home from a long day at work, pick up their tablet from the coffee table, and surf the Web. They want to watch a show they missed last night. They also want to listen to their favorite songs. Windows is a great operating system in its own right, but it doesn't provide the entertainment features that its competition in the tablet market does. And that could only cause more trouble for Microsoft going forward as it tries desperately to be successful.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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