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 division.
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 iPad competitor.
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?