Lighter UI

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Lighter UI

Microsoft seems determined to cling to Windows for its tablets currently on the market. However, the OS comes across as ungainly versus Android and iOS. In its place, Microsoft could consider a touch-optimized, "lighter" user interface more in line with what you find on a smartphone.

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Low Cost

The Motorola Xoom and the higher-end Apple iPads represent the top of the tablet markets price range, at around $800. Most other competitors fall somewhere between $550 and $700. If Microsoft and its tablet partners really want to make an impact, theyll aim for the lower side of the price spectrum.

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At the moment, tablets are transitioning to dual-core processors to power apps, games and Web cruising. By the time Microsoft begins its big tablet push, the hardware baseline for tablets will doubtlessly have risen into more powerful ranges. Microsofts tablet strategy needs to set tough standards for whats acceptable in terms of screen resolution, processors and other areas.

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USB and Peripherals

There exists a tricky line between providing a slimmed-down tablet (truly a "post-PC" device, in Apple CEO Steve Jobs words) and something with enough features to cover a wide variety of possible functions. To that end, Microsoft and its partners could err on the side of installing a number of hardware features, such as multiple USBs, on the tablet form factor—something that at least some power users might appreciate.

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With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft demonstrated that it was willing to impose a strict set of requirements on its manufacturing partners in order to prevent fragmentation and make software updates (somewhat) easier to manage. It could well do the same with tablets.

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Other Assets

As with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft could (and maybe should) focus on a tablet experience that bakes other company properties into the tablet UI, including Xbox, Office and SharePoint.

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Battery Life

If the current spate of tablets proves anything, its that any new competitor on the market needs to place battery life at an absolute premium.

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Developers! Developers! Developers!

Windows Phone 7 demonstrated how aggressively courting the developer community to develop apps, months before a platforms release, can translate into small but steady dividends. While WP7 doesnt boast an app library the size of Googles or Apples, it has so far managed to avoid the fate of Palm and RIM in that category. With any tablet, Microsoft will need to ensure it has an app developer plan in place.

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Xbox Integration

Microsofts secret weapon with tablets could be integration with Xbox Live. Easily the companys most successful consumer franchise, Xbox could give a Microsoft tablet a built-in gamer audience.

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Fujitsus Q550 tablet already boasts the ability to write with a stylus, in addition to touch input. A deeply ingrained ability to treat a tablets surface like paper could go far in expanding its user base to writers, artists and designers.

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Security features such as an embedded security chip and encrypted SSD could make a Windows tablet that much more appealing to enterprise users.

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While its too soon to tell whether it will ultimately succeed over others in the tablet market, Samsungs early experience launching the Galaxy Tab on multiple carriers drew a lot of buzz. A similar blanket strategy could also serve Microsoft well, ensuring its tablets get high visibility.

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