Doubt Clouds Windows Tablets vs. iPad, Android

Microsoft's plans to offer tablets based on its Windows 7 operating system will be ill-fated, according to industry analysts and watchers. Many believe Microsoft must follow Apple's iPad and Google's Android by building a mobile OS for tablets.

No one doubts that Microsoft threatens to eclipse others in any market it enters.

But until the company produces a tablet computer built from an operating system other than its new Windows 7 desktop operating system, few seem willing to give the software giant a shot against Apple and Google in the burgeoning tablet market.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made headlines when he said at the company's financial analyst meeting July 29 that Microsoft has a lot of intellectual property and other pieces to make tablets.

"We have a lot of IP, we have a lot of good software in this area, we've done a lot of work on ink and touch and everything else-we have got to make things happen. Just like we had to make things happen on netbooks, we've got to make things happen with Windows 7 on Slates."

However, some in the industry believe Microsoft is headed for failure by continuing to push for touch tablets running Windows 7 instead of building a more nimble OS especially suited for the touch interface that carries tablets.

Indeed, Apple's iPad runs a modified version of the iPhone OS. Google's Android platform was designed from the ground up as a mobile OS and is powering more than 60 smartphones in a growing market.

Harvey Lubin, a graphic design professional in Canada, noted that many of the large PC manufacturers that displayed prototypes of Windows 7 tablets at the last Consumer Electronics Show in January have ceased developing those machines.

Most PC manufacturers have since switched gears and jumped on the Android train. And Hewlett-Packard acquired Palm to use that company's mobile WebOS for tablets even as it prepares to offer a Windows 7 tablet to appease its long-time partner.

"Microsoft's management still has not seen the light, and they stubbornly continue to push for touch tablets running their Windows 7 OS," Lubin told eWEEK.

"Although they certainly have the financial resources to do what other companies like Apple, Google and Palm have done, they have not made any effort to develop a new operating system designed specifically for this next generation of personal computers."

IMS Research analyst Gerry Xu told eWEEK he is pessimistic about Microsoft's chances in the tablet market. Like Lubin, Xu believes PC makers may move away from Windows over time because the current Windows 7 is too bloated for the tablet form factor.