Here’s what seems to be happening with Microsoft and tablets:
- First off, Windows is already available on tablets. They’ve received bad reviews and obviously have no impact on the market.
- Windows 7 is not optimised for tablets. To get around this, Ballmer is suggesting hardware makers use custom interfaces like Windows Media centre. (HP tried this, then decided to buy Palm for its OS, which tells you something.)
- Windows 8 will be designed with tablets in mind. But it’s not coming until 2012, guesses Mary Jo Foley at ZDnet. So, Microsoft will be tweaking Windows 7 to the best of its ability.
- The computing power might not be there to support Windows tablets right now. Ballmer told investors a few months back that Microsoft slates would get a “boost” once Intel unveiled a new chip at the start of next year. This prompted Jefferies analyst Katherine Egbert to say we won’t see a Microsoft tablet until mid-2011.
- Ballmer said, “see,” not “buy.” Was Ballmer just speaking off the cuff, or did he intentionally omit saying Windows slates would be for sale at Christmas?
With all that in mind, we feel confident that Microsoft will not have an impact on the iPad, or any other tabet until the middle of next year, regardless of what Ballmer says about Christmas.
Even then, we’re not certain Microsoft will make much of a splash. It’s entirely reasonable to think Microsoft won’t successfully attack the iPad until 2012 when Windows 8 is coming out, and Apple is on its third generation of the iPad.