At the Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C., Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talked about his company’s desire to push forward with Windows 7-based tablet computers and stated, “We are hardcore about this.”
According to All Things Digital on Monday, Mr. Ballmer touted new tablets from more than a dozen manufacturers.
“This year one of the most important things that we will do in the smart device category is really push forward with Windows 7-based slates and Windows 7 phones,” he said. “We want to give you a great consumer-oriented device, but a device that fits and is manageable with today’s enterprise IT solutions. They’ll come with keyboards. They’ll come without keyboards….They’ll be dockable. And they will be in many form factors, many price points and many sizes. But they will all run Windows 7….They will run Windows 7 applications. They will run Office.”
“Over the course of the next several months you will see a range of Windows 7-based slates that I think you’ll find quite impressive,” Ballmer said. “This is a terribly important area for us. We are hardcore about this.”
Reuters, on Monday, surmised that Microsoft is now eager to battle the very popular Apple iPad because the new Apple tablet has sold about three million copies in its first 90 days since launch and threatens to take customers away from the legacy desktop computer.
One exception to the Microsoft “hardcore” thrust into tablets is Hewlett Packard. HP recently bought Palm and its WebOS and plans to release its own tablets with that OS. The goal is to more closely control the customer experience. Some observers believe that Microsoft was incensed by this “divorce” by Hewlett Packard, and has rounded up other electronics manufacturers like ASUS, Dell, Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba and Sony to help it wage war against the iPad.
Finally, if Mr. Ballmer was serious about Windows 7-based smartphone, and it wasn’t a slip of the tongue, that indicates a change in direction from Windows Phone 7, a smartphone OS follow-on to Windows CE and Windows Mobile 6 that some consider to be late and untenable. Microsoft has seen a steady deterioration in market share for its Windows CE/Windows Mobile series which is a distinct OS from Windows 7. However, Windows 7 has been a very successful — on PCs at least.
Microsoft has ventured into the tablet market before with its flagship OS, Windows XP and a stylus. The products were difficult to use because Windows XP wasn’t designed to be used in a tablet environment. In addition, battery life was poor. It remains to be seen if Mr. Ballmer’s “hardcore” initiative with Windows 7 tablets will be more successful. Recent demos by Mr. Ballmer haven’t been impressive.