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Ballmer Says Microsoft Is 'Hardcore' About Tablets 324

Posted by Soulskill
from the leading-from-the-back dept.
gbll writes with news that Microsoft is gearing up to aggressively pursue the tablet PC market, according to CEO Steve Ballmer. Microsoft is working with a variety of hardware companies including Asus, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and Sony, to release Windows 7 slates later this year. "These slates will be available at a variety of price points and in a variety of form factors — with keyboards, touch only, dockable, able to handle digital ink, etc. Since Ballmer showed off a prototype of a Windows 7 slate from Hewlett-Packard at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the company has said next-to-nothing about how it planned to address the slate form-factor space. ... Ballmer never mentioned the iPad or the coming Chrome OS-based slates by name during his remarks. Microsoft’s pitch will be that these slates will be sanctioned by corporate IT departments, enabling customers to use them at work and at home."
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Ballmer Says Microsoft Is 'Hardcore' About Tablets

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  • Still want Courier (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SquarePixel (1851068) on Monday July 12, 2010 @02:57PM (#32878066)

    I hope Microsoft brings back their Courier project [cnet.com] or some other device with two screens that you hold like a book.

    There is hope for the future of the 'Courier'. On June 30, 2010, Network World posted that Microsoft received a patent on June 29th, which might be for the 'Courier', "[p]atent number D618683 for a 'dual display device'."

    It's seriously the only tablet I would feel comfortable to hold and use. A hard single surface tablet is not nice to hold, especially since we have used to hold books in our hands for hundreds of years.

    Personally I will be waiting and will not buy a tablet unless I can hold it like that. Otherwise I might just as well use a laptop.

    • by casings (257363)

      I don't find holding a book very comfortable. And saying "books in our hands for hundreds of years" is just plain wrong AND not to mention completely meaningless.

    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:09PM (#32878192) Homepage Journal
    • Just use Monaco and STFU

    • by gilesjuk (604902)

      Have you never used a clipboard before then?

      Or a notepad? (paper variety)

      Having used clamshell phones and the Nintendo DS, I find having to open something pretty annoying.

  • by the_one_wesp (1785252) on Monday July 12, 2010 @02:58PM (#32878080)
    Tablets, Tablets, Tablets, Tablets!!!!!
    • by dintech (998802)

      They're easier throw than chairs.

    • First day: "Hello, Mr. Ballmer and welcome to Microsoft R & D. Windows tablets? Sure - here, take two and call me in the morning!"

      Second day: "They didn't work? Sorry, I meant you should use Windows tablets like suppositories. You know the drill."

      Third day: "Can't run as fast as you used to? Windows will do that to you."

      Fourth day: "Can you feel the PAIN? Remember - no pain, no gain!"

      Fifth day: "What do I look like - tech support? Call your next of KIN"

      Sixth day: "You can't get it out? We need to reboot you. Bend over - this guy here used to be the kicker for Texas. Will this fix it? No, but you'll now know exactly what it feels like to be a long-term Microsoft customer."

      Seventh day: *crickets*

  • i told you i was hardcore
  • Kin? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:02PM (#32878130)
    Last I heard, Microsoft was also hardcore about the smartphone market. So, how is the Kin doing? Oh. Right.

    It really is a shame that Microsoft has such lethal corporate politics impacting their every decision... Not that I thought the Kin was cool (it certainly didn't appear to be...) but to kill a product line mere months after launch is pathetic...

    But, hey, Ballmer says they're hardcore about the tablet market so that clearly means they'll be serious about it...
    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      If they're as serious with tablets as they have been with PlaysForSure, Zune, Courier and Kin, I'm sure the other companies are shaking in their boots.

    • Re:Kin? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by E-Rock (84950) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:17PM (#32878314) Homepage

      They killed the Kin long before it launched, they just had to put out something to fullfill their contract with Verizon. Otherwise, I don't think it would have ever left the campus. They already stole all the good parts for the Windows 7 Phone.

    • by KarmaMB84 (743001)
      The Kin was not a smartphone. I'd suggest Verizon probably did most of the killing by requiring a full smartphone data plan for a phone that was more of a beefed up feature phone.
    • Re:Kin? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:44PM (#32878656)

      It really is a shame that Microsoft has such lethal corporate politics impacting their every decision...

      Exactly. Microsoft is the NASA of technology companies. The engineers are capable of building great things, but any project worth doing is worth doing right, and any project worth doing right will probably take longer than the tenure of whatever politician or administrator sponsored it. When the new head honcho comes in, or the next election is held, the old administration's pet projects are put in a box and gassed.

    • by v1 (525388)

      What I want to see now is a cartoon, in that drawing style of Duffy etc with the political cartoon. Show a parade going down the street, with a float with a band playing and confetti raining down, and all the major tablet makers standing up in the "band wagon" holding up their tablets and smiling and waving to the crowd as they pass by.

      And then I want to see Balmer jogging in from behind, pulling a little red wagon piled up with bits and pieces of electronics for tablets, dangly bits, and pieces falling ou

    • The Kin's market really was "free" (with 2 year contract) feature phone - it would have done well in that segment, but no - 200$ smartphone with no apps, no support etc launched at the same time as the rise of the droids (when one could easily argue Android started to gain serious marketshare).

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      Eh... (shrugs)

      Microsoft's never been a market leader. Other companies like Atari, Commodore, and Apple did the innovating while Microsoft just rode on the coattails of the popular IBM PC, and copied the other guys' ideas (5-10 years later) over to Windows. It doesn't appear Microsoft ever had the ability to be inventive, and it doesn't look they will ever gain that ability.

      To expect MS to produce a Wonder Tablet of the future is like expecting a mule to get pregnant
      .

    • by the_B0fh (208483)

      And Ballmer was all *HARDCORE* about *SQUIRTING* previously... and what happened to all that squirting brown stuff?

    • by dgatwood (11270)

      Last I heard, Microsoft was also hardcore about the smartphone market.

      No, no, you misunderstood them. What they said was that they have hardcore on smartphones. In other words, they are allowing hardcore porn to be made available on their smartphones. It was their response to iPhone's content policies. Had nothing to do with actually being serious about the product.

  • Hardcordz (Score:5, Funny)

    by Itninja (937614) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:02PM (#32878132) Homepage
    Ballmer using words like 'hardcore' makes me feel the same as when my Grampa would talk about 'the Googles' or any other time a male-menapausal coot tries to use 'cool' words to 'relate' to 'todays youth'
  • If all they do (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:04PM (#32878146)
    Is tweak Windows 7 a little bit and replace the mouse with a stylus or the user's finger, this will fail. A tablet needs a UI and OS designed specifically for touch, and applications need to be designed for that OS. I have yet to see anything from Microsoft that indicates to me that they really understand that. No amount of corporate IT agreements will get companies to purchase devices they don't really need.
    • Re:If all they do (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:18PM (#32878328)
      On the bright side though, at least Windows 7 with tablet-esque ad-ons would at least have programs and independence without having to sync -everything- like Windows CE does.

      Really, MS needs to stop imitating Apple, tablets aren't the "next big thing" unless you can deliver workable software or have an army of fanboys willing to buy anything no matter how overpriced and how many features it lacks.

      If MS is to release a tablet it needs to create a UI over-layer over Windows 7 and provide ways to use existing Windows programs and such easy on the device. If MS tries to create -yet- another similar yet incompatible OS, it will fail yet again. Lets see here what are all the OSes that MS has released devices for in the past year or two? We have Windows 7, the OS for the Zune, Windows Mobile, Whatever the kin ran, standard Windows CE, etc. Apple has 2 major OSes, OS X and iOS, and most programs for Linux are open source making porting pretty easy.
      • Really, MS needs to stop imitating Apple, tablets aren't the "next big thing" unless you can deliver workable software or have an army of fanboys willing to buy anything no matter how overpriced and how many features it lacks.

        Agreed. This pretty much sums up the iPad for me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haja0u5WUbE [youtube.com]

      • by Tom (822)

        Really, MS needs to stop imitating Apple, tablets aren't the "next big thing"

        Uh, actually, this is one of the few areas where Apple was late to the show, and MS was first. Except that as usual they fucked it up. Tablets were a non-starter precisely because MS couldn't deliver an OS that made them work, despite promises to the contrary.

        Then they swept it under the carpet and hoped that everyone would forget about it.

        Then Apple came and showed them how it's done.

        So now suddenly it's hot again and they struggle to catch up. Kinda reminds me of the Browser War II - it took Firefox befor

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by zmollusc (763634)

      Meh, a tablet that was just a laptop without a hinge and with an on-screen keyboard that can be minimised when not in use would suit me. Especially if it had plenty of usb, sd and micro-sd slots.And wirelessness.

      And if it ran gnu/linux.

    • Re:If all they do (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:31PM (#32878510)

      That's simply not true. Our company develops applications with multi-touch on Win7 for our internal cloud management platform. Our users love the touch capabilities more than the automation it helps them accomplish on a daily basis. When Win7 tablets start to appear we will already have a head start on this. And to be honest, all we need is any device that can run Silverlight then Win7 wouldn't even be necessary. You are so thinking inside the box.

      Posted as AC because my boss would prefer it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Internal Cloud management. Now there's a killer app for touch! Hey 18-24 year old, what are *you* using to monitor your internal clouds? You're not using that old n-teir VB 6 app are you! That's so 1998! You need our touch based windows 7 app. Then the ladies will be all upons! Spend less time managing your internal clouds and spend more time working on managing your upponment schedule!
    • by v1 (525388)

      They'll have this little red eraser-looking nipple on it to make up for the lack of touch support, and it will be marketed as a 'groundbreaking innovation' in the market.

    • The Zune HD UI isn't bad but it isn't better than the iPhone OS and that's the problem. Microsoft comes out a year or two later with an inferior product to Apples and acts stunned when no one cares. Ultimately, they come out looking as cool as grandma's orthopedic shoe. They've did it with Vista (see: OS X), the original Zune (the iPod at the time was far better than the 1st Gen Zune brick), the Zune HD and their pointless app store (which came out around the same time as the iPhone), and their new phone
  • by realmolo (574068) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:05PM (#32878152)

    It means "We have dedicated 5 different development and marketing teams to 5 different products that all compete with each other. Each of them has different strengths and weaknesses, each of them is mostly, but not *completely* compatible with the other, and NONE of them will actually be available for sale before Apple or Google makes them completely obsolete. Also, there will be skins available."

    • And as soon as you invest in one solution, we will discontinue it and introduce a completely incompatible one (wince/windows mobile win7; playsforsure/zune, etc). Why bother introducing a new product when we can repackage an old one and sell it again?
  • "Slates," huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:07PM (#32878180) Homepage

    I assume Microsoft is calling these new products "slates" -- while everybody else still calls them tablets -- to distance them from the last time Microsoft tried to create a market for tablets and failed?

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      I can't wait to buy a Microsoft Stale.

      wait whoops

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jbezorg (1263978)

      I assume Microsoft is calling these new products "slates"...

      That way, when they make bricks, MS can say they met 95% of the design goals.

    • by mugnyte (203225)

      Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

        Announcement is step 1

        "Slate" wording is part of step 2. Watch for other strange marketo language soon. Anyone still interested in a Squirt(TM)?

        Step 3 is their own lameness when their "slate" only connects easily to Bing, XBox, MS Live and just their cloud.

      You can bet by the time MS gets a good "slate" released that market leaders will be moving from haptics to eyetracking/brainwave/biofeedback interfaces.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      I assume Microsoft is calling these new products "slates" -- while everybody else still calls them tablets -- to distance them from the last time Microsoft tried to create a market for tablets and failed?

      It would be the third OS and probably fourth time Microsoft has tried. Not counting the OSes that Microsoft didn't push for tablet devices (Vista supported tablets, but there was no big tablet push).

      First, in the 90's, was PenWindows. (Windows 3.1 modified for pen input)
      Next, came Windows XP Tablet Edition.

  • by wandazulu (265281) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:08PM (#32878188)

    Microsoft’s pitch will be that these slates will be sanctioned by corporate IT departments, enabling customers to use them at work and at home.

    Translation: We will aggressively shove these down the throats of everyone though the CIOs who saw our ad in the in-flight magazine.

  • His argument will be that they are sanctioned by corporate IT departments? You mean, these tablets that don't even exist yet? How does he know? Did he say the same thing about Windows Vista-based machines six months before they were released?

    Several companies, mine included, already support the iPad, so this "sales pitch" is less than compelling to me.

    How this Ballmer guy still has a job is beyond me.

    • Exactly, I mean who really cares about "support" anymore? This isn't 1994 anymore, the average person can easily set up and use a computer, same things with IT people. If your IT person can't give support for basic electronic setup (Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, Mac, etc) you should fire them.

      Ballmer seems to be trying to imitate Steve Jobs recently... only instead of having both good ideas and terrible ideas Ballmer just imitates the bad ideas.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:17PM (#32878320) Journal
    It's like watching a quick sword-fighter dancing around a slow, lumbering, barbarian. Apple keeps nicking at Microsoft with light, little jabs and Microsoft unleashed a giant wave of power that misses the target. Zune, Kin, now this.

    The sad thing is Microsoft has such a strong position, Apple can't dethrone them. The only way Microsoft will fall is they get so confused thrashing around that they destroy themselves from the inside. It almost seems like what's happening.

    The biggest problem I see here is an apparent lack of understanding about the market segment. Check this Ballmer quote (paraphrase?) from the article:

    These slates will be available at a variety of price points and in a variety of form factors -- with keyboards, touch only, dockable, able to handle digital ink, etc.

    Notice the focus on hardware. I couldn't find anywhere that he mentions software. Microsoft has had windows on tablets that reasonable match the hardware specs of the iPad for nearly a decade. What they've utterly failed at is the software side, the software that makes the tablet worth using. Apple clearly gets that, but Microsoft doesn't even seem to be aware of it at all. It seems to think the business link is going to be able to carry it, just like it carried the PC 25 years ago, and he might be right, but it hasn't worked for the last 10 years, so why should it now?

    • Maybe Apple doesn't want to dethrone Microsoft.

      Competition is not the end all of business. Profit and making product are. Competition comes second to that.

    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      Well, they didn't get it then, there's no reason to think they'll get it now... And they are a software company. Their big issue is that they stop at "good enough" and ship it. You may or may not like Apple, but the thing is licked clean! Half of the 'standard features' are missing (much like the first iPhone) but the features that are there, man, are they usable!

      With MS it is the exact opposite: Everything is there, in a huge mess of menus, configs, clicks, etc. But you can do everything. If you can figure

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:21PM (#32878370)
    The only reason to use Windows is DirectX for gaming. I don't plan on gaming on a tablet so I doubt they are going to get anywhere with their plans. The fact that Linux isn't crushing Windows and MacOS at the moment is a testament to the Linux communities own dis-functionality. Please, we're begging you, get your act together.
  • by Tom (822)

    Microsoft's pitch will be that these slates will be sanctioned by corporate IT departments, enabling customers to use them at work and at home."

    Which is precisely what no IT department in the world wants their people to do. Use the same machine for work and private? Yeah, right. Is Balmer holding shares in all the anti-virus companies?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Which is precisely what no IT department in the world wants their people to do. Use the same machine for work and private? Yeah, right.

      People I know in several different companies do just that - and companies love that because it enables those people to work from home (VPN) in an environment that is exactly the same as at work. IT departments may hate the extra support for such a configuration, but they don't call the shots. And as for security, that's precisely what BitLocker (and other similar options) are for.

      I still don't think this makes much sense with tablets since they are inherently not productivity devices. Actually, scratch that

  • "Microsoft’s pitch will be that these slates will be sanctioned by corporate IT departments, enabling customers to use them at work and at home."

    The gaping corporate security hole you just opened, let me show you what can be done with it.

    • by v1 (525388)

      The gaping corporate security hole you just opened

      You will now be modded down for making a statement like that without providing a goatse link.

  • Windows Mobile 6.5 on an HTC is slow, balky, slow, crash-prone and a misery to experience. Apple stepped on it's own dick with the latest iPhone hardware but the OS remains rock-solid. The antenna issue can be fixed but Windows Mobile cannot.

    Do I foresee them doing anything smarter with a tablet OS? No, no I don't. I think it's more likely for Apple to screw up their OS than for Microsoft to fix theirs. I think Microsoft is culturally incapable of innovation at this point and it would take a massive crisis

  • by dilvish_the_damned (167205) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:38PM (#32878594) Journal
    I mean, why not just do them? Or is this more of a move relating to the stock market? Maybe its better phrased "This announcement will make our stock more competitive". I guess I just don't understand the motivation.
    • by NekSnappa (803141)
      It wasn't just some random announcement. It was the keynote at their Worldwide Partners Conference.
    • MS has been doing this for decades. When a competitor is beating MS, MS announces that MS has a better product right around the corner. Then MS starts announcing delays, and cutting features. Either MS will cancel the product, and announce a better product; or MS will eventually launch a POS.

  • "Microsoft’s pitch will be that these slates will be sanctioned by corporate IT departments, enabling customers to use them at work and at home."

    iPad and iPhone have been making massive inroads into IT departments. It's a bit late for Microsoft to be holding out on this selling point. I already know of many major companies that are either field testing iOS gear, or have already implemented deployment strategies.

  • Use Microsoft at work and home? Not just "no," but "HELL no!". When people arrange their computing needs so as to be bound to such an insecure system as Microsoft Windows, despite being warned from every direction about the dangers of doing so, then I have no sympathy for them when their systems get pwnz0r3d. For example:

    Person A works for company B. Company B mandates use of Windows for access from outside corp network. Typical.

    Scenario 1: Person A picks up malware unknowingly, and transmits it to co
  • by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin@@@lunarworks...ca> on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:41PM (#32878630) Homepage

    "Microsoft's pitch will be that these slates will be sanctioned by corporate IT departments, enabling customers to use them at work and at home."

    Lovely.

    I translate that as "We can't sell these things on their own merit, so we'll just convince / bribe / put pressure on our corporate partners to disallow anything else." Like a command from the Vatican.

    Oh, a bonus result: Ten years from now the Windows 7 Tablet will be an IT albatross just like IE6.

  • Oh noes! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Aggrajag (716041) on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:42PM (#32878634)
    I'll bet this has something to do with squirting!
  • there is a marketing and promotion window in the computer business, between being able to produce something with a delta-dollars on it (called "profit" in circles we hacks don't visit,) and Apple's first shipment.

    MS missed the market. Tablet I didn't cut it.

  • Just what you need (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <[ku.oc.nez] [ta] [senoj.selig]> on Monday July 12, 2010 @03:45PM (#32878674)

    Rather than one tablet design which people liked, the courier project, there will be shed loads of really amateur, plastic, butt ugly tablets from OEMs running an OS that is two years behind Apple and has a fraction of the software.

    Microsoft could have nailed the tablet market with the dual screen tablet design. But nope, they killed it and they lost their most productive consumer electronics whizz kid J Allard.

    • "there will be shed loads of really amateur, plastic, butt ugly tablets from OEMs running an OS that is two years behind Apple, has a fraction of the software, is too underdeveloped for serious tablet-mode use, and is unsupported within 18 months, at which time Microsoft will be hyping something else that shares all of the same properties without being software, hardware, or API compatible at all.

  • Every time I see Ballmer mentioned in a story that he's hardcore about something, this is the first thing that pops into my head. [youtube.com]
  • doesnt matter. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Monday July 12, 2010 @04:00PM (#32878874) Homepage
    preface: this post gets real ugly...some might even say...trollish...but i need to form an opinion here.

    being in IT ive already "sanctioned" the ipad, the iphone, and droid for our networks. My blessing doesnt automatically cause a product to fly off the fucking shelves, steve; it never had a bearing on the ipad at all.

    in fact considering as we're still hopelessly mired in a recession that just wont end and my state has 10% unemployment as our company looms to cut costs of everything from daytime office lights to toilet paper, i could make a compelling argument that if i dont even have the budget for new CRAC filters, i damned sure dont have the budget for another lifeless battery sucking piece of half-hack competitionalist horse shit from redmond that will either die off completely in 2 years or cease to have any bearing on "productivity" in 3 weeks. I also dont have the manpower to support such a Utopian wireless dog turd, and i dont have the maintenance budget to replace it when someone leaves it in their car in the 110 deg. blistering desert summer heat.
  • While it would be nice if they could keep companies like Fujitsu in the slate market (they recently discontinued their Stylistic ST6000 line and HP/Compaq has yet to replace the TC1000/1100/1200 line), there are a couple of slates running (or which can run) Windows 7 available:

    http://www.motioncomputing.com/products/tablet_pc_J35.asp [motioncomputing.com]

    http://reviews.cnet.com/tablets/archos-9-pc-tablet/1805-3126_7-33800951.html [cnet.com]

    Unfortunately, the marketplace has mostly switched over to convertibles (pending the release of devic

  • I don't know what's there, but it can't possibly be worth the risk.
  • Microsoft, stop copying what apple does, and start doing it FIRST.

    The ideas are all out there. You just need the balls, marketing and design to pull it off.

  • Having used as my primary laptop a windows tablet for years, with several different tablets (not slates, like the iPad), having pen input, from it's own digital ink pen is super handy. Touchscreen, hell I have a crappy 10 inch HP from a couple years ago that does that, but it's a feature you wish it didn't have. It works fine (your finger replaces the mouse, simple, intuitive, easy to use, easy to understand), but you don't want to be handling your screen when you're using a pen. MS has all the technolog

  • I have to admit, I'm a little saddened by this latest proclamation from Redmond. It's just no fun to kick MCSFT anymore. Sure, they still make billions, most used OS, etc, etc. But does anybody really believe they can release a killer device? It seems for all of MCSFT's bluster and posturing, they repeatedly get kicked in the face by more agile, hipper, and forward thinking companies. How soon until MCSFT marketing goons start telling us that "Windows X.x is not your father's Windows?"

    It's like watching

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