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MS Global Strategy Chief: Tablets Are a Fad 643

Posted by samzenpus
from the 640K-ought-to-be-enough-for-anybody dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Wondering why Microsoft isn't jumping into the red-hot tablet market? Well, maybe it's because Craig Mundie, the man in charge of the company's global strategy, isn't sure if the 'big screen tablet pad category' has staying power. Of course, it's possible that tablets will go the way of the netbook, but blogger Chris Nerney calls Microsoft's seeming total inaction in the face of a hot market 'mind-boggling.'"
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MS Global Strategy Chief: Tablets Are a Fad

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  • by mangu (126918) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:00PM (#35668824)

    I'm waiting for an improved tablet. What I would like to see is a tablet with an attached keyboard. Let's say, a device where the tablet and keyboard are joined by a hinge, so that it can be closed while not in use.

    I think I'll patent that idea right now.

    • by gatkinso (15975) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:07PM (#35668942)

      Oh for the love of God Moderators!

      FUNNY dammit! FUNNY! NOT "Insightful."

      • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:11PM (#35669012)

        Insightful is the new Funny, because Funny gets you no Karma.

        This was decided years ago, by people not you.

        Hope this helps.

        --
        BMO

        • Re:Improved tablets (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:24PM (#35669238)

          The trick is to moderate "Underrated" if the comment already has a Funny moderation. Then they get karma but keep the Funny moderation.

        • by BuckaBooBob (635108) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:30PM (#35669322)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_XP_editions#Tablet_PC_Edition [wikipedia.org]

          Tablets are a FAD... They have been working on tablets since the late 90's... They have been pushing people towards them for ages... They even developed a special build of Windows XP for them...

          I think they got tired of banging the drum trying to get people to move to tablets because they missed the mark of what a tablet needs to be... or possibly just ahead of their time?

          This just might be that they cannot admit that the smart phone revolution brought the last few key elements into the picture to make a tablet device a success and they didn't realize it and don't want to admit it.

          • by Yvan256 (722131)

            The Newton was ahead of its time, Palm missed the boat on the media integration and hardware upgrades.

            Microsoft missed the mark by so much because they tried to cram their desktop OS onto a tablet computer.

            • Microsoft missed the mark by so much because they tried to cram their desktop OS onto a tablet computer.

              I take issue with this - I think Microsoft missed the mark by so much because they let branding drive all their decision making. A Windows tablet needed to have a Windows "Start" button and a recognizable Windows menu, for instance. Cramming their Desktop OS onto a tablet was considered a strategic move by them - and it ended up being one that failed miserably.

              I suspect the current issue over in Redmond is the same decision makers are still in charge, and they haven't wrapped their brains around what a colo

              • by i_b_don (1049110) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @05:05PM (#35671834)

                Let me rephrase what you said in a way that fits my view.

                Microsoft missed the mark because they tried to make a tablet a laptop light instead of a fundamentally different beast. They didn't redesign the UI to work better with a finger based input. Instead they put a layer on top of a keyboard/mouse based OS and made you move a mouse around with your finger, thus making it cumbersome and lame. /rephrasing

                What gets me though is how much people fail to realize the simple truth of a tablet, namely that a tablet's killer app is the internet. If you want to do real work, play games, type something, you want a laptop/desktop. If you're watching TV or movie, you want a TV. If you want to use the internet, something that is heavy on reading, watching and clicking but very light on typing, it's perfect for a tablet. I think MS made a big mistake in not also recognizing this and building their UI and OS around this fact.

                d

          • The one single thing wrong with tablets is - everyone knows what happens to a transparent surface when it's left open to the elements. It gets pitted, scratched, and ugly.

            There may be materials that get past that, but that's the perception, folks. They need a cover.

            They need to be isolated from dirty fingers, stray noodles, micrometeorites and orbital meatball impacts. Until the public thinks of clear screens as unbreakable, they'll need to think of them as disposable. That may be ideal from a suppli

        • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:42PM (#35669484)

          Insightful is the new Funny, because Funny gets you no Karma.

          This was decided years ago, by people not you.

          Hope this helps.

          --
          BMO

          I'm undoing a moderation by posting this.

          By using 'Insightful' instead of 'Funny' you are changing the tone of the post. The 'karma' they earn doesn't really buy them anything useful, but it does create confusion. The 'not-us' people who decided this were being thoughtless. STOP IT.

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:08PM (#35668962) Homepage

      My idea of an "improved tablet" is something that I can treat like a PC and be in full control over.

      I can print from it without any nonsense.
      I can move files on and off of it without any nonsense.
      I can run whatever apps I want without any nonsense.

      Plus, sometimes a puny SSD just doesn't cut it.

      • My "improved tablet" (Score:5, Interesting)

        by KingSkippus (799657) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:33PM (#35669374) Homepage Journal

        My idea of an "improved tablet" is one on which web sites cannot distinguish the fact that I'm accessing it on a tablet so that I won't get any more "We're sorry, but we don't have the content rights to display this on mobile devices" messages. Until that happens, I will always consider a tablet as a deliberately gimped PC. (That is typically actually more expensive than a PC.)

      • by RingDev (879105)

        In addition, for a total business solution tablet system I want all those AND:
        Wrapped in a nice leather day planner
        A full color high performance touch screen on the left (near 8x11 size)
        An E-Ink display on the right (near 8x11 size) that can take stylus input.
        Integrated extended/replacable battery in the spine
        USB and HDMI connections (in and out)

        I want to be able to take it to presentations and plug into the projector while taking notes. I want to be able to review spec docs while flying to project sites. I

      • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:42PM (#35670224)

        My idea of an "improved tablet" is something that I can treat like a PC and be in full control over.

        I can print from it without any nonsense.
        I can move files on and off of it without any nonsense.
        I can run whatever apps I want without any nonsense.

        Plus, sometimes a puny SSD just doesn't cut it.

        How many TabletPCs did you end up buying over the last 7 years?

      • by shadowrat (1069614) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:04PM (#35670492)
        Many people's idea of an improved pc seems to be something that doesn't offer them too many options or a confusing file system. They just want something that shows them pictures within seconds of picking it up.
      • Re:Improved tablets (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:18PM (#35670660) Homepage

        I don't think "tablets" are going to die outright, but I do think they're a passing fad (much in the same way as most things, including the "HPCs" in the early 2000s or Palms or anything else leading up to now).

        Basically, like the netbook, they're a stepping stone.

        Netbooks proved that such a small, mobile - yet featureful - platform was possible. Tablets are now proving that the touchscreen UI is possible to maintain and useful to people (or, at least, we'll see that in a financial quarter or two, I suspect). Smartphones are doing the same thing too, really: the only difference is porn and other movies are better on your tablet. :P

        Personally, I think we're about 2-5 years away from a 'device convergence'. We've got the smartphones, tablets, netbooks, desktops, etc. - and we've got a number of devices which play between the lines (Google's 'laptop', thinclients, tablets with attachable keyboards, etc.)

        How long until we're seeing a "computer" for sale from a major manufacturer which is fully componentized for modular use? By that I mean something like:

        * at its most reduced, it's a smartphone.
        * it can be inserted into the back of a larger display, making it a tablet
        * it can then be clipped to a keyboard chassis and used as a netbook
        * it can be dropped in a station, giving it discreet graphics, added storage and more RAM - allowing your contacts, games, etc. to still be available and playable on a "different device/platform".

        Honestly, I suspect Apple is moving this direction right now, with the rumor that OSX is on its last legs, the popularity of games on Apple's store, and so on. Each of these things have been more-or-less implemented, by one hardware manufacturer or another, in the past couple of years on their own (dual video chips on Lenovo laptops, the detachable/clip screens on a couple netbooks, the perpetual 'laptop dock', etc.) and improvements in x86-64 mobile processors/architecture/bios makes such a prospect all the more realizable. If a company were to mass-produce such a 'platform' I have no doubt it'd be immensely popular with geeks ("we can put windows/os x/linux/android on it") and consumers ('ooo another apple product') alike.

      • by tgd (2822)

        Well, you can buy those running Windows now. Or buy them and run Linux. Whatever.

        Tablets existed LONG before Apple. They even ran Windows. Post-iPAD tablets are released all the time. You want rugged? Its there. You want built-in bar code scanners? There. Digitizers instead of touch? Yup, you can get them. Digitizers AND touch? EEE has one coming.

        Win7 runs like a champ on them, especially if they are pen and not touch based. Touch works, but nevermind that touch-based PCs have been around for ages (HP sells

    • What I would like to see is a tablet with an attached keyboard. Let's say, a device where the tablet and keyboard are joined by a hinge, so that it can be closed while not in use.

      Too late to patent since you can already buy any number [tcgeeks.com] of keyboard cases for the iPad.

      What do they all have in common? They join the tablet with a keyboard in a case you can close.

      Only with these you have the option to take just the screen with you if you like, unlike the ancient inflexible devices known as "laptops".

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Did netbooks go somewhere...?

      Last time I looked the shops were full of them

    • Re:Improved tablets (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HermMunster (972336) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:16PM (#35670646)

      Any entrenched market leader will always claim anything different and competitive is a fad. Travel by train was supplanted by air travel. That was claimed to be a fad. The horse and buggy businesses claimed the automobile was a fad. Radio claimed TV was a fad. The Bells all claimed the cellphone was a fad. Now the company entrenched as the market leader for operating systems for computers is claiming the same of tablets (of which they have nearly no offerings). I'm sure they are watching the market for tablets pass by as companies swerve to avoid their OS on that platform (I seriously hope we don't get trapped by vendor lock-in the way we have with the Windows platform). The fact of the matter is, just because Microsoft can't make a tablet OS that anyone wants doesn't mean that the market for these devices won't exist for a very long time and have significant utility.

      The problem with tablets is that everyone wants one but no one can afford them. The Apple product is far too restrictive and the price is very high over the long haul, being consumers are locked into their Apple walled garden (similar to cell phone contracts--phones are cheap but when combined with contracts the cost is exorbitant). Tablet PCs are significantly cheaper to "design" than PCs once you have your first model. Anything after that is incredibly inexpensive as the thermal design set, the engineering and art are complete. Right now the tablet market is trying to suck as much money out everyone for a series of products that will be incredibly cheap in the future even though it's extremely cheap for them to design and build them today.

    • by ZorinLynx (31751)

      I realize this is a joke, but...

      Tablets like the iPad are great for casual computing.

      Some examples of casual computing:

      - Checking how your stocks are doing
      - Randomly looking up something on Wikipedia to settle an argument with your friend/spouse while sitting on the couch watching a movie
      - "Oh I should show you those photos!"
      - Catching up on the latest news while still lying in bed in the morning

      In all these situations, it's easier to grab a tablet, push a button to turn it on, and have it immediately avail

  • Netbooks shot way up then crashed. Tablets? We'll see. The one thing that tablet has for it that the netbooks didn't is the iProduct base
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chemicaldave (1776600)
      And the iProduct marketing
    • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:10PM (#35668990)

      Netbooks crashed primarily because of MS and the manufacturers got featuritis. Netbooks aren't really sold anymore, I'm not really sure that there is a lack of demand, but as long as nobody is selling a cheap, ultramobile device, it's really hard for demand to develop and be sustained.

      I've got an Asus netbook, and apart from the battery life, I love the thing, it's big enough to type on, but small enough to be readily portable. But, then again, it doesn't run Windows, and MS expects to get a share of any netbook sales.

      • Other theories (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:19PM (#35669156)

        Netbooks crashed primarily because of MS and the manufacturers got featuritis.

        Of course it's totally a coincidence the Netbook market dies around the same time the iPad was released.

        No relation here, no-sir.

        • Re:Other theories (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Riceballsan (816702) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:32PM (#35669360)
          IMO netbooks weren't killed by the IPad directly, they died because they went the same route as the IPad. I'm no expert on the subject beyond that I happened to be working at staples durring the rise and fall of netbooks, and I can tell you why they stopped selling at the store I worked in. Durring the peak, the store carried 3 netbooks, acer 1 which depending on the sale of the week was between $150 and $200 weak processor 1gb ram if I recall, then a HP and a dell netbook that were $350-$400. The acer ones sold like hotcakes because for the most part people wanted a weak cheap PC for taking notes, ultra portability was a side effect. The $300+ netbooks, I never saw one sell, primarally because any application that extra speed and power would be wanted, is an application that you should spend those 300+ on a laptop and see it on a screen larger then 10". Eventually the acer 1 stopped being carried and all netbooks that were in the store were the same price as the laptops. I never saw another one get sold, then a month later the IPad came out and everyone attributed that to the death of netbooks. Honestly I think netbooks killed themselves by failing to see their own selling point, then trying to compeat on the wrong selling point.
          • by aussersterne (212916) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:31PM (#35670110) Homepage

            is a "laptop lite" and for us the primary selling point was in fact the sub-$200 price. It's a Damned Cheap Computer and that's why you buy one—because they're essentially disposable laptops but with adequate performance for most uses. Then you don't mind tossing them in a bag, taking them to the beach, using them on bouncy train rides with the screen hinge flopping, etc.

            They can be used in all the places you don't want to risk your much more expensive laptop, and the small size that the constraint of small price imposed was just a bonus. No way I'd pay $300+ for a netbook, but our second netbook was recently acquired on eBay for $75. We didn't mind that it only had a sub-Ghz celeron processor, 512MB of memory, and a smallish hard drive. It runs the latest web browsers fine, and that's all that matters.

        • Re:Other theories (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mini me (132455) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:37PM (#35669426)

          Are you suggesting that software played no part in it?

          Linux on the tablet was popular early on, but by the time the iPad came to market, Microsoft owned virtually all the netbook market. Say what you want about Windows, but it was never designed for a small device. The Linux-based ones were at least trying different things. Then came the iPad with an operating system that was designed specifically for the form factor which housed it.

          As good as Apple's marketing is, people generally do not choose Apple over Microsoft when it comes to general purpose computers. The iPad had to be something special to pull people away from their Windows-running Netbooks. If the Netbook players would have designed an OS specifically for the Netbook form, I am thinking the outcome may have been different. The iPad still would have been successful, but perhaps the Netbook would have remained a player.

          • I agree with your line of thought, but it seems like even had more netbook makers stuck with Linux it still would have been a hard matchup against the iPad which was a more polished Windows alternative on a small device.

            I'm not even saying the iPad was the only factor, just that I think it was a factor. Going back to your point I think one of the reasons why netbook makers moved away from Linux is because they wanted something more polished to compete against the iPad and the only thing they could think of

            • by yuna49 (905461) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:39PM (#35670200)

              Asian manufacturers like Acer and ASUS starting releasing netbooks with versions of Linux on them because it wasn't possible to run Vista effectively on machines with first-generation Atom processors. They couldn't install WinXP on those machines because it had already reached its end-of-life, and MS wanted everyone to move to Vista. MS's partners like Dell and HP wanted nothing to do with netbooks because they feared, rightly I suspect, that these devices would erode the market for their more powerful laptops.

              All that changed the day MS decided to extend WinXP licensing solely for netbooks. To protect its partners, MS imposed strict limitations on this license. "Netbooks" were defined by the screen size and limited to 1 GB of memory. Bigger screens or more memory meant no WinXP. Since Microsoft knew it was competing against a product that was free-of-charge, it dropped its OEM price for WinXP on qualifying netbooks to a mere $15 per copy [techreport.com], compared to four or five times that figure for OEM copies of Windows on laptop and desktop machines. Later they developed the crippled "Starter Edition" of Windows 7 to serve the same market and again charged hardly anything for it. It doesn't require a conspiracy theorist to see that these strategies were designed entirely to keep Linux off machines that might end up in the hands of ordinary people.

              Well you can imagine what happened after that. The Dells and HPs of the world saw there was a demand for netbooks and began competing with the Acers of the world. People who wandered into Staples or BestBuy suddenly saw small form-factor devices with friendly old XP on them competing with systems offering some flavor of Linux with an unfamiliar UI. Guess which ones sold? Guess which OS comes with netbooks from Acer and ASUS these days?

              Nowadays netbooks have 10" and 12" screens and often 2GB of memory. Which operating system are they running? Usually Win7 Home Premium. How much does it cost the OEMs to license that OS? A lot more than $15/copy I'm sure. The higher license fee pushed up the price of netbooks so they're no longer so price-competitive compared to low-end laptops. Dell and HP breathed a sigh of relief.

              All this happened years before anyone ever touched an iPad.

          • Re:Other theories (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Locutus (9039) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:45PM (#35670276)
            this is why Microsoft must state that the tablets are a fad. They still have no OS to compete on the hardware and they have Apple to thank for a hardware base and software base to be compared to. They must say it's a fad because they have no excuse but the obvious to explain to investors why they are not in the market. IMO

            LoB
    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:11PM (#35669014) Homepage

      Netbooks are laptops with a smaller form factor.
      Tablets are smart phones in a bigger form factor.

      It appears that size does matter, but in what context is anyone's guess.

      • by Black Art (3335)

        The iPad is an upscaled iPod Touch with two really big batteries and a bigger screen. (Take a look at the pictures of a disassembled iPad if you don't believe me.)

        Most other tablets are just flat netbooks with a touchscreen instead of a keyboard.

    • by Manip (656104) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:12PM (#35669028)
      No they didn't. Netbooks are all around us. I see people using the little laptops all the time, and the sales of devices like the Macbook Air seem strong. Netbooks and Tablets are absolutely running a trend roller-coaster, but when the ride finishes I still expect to see them as strong contenders in the marketplace.

      The reason why Tablets failed before was that they simply didn't make sense. The OS was terrible (Windows lolwat?), the hardware was big and bulky, the battery life was scary, and the touch screens weren't responsive. Contrast everything I just said with a iPad 2011.

      I think dedicated eBook Readers will die. Laptops and Netbooks will continue to merge closer and closer. Tablets and Phones might also merge even more. Ultimately however I think touch screen devices of some form-factor will survive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Locke2005 (849178)
        Netbooks were killed by the simple fact that I can now get a full-size notebook for $350, so why would I want a DVD-less netbook for the same price?
        • Netbooks were killed by the simple fact that I can now get a full-size notebook for $350, so why would I want a DVD-less netbook for the same price?

          B/C cost is not always the sole selling point for everyones needs.

      • by Rary (566291)

        Dedicated eBook Readers serve a purpose that no other device can match, due to their e-ink screens (way easier on the eyes, especially in poor light, and uses hardly any battery power). Unless tablet makers figure out how to have a regular tablet screen that can also become an e-ink screen when needed, I don't see tablets wiping out eBook Readers anytime.

        Tablets, on the other hand, well, I haven't quite figured out yet what purpose they serve. I've seen them used in certain business settings (hospitals, for

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:16PM (#35669092)

      Only because no one sells them anymore. They kept getting bigger and added spinning disks. I love my dell mini 9, but have no idea what to replace it with other than maybe a macbook air. I am going to be wiping the OS no matter what route I go. I want light, small, and do not want any moving parts. I will use it attached to a real monitor and real keyboard when at work and do any and all heavy lifting on servers.

  • Agreed (Score:5, Funny)

    by transfatfree (1920462) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:01PM (#35668842)

    Wholeheartedly Agree with Microsoft.

    I now fear comment retribution..

    • by arikol (728226)

      nahhhh
      Tablets are fun and cool (if done well) but they have yet to prove their usefulness.
      When or if they do that then we can agree that the form factor is here to stay

    • Re:Agreed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by oakgrove (845019) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @04:15PM (#35671298)
      Sitting here browsing and posting this on my Xoom, I couldn't disagree more. Let's see, no heat, phenomenal battery life, extremely lightweight, intuitive touch based OS and on and on. Since getting my Xoom, my net book has barely come out of the case and my desktop is collecting dust. It does practically everything my regular computer does and most of it a whole lot better. I even hack on little python scripts with it thanks to the scriptng layer for android. And this is a first generation product. I f-ing love this thing. This guy needs to put the pipe down and step away.

      Android and iOS are coming for Microsoft,and their monopoly profits like twin freight trains. Of course, when you're paid to ignore reality...

  • by ustolemyname (1301665) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:01PM (#35668844)
    Didn't they something similar about the internet? Made MSN instead? Ended up trying to copy what AOL was doing, and we all know since AOL stocks are worth a fortune these days that must have been a great idea.

    Looking at windows phone 7 & the x-box (kinect), the company can execute well, but they really need some vision for future markets to get ahead of the curve. Seriously, 18 months ago WP7 would have crushed android. Now? Nothing.
    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:34PM (#35669378) Homepage Journal

      Actually a better paralle was Digital Equipment Corp. When micro computers started to become popular DEC just didn't see the point. The would rather make real profits selling minicomputers. People where still paying big bucks for PDP-11s DEC System 20s and the hot new VAX. By the time DEC produced the Rainbow it was too little too late. Microsoft looks to be in the same mindset.
      I wounder how Microsoft will feel when RIM buys them and then HP buys RIM?

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:02PM (#35669794) Homepage Journal

      How can anyone take what Microsoft says seriously?

      They keep trying to barge into everyone's market and often fail, largely because they just don't get it - they don't understand the market, the product or the customers, but march in with their own Microsoft Brand and PR bandwagon going full-tilt, withdrawing quietly after a few years of marginal success or outright failure.

      XBox is about the only thing they have going, but that didn't come cheaply and the one thing I know from decades as a video gamer - gamers are NOT loyal - as soon as a newer, better game shows up they're off to that platform and the old one is pushed to the back of the closet or flogged on eBay for what they can get.

      Take away the revenues generated by The Windows Tax, Office software and Servers and they'd have gone bust a decade ago, with all the other phonus balonus dot coms and all their hubris about reshaping the world.

      The one innovation which eludes Microsoft is getting their operating system off the home-brew legacy throttled model it has always been on. It may look glossy, but it's a cow, with security holes galore and all the important things users need to know safely buried in obscurity. At least Apple realized Mac OS was becoming a painfully large snowball to support and switched to a better model. The next version of Windows will again be completely unnecessary and try to copy everything Google has been doing, which will make it a real pain for desktop apps.

  • by Ardaen (1099611) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:02PM (#35668850)
    So, sitting here in a public establishment I look around and see 1 laptop and 5 netbooks... Since when have netbooks gone anywhere?
  • Possibly correct (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arikol (728226) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:02PM (#35668856) Journal

    He is possibly correct.
    Meanwhile, some others (notably Apple) are riding that bubble like the silver surfer and making money by the crate load.

    So Microsoft's goal is NOT to make money from new tech?
    Even if it is a bubble Microsoft shows its corporate vision (or lack thereof) in this.

    Kind of sad because this is the same company that made the Kinect not so long ago, showing that not everybody at Microsoft lacks vision.

    • by bmo (77928)

      Microsoft's myopia was even evident in the Kinect - that it was a gaming only device and should "never be connected to a real computer"

      They very nearly went the way of Sony in this regard, but eventually saw the light.

      --
      BMO

    • by rho180 (1057712) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:35PM (#35669400)
      It's hardly a controversial stance to take that tablets are a triumph of form over function, something that (in many people's minds) Apple excels at, and Microsoft does not. If they charged full force into the tablet market, we'd probably all be talking about their hubris in thinking they could avoid Zune the sequel. Publicly downplaying the importance of the tablet market may not be a case of shortsightedness so much as a recognition that they don't have the chops to beat Apple and Google in the tablet market and are merely saving face. As far as Kinect, the article makes it look like Microsoft is still quite bullish on that technology. Focusing on things like Kinect while letting Apple and Google fight over tablets doesn't strike me as being an unreasonable corporate strategy.
    • Re:Possibly correct (Score:5, Informative)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:35PM (#35669412)

      Well if Mundie is correct, then his company spent the last ten years or so blowing their money on making a fad product. People seem to forget that Bill Gates himself championed their use. You can get a Windows tablet today probably. What Mundie really means to say is that Apple's vision of a tablet (which is different than MS) is a fad.

      Really it sounds like sour grapes. Since 2001, MS has been trying to sell tablets. Tablets were slightly modified laptops with a stylus pen and a touch screen instead of a mouse. They never sold very well due to many factors. They were more expensive than laptops. MS never really optimized their OS for touch. They just swapped out the mouse for the stylus and called it done. They however would run Windows apps but offered few advantages over a cheaper laptop.

      So here comes Apple with their tablet. Really, the iPad is just a giant iPod Touch. What MS never understood is that is what consumers wanted in a tablet. If consumers wanted laptop functionality they would have bought a laptop. What consumers wanted was a portable way of web surfing, email, etc. The laptop or MS tablet or smart phone were the only devices available. When Apple gives them another option, consumers responded and in 6 months, Apple sold more tablets than MS did in 9 years. That must burn MS.

  • by thomasdz (178114) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:02PM (#35668858)

    It took until Windows 95 until Microsoft decided that the whole "Internet fad" thing perhaps, just maybe had some legs.... meanwhile, many techies had been on the Internet since 1988 and on the World Wide Web since 1993.

  • They can't compete (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hijacked Public (999535) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:03PM (#35668872)

    It should be obvious by now that Microsoft is incapable of competing with Android and iOS whether on the phone or the tablet. Much less get into the game with something great enough it makes up for their tardiness.

    The only strategy left is to hope it all goes away soon, and denegrating that part of the market is the only commentary they can make to help that along.

    Look on the bright side MS, at least the standalone digital music player market is shrinking.

    • by Solandri (704621)

      The only strategy left is to hope it all goes away soon, and denegrating that part of the market is the only commentary they can make to help that along.

      Kinda reminds me of Gates dismissing the Internet as a passing fad, and refusing to put a TCP/IP stack in Windows 3.1. He bet on subscription-based walled gardens like AOL and CompuServe, setting up MSN based on that model.

  • it is portable and even has a full keyboard. It is a clamshell design and it protects the screen when you close it.
  • I don't have a keyboard-free laptop and don't plan to get one, but this is just sad really. What self-respecting company would pass up the chance to over-charge gullible consumers and make bazillions of dollars? It makes me wonder if M$ might be entering some long, slow death spiral. I'm imagining they have been entirely drained of all the dynamic, daring innovators who all defected to Google and Facebook and the only employees left are the boring, fearful, lifer types who just want to keep punching the cl

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmaiWELTYl.com minus author> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:04PM (#35668886) Journal

    Now that somebody at Microsoft has said tablets are a fad, they're going to be around forever.

    Here is a Microsoft prediction to real-life consequence translation table:

    X is a fad = X is going to be a fixture in the future of computer technology

    X ought to be enough for everyone = X is going to look very insignificant very fast

    X infinges on our patents = X is a major threat to us

    X (said 36 times in a row) = X is going to start migrating away from us

  • by DavidR1991 (1047748) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:04PM (#35668896) Homepage

    I think there is a world market for maybe five tablets.

  • by jpapon (1877296) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:04PM (#35668898) Journal
    Aren't fads how most businesses make their money? I mean, if the things consumers bought weren't fads, they wouldn't need to buy new ones very often, would they?
  • MS Hardware (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:07PM (#35668954)
    I don't think MS knows how to be a hardware company. I'm typing on an MS ergo keyboard, which I like, and I guess we can call Xbox/Xbox 360 a success. However, they have way more failures than I can count. They also aren't very good at providing software support for the new directions hardware takes. They're always playing catchup.
  • I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:08PM (#35668968)
    I'm inclined to agree. I have some coworkers with iPads, and they're starting to not carry them to meetings in favor of a PaperPad and a pen. They're either awkward to view (too horizontal), or too awkward to type on (too vertical with a case-stand). They're nice for playing angry birds during meetings though.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They failed with their tablets ~10 years ago...

    They failed again with their tablets a few years ago then they attached legs to them and failed to sell them as tables...

    Microsoft should stick to defending their monopoly and destruction of other companies (Nokia)... It's the only thing they're good at...

  • Wat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enry (630) <`enry' `at' `wayga.net'> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:09PM (#35668978) Journal

    Microsoft effectively killed the netbook when they quit releasing versions of XP and forced everyone to move to Windows 7, which had higher memory and drive requirements. By the time you were done with a system that could run Windows 7 well, it wasn't that much cheaper than a regular laptop.

    Tablets don't need to run a Microsoft OS. Apple and Google (and now Amazon) are showing you don't need to have a local PC to do most of the work you do with smartphones and tablets.

    • by Solandri (704621)

      Microsoft effectively killed the netbook when they quit releasing versions of XP and forced everyone to move to Windows 7, which had higher memory and drive requirements. By the time you were done with a system that could run Windows 7 well, it wasn't that much cheaper than a regular laptop.

      You'll also notice that Windows-based netbooks are dying, but the market niche they abandoned when they switched to Windows - a simplified device which runs just a few core apps like browser, email, video/music player,

  • Obviously, we will never need more than 640k (he says as he types on a 1000 Gbps line, not using his quad-core machine with 8GB DDR3) and the Net is a fad too.

    Here's a clue stick - Government Computer News shows about half of all government devices purchased are expected to be tablets like the iPad, iPad2, and iPad3.

    Adapt or die.

  • No surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wazzzup (172351) <.astromac. .at. .fastmail.fm.> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:14PM (#35669056)

    I'm guessing it's because Microsoft doesn't have a touch-based UI for Windows that they're saying tablets are a fad. They thought the same about the internet and portable mp3 players too. Yes, they had tablet PC's long before others but it was a barely-modified version of XP that simply replaced a mouse with a stylus - it wasn't the same.

    They'll get into the market as soon as they can cobble together a "good enough" touch-based UI for Windows and then leave it about 5 years later when they realize they aren't making any headway against already well-entrenched Android and iOS markets.

    The Microsoft-dominated era is over unless they can figure out a way to execute at least as well as their rivals.

  • by guidryp (702488) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:18PM (#35669110)

    This seems odd, since Microsoft has been trying to get people into tablets for about 10 years. UMPC/Slates/Etc. I remember this was a keynote item for Bill Gates.

    Now someone else actually makes a success out of it, and it's a fad?

    That seems like the very definition of sour grapes.

  • Wait. What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hduff (570443) <hoytduff&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:32PM (#35669366) Homepage Journal

    Netbooks are fad?

    I still use mine all the time.

    Or maybe just MS netbooks were fads? Mine runs Linux.

    [enjoy warm, smug glow]

  • by thsths (31372) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:38PM (#35669444)

    that they are not getting better. The new Atoms are just as underpowered as the old ones. They lack most of the features of a modern CPU. They still have no gigabit ethernet, no USB3, no eSATA, no decent horizontal resolution. And Windows 7 Starter is even worse than Windows XP Home.

    As a consequence, everybody who wanted a netbook has one, but there is no incentive to upgrade. They will sell again once they get better.

  • by v1 (525388) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:52PM (#35669650) Homepage Journal

    If you look back at MS's history, they generally try to downplay any new innovation they aren't actively in the market with. Smartphones, music players, tablet PCs, etc.

    They don't have a tablet (at least not for sale or for show) so they're going to call it a "fad" and hope that keeps buyers from getting one and getting branded on it.

    In the meanwhile their R&D department will be mad busy with their photocopiers, trying to make an "improved variation" on whatever they're labeling as a fad. No one believes them, but they're convinced that by simply making the statement, that somehow everyone will believe them and not create a market for the product, giving them time to scramble and rush something out the door in time to catch the wave.

    18 months later they will suddenly stop calling it a fad and announce their new product, with surprisingly familiar looking features, plus a ton of additional bloat. Many months later, after delays, price increases, even more bloat, and cutting of key features that were pushed hard in the initial announcement, product will hit the stores. MS will announces this new product will "revolutionize" the market.

    Despite outrageous amounts of funding and marketing, it will still bomb because the market has already been captured several years ago by what they were unsuccessful at downplaying as a "fad", it doesn't work like consumers are now expecting it to (even if some features may even work better than their ancestor in the market), is clumsy to use, and few will buy it.

    After losing their shirts in a spectacular show of bad retail, someone will then get a clue and less than 6 months after product launch, an announcement will be made that the product has been discontinued. No official numbers will be given as to how much the fiasco cost the company, but inside sources will whisper tales of massive financial loss.

  • by goffster (1104287) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:05PM (#35669836)

    The truth of the matter is that Microsoft can not make an ipad-like object without screwing it up in someway.
    (Either marketing, pricing, licensing, or bad design)

    It takes vision that spans all 4 of these areas.

    And they know it. They are completely relegated to XBOX and MS Word.

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