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Microsoft Handhelds

MS Global Strategy Chief: Tablets Are a Fad 643

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 ustolemyname ( 1301665 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:01PM (#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 thomasdz ( 178114 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:02PM (#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 @02:03PM (#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 GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:04PM (#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 gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:07PM (#35668942)

    Oh for the love of God Moderators!

    FUNNY dammit! FUNNY! NOT "Insightful."

  • MS Hardware (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:07PM (#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.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:08PM (#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.

  • by chemicaldave ( 1776600 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:08PM (#35668972)
    And the iProduct marketing
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:09PM (#35668974)

    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 ) <enryNO@SPAMwayga.net> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:09PM (#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 hedwards ( 940851 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:10PM (#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.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:11PM (#35669012)

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

    This was decided years ago, by people not you.

    Hope this helps.


  • by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:11PM (#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 Manip ( 656104 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:12PM (#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.
  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:16PM (#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.

  • by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:17PM (#35669100) Homepage
    As is typical of Microsoft, their research and engineering folks do some really cool stuff. Their real weakness is in every single person between those departments and what gets sold as a product.

    Surface, the Courier, Kinect (the full list is quite long)... they really do make some cool stuff, and often well ahead of the competition. It just seems like the suits there are actively doing everything they can to stop MS from actually bringing anything cool to market. Boggles the mind, really.
  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:18PM (#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.

  • Other theories (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:19PM (#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.

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:28PM (#35669282)
    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?
  • by BuckaBooBob ( 635108 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:30PM (#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 rho180 ( 1057712 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:35PM (#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.
  • by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:52PM (#35669630)

    Mod parent down, then mod this funny.

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:52PM (#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 ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:02PM (#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 bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:18PM (#35669972)

    The best humor always has a grain of truth behind it. The originating post was funny on multiple levels, and insightful. It wasn't a fart joke. Rather it even brought up (sarcastically) the issue of patents, which made it funnier.

    Modding insightful is justified.

    *looks at your UID*

    Get off my lawn. Don't tell me how to mod posts, kid.


  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:24PM (#35670026) Homepage Journal
    Good jokes are always insightful at heart, and only superficially funny.
  • by TheEyes ( 1686556 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:29PM (#35670086)

    HP dmz1 I believe is basically a netbook. Uses the AMD Fusion processor.

    I have one of these, and I love it. It cost less than half what my brother paid for his Envy 14, and it does almost everything I want it to while I'm on the bus or traveling around. 3.5 pounds, 11.6-inch screen, surprisingly comfortable keyboard, all for around $400.

    IMO the real reason netbooks have lost is because Atom sucks so hard that it needs separate dedicated hardware to even play HD video. Netbooks were being compared to real computers, and kept coming up short. The new AMD Zacate-based netbooks (or notbooks or whatever you want to call them) are what netbooks should have been in 2009-2010: usable performance, paired with superior battery life and mobility. Nobody expects something that looks like a laptop from 2011 but performs like a laptop from 2002; it just feels slow.

    In contrast, the iPad could get away with dirt-poor performance because everyone was comparing it to a smartphone or an iPod Touch. These devices also have dirt-poor performance, but that's okay because it's what you expected from something so small. It's all about managing expectations and expected markets: if you think of the iPad as a really small and lightweight computer then you'll be disappointed by how slow and limited it is, but if you think of it as a giant iPod then it comes out looking pretty good. The difference between netbooks and iPads basically comes down to the former trying to buy a laptop and being disappointed by the Atom's sluggishness, and the later trying to buy an mp3 player and being surprised at everything else it can do.

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:31PM (#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.

  • by yuna49 ( 905461 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:39PM (#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.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:42PM (#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?

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

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:45PM (#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

  • by shadowrat ( 1069614 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @04:04PM (#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.
  • by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @05:18PM (#35671330) Journal

    More features usually means less well developed features which means worse.

    Just bullet points are NEVER a consideration for better.

    Apple takes it's time to develop the next generation of features well. Most/all other companies just don't get that.

  • by i_b_don ( 1049110 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @06:05PM (#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.


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