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Ballmer Says Microsoft Is 'Hardcore' About Tablets

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the leading-from-the-back dept.

Microsoft 324

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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324 comments

Still want Courier (3, Insightful)

SquarePixel (1851068) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Still want Courier (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878086)

Cool story, brah. Don't mind me while I'm plowing your mom.

Re:Still want Courier (1)

casings (257363) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878126)

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.

Re:Still want Courier (0, Troll)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878326)

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.

I know you are trolling, but I have a response: I read a lot. In fact, I have very little reading downtime throughout the day. Whether it be email, IM, magazine, SMS, and you know... books.

I can easily say that I find reading a book the most comfortable form to read from. There really is no beating ambient light for comfortable reading. Back-light and e-ink technology have a lot of advancements to make before they compare to simple paper and ink (purely from a reading comfort point of view).

saying "books in our hands for hundreds of years" is just plain wrong AND not to mention completely meaningless

Citation needed. Clarification needed. Is English plain wrong AND completely meaningless?

I would certainly find an instantaneous thought translator/communicator more useful and efficient, but we puny humans currently lack such fanciful technology. As such, I must make do with my slow speed of spoken or written communication to share ideas with my fellow man.

Re:Still want Courier (2, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878468)

Chump, it is not about reading books it is about writing books. Computers, them things are meant to be interactive, like inputs and outputs, you know. So form factor wise touch screen means hold in one hand with input by the other hand, so palm up spread fingers and thumb and that gap between fingers and thumbs partially clenching defines comfortable screen width, with one proviso, you must be able to park it comfortably in a pocket ie. the best tablet is a smart phone (add a keyboard for two handed thumb typing).

Tablets have been hyped and died for the last decade, form factor kills their usability and drop factor tends to kill of any remaining desirability (the bigger it is the more likely you are to drop it and of course the more expensive it will be).

Re:Still want Courier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878622)

Tablets have been hyped and died for the last decade, form factor kills their usability and drop factor tends to kill of any remaining desirability (the bigger it is the more likely you are to drop it and of course the more expensive it will be).

How weird; between my not-big smart phone and my quite-big automobile, I have to say I have dropped my smartphone several more times than I have dropped my automobile.

Re:Still want Courier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878672)

Okay, here's my devil's-advocate interpretation: It's "wrong" because literacy and books were only widespread relatively recently (a couple hundred, sure, but before that?). It's meaningless because we haven't had much better technology than books before, so it's foolish to argue that "this is the way we've always done it". Pages are probably the best-optimized form of condensing corporeal information into cubic space, and books are probably the best-optimized form of organizing pages for long-term use (as opposed to newspapers, or flipping them over the top, whatever). But information is no longer corporeal, and it can be put into literally any shape; there may be better optimizations now.

Re:Still want Courier (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878710)

>>>I can easily say that I find reading a book the most comfortable form to read from.

I believe you. The problem is whether or not the masses would agree, and buy the two-screen Courier. I suspect not, especially since most people in the desired demographic 15-35 grew up with single screen reading.

As for the comfort of actual books, the 800 page tome I'm reading now (Best Science Fiction of the Year, 11th edition, 1993) is anything but comfortable. I wish I could find an electronic version so I could read it on my PC or an e-reader.

Re:Still want Courier (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878812)

The argument is an evolutionary one suggesting that we've adapted to books. That's an idiotic thing to say and requires no citations (because it's common knowledge that only books evolved in the last few centuries, not the fingers of all humans), especially considering the original poster bears the burden of proof.

If anyone is trolling, it's more likely you. If you're trying to be a grammar Nazi you have to do better than just accuse someone of being wrong. Otherwise you're just an ass, which you've clearly demonstrated in other ways. To name one, you made the debate about your implied superior self and about reading whereas SquarePixel and casings were talking about holding them.

Books are great but not ideal in this regard, regardless of how primitive e-readers may be. You may have no problem with them but I'm not that old and I already have trouble at times. Spines force books closed requiring fingers to constantly struggle to keep them open, which can be very difficult or impossible to someone with weak fingers (or without fingers). As we're living longer than we did centuries ago, books are actually becoming less useful. Any light tablet removes this problem which is more important to some people than ambient light. Cookbooks are a great example where even the young and able could benefit: it would be better if you didn't have to place a heavy object on them or buy a stand.

Re:Still want Courier (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878212)

You sure sound a lot like that cretinous kook "sopssa" who posted here until recently. Are you him?

We've held something else too (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878402)

It's seriously the only tablet I would feel comfortable to hold and use. A hard single surface tablet is not nice to hold

Anyone who has ever used a pad of paper disagrees with you.

Also the book form factor is awkward to work with while you are holding it - you have to lay it flat to make it usable. Not a good idea for a tablet you'd want to carry.

Re:Still want Courier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878502)

You do realize, don't you, that thousands of years before we had books, the intuitive thing to read off of was ... a tablet?

Get ready for.... (5, Funny)

the_one_wesp (1785252) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878080)

Tablets, Tablets, Tablets, Tablets!!!!!

Re:Get ready for.... (1)

arndawg (1468629) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878104)

another synonym (spell-check needed) would be pills, pills, pills, pills!

Re:Get ready for.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878470)

Peeeelz here?

Re:Get ready for.... (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878572)

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*

ruggedized? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878098)

Will the tablets be ruggedized so they can withstand being thrown across the room by Ballmer when they end up languishing on store shelves next to the unsold Zunes?

Re:ruggedized? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878122)

Yes, they'll also have fold-out legs and be convertible to a chair, to maintain the proper form factor for a good toss.

Sure (-1, Troll)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878124)

But are they Sasha Grey throat-gag hard core? Because I'm not into the soft shit. I want to see Microsoft throttled by the Apple/Google stunt cock.

Re:Sure (-1, Offtopic)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878232)

LOL at the troll mod. Who am I trolling exactly?

Take your emotion chip out "Data", the humor module is malfunctioning.

Re:Sure (-1, Flamebait)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878376)

Keep spending wasting those mod points idiots. I've been posting here at +2 for 10 fucking years and even if I got a life ban I could give two shits. This site needs me, not the other way around.

Re:Sure (-1, Offtopic)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878628)

Eventually you'll run out of points asshole. That's when I'll post my EPIC TRILOGY of hate.

Re:Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878704)

Keep spending wasting those mod points idiots.

You need to give mommy back her computer. Oh, and be sure to tell her you're not old enough to use it yet.

I've been posting here at +2 for 10 fucking years

*shrug* That's nice - want a cookie?

and even if I got a life ban I could give two shits. This site needs me, not the other way around.

Agreed. It would be a shame to see such entertainment banned.

That's when I'll post my EPIC TRILOGY of hate.

That's when the rest of us will... fall asleep.

I'll save your "EPIC TRILOGY of hate" for when I can't sleep.

Re:Sure (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878616)

Yeah I gave up on even logging in because my shit gets misinterpreted all the time. Users seem to lose their sense of humor when they wear the mod crown.

Kin? (4, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 3 years ago | (#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...

Re:Kin? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878258)

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? (1, Interesting)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878282)

As far as I know they started the Smartphone market. I had a Windows Mobile Smartphone 5 years ago that had fairly high speed CDMA internet, tethering, and quite a few handy applications (the HTC Apache). There were models around some years before that too. The problem is, they had this massive lead over everyone else, but they were completely apathetic towards their own product. There were no great first party applications, and there was no organized way to find applications for the phone (not advocating a singular market entity, but having no means at all to find applications isn't good either). They also didn't market it to anybody. The only people who even knew were the ones who went looking for the capabilities on their own. The only company who wasn't completely apathetic towards the market was HTC, who went through a lot of trouble to make Windows Mobile usable, and later to even make it look nice. Now Microsoft is completely shooting themselves in the face with Windows Mobile 7 - no backwards compatibility, no multi-tasking, no UI changes (and a bad looking UI from shots so far)... what the hell? So upgrading to a new Windows Mobile phone in the near future means I'm starting over from scratch? I went ahead and switched to Android, though I stayed with HTC. I do hope that Microsoft gets around to making a nice portable version of Office though, and that they have the decency to port it to all platforms (or at least Android, Documents To Go kind of sucks).

Re:Kin? (4, Informative)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878720)

LOL. They started the Smartphone market?

I had a smartphone in 2001, *9* years ago.

Look up the Nokia 9110i communicator.

The US lagged massively behind the rest of the world in terms of cell phones, so you might want to read up about smartphones in Europe and Asia, they've been around longer than you think.

The 9110i was an AMD 486 running DOS with a GEOS front end, quite a cool thing.

Re:Kin? (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878786)

The problem is, they had this massive lead over everyone else, but they were completely apathetic towards their own product.

Did you copy / paste that from a discussion concerning MS-DOS, Windows or IE?

Re:Kin? (4, Interesting)

E-Rock (84950) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878314)

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.

Re:Kin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878530)

I never though of MS as an innovative or market creating company, but more of a strong market holding manufacturing company. Over the last decade its "Monkey See Monkey Do" behavior has gotten rather disturbing. Every new fad that comes along they just throw money at it, come out with an unimpressive product, and then slink away as the market rejects them.

I can't figure out if it is there staffing policies or it is just part of the American Decline. Something is wrong and it is a problem, not a symptom.

Re:Kin? (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878652)

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? (3, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Kin? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878666)

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 out of the cart as he runs after the BandWagon pulling his cart, shouting "But we're Hard Core!"

Bonus points for someone barely visible in the crowd ready to throw a folding chair at him when he passes by.

Any artists that read this are free to use it as their own idea. I just want to see a copy when you're done.

Re:Kin? (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878808)

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:Kin? (1, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878810)

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
.

Hardcordz (5, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878132)

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'

Re:Hardcordz (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878582)

Personally, I got an image of a little munchkin Steve Ballmer saying "We're hardcore about tablets" in a helium voice while pumping his tiny fist into the air.

Re:Hardcordz (1)

yargnad (1456405) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878738)

Then we all realize there is no point in trying to relate to the youths. They will indeed one day be old too and want youths to shut off their shitty rap music and learn how to spell Menopause, or at least use "the Googles" to check your spelling.

Like the Kin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878142)

When they mean "hardcore" do they mean release a product without it making a loud *thud* in the marketplace?

If all they do (5, Insightful)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:If all they do (2, Funny)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878364)

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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878366)

I am a Archos 9 owner since 3 days and I fully second you. The hardware is excellent (display, mouse, touch screen, memory, ...), the single problem is windows 7. It is not designed to work without a keyboard and it is too slow. Even playing spider is a pity because undo (Ctrl+Z) is not easily available.

Perhaps a solution like grafiti on palm would help a lot. We often have to type in a couple of letters (for example login, search keywords, ...), hiding half the screen (including half of the time the field in which you are typing) to open a keyboard is very painful.

Re:If all they do (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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:If all they do (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878696)

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.

"Hardcore" means something different at MS (5, Funny)

realmolo (574068) | more than 3 years ago | (#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."

"Slates," huh? (3, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878180)

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?

Re:"Slates," huh? (2, Insightful)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878302)

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.

Re:"Slates," huh? (1)

ITBurnout (1845712) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878564)

I dunno about calling them slates; the first image it conjures up in my mind is "The Flintstones."

Re:"Slates," huh? (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878690)

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.

Corporate IT departments (3, Funny)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Corporate IT departments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878338)

Microsoft is still stuck in that Corporate/IT frame of mind where you had your work computer and home computer where you keept them separately and in most scenarios the work computers dictated what users bought as consumers. Except that the tables have turned and the market is moving towards a culture where consumer choice is starting to dictate what companies need to support. We're in a land of thin clients, virtualization, cloud and whateverthefuck.

Dinosaurs, these people at Redmond.

I think he needs a new sales pitch (2, Interesting)

CigarBuff (61105) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878216)

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.

Re:I think he needs a new sales pitch (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878382)

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.

hardcore? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878246)

I question he means by hardcore - when Apple won't even allow softcore.

It's like watching a swordfighter (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878320)

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?

Re:It's like watching a swordfighter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878444)

Shhhhh. don't let them know that.
A world ruled by Apple seems to me to be far less draconian than a world ruled by Microsoft.
At least Apple seems to care how their products are made, they set the bar when it comes to ethics at the point of manufacture.

Re:It's like watching a swordfighter (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878514)

My ideal world is one that is 1/3 Apple, 1/3 Microsoft, and 1/3 Linux. May not happen, but if any one company gets too powerful it gives us problems.

Re:It's like watching a swordfighter (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878528)

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.

Re:It's like watching a swordfighter (1)

DowdyGoat (1830958) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878676)

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?

I have to agree. I read that quote and immediately my internal "FAIL!! FAIL!!" alarms started ringing. Microsoft was successful with, say, Windows 95, because they focused just on the software, and as yet there is almost no mention of the software these things will be running. Also, although some here will obviously disagree on legitimate grounds, the variety of form factors (some with keyboards, some touch only, some dockable, some able to handle digital ink--and some not?--etc.), with a variety of companies (Asus, Dell, Samsung, Sony, HP, etc.) makes it hard to focus on a Microsoft-centered "tablet".

Apple has the iPad. That's it. Easy to update. Easy to use App Store.

So, which Microsoft tablet would you like? The HPTab3456 with the 5 hour battery life, with the keyboard but with no digital ink? Or the DellPad 65 with 7 hours of battery life that is touch only but dockable and costs $200 more? Or the Asus-Slate One that can play your Zune music but needs to use a dock? Oh, that over there? That's Apple's iPad. Everybody seems to love it. It's not complicated at all, and everyone uses it pretty much the same as everyone else.

Sure, options are good and all, but without a unifying focus--the software in this case--a hundred variants of hardware and companies become very hard to sell.

Re:It's like watching a swordfighter (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878764)

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 out how to do it.

Scott Adams got it on his blog: http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/the_amazingness_of_instant/ [dilbert.com]

Lets be honest here... (2, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Lets be honest here... (4, Insightful)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878748)


I disagree. MS software has a huge association factor with it. Most people, my mom included, can navigate the UI blindfolded. That counts for something.

fail (1)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878412)

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:fail (2, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878646)

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 - they are, but in their not-so-popular "Tablet PC" incarnation, where you actually get a full-featured laptop which can be folded into a "slate" on which you can jot notes in a meeting - I've seen that used to great effect in combination with OneNote. But this is not a new market - you can buy a ThinkPad that lets you do it today - and it's completely different from tablet as (re)defined by iPad and the likes.

Use at work and home, eh? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878450)

"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.

Re:Use at work and home, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878662)

Err, lock your tablet and encrypt the storage... just like the Windows laptops that companies send employees home with now.

Re:Use at work and home, eh? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878740)

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.

Success with little risk (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878452)

Microsoft will defiantly put out a good tablet they know what people want and they will defiantly do a good job. But this is not really innovative. Apple was the one who took the risk putting out the Ipad. Microsoft is just going to not make the same mistakes that Apple made and use existing marketing knowledge. They are pretty much copying and remaking an existing product in the Microsoft image.

Re:Success with little risk (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878580)

I find it hard to envision a behemoth like Microsoft doing anything "defiantly". If you're the 800kg gorilla in the room, people defy you not the other way around.

Re:Success with little risk (4, Insightful)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878602)

Microsoft will defiantly put out a good tablet they know what people want and they will defiantly do a good job.

1. They've been flogging "tablet computing" unsuccessfully for damn near 10 years now, because they do a shitty job at tablet computing. That's not just me saying that, the market has spoken. Clearly, nobody wants a bloated desktop OS with a few UI changes, shoehorned into a tablet form factor that then must have heavy-duty hardware and a big, heavy battery to make it usable. As long as they keep trying to stuff Windows and Windows applications into a tablet, they will fail. The iPad is doing well because it uses a purpose-built OS with a UI made for fingers that runs fast on relatively lightweight hardware.

2. It's spelled "definitely"

~Philly

I'll believe it when I see it (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878560)

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 to change their corporate culture. I don't think they've hit the point at which they're scared enough to make that change.

Why do they have to announce these things? (2, Insightful)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878594)

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.

Too Late (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878606)

"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.

only willing victims would take Ballmer seriously (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878624)

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 company B's servers. Two days later, every single desktop on the corp network powers off suddenly and without warning at 2:05pm. Tough noogies. (Before you ask, yes, I saw something very similar happen. Twice. In two different workplaces.)

Scenario 2: I am person A. I tell company B that any Windows-only policy of theirs concerning my personal equipment, including my home network, is null and void. If the company wants me to work from home, using only Windows, the company can provide and maintain the equipment and connection at their expense.

The warnings are out there, all over the place, and Microsoft still can't put together a secure system. People will lock their cars, lock their doors at night or when they leave home, but they'll use Windows, plug in stray thumb drives, and browse with Internet Excoriator. Maybe they're betting that fat criminals who hardly ever go outside will be easier for the cops to catch?

No sympathy from this direction.

"Sanctioned" by Corporate IT (3, Interesting)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878630)

"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.

he's throwing tablets now, then? (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 3 years ago | (#32878664)

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 (3, Interesting)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Poor MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878734)

Why do I get this feeling that Balmer is gonna cause the end of Microsoft? (At least as we know it)

My dream tablet: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32878736)

Give me fast response, no perceptible distance between the tip of my pen and the apparent location of the pixel, and a decent graphics program and I don't care what operating system it runs.

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