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Microsoft: No Tablets Until It's Distinctive 203

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the build-up-them-forearms dept.
BogenDorpher pointed us in the direction of a pocket-lint story saying "Microsoft’s UK managing director and ex-BBC man Ashley Highfield has exclusively told Pocket-lint that the company won’t produce a tablet device, and therefore follow in the footsteps of Apple and Google, until it's got something to shout about. 'We won't do anything in the tablet market unless we can be distinctive,' he told us." Have you considered making it light enough that your arm doesn't ache after 5 minutes?
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Microsoft: No Tablets Until It's Distinctive

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  • In other words... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nimloth (704789) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @09:41AM (#35879758)
    We're looking for an idea but we ain't got squat.
    • by Yuioup (452151)
      We'll never produce a tablet because copying is all we know.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Grygus (1143095)

      I don't know; Microsoft has often been less than original, but look at what they did with console gaming: they pretty much ignored the industry entirely until they came out with the Xbox which was pretty innovative (e.g., different sized controllers, hard drive, robust and stable online component.) It wasn't entirely influential - Nintendo will always do their own thing - but I think the current shape of the console market (DLC, downloadable games, online marketplaces, the prevalence of online play) was l

      • by Kinwolf (945345)
        Nothing innovative about bringing a locked PC that kept overheating to the console market. But I'll grant that XBox live is the part that was truly well done, and even today I think it's still the best online service.
        • by PhilHibbs (4537)

          I love bashing Microsoft as much as the next guy, but I disagree. The standard components in the XBox did allow developers to do stuff that wasn't possible on the PC - the minimum spec for Halo 2 on the PC is vastly above the original XBox spec. So they had the combined advantages of a familiar development environment (DirectX) and a standard platform. Innovative? Maybe not, but a damn good idea nonetheless. I guess you could say it's the same thing that the Phantom was supposed to be. Also - Kinect? Innova

          • by 0123456 (636235)

            I love bashing Microsoft as much as the next guy, but I disagree. The standard components in the XBox did allow developers to do stuff that wasn't possible on the PC - the minimum spec for Halo 2 on the PC is vastly above the original XBox spec.

            Uh, what? They wrote a game that could run on a 733MHz P3 with a Geforce 4 and 64MB (?) of RAM, but they couldn't run that on a real PC without requiring much more powerful hardware?

            Either they did a lousy port to the PC, or Windows is imposing massive overheads which don't apply on the Xbox.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            I love bashing Microsoft as much as the next guy, but I disagree. The standard components in the XBox did allow developers to do stuff that wasn't possible on the PC - the minimum spec for Halo 2 on the PC is vastly above the original XBox spec. So they had the combined advantages of a familiar development environment (DirectX) and a standard platform. Innovative? Maybe not, but a damn good idea nonetheless.

            But, consoles had already had standard specs and uniformity ... all Microsoft really did was to take

            • by arose (644256)

              Though, I must say I'm disappointed to know I won't be able to have a golf game for my Kinect ... I was really hoping for that.

              So they have "high precision" full body tracking and aren't doing games that would benefit the most?

              • by gstoddart (321705)

                So they have "high precision" full body tracking and aren't doing games that would benefit the most?

                In fairness to Microsoft, the Kinect can't detect any twist in your wrist, so apparently golf is something it won't really be able to support.

                At some point there might be an evolution that allows for it ... but I think right now the technology simply wouldn't work with a golf game since it can't read one of the aspects of a golf swing that is important.

          • The minimum spec for Halo 2 on PC is what it is because they forced DX10 and Vista only on it to force OS sales. Had nothing to do with innovation.
        • by rednip (186217)

          So, then you might call the original xbox 'distinctive' because of it's online content, which still remains as a 'distinct' advantage?

          I'll make the bold guess that they are working on a touchless interface for their tablet. If not then they should be working on extending the kinects tech; as Microsoft hasn't done anything but break even on the gaming division, it might make the whole enterprise worth while.

        • by bickle (101226)

          If you think there was nothing innovative about an American console in a Japanese dominated market that allowed cross-development (PC-Xbox) in a proprietary market and online-capabilities in an offline world, you are either blind to history or just have an axe to grind.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            So other than nationalism got anything to offer?
            Cross development is nothing new.

            "online-capabilities in an offline world"
            What does that nonsense even mean? Online PC gaming was quite popular when the xbox came out. The PS2 had online games as well.

          • by PingSpike (947548)

            Wait...so its innovation was being Dreamcast II?

        • Live better be damn good for the what they charge just so you can play multiplayer in games you own. Yeah fantastic.
      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @11:24AM (#35881170)

        Different size controllers?
        Those things were unusable for all but sasquatch. I would not call killing off online play for Halo2 robust and stable. I and many others still play the original counterstrike online for a timeline comparison. DLC has existed in computer gaming for a lot longer than the xbox existsed same with online market places and online play. Microsoft copied from the pc gaming market and brought that to consoles.

    • Re:In other words... (Score:5, Informative)

      by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @10:09AM (#35880092)

      They already released their "slate" with HP [engadget.com] with Balmer being on stage to introduce it:

      "press images of the HP Slate just hit the web, right as Ballmer showed it off during his CES keynote. The prototype device is said to be coming later this year, and it's running Windows -- Ballmer showed it running the PC Kindle app."

      Fortunately for them it has bombed so badly they actaully have a chance of people buying this shit about them not wanting in the tablet market yet.

      • People seem to forget that in CES 2010, Ballmer was showing off all sorts of Windows tablets including the HP slate. It was the next big thing and there were going to be a slew of releases later that year. Well what happened? Apple announced the iPad and the pricing and it was be released 2 months later which sent many manufacturers back to the drawing boards. They could produce a Windows tablet but it was going to be more expensive and later than Apple.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Voyager529 (1363959)

        HP hasn't bombed as badly as you think. Yes, it's not ideal for the average consumer, and yes their WebOS tablets mean that they'll essentially be directly competing with themselves, but they're really not. From the get-go, anyone with a brain stem was able to figure out that the HP Slate was not a tablet for the masses. It's a tablet to serve a niche market - the group of people who need a tablet that runs Windows. Believe it or not, that market does exist. It's small but viable, since HP has been making s

    • by caywen (942955)

      Courier was a pretty good idea. I think Microsoft has plenty of ideas, but is still struggling with the engineering it takes to implement them.

      I think ideas start out as, "here's a whole new UI paradigm" then quickly moves to "man, this is hard and requires a lot of teams to coordinate" to "how about we just put a new menu item in there?"

    • by dtolman (688781)
      How could they possibly release that concept? It had too much buzz around it, and if there is one thing MS hates... its being hip.
    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @10:16AM (#35880168)
      I think its pretty plainly clear why Courier got dumped, and the team suffered some form of punishment - they publicised something which pretty much looked exactly like the holy grail of tablet computing. Seriously, look at the hype storm that followed the revealing of the Courier, even on here quite a few people said "yes, I would buy that in an instant". It had dual screens, fast processors, contact charging, promised a fantastic interface and a tonne of other things.

      Basically, there was no way for the end device to live up to the dream that had risen around the publicised concept - or more correctly, no way for it to come in on time, in budget and fulfil everyones fantasies.

      Microsoft had two options - get rid of the project quickly, or fail to deliver to the standard of the hype and suffer the consequences. So they ditched the project, which is pretty much their only real option.
      • Or

        They could have down played the concept and said that the prototype was just a prototype and not all the desired features were available .. yet. It doesn't have to be a "homerun" to start. The first iPhone wasn't stellar. It was a game changer non-the-less.

      • If they got rid of the team, it wasn't because they publicized the concept. MS has been releasing concepts for years. Some of the concepts make it into products; some don't. It has been the modus operandi for MS for many years to pre-announce their products to keep customers/developers from considering competitors' products. The problem was Apple launched and shipped before MS could even show a working demo prototype and when launched, the iPad had a sizeable library of apps. They were not optimized for
      • I don't buy it. Microsoft's whole product strategy is to promise the moon and deliver a slice of swiss cheese. Every single one of their releases after Windows 3.0 has been hyped up to an incredible degree, features have been promised that will revolutionize computing, and then 95% of it gets dropped when the next version of the OS comes out. This they have done time and time again, so often that it's a standard joke among people who are familiar with computers.

        To suggest that they'd fire somebody who wa

  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dingen (958134) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @09:44AM (#35879802)

    So not only are they late to the party, they're not even sure what to bring and whether they'll come at all.

    That's some solid vision you're showing there, mister Ballmer.

    • Seems like a good idea to me: They're a software company. If they're going to introduce a piece of hardware, it should be a winner. If it's not a sure winner, they shouldn't release it.
      • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dingen (958134) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @09:55AM (#35879930)
        But that's not what TFA is about: there it talks about a tablet operating system. MS won't make one until they've got a clue on what to make, which apparently they haven't. For a software company like Microsoft, that's a pretty sad state to be in, given that fact tablets have been "the next big thing" for at least a year now.
        • TFA actually only talks about a tablet device. The Fine Headline talks about a tablet OS, but there's nothing about that in the story (beyond the guy "not confirming" that MS is working on one. Fun fact: MS doesn't comment on rumors.)

          But even so, MS has loads of money. They've got enough money that they can avoid releasing a crappy product just to have a product out there.

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          For a software company like Microsoft, that's a pretty sad state to be in, given that fact tablets have been "the next big thing" for at least a year now.

          Bill Gates was telling me that Tablet PCs were "the next big thing" back in 2001. It's not like Microsoft haven't seen this coming.

          • by dingen (958134)
            I know, there even was a "Tablet Edition" of Windows XP, right? So where's the result of that now? I'm sure they must have researched the use of tablet computers and came up with something. How is it possible that Microsoft has no clue whatsoever on the subject of tablets?
            • by Blakey Rat (99501)

              All the "Tablet Edition" features are built into regular Windows Vista and Windows 7.

              I installed Vista on my standard tablet, and as soon as it picked up it was on a tablet, it gave me my on-screen keyboard, handwriting recognition, etc. features. It even had that stupid game where you could use the pen to draw lines and bounce balls around.

              In short, it didn't go away, it just got rolled-in to the base product.

              And in response to your negativity, I know a lot of pharmacists and nurses who will let you take t

          • Re:Wow (Score:4, Informative)

            by sootman (158191) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @12:02PM (#35881734) Homepage Journal

            Mod parent up. The exact quote, and source:

            "The tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available whenever you want it, which is why I'm already using a tablet as my everyday computer," Gates said. "It's a PC that is virtually without limits -- and within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America."

            - Bill Gates, November 12, 2001 [cnn.com] when Microsoft was introducing Windows XP for Tablet PCs. [wikipedia.org]

            Alan Kay said The best way to predict the future is to invent it. [wikiquote.org] I think it's clear that the current Apple under Steve Jobs is better than MS under Gates and Ballmer at delivering in this particular area.

        • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

          by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @12:13PM (#35881880)

          > ... that's a pretty sad state to be in, given that fact tablets have
          > been "the next big thing" for at least a year now.

          Well, no.

          A sad state is to have been shipping tablet/touch/PDA operating systems on and off for almost 20 years, and suddenly admit you don't have a clue what to do when tablets suddenly take off.

    • by Dr. Spork (142693)

      Not every party is worth attending.

      And besides, MS wants to write the software for tablets made by other firms, and maybe these would find it reassuring that they won't be competing with MS branded hardware.

    • It's less like "late to the party" and more like "started the party over ten years ago, and were so unpopular that they've stormed off at least thrice now, each time returning with the same hideous blue and green beer, hoping that because it's popular everywhere else, someone will pay attention to them"—ignoring the fact that the party is an anniversary celebration for a win connoisseurs' society.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @09:46AM (#35879828) Homepage Journal

    A folding tablet design which allowed pen entry. I already have a BT keyboard for my iPad as I found that I as used it more that input became more and more of an issue. Voice recognition won't work in a meeting and the built in keyboard can be a pain. Hence I have a clam shell case with BT keyboard. I remember the old Palm days with their shorthand and such. Adapt that idea. Give me alternative methods of entering data. Tie it all together with One Note. The folding / split screen approach would allow easy separation of work as well let alone make it more compact to carry.

    Still the more I use my tablet the more I begin to wonder how long they will persist, they are good for presenting what I have, not so much for creating on, at least in the business environment

    • by headLITE (171240)

      A folding tablet which allows pen entry... isn't Nintendo making those ;-) Okay, those aren't really tablets, but it still doesn't sound like the distinctiveness they're looking for.

      • by tepples (727027)

        A folding tablet which allows pen entry... isn't Nintendo making those ;-)

        DS family as tablet has two problems: First, Nintendo has long had a policy of no apps from home-based businesses. Microsoft is the only game console maker with anything like Xbox Live Indie Games. Second, even the bigger screen of the 3DS is substantially smaller than a 7" tablet. If you're willing to use a 3DS sized tablet, you might as well use a Windows phone.

    • by delinear (991444)

      Still the more I use my tablet the more I begin to wonder how long they will persist, they are good for presenting what I have, not so much for creating on, at least in the business environment

      This could be a big deal - it's been said a few times that tablets/smartphones are better for people who consume, while desktops/laptops are better for people who create. I wonder how many of today's creators are only creating because they happened to be in a home with a desktop or laptop because that was previously the only choice for consuming? I wonder, as more homes switch to a consumer only model, whether this will have any impact on our culture in the future.

    • I remember the old Palm days with their shorthand and such. Adapt that idea. Give me alternative methods of entering data. Tie it all together with One Note.

      This.

      I have been a devout Linux user for the past eight years, and have been completely Windows-free for about six years now. But I have said over and over that I would love a pen-entry & One-Note device for my academic and research work. Alas, it just doesn't exist. There is a fellow student in my research group that has a Win7 touchscreen laptop with the flip-around screen. He uses it primarily for OneNote, but he has had so many problems with it (too heavy, driver issues, loose connections and ran

      • by nschubach (922175)

        I don't understand the love people have for One Note. I had it on my tablet a few years back. It was pretty bad at handwriting recognition and I just couldn't see the point of taking handwritten notes on a tablet when I could do it faster and more accurately on a keyboard.

  • They are really not that heavy. I use mine as a remote control for my mac while lecturing in one of those large classrooms. The podium for the computer is way back in the corner and the iPad allows me to get out in front of the students. Thus I have it in my hands for a 1 hour lecture, and I'm certainly not in that great of shape. I have a Kindle which has a long battery life, but thats because of a monochrome e-ink display. Turning on the wifi also substantially reduces battery life.
    • by delinear (991444)
      It probably depends how you're using it. In a lecture scenario I imagine you can mostly hold it down by your side, or with a crooked arm so it's more comfortable, but if you're using it to actually read or something for an hour you probably quickly start to suffer from gorilla arm.
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @09:51AM (#35879884)

    Have you considered making it light enough that your arm doesn't ache after 5 minutes?

    My arm gets plenty of exercise.

    • by alexhs (877055)

      Have you considered making it light enough that your arm doesn't ache after 5 minutes?

      My arm gets plenty of exercise.

      Doesn't it deplete the battery really fast ?

    • by 517714 (762276)
      But the other one would be holding the tablet.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_XP_editions#Tablet_PC_Edition [wikipedia.org] The old tablets were certainly a lot more functional than today's toys. It's a large phone, NOT a small laptop.
    • I see it more as smart phones have been small tablets for a while. In many ways that iPhone was the first widely successful tablet, it also happened to do phone calls. It just makes sense to extend the same things that have worked on smart phones to tablets.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @09:52AM (#35879902) Homepage

    Microsoft has been big on tablets cince 1992. Vista and 7 come with tablet functions in it and XP was the last good iteration with their tablet add on package.

    Plus why should they make a tablet? Fujitsu and others make tablet hardware that is 900X better than anything that Microsoft could ever make.

    • by dskzero (960168)
      ...? How does that makes them "big on tablets cince (sic) 1992"?
      • by 0123456 (636235)

        How does that makes them "big on tablets cince (sic) 1992"?

        I think he means: Microsoft have been trying to sell tablets to people since 1992 and consistently failed. Now more innovative companies have taken over the market Microsoft are taking their ball and going home.

  • I wonder if "Microsoft’s UK managing director" is really in the loop.
    I am sure Microsoft will do a tablet within a year.
    Of course, they probably won't do the hardware.
    The distinctive things will be: familiar dotnet environment, runs your legacy windows apps, put some small new thing like a transparent mode.

  • Good for Microsoft. It's nice to see a company realizing that a shitty product could be worse than no product. When they do come out with something, it should be worth a look.

    I'm guessing Windows Phone 7 / CE is going to be their tablet OS of choice, or perhaps their XBox OS.

  • It is pretty clear from various leaks that Microsoft is working furiously to release an iPad competitor. It will apparently run Windows 8 on ARM CPUs, and include some kind of WP7-esque Metro style of user interface.
    • Does the UI feature OMG ponies?

      the problem for Microsoft is that new developments in hardware start low and build up - thus the PC grew out of the enthusiast market and came to replace the minicomputer, and the smartphone replaced the phone. AFAIK nobody has successfully done the reverse - i.e. started big and made it small. Microsoft's phones have been failures. Why should a tablet be any different? They will simply be unable to leave out all the stuff that makes Windows what it is, so it will always be mo

      • by sorak (246725)

        I can speak for WinMo 7, but the problem with WinMo 6 was that it was basically windows 95, shrunk down to a sub-VGA resolution. You couldn't do jack without a stylus on my Omnia. In fact, you couldn't even find a WMP skins* that would give the media player decently sized buttons (decently sized meaning that you could do simple things, like pause podcasts without accidentally pressing the fast forward or rewind buttons, turn the volume up or down, etc, without using a stylus). You can't just shrink the wind

  • by 1s44c (552956)

    Have you considered making it light enough that your arm doesn't ache after 5 minutes?

    The problem isn't the tablet. It's your arm.

  • Distinctive, and weightless.
  • In the world of tablets, the expectation isn't to be compatible with anything in particular. It's mostly about viewing things and not so much about editing or creating things. To that end, this is why Android tablets and iPad are successful -- it doesn't have to be "compatible" with anything but web standards.

    Being able to view Office documents is just about the only thing of interest which is typically no big deal as those apps exist in abundance.

    As for the user interface? It's all about touch gestures

  • Zune was distinctive, and not just its colour scheme. I'm sure they could 'biggie' that squirt technology and have a tablet that could fling a poo. Imagine the Blamer dance with a poo flinging Bune.

  • Have you considered making it light enough that your arm doesn't ache after 5 minutes?

    Have you considered developing some muscle tone? My 4 year old can use the iPad for as long as I will let him with no complaints, and I have the heavier old model.

  • Not being distinctive has never stopped Microsoft from doing, well, pretty much anything in the past. Why is it stopping them now, I wonder?

  • want a lightweight device that can run their Photoshop/Painter/etc. and has good pressure sensitivity (>512 "levels").

    They practically all broke down in tears when they found out the ipad was essentially a giant iphone and not a productivity device they could really utilize.

    Granted - the processing power required to run those programs might currently be a bit much for the form factor of the ipad, but it's definitely something to strive for, IMO. The market is definitely there.

    • 1000% this.

      Apple has always had the graphic design market, but it shocks me that they haven't designed some flavor of the iPad to target this demographic. Steve Jobs may have said that the stylus is a bad input method (and for a cell phone it is), but Wacom makes a mint selling pen input pads, and every graphic designer I know has one. A GD friend of mine actually contemplated getting an HP Slate due to its hybrid touch/stylus input in conjunction with the ability to run Photoshop and Illustrator.

      IMO what A

  • You're not masturbating nearly enough.

  • "Have you considered making it light enough that your arm doesn't ache after 5 minutes?"

    Have you considered getting a 10-pound weight and lifting it a couple of times?

  • They tried, it sucked, they buried it.

  • Translation:

    WinMo 7 Ain't selling, and we're not going to throw any more money down that hole until we see some results.

  • "If we come out with one now, we can't shed our, 'Me too!' image."

    And in all honesty, it's not exactly the worst move for them either.

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

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