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  1.    #1  
    Hi all,

    Here are twin views of Microsoft, slates & the Ipad.

    Take care,

    Jay

    ARTICLE ONE:

    What Microsoft isn't saying about its iPad compete strategy
    By Mary Jo Foley | August 2, 2010, 5:42am PDT

    What Microsoft isn't saying about its iPad compete strategy | ZDNet

    Some believe Microsoft is being coy about its slate plans. Others simply think the company is being clueless. I think the Redmondians are planting decoys, hoping they’ll provide cover for missteps.

    Here’s my latest theory as to what’s going on, regarding Microsoft and its solution for slates (or lack thereof). Over the past couple of months, Microsoft execs have gone from saying Apple’s iPad is nothing but a crippled PC, to claiming that Microsoft and its partners have myriad iPad competitors ready to launch any day now. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said there’d be Windows 7 slates out in time for holiday 2010. And at the recent Computex conference, Microsoft execs crowed about the many Windows slates due to launch this fall.

    If any of these slates were actually true iPad competitors, Microsoft would be only somewhat late to the slate party. This isn’t the case (making me happier by the day that I decided to buy an iPad to use as my on-the-go mobile device, rather than waiting for my longed-for “WinPad.”)

    The “Windows slates” Microsoft showed at Computex aren’t running Windows 7; they’re running Windows Embedded Compact. That means they aren’t going to be able to run Windows 7 apps and won’t sport the Windows 7 user interface. Instead, each of these Embedded Compact slates will feature its own custom interface.

    Meanwhile, the Windows 7 slates coming in time for this holiday season are going to be business-focused products. (HP execs admitted this recently, noting their coming Slate 500 device will be for business users. If there are other Windows 7 slates ready to launch this fall, I’d expect they also will be business-focused devices. These models will be PCs without lids; tablets without the stylus. They won’t have the long battery life, touch-centric user interfaces or built-in app store capabilities that have made the iPad a success.

    Microsoft’s real iPad competitors aren’t going to debut until 2011 — I’d guess mid-2011 at best. Ballmer didn’t state this plainly at last week’s Microsoft Finanacial Analyst Meeting, but he dropped some hefty hints. Ballmer touted Intel’s Oak Trail processors as being key to Microsoft’s iPad alaternatives. The problem is Oak Trail chips aren’t going to be ready until “early 2011.” Once PC makers get them in hand, it will take them at a couple of quarters to build and test slates that use them.

    I’m curious as to whether Microsoft will continue to try to steer its partners to use Windows 7 as the operating system powering these slates. My guess, as I told TechFlash’s Todd Bishop last week, is Microsoft may relent and allow slate makers to use the touch-centric Windows Phone OS 7 on these devices. (Microsoft could still claim that these slates were running “Windows,” since it is making sure to brand all of its operating systems as “Windows.”)

    Bottom line: “WinPads” are still about a year away, I’m predicting. Expect Microsoft execs to downplay the coming Windows Embedded Compact slates and start acknowledging that this year’s Windows 7 slates are business-centric devices. Instead of risking another Kin debaucle (launching then pulling a misguided product at great cost), Microsoft is rethinking its answer to the iPad. Better late than lame….

    ARTICLE TWO:

    Let’s be clear: Microsoft doesn’t have a tablet.


    Microsoft's misguided tablet strategy is the apotheosis of the company | ZDNet

    In fact, the company barely has a tablet strategy, despite what Steve Ballmer urgently told investors last week about Windows tablets that will soon compete with the iPad.

    We’ve heard it all before. I sat in the front row at Ballmer’s CES 2010 keynote in January, on the eve of Apple’s iPad announcement, when Ballmer tried to preempt Steve Jobs by announcing Windows 7 “Slate PCs” that would be released during 2010.

    While the iPad has turned into an international phenomenon, Ballmer’s promise turned out to be little more than vaporware. No Windows 7 tablets have hit the market, or even been officially announced.

    Ballmer showing off an old pen-based Tablet PC. Photo credit: CNET

    The flagship slate PC from Hewlett-Packard that Ballmer showed off at CES got cancelled by HP because Windows 7 was reportedly too much of a power hog. ASUS, which had been planning to power its Eee Pad with Windows, switched horses and went with Android instead. And, one of Microsoft’s most reliable partners, Dell, also spurned Windows for Android on its tablet — the Dell Streak.

    You can’t blame these traditional Microsoft partners for balking at Windows 7 on their tablets. After all, Microsoft has treated these devices as just another form factor of the PC, and Microsoft saw the biggest advantage of Windows 7 tablets being that they had all the power and capabilities of a full PC. That was a fundamentally misguided approach.

    The iPad and the forthcoming Android tablets are much more like smartphones than PCs, and users tend to like these devices for two reasons:

    1. The touch-based interface is far more self-evident than a traditional PC or Mac

    2. The app experience provides single-task immersion that makes it easy to do things

    You simply can’t recreate those two factors in a tablet with a full PC operating system. It’s too complicated. A few people inside Microsoft recognized that and they trumpeted Windows Embedded Compact 7 (based on the old Windows CE) as an answer for a Microsoft-powered tablet computer that could match the capabilities and user experience of Android and iPhone.

    But, that naturally confused everyone. After all, Ballmer had already declared the full Windows 7 as Microsoft’s tablet platform in January. And, in February, Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 as the company’s next smartphone platform, setting off speculation that it could also become the natural candidate for a Microsoft tablet.

    Microsoft did little to help clear up the confusion. In fact, the company said that it would “continue to support, ship and sell [Windows Mobile] 6.5″ even after the incompatible Windows Phone 7 devices arrived. And, this spring the company also released the ill-fated Kin smartphone, which was based on an entirely different mobile platform altogether and which was so poorly received in the market place that Microsoft and Verizon killed it less than two months after launching it.

    So Microsoft has talked about five different mobile platforms in 2010: Windows Mobile 6.5, Windows Embedded Compact 7, Windows Phone 7, Kin, and Windows 7, with very little explanation about how these platforms relate to each other and which ones Microsoft wants to use in which settings. Is it any surprise then that Microsoft is flailing so badly in the mobile space and has no coherent tablet strategy?

    And I think it’s fair to say that Microsoft’s tablet troubles are indicative of the larger problems that are haunting today’s Microsoft — similar teams competing for resources, minimal collaboration between similar projects, and not enough vision from the top to get everyone pushing in the same direction.

    What’s puzzling is that Ballmer and the Microsoft board of directors haven’t come under greater fire for this lack of product focus, and for the misguided strategies that have led to Microsoft falling so far behind in the mobile computing race, which will likely end up spreading to far more people around the globe than the PC revolution.

    This failure is a direct consequence of Microsoft putting an accountant in the CEO position to succeed Bill Gates. Steve Ballmer has done an excellent job of maximizing Microsoft’s profits and milking as much money as possible out of consumers and businesses for Microsoft products — primarily Windows and Office. But, Ballmer has done little to propel the company forward technologically or strategically.

    That’s why Wall Street has continued to bet against Microsoft. The stock market is a barometer of the expectations of a company’s future success. Microsoft’s stock price has hovered in virtually the same place for a decade because Ballmer’s leadership has given the market no reason to bet on Microsoft’s future.

    When you hear Ballmer speak, the stuff he gets most excited is things like explaining that Microsoft now has eight separate billion dollar businesses. Ballmer would make a great CFO or COO/President of Microsoft. He’d also be a great CEO of a mature public company trying to maximize its profits in order to produce a dividend for its shareholders.

    However, Microsoft’s top dog needs to be a product leader. If you look at all of today’s successful tech companies, they almost all have a product visionary at or near the top of the org chart.

    Microsoft still has plenty of strong assets and a ton of smart engineers in Redmond. But, where’s the leadership? What’s the company’s vision of the future of computing? At a time when mobility is about to power the next great wave of expansion in the technology industry and bring the benefits of computing to hundreds of millions of new people, Microsoft is standing on the sidelines still trying to figure out which play to run.
    Please Support Research into Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Spinal Injuries. If You Suffer from These, Consider Joining or Better Yet Forming a Support Group. No One Should Suffer from the Burden of Chronic Pain, Jay M. S. Founder, Leesburg Fibromyalgia/Resources Group
  2.    #2  
    The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down
    By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes | July 30, 2010, 7:13am PDT

    The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down | ZDNet

    I’ve just finished reading Ina Fried’s piece on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talking to financial analysts about a rival to Apple’s iPad, and it’s clear from what Ballmer is saying that not only did Apple catch Microsoft with its pants down (again), but that Microsoft is floundering about trying to come up with a convincing response.

    Let’s take a look at just some of the things that Ballmer said.

    Talking about Microsoft rival to the iPad, Ballmer said “they’ll be shipping as soon as they are ready.”

    Really? Wow! But like when? Weeks? Months? Years? Vaporware????? I know that financial analysts usually know nothing about tech, but you’d think that someone would have had the idea to pin that timescale down a little.

    Also, and I know it’s a low blow, but let’s remember that Kin shipped too … shipping isn’t what matters, it’s making a product that people want.

    Talking about Apple’s iPad, Ballmer said “they’ve sold certainly more than I’d like them to have sold.” Ummm, yeah, but Microsoft has for years now left a big stonking gap in the market for Apple to fill. Microsoft was too busy trying to shove “Tablet PCs” down people’s throats to realize that what people wanted were just “tablets” systems.

    Microsoft, through it’s mismanagement of tablet development, both hardware and software, has handed Apple millions of customers, folks who when it comes time to buy a new computer, might be more likely to go with Apple.

    “We have got to make things happen … we’re in the process of doing that as we speak. We’re working with our hardware partners. We’re tuning Windows 7.”

    Two points here. First, and I know that perhaps I’m being pedantic here, but isn’t Windows 7 already supposed to be tuned for tablets? The marketing propaganda seems to say it is. Oh wait, that doesn’t count.

    Secondly, does the OS have to be Windows? Really? Isn’t Microsoft really just trying to re-ignite the same old “notebook without a keyboard but with a stylus instead” market again? The exact same market that it has failed to do anything with for a decade?

    “We’re coming. We’re coming full guns. The operating system is called Windows.“

    Again, back to Windows. An OS designed to be used with a keyboard and a mouse. Take a look at the point of your cursor, and how you manipulate that through the Windows 7 user interface. Now take your finger, which is about a gazillion times bigger, and imagine trying to do the same thing. It’s gonna suck, right?

    The problem is that Microsoft has a hard time thinking outside the “Windows” box, and an even harder time building a new OS that has all the functionality that people want (simple stuff like Cut/Copy/Paste, stuff that’s been around for years). This is why Microsoft wants to shove a monolithic desktop-based OS on every device possible. It’s just crazy, and it doesn’t make any real sense, but it’s the only business model Microsoft really knows how to leverage.

    I shouldn’t be too harsh on Microsoft here though, because OEMs are to blame too. Because all the OEMs compete against one another in markets that really don’t allow them to stand out on anything other than price (the lowness of the price), it all really just becomes a race to the bottom to make the cheapest thing possible, and then shove Windows on it. Also, OEMs make the problem worse by cluttering up the OS with all sorts of crapware that they get paid to foist on end users. OEMs know how to squeeze revenue out of Windows, and are scared of anything different.

    Who’s holding their breath for a Microsoft tablet?
    Please Support Research into Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Spinal Injuries. If You Suffer from These, Consider Joining or Better Yet Forming a Support Group. No One Should Suffer from the Burden of Chronic Pain, Jay M. S. Founder, Leesburg Fibromyalgia/Resources Group

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