A Windows Phone 7 Tablet? It's Possible–and a Good Idea

By  |  Friday, July 23, 2010 at 6:25 pm

There is a lot of speculation about what the agreement announced today between chip designer ARM and Microsoft actually means. Some pundits predict that it is a signal that Microsoft intends to deliver Windows or Windows Phone OS tablet and slate devices, while others foresee an overdue overhaul of the Xbox’s architecture.

I’m keen on the idea of a tablet based upon Windows Phone 7. For too long, Microsoft has relied upon grafting Windows onto smaller form factors: “Oh wow, a stylus.” The success of Apple’s less feature-rich iPad proves that it was the wrong approach. Customers want an operating envrionment that works well for their devices, meaning it should be designed with the device in mind. A tablet-friendly version of Windows Phone 7 would fit the bill.

Microsoft very boldly hit the reset button and abandoned all elements of Windows with the Windows Phone OS’s “Metro” interface. I’ve used it, and like it very much. Metro was compelling enough that I was tempted to see whether I would actually give up my iPhone if I started to a use Windows Phone powered device.

If Microsoft focuses on Windows Embedded Compact instead of Windows Phone, it will be making a big, big mistake. It’s time for a consistent and quality mobile experience from Microsoft. That means apps that work across devices and an interface that works. Windows Phone uses SIlverlight; those apps should work on Windows tablets with little adjustment on the part of developers.

The glaringly obvious problem with that scenario is that I can buy an iPhone today, and Windows Phone 7 is still many months away from production. Let’s hope Microsoft learns from past mistakes,. I just hope it’s not too late .


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22 Comments For This Post

  1. 1stkorean Says:

    Microsoft, I am sorry to say has LOST the race in anything mobile. They waste money on having so many different Mobile OSes and then stop and change direction. All of those iThings are selling like crazy and all Microsoft can hope for is a portion of the market, Catching up and surpassing the fruit company is nothing but a pipe dream now.

    I learner a long time ago ''You never changes horses in the middle of a stream''

  2. leigh Says:

    @1stkorean They also say "never argue the big dog. The big dog is always right." I feel as if you are going to be very disappointed if you feel Microsoft will not regain a big part of the mobile market. Windows Phone 7 and its integration for daily activities, not playing fart sounds or saying "parkay" (some 95% of the apps which are only good to buck up numbers, and not do anything useful), is going to eventually win the day.

  3. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Apple is the big dog, especially in mobile. So you're making the opposite point from what you intended.

    Your characterization that iOS apps are toys and Windows Phone 7 apps will not be is inaccurate. iOS apps are desktop class native C apps, comparable to a Mac or Windows app in construction and sophistication. Windows Phone 7 apps are Silverlight, which are "applets," equivalent to Flash or Java. App Store includes video editors, multitrack audio editors, sophisticated design and photography tools, office productivity including the highest-quality presentations, and many business apps like Salesforce and WebEx and the like. If you compare to Android Market, which is Java, you see Twitter clients and much more lightweight widget-type apps which we would also expect to see from Silverlight developers.

    Windows Phone 7 is also the only mobile OS that lacks the HTML5 API, so it can't run the many thousands of cross-platform smartphone apps like YouTube. Considering HTML5 API support is free for mobile system developers, this is a major omission by Microsoft.

    So especially with coming so late, apps are going to be a major weakness for Windows Phone 7, not a strength.

  4. Alan Says:

    All missing the point. YOu could say muchthe same kind of thing about the 'mobile' market ten years ago and change Apple to Palm and Microsoft to Apple (remember the Newton). The substitute Blackberry for Palm, etc. This is a rapidly changing market and all you can say is that Apple is in front right now. As they say, 'past performance is no indicator of future results.'

    And I think you are wrong about iOS and Silverlight both. iOS is not a full OS like Windows or OSX. And Silverlight is already doing things that are not possible on any other platform. Java is actually used for several enterprise class and serious applications. Just because you don't know about them doesn't mean they don't exist

  5. Argon Says:

    See the son upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform is going to be good and will sell, there is no question about it, (simply too may people like it already). And that platform will be pretty on par with both iOS and Android out on market. The BIGgest guns that Microsoft has right now to win is their Windows Live, Zune, Office, SkyDrive, Xbox cloud integration are all all things that neither Apple nor Google can match. Sure Google have many similar web services but non of them are so tightly integrated as Windows Phone's are. Btw OEM's are more than happy to accept the new player in modern mobile world. And speaking of tablets, honestly I dont really think MS will put Windows Phone 7 software on tablet. What I think they'll do instead is make a different consumer centric tablet platform based of Windows Embedded Compact 7 that with new UI, and make it be able to port and use Silverlight apps from Windows Phone 7.

  6. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Everything you said is wrong. Even the part about OEM's. Microsoft is using Asus and LG because Dell uses Android, HP bought Palm, neither of them will ship Windows Phone 7. Verizon and Sprint both have flagship Android phones of their own and Verizon is very unhappy about KIN. iPhone and Android are overflowing with Web services, both built-in tightly-integrated Apple and Google services, plus Facebook and Salesforce and thousands of others via apps. Mobile customers want iTunes and Gmail and Google Maps and Tom Tom and YouTube and FourSquare and Twitter and DropBox, which are "name brand" versions of the Microsoft products you mention. If the Microsoft services are so popular, why haven't they ever made any money? Zune? C'mon, be serious. iOS has 50,000 3D games. Is there an Xbox owner who doesn't have at least an iPod touch at this point? And there are about twice as many iPod touch in the world as Xbox.

    There is no metric where Windows Phone 7 will be on par with iOS in the market. LG is struggling to make enough iPhone 4 and iPad screens to meet Apple demand, that is the number one problem Apple has. That is very different from Microsoft's number one problem which is no Windows Phone 7 product and only 8,000 KIN sold. Apple takes 52% of all phone handset profits, across all phones, not just smartphones, while Microsoft has never made money in mobile.

    The launch of Windows Phone 7 is not the end of a long climb back for Microsoft in mobiles, it's the *start* of a long climb back. And that is if things go well, if Windows Phone 7 is not KIN 3.

  7. Parry Says:

    Argon – I do absolutely agree with your view and yes I want to add something here, if Apple Screw up with Antenna – still they are Un-necessary praised, if MS even does a great job it's still being bash by few craper – why and how is that? 🙂

    Botton line – like Windows 7, WP7 will be a HUGE HIT – period

  8. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Are you really saying that iPhone 4's antenna has been unnecessarily praised? That is ridiculous. They had to do a press conference *defending* themselves even though only 1.7% of phones were returned and only 0.55% contacted support about a reception-related issue. People stop me on the street to test my iPhone 4 antenna and are disappointed when they can't make it drop bars. I tell them truthfully that the reception is better than I've had with other phones. They are stunned and suspicious because they read online that you can't even make calls with it. And you're saying Apple is getting praise for iPhone 4 antenna?

  9. JoJo Says:

    Windows Phone 7 will fail.

    Microsoft does not know what it is doing.

    Developers want apps that work across various mobile devices, not apps that work between a mobile device and a desktop PC, which is the direction Microsoft is headed (the wrong direction).

    Windows Phone 7 was going to fail anyway, but amputating it from the slate market will just hasten its demise.

  10. ralph Says:

    MS doesn't need to build a Windows Phone 7 slate. They just need to ensure that WP7 applications written in Silverlight will run on any Windows 7 computer. They could easily provide a WP7 emulator (they already do with the their Visual Studio development toolset) and even an enhanced launch screen for slate form factor devices, but a Windows 7 slate would provide the best of both worlds.

  11. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Pinning the success of Windows Phone 7 to Silverlight is enough to make it fail all by itself.

    iPad runs iPhone apps and HTML5 apps, it did not have to start from scratch. iPhone ran HTML5 apps from the start, and soon iPhone apps which are written in C language and the Cocoa API, the Mac's premier native API, so it was easy to port both C apps and Mac apps, it did not have to start from scratch. 3D games from the Mac appeared on iPhone within weeks. For other apps you just had to create a new touch interface and ship.

    Windows Phone 7 can't run Windows apps, and it can't even run HTML5 apps, even though there are many thousands now that run on all smartphones. The latest high-profile one was a new YouTube, and Windows Phone 7 can't run it. It will be the first smartphone since iPhone that c an't run YouTube.

    Once again, Microsoft is going to have a failed product because they tied it to other Microsoft products nobody wants. Silverlight is not even as big as Flash, and look what zero impact Flash has in mobiles.

  12. Skope Says:

    You're making the game of 'spot the apple fanboi' far too easy. There are many failings of iOS and the whole closed market model, yet you're unable to even acknowledge ONE. Apple is not the Messiah Incarnate. Microsoft don't only make mistakes (they do have the largest market share of desktop OS), and Windows 7 is streets ahead of other commercial OSes in useability and available applications.

    Do you honestly think the consumers care whether the apps on their phone are written in C, Ruby, Python, Silverlight or LISP? As long as they get their fart app or useless games, they're happy. The iPhone is a consumer device at heart – that's why it is successful. And people are fickle. As for the business community, who has the largest market share in smartphones there?

    Your persistent bias makes it look as if you are afraid of what Windows Phone 7 could achieve. Personally I am done with my iPhone and am going to Android, where I'll have a choice of hardware, not just storage capacity. I'm sure you'll make a witty comeback along the lines of "good riddance", so in advance I'll say "Thanks, I won't miss you either".

  13. Orack Bobama Says:

    Microsoft and Apple are going after Flash.
    Apple wants the media playing standard with QT. Microsoft wants the take over the App world with Silverlight.
    This is why you see Jobs saying "Hey, I have seen Bing, its pretty cool, it is now in iphone."
    with this, you see bing pimping apple stuff.

  14. swildstrom Says:

    Microsoft is on its way to making a big, big mistake. All indications from OEMs are that Microsoft has told them that WP7 is for handsets only and that larger devices should use Windows 7 or Windows Embedded 7 (a/k/a Windows CE.) This suggests total cluelessness, a political stranglehold by the Windows group within Microsoft, or both. I bet on both.

  15. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Same story we have heard many times about Microsoft. The desires of some middle manager there are prioritized over the desires of customers and potential customers and even technical practicality.

  16. G Yeo Says:

    Microsoft does not understand the slate market.

    A small-sized tablet PC is still a tablet PC. A slate is a thin, minimalist ARM-based device with multi-touch interface.

    Microsoft does not understand that apps actually benefit from being rewritten for the slate. This is why Apple did not attempt to port Mac apps to the iPad. But Microsoft is attempting to get PC apps running on its Windows 7 tablet PC, either as is, or via Silverlight.

    Microsoft's strategy will fail. Its Windows 7 tablet PC will fail. Microsoft's OS that should have been on a slate, Windows Phone 7, will never be on a slate, and will also fail.

  17. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    There is no slate market. There is just iPad. A big part of the problem is Microsoft wants to create a slate market, not just create an iPad competitor. They are taking a ton of time to try and predict what the 2011 slate market needs, and build part of that product for OEM's, while Apple is listening to what actual users want in their iPad in 2011, and at the same time spoiling users with actual working iPads today, and at the same time, 3rd party developers have already made tens of thousands of iPad apps. With Microsoft, they are building some software, then later somebody else builds some hardware, than later somebody else builds some apps, it is years of work and by that time the whole thing is obsolete. Tech moves too fast for that approach. The only way they made it work on Windows PC (if it can even be said to work) was to have no competition. Even Apple did not compete with them from 1986-1996 when Steve Jobs was not there. Predicting what the mobile market wants in 3 months is hard even when you have a user base. Sitting in Redmond away from it all trying to predict what the mobile market wants in a year when your OEM ships is insane. That is why so many Microsoft products are born, live, and die inside Microsoft. They become obsolete before they have a single user. That is why Microsoft ships so few products.

  18. Paul Judd Says:

    I agree with you Hamranhansenhansen – and I think it's largely because MS wants something that they can brand in the market like X-Box. They don't want to be seen as generic with the word "tablet" I remember them pushing "slate" for years and it's so that they can stand out in the market and push Windows 7 in more markets.

    Unfortunately, they are in a market where Apple is seeing huge domination in much like the iPod was – everybody (even MS) said that they had the answer to the iPod and even by copying it exactly (with the Zune) they still fell way short. Of course they failed because Apple had such huge domination by the time that Zune came out.

  19. Samir Shah Says:

    Microsoft should come up with a Windows Phone 7 OS tablet as soon as possible, maybe even March.

  20. Colin Says:

    Microsoft lost the race four years ago when the iPhone came out. They have done nothing since to appreciably change that fact. They have lots of dead iThing killers like the Zune and the Windows Market place. Good job Bill left when he did.

  21. Chad Richey Says:

    How Many I-Fanboys Does It TAke To Fill Up A WP7 Post……LOL

  22. Marty Says:

    A really good Idea. But I don't think it's possible?haha. Educate me people. Thanks. Best Mid-Range Digital SLR Cameras