These were Microsoft’s attempts at creating an iPad-like device, a tablet-esque computing platform complete with the now-ridiculous “blackberry-style” keys, ultra-thick casings (by today’s standards), with super-slow processors, tiny screens and non-tablet friendly operating systems.
Obviously, Microsoft’s heart was in the right place – after all, the company had been trying to create a tablet experience ever since Pen Windows 3.1, which today is a very long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Bill Gates launched tablets in the early 2000’s yet again, with Windows XP Tablet Edition, and while I personally loved the idea, I hated the fact those early tablets cost $4000 and up, a price that’s 10 times more than what Apple charges for its cheapest iPad.
Ever since the iPhone and then iPad started whooping Microsoft’s behind, Microsoft has been desperately trying to get Vista and Windows 7 in a tablet friendly state.
Unfortunately for the big Redmondian company, it has taken someone like Samsung to come up with its excellent Series Slate 7 tablet, rather than Microsoft itself, with the Series 7 slate the very best Windows-powered tablet computer I’ve ever used, one which, had it launched in the early 2000s, could easily have changed the course of history as we know it.
Sadly, the tablet instead launched in 2011, too late to save the pre-Windows 8 world of tablets, while showcasing what the future of x86-powered Windows tablets will probably look like.
In 2012, Microsoft is still desperately trying to crack the tablet market, and this time, it appears to be following its many years of success with the Xbox.
Microsoft has always feared creating its own brand of PC, because it didn’t want to offend its OEMs.
However that never stopped Microsoft in the games console space, the company was happy to offend Sony and Nintendo as much as it wanted, even though Sony made Windows PCs.
When Microsoft made the Zune media player, it actually contracted Toshiba to do the job (at least, initially, as far as I am aware), thus engaging an OEM at the expense of others, and while the Zune was a flop that could have been the Xplayer that morphed into an XPhone, it showed Microsoft worrying less and less about offending those OEMs.
Now comes news that Microsoft is planning on releasing its own ARM-powered Windows 8 RT tablet, one that will never run the current crop of x86, Intel-based apps (or at least, without recompilation) – aside from Office 2013 RT – but we don’t know yet who will make it for Microsoft, what it will cost and, importantly, whether anyone will care.
Now, Microsoft isn’t reported to be making an x86 or x64 Intel or AMD powered tablet that would run virtually all of the existing Windows 7 software, which would be a much more direct slap in the face to the existing OEMs.
It’s expected to be an ARM-powered tablet that will offend OEMs much less, while still putting them “en guarde” against any future Microsoft x86/x64 own-hardware-brand assault.
So far, it’s a site called “The Wrap” that says “an individual with knowledge of the company said that Microsoft would introduce a Microsoft-manufactured tablet at the event” .
Everything else, including this article, appears to be history mixed in with a bit of speculation.
One thing is certain, however – any future Windows tablet definitely won’t be running Windows XP, although Xpectations are high that Microsoft will finally be taking much better advantage of its market-leading Xbox branding.
If only Microsoft would do the same with an XPhone, something that would likely help Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 models far more than the ridiculously long mouthful that is “Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8”.
Whatever Microsoft decides to do on Monday (US time), we can only hope that it is truly a spectacular event that really brings some serious competition to the table, or the rest of 2012 and 2013 will deservedly be the year of the iPads yet again, and quite possibly the end of Steve Ballmer.