Microsoft's Ballmer: We're coming full guns with iPad rivals

By on July 29, 2010, 9:10 PM
It was foretold that 2010 would be the year of the tablet, but iPad competitors are late to the race, and to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's chagrin, it's starting to look like Apple may have free reign until the eve of 2011. Talking to analysts today, the executive acknowledged the iPad's success saying, "they've sold certainly more than I'd like them to have sold."

Despite its delayed entry (or re-entry, if you will) Microsoft is working closely with hardware partners to develop iPad rivals and Ballmer stressed the importance of those devices. "It is job one urgency. No one is sleeping at the switch…We're coming. We're coming full guns," he said. As for when they're coming, Ballmer only gave generalizations like "it ain't a long time from now."


The discussion wasn't too revealing, but forthcoming slates will be Wintel-powered. Microsoft is supposedly "tuning" Windows 7, while hardware will be largely focused on Intel's existing Pine Trail platform, and eventually Oak Trail when it releases next year. We're not sure what to make of the "tuning" bit, but we assume it's just minor optimizations for things like touch input.

Microsoft hasn't had the best of luck in the mobile space -- be it tablets or phones. The company has tried unsuccessfully for years to establish a demand for tablets, and recent projects like the Slate and Courier have failed to transcend the pre-launch hype phase. Meanwhile, it entirely dropped the ball with Windows Mobile and Kin was a disaster. Here's to hoping things improve in Redmond.




User Comments: 14

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Guest said:

But then let's not forget the roaring success of Windows 7, X-Box 360, and to a lesser extent the Zune HD.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

In a nutshell its irrelevant what have happened in the past, how many times we've seen tables turned on an established player? On a more practical note, I'd love to see lot more competition in this segment, would be great for consumers.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Agreed with Archean, the iPad is a bit crap really, it would be nice to see much more compatition and with Microsoft in the game, we may finally get a fully functioning computer in a touch pad style computer.

Weirdly, I cannot wait.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

The only problem with the Zune HD is it's only available in the US.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Honestly, Microsoft's biggest hurdle has been their "bloatware" tendencies over the years. As a whole, Microsoft is used to building software for ever expanding and more powerful hardware, which shows in how they tended to just fill the space they had, rather than keeping things optimized and lean. Now they are being forced to target a massively limited hardware spec that chokes on that lackadaisical programming bloat of the past. At least there were some major strides in optimization and performance with the process that birthed Windows7, which gives them a glimmer of hope. But they still have a long way to go before they can put together an OS that is as sleek and fast as the Apple mobile OS or Android.

Their best bet is probably still going to be their fleshed out Win7 Mobile platform, but of course everyone will whine about it not running "real Windows" applications. Still, I think it's their only shot. The performance and power hit from trying to run full Win7 is just too extreme, and it becomes a huge detriment when consumers are comparing products - they tend to want things like "snappy" and "long life between recharges"

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't don't see what this market is for. My android phone is an ultra portable web browser and gets me information on the go. My laptop is a mobile computer. And my desktop is where I get most of my work done. And really, there isn't any holes in my life where I'm not next to something that can get me information. Except maybe the couch, where I don't want to break out the laptop because it's a bit bulky and the battery doesn't last very long, and it is a bit too warm for resting on my lap any ways. But even then, if a Tablet can't change my TV channels, it's just something to take up space on the coffee table that I pick up once in a while. That's not going to drive sales.

Apple's iPad is getting sold to education and had a large number of education oriented developers behind it. It's a good / affordable student computer.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

In a nutshell its irrelevant what have happened in the past, how many times we've seen tables turned on an established player? On a more practical note, I'd love to see lot more competition in this segment, would be great for consumers.

How many times have you seen the tables turned on the iPods, or even the iPhones. Apple has a year head start on everyone here, details on iPad rivals will be published well before they are released so no 'killer features' will surprise Apple. Giving them time to release their own.

I don't understand the appeal of a tablet anyway, having 200 competitors (because you know thats going to happen rather than 3 really good ones) is going to over saturate a market that almost doesn't exist.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wasn't Nokia was sitting happily, feeling like the best in business and untouchable at the top of the tree just a few years ago in the smartphone market ..... now look at them, likes of Apple and Samsung are giving them huge headaches. If you think Apple can 'forever' survive on two or three good devices, that is your choice specially considering that Apple try to 'lock out its customers' to software only 'approved' by them.

I don't think Apple is a good influence on the market with such practices, but as a innovator it is on the roll for a while now, that is one reason people are buying their products at this moment in time.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@9Nails - I'd love a decent tablet for travel reasons. I spend quite a lot of time on planes and in hotels, and having an easy to handle product that can serve as an ebook reader, large(r) screen media player, maybe play some light games if I get the urge, and also give me the ability to jot down a few notes or other basic functions would suit me perfectly. I hate hauling out the laptop on the crowded planes with cramped seating arrangements. I have a PSP for games and media, but a tablet-sized screen would be great for movies. And I have an old 1st generation Kindle for books, which is too restricted as far as book file types it will read, so I'm already contemplating a Sony or other reader.

If I could pack all of that into 1 product, I'd consider myself very fortunate. But, I'm picky. I can see some of the perks of the iPad, but I want a 3Qi screen (or similar) with a no-backlight option for ebook reading, both for battery savings and for eye strain. Don't really care about the OS so much, just want something fast and reliable. So I get to bide my time and wait for just the right product to arrive.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Wasn't Nokia was sitting happily, feeling like the best in business and untouchable at the top of the tree just a few years ago in the smartphone market ..... now look at them, likes of Apple and Samsung are giving them huge headaches. If you think Apple can 'forever' survive on two or three good devices, that is your choice specially considering that Apple try to 'lock out its customers' to software only 'approved' by them.

I don't think Apple is a good influence on the market with such practices, but as a innovator it is on the roll for a while now, that is one reason people are buying their products at this moment in time.

Those are good points. The Nokia example though is specific to phones, Apple came into the game though and changed it forever (like they did with mp3 players), now look at all the devices out there with an interface pretty similar. So I think the momentum has swung to devices like that and unless something comes out that is drastically different and better I'm not sure about Apple losing momentum.

I do agree with the locked down interface comment, this is Apple's biggest weakness (and their strength at the same time). If you give everyone what they want in an iPhone and also give them the freedom of the Droid then you have a device that has more positives and less negatives than the iPhone. Apple can't keep their current business model and open it up at the same time...

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I want a iPad type thing because I hate laptops, they annoy me because they usually weigh to much or are just annoying to open up and use on the train etc... as an ipad type device you litterally just switch it on and the screen is just there and they weigh less. Basically i'm holding out for a computer than doesn't have a flip-for-the-screen kind of system.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Huge market for cheaper tablets which don't need to run Windows OS on. Android replicated ones even with the same CPU use in the iPad A8 1GHz you only need to find either the new Flat Computing FlatPad A10 10.2" $285 US sold in Texas online, tax and shipping charges makes the replicated iPAD $3xx. If you buy the same unit from China Vendor it would cost $216 to $239 bucks for 10" IPS LCD with 256MB of RAM and 2GB storage as the iPAD comes in 16GB up the replicated ones go from 16GB to 32GB using microSDHC slot.

Anyway my last laptop 15.6 with blue ray will be it next is going to be tablets. I frankly don't want to pay $400 to $800 for one if I can get it for $100 to $300 I would be straight. China Vendor give you 1 year warranty but the long wait to be ship from there to the US is a very long one indeed!

tengeta tengeta said:

I know the iPad sold better than expected and all, but seriously are tablets even taking off yet? That was the first and compared to the sales of other types of devices it is still technically a failure. I think this is just another fad that they are trying to shove down peoples throats, basically they want you to have a PC, phone, AND a tablet (preferably all with separate monthly internet bills as well).

tullriles said:

How true, Tengeta...they will shove at the consumer whatever the consumer will swallow.

There are always a bunch who need to jump on the latest toy, and they don't even really care what it is, as long as they have it!

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