Microsoft not sure if tablets will "remain with us or not"

By on March 30, 2011, 3:56 PM
Craig Mundie, Microsoft's global chief research and strategy officer, is one of the many company's employees charged with trying to gauge what computers will be like in the future. Almost every consumer electronics company is throwing its weight behind tablet computers, but Mundie isn't so sure they are here to stay. He recently expressed these feelings, as well as Microsoft's strategy in general regarding the mobile and portable space, at a lunch held in Sydney by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

"I think there's an important distinction - and frankly one we didn't jump on at Microsoft fast enough - between mobile and portable Mobile is something that you want to use while you're moving, and portable is something that you move and then use," Mundie told The Sydney Morning Herald. "These are going to bump into one another a little bit and so today you can see tablets and pads and other things that are starting to live in the space in between. Personally I don't know whether that space will be a persistent one or not."

Mundie also mentioned a new type of smartphone technology he had seen in the labs. When the user looks at the phone, "instead of seeing a screen it can beam individual rays of light into your eyes right on your retina ... [so] you can look at your phone and see HDTV". His conclusion is therefore doubtful when it comes to the tablet category: "I don't know whether the big screen tablet pad category is going to remain with us or not."

Mundie definitely has a point. Many believed that desktops would go away when the laptops started to take over, but while laptops have become significant more popular, desktops are still being purchased. It's currently unclear whether netbooks and tablets will stick around as long as desktops and laptops.

While tablets may end up being just a fad, Microsoft should not ignore them completely. It originally did this with netbooks and then realized they were getting popular with Linux so it stepped in with Windows 7. I've argued before that we should thank the netbook for Windows 7. Despite its late entrance, the company in the end succeeded in taking over the new form factor.

There are many more players in the tablet space, however, and Microsoft's strategy of simply pushing Windows might not be a good one. It is possible the software giant will awe us with Windows 8 as it did with Windows 7, but in the meantime the company looks very ill-equipped to compete with the likes of Apple and Google, on the software side of things.




User Comments: 22

Got something to say? Post a comment
Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

I always saw netbooks as a total fad. However, I do believe tablets have more value in terms of the market niche they fill. Whether they will be around in a decade is a different thing, but I feel they are much more likely to stay than netbooks.

Guest said:

I predict the smart phone will be the mobile computing device of choice.

At home or work put it in a docking station to have whatever peripheral devices you want connected.

dedparrot said:

i think both markets are here to stay.

netbooks are cheap, and i think there'll always be a need for cheap and small notebooks.

tablets are thin and light and are instantly accessible in terms of the way you use it, as well as the fact they're extremely fast on their respective OS's. i think tablets will get more popular, but not as ubiquitous as laptops and netbooks, since tablets as of yet don't have very intuitive keyboards or ways of inputting text.

the way it currently stands, i see the netbook market shrinking slightly, and the tablet market growing but not at a crazy rate such as netbooks and not the kind of market share things like laptops posses, not even close in fact. though all this is very predictable.

though i do think, there's 2 areas where innovation will turn the mobile computing market on it's head. the first is innovation in text input for tablets, and the Asus Eee Transformer i feel is pushing the market in the direction which'll push netbooks out of the market. the Asus Transformer is tablet that can also attach to a netbook style keyboard and touchpad and can then function as a fully fledged computer. the second is, innovation pushed by Motorola with the Atrix 4g and it's laptop dock, which can again make netbooks obsolete. the idea is that a phone powerful enough that when plugged in to a ultrathin laptop shell, runs a version of the OS on the phone.

having thought about it, i do think netbooks will become obsolete.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

We need to remember that those cool foldable displays are on the horizon.

The computer has not been the problem for a few years now, its the display. A tablet is just a portable monitor with a computer attached to it.

As Guest said, computers will be the size of smartphones and people will dock them everywhere.

Not to say that a tablet is not a good product right now, but I would not look at it as the end all of computing.

I'm more of the opinion people will have a wireless foldable display that gets data from a computer in your pocket via wifi or bluetooth (or whatever they'll make in 2015)

Guest said:

Who doesn't want have a tablet with an oled screen, ssd disk(with good os in there) and a battery with nanotechnology which last 1 week with heavy use?

I think the tablets are here to stay.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Its good they dont put all their eggs in one basket.

Netbook were always there to stay, from the very beggining. This on the other hand are "hype" and they will pass, tablets will be used but not sure about how long they'll stick.

How about this... I'll invent something you can hold on your hands and that it has a touchscreen and you can have on the go all the time with you without worrying about being mugged for it... it will also have the ability to call your loved ones, will have 3g and we will even put a camera on it... wait what?? You mean it was there all the time? YES AND IT IS CALLED A SMARTPHONE.

Guest said:

Desktop and laptop for me, I've absolutely no use for or will I ever waste money on a netbook or tablet.

BlueNoser said:

Depending where you live kibaruk,

smartphone plan with bell 65 bucks, 1g of data,go over and you be toasted

tablet plan,35 bucks ,5g of data ,stops at 5g wait for the new month to start or refill your data bucket

Nokia 2730 dummy phone and a tablet is a lot cheaper for me

Guest said:

I think Mr Craig Mundie is missing the point. Tablets are just one of the current modes of presenting data to users.

What is important to develop is the Applications and protocols and modifying them for the medium. As new technologies appear, it will be just a matter of modifiying the interface.

Guest said:

What do you expect him to say working for microsoft, who missed the boat on the tablet phemom...I think the future is bigger and bulkier desktops...

bonniesmith bonniesmith said:

Yes , just like they didn't think smart phones were going to be the next big thing!

Guest said:

I think any company first release a tablet with a keyboard attached to the back (like nokia communicator), but in a more fashioned way. Very thin keyboard and with 2 stands on the back of the tablet.

This would instakill netbook market.

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The right hardware with the right software model and tablets will stick around.

Arris Arris said:

"portable Mobile"

Urm ok, I'll be wanting a portable mobile processing computer please Mr. Mundie.

Edit : My mistake, I see now there was meant to be a full stop between "portable" and "Mobile". Still, something that you use on the move and something you move then use... anything with a screen that you have to concentrate on is going to in the same category. Dunno about anyone else but if I'm browsing on my smartphone I'm very rarely walking around at the sametime. Tablet/smart phone/netbook. Pretty much all the same, just different form factors. I see little benefit to trying to separate them into different categories. It's just a way to disguise their mistake at discounting this market as one worth investing in.

Zilpha Zilpha said:

What do you expect him to say working for microsoft, who missed the boat on the tablet phemom...I think the future is bigger and bulkier desktops...

They didn't miss the boat - they were making OS for tablets before Apple got hold of it and made it into an "i" whatever. The tablet isn't a brand new phenomenon - Steve Jobs just has made it popular by stickikng his logo on it. Now everyone is jumping back on board.

They (Microsoft) just don't see the real value in it and frankly neither do I. I'm a big fan of a nice keyboard where I can type my thoughts easily and not have to go over the screen five times to hit the correct letter. Touch screens are great for some things but this tablet fad will pass when Mr. Jobs leads the sheep in another direction.

Guest said:

Hate to burst your bubble, but the iPad isn't popular because of the logo that's on it. It's popular because, gasp! people actually enjoy using it. It was designed from the ground-up to be a touchscreen device and it shows. It's not a Windows OS device that's based around a mouse UI crammed into a touch form-factor. It's quick, easy & painless to install apps. Play with the thing for a few minutes and you've got the hang of it. You don't need a manual, you don't need "Windows for Dummies" books, you don't need the family techgeek to babysit it for you.

If it's not to your liking, fine. No need to automatically assume that it's only popular because of some stupid logo. Not only is it underestimating something pretty severely, it's pretty insulting to a significant portion of the tech market population who've bought one and enjoy it.

If you're old enough, this should all remind you of the kneejerk reactions when the first PC's came out ... namely Apple II's. They were scoffed at, called "merely toys," etc. The first people to buy those found out that they could use them for useful tasks. Ever hear of Visicalc? It's the great-grandaddy of all spreadsheet programs. It was one of the first things that truly allowed PC's to make it into business.

Scoffing at current tablets appears to be history repeating itself.

Zilpha Zilpha said:

Hate to burst your bubble, but the iPad isn't popular because of the logo that's on it. It's popular because, gasp! people actually enjoy using it. It was designed from the ground-up to be a touchscreen device and it shows. It's not a Windows OS device that's based around a mouse UI crammed into a touch form-factor. It's quick, easy & painless to install apps. Play with the thing for a few minutes and you've got the hang of it. You don't need a manual, you don't need "Windows for Dummies" books, you don't need the family techgeek to babysit it for you.

If it's not to your liking, fine. No need to automatically assume that it's only popular because of some stupid logo. Not only is it underestimating something pretty severely, it's pretty insulting to a significant portion of the tech market population who've bought one and enjoy it.

If you're old enough, this should all remind you of the kneejerk reactions when the first PC's came out ... namely Apple II's. They were scoffed at, called "merely toys," etc. The first people to buy those found out that they could use them for useful tasks. Ever hear of Visicalc? It's the great-grandaddy of all spreadsheet programs. It was one of the first things that truly allowed PC's to make it into business.

Scoffing at current tablets appears to be history repeating itself.

Sounds like I hit a sore spot there. You are pretty ballsy to be speaking for a "significat portion of the tech market population" when the there's only been about 15 million of them sold to date compared to what, 300 million Windows 7?

I'm sure you are very proud of being able to browse the internet and watch a video on an iPad. I can do the same thing on my Windows PC, without a manual or a "techgeek", and for a lot less money.

You are a classic example of someone overstating the facts.

BlueNoser said:

Zilpha said:

Hate to burst your bubble, but the iPad isn't popular because of the logo that's on it. It's popular because, gasp! people actually enjoy using it. It was designed from the ground-up to be a touchscreen device and it shows. It's not a Windows OS device that's based around a mouse UI crammed into a touch form-factor. It's quick, easy & painless to install apps. Play with the thing for a few minutes and you've got the hang of it. You don't need a manual, you don't need "Windows for Dummies" books, you don't need the family techgeek to babysit it for you.

If it's not to your liking, fine. No need to automatically assume that it's only popular because of some stupid logo. Not only is it underestimating something pretty severely, it's pretty insulting to a significant portion of the tech market population who've bought one and enjoy it.

If you're old enough, this should all remind you of the kneejerk reactions when the first PC's came out ... namely Apple II's. They were scoffed at, called "merely toys," etc. The first people to buy those found out that they could use them for useful tasks. Ever hear of Visicalc? It's the great-grandaddy of all spreadsheet programs. It was one of the first things that truly allowed PC's to make it into business.

Scoffing at current tablets appears to be history repeating itself.

Sounds like I hit a sore spot there. You are pretty ballsy to be speaking for a "significat portion of the tech market population" when the there's only been about 15 million of them sold to date compared to what, 300 million Windows 7?

I'm sure you are very proud of being able to browse the internet and watch a video on an iPad. I can do the same thing on my Windows PC, without a manual or a "techgeek", and for a lot less money.

You are a classic example of someone overstating the facts.

Yes,but can you do it on top of a mountain, in a ten,t in a storm for 9 hrs

Guest said:

Thinkpad x60s could, sure.

Guest said:

Tablets are fantastic!

Now if they could just add a mechanical keyboard instead of those fiddly on screen things. And maybe a bigger screen... Some extra storage space would be nice too!

Hang on a sec.... im describing a laptop...

Guess microsoft are right...

Desktops for horsepower, laptops for portability, tablets for ****** who like to look cool at the expense of functionality.

Guest said:

Tablet will be part of the online surfing gadget but will never replace laptop or desktop at least for another 10 to 20 yrs. Reason is plain simple, tablet pc processing power is far too lame.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think that in the long run (5 years from now) tablets will be consolidated with e-book readers. They'd be lighter than current tablets (150-300g), cost a lot less than today ($100-$300), have a long battery life, and have slightly less processing power than phones, but enough for everyday computing use (more than the Atom currently offers). As such they'll serve, when bundled with a keyboard, to replace netbooks.

While I think that phones will be the major computing platform, I think that all the special display techs (retina scan, projection, ...) will lose to the physical screen, at least in that time range.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.