Digitimes is reporting that Microsoft is seriously considering to launch its own tablet PC featuring Windows 8. The new tablet design would be targeted directly towards the iPad and would leverage Microsoft’s Windows 8 design program, which is being established to encourage chip designers to work more closely with Microsoft in an effort to create a well integrated design.
Is Microsoft ready to build its own tablet PC? Will they have enough time to build a robust product with Windows 8?
Microsoft has shown serious signs on going after Apple with their Windows 8 design. Just a week ago, Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky, demonstrated at the D9 event his new tablet-native interface powered by Windows. As shown on the video below, Windows 8 is heavily focused on widgets and a design that would leverage finger touch and multiple gestures.
Based on what we’ve seen, there is no question that Microsoft plans to copy Apple’s App Store model by launching its own Microsoft Windows app store. We’ve already seen how Microsoft filed a motion objecting to Apple’s use of the term “App Store”. Although not fully confirmed, the following leaked image seems to show the way Microsoft is thinking about launching their own App Store effort.
But, who will partner with Microsoft in the development of its own tablet PC? According to Digitimes, Microsoft is planning to collaborate with Texas Instruments (TI) and Taiwan-based OEMs/ODMs. Microsoft could possibly use TI’s 1.8GHz OMAP4470 chip as a starting point.
Microsoft has been extremely successful with the XBOX 360, the Kinect and the ecosystem around those two products. However, the company has seen how the iPad has created a big dent on the PC-related market. The Zune media player has not been able to compete against Apple’s iPod family, and the iPhone, let’s just say, is a no contest. That leaves Microsoft looking for a strategy where they can leverage its branding around XBOX 360, the Kinect and the ecosystem around it. The answer could very well be Windows 8, if the company finds a way to tightly integrate all those pieces with a new operating system that brings simplicity to consumers and somehow another distribution channel to developers.
Let’s not forget that Apple’s vertical integration strategy is one of the reasons why the iPad has been so successful. Apple’s iOS integration with the App Store, iTunes, and a strong discipline around the hardware design and select partners has allowed Apple to dominate the tablet market. This week’s WWDC keynote will only add more ammunition to Apple’s domination. The iCloud service and iOS 5 will certainly force several companies to scramble.
Apple has certainly forced Microsoft to think about a new Windows 8 tablet. Will Microsoft be able to challenge the iPad with its own design? As of now, the rumor seems to show a release around late 2012 coinciding with Windows 8 shipments. That may be a bit too late for Microsoft. The iPad 3 will be in stores by then.