updated 10:20 am EDT, Fri April 30, 2010
MS may suffer 2nd defeat in tablet wars via HP
HP is about to drop its Windows 7 slate in favor of a better operating system, a major leak may have revealed late Thursday. Despite being championed by Microsoft at the CES 2010 keynote, the slate is reportedly being scrapped because HP doesn't like Windows 7 as a tablet OS. Instead, it could use Android or or webOS.
The contact for TechCrunch suggested HP may even drop Intel chips entirely due to battery life issues, which would rule out any desktop Microsoft OS. Leaked specs for the Windows slate showed it getting just five hours of battery life with an Atom processor, or just half the longevity of an iPad and in many cases half the runtime of a similarly equipped but less expensive netbook.
What prompted the sudden dissatisfaction isn't evident, although it may have come after rapid sales of the iPad, which uses a mobile OS designed for touch. Windows 7 has multi-touch elements, but most of the finger-ready elements on the HP slate were added by HP itself. Most user interface components in Windows 7 still either assume or work best with the use of a mouse.
A switch away from Windows 7 would be the second major setback for Microsoft's tablet efforts in one week, as the company just recently shelved the Courier project at the same time as it publicly confirmed the design's existence. Spurred on largely by co-founder Bill Gates, Microsoft has repeatedly tried to push tablets into the mainstream but has never had success outside of niche markets. The HP slate and Courier together would have been the first two major, mainstream touch-only tablets using Microsoft platforms.
A switch by HP, if true, would also be a symbolic blow to Microsoft's relationships with its partners. HP has been one of Microsoft's most loyal devotees and has made only Windows Mobile smartphones even though the iPAQ line has had largely negligible market share. HP had already signaled its intent to use non-Microsoft mobile software through devices like the Airlife 100 but has never overtly switched a project away from Windows until now.
Neither HP nor Microsoft has commented on the supposed change of events.