updated 07:45 am EDT, Tue July 13, 2010
MS holding iPad focus group
Microsoft revealed the pressure it feels from the iPad today as it has posted an open call on Facebook for a study of iPad owners. The Windows developer's User Research team hopes to have two-hour focus groups at its campus between July 16 and July 21 asking owners how they use the Apple tablet. It didn't provide any particular clues as to the direction of the research.
While Microsoft often conducts research to gauge how users treat its own products, it doesn't often directly solicit input on competitors. The study suggests the company is genuinely concerned about its position in the tablet market and either hopes to alter Windows' tablet experience to better match the experience driving customers to iPads or to develop a newer experience of its own.
The Redmond, Washington-based company has long been one of the earliest advocates for tablet computing and began pushing them as early as 2002, but it has been frustrated as emphases on notebooks and pen-based input, as well as offshoots such as UMPC and Origami, have left the Tablet PC concept a niche even eight years later.
Microsoft's most conspicuous attempt to preempt Apple, the Courier dual-screen tablet, was ultimately cancelled at the concept stage for unknown reasons. It was widely rumored as a device intended for production, but the frenzy surrounding the iPad and possible internal debates about the Courier's feasibility may have cut its production short.