updated 08:10 am EDT, Wed June 1, 2011
Microsoft copying Apple for Windows 8 tablets
Microsoft is hoping to recreate some of Apple's strategy for Windows 8 tablets, a trio of insiders said Wednesday. In order to get "incentives" from Microsoft, a processor designer like Intel would have to work with only one PC builder and cooperate on one design. The Bloomberg tip hinted the device might get better performance or a lower price for software licenses.
The strategy wasn't confirmed by Microsoft but would help explain Acer's complaints about Microsoft on Tuesday at Computex. Chairman JT Wang had been complaining about unmentioned chip restrictions that were "very troublesome" without saying what they were. At the time, it was presumed this would affect current tablets, but it's now more likely that Wang was referencing the Windows 8 limits.
The objection would likely be to the consequences of a chip partner, including an ARM-based designer like NVIDIA or Qualcomm, choosing someone else for the special deal. Acer, and any other would-be Windows 8 tablet creator, might be forced to choose a processor they didn't want to use in order to achieve its goal. Semiconductor firms under the program would also have the option of a second partner for a traditional notebook design, but that again would exclude all others.
Microsoft's strategy would closely echo that for Windows Phone 7 and in turn try to parallel Apple's strategy for the iPad, where narrow hardware guidelines lead to a better experience. The limitations would push the hardware and software manufacturers in the program to work more closely together and possibly lead to better integration than exists today. Most complaints around Windows 7 tablets have centered around poor battery life and a lack of software optimization; the Windows 8 rule would potentially improve the experience.
A first demo of the Windows 8 tablet interface is expected to show at Windows division lead Steven Sinofsky's interview at D9 Wednesday evening.