updated 02:50 pm EDT, Tue July 12, 2011
Microsoft's Lees says no Windows Phone 7 tablets
Microsoft's Windows Phone president Andy Lees at the Worldwide Partners Conference once again tried to shoot down hopes for tablets based on Windows Phone 7. The use of the mobile OS would be "in conflict" with Microsoft's notion of having the full speed of a computer in any design, including truly mobile tablets. He insisted that users would want to do PC-style activities on a tablet and saw Windows 8's networking and printing support as being important.
"We view a tablet as a PC," Lees said.
The company is being helped by a long-requested call for Windows to support ARM chips, which will give Windows tablets the battery life and thin profiles that have been off-limits due to Microsoft's long insistence on Intel-based processors. Windows 8 itself borrows heavily from Windows Phone 7's tile-based interface and even has an Apple-influenced app store in development.
A focus on PC features has so far done little to improve Microsoft's share. Windows was once the only real tablet platform but was almost immediately eclipsed by the iPad, which went on to outsell Windows Tablet PC's lifetime sales in just nine months. In early 2011, 99 percent of tablets were non-Windows devices. Many have specifically pointed to the lack of legacy desktop platforms as a plus, since it keeps the OS lean and has led to a truly optimized interface and apps.
Windows 8 will only have a legacy of apps for conventional apps written for x86 chips. To get truly tablet-optimized apps will need an interface rewrite, and ARM apps will need to be recompiled whether or not they use the touch-friendly elements.
Microsoft has a direct motivation to convince buyers that the PC-oriented model for tablets will work. Poor mobile sales have left it still dependent on desktop Windows for sales. These have been directly threatened by the iPad as some netbook and low-end notebook sales have gone to Apple's tablet.