Windows tablet 'delayed till 2012'

Bloomberg reports long wait for Windows

In the same week that Apple released version 2 of its iPad tablet PC arch rival Microsoft is rumoured to be delaying its own version of Windows for tablets until late next year.

Bloomberg reports that Microsoft won't release a competitor to Apple and Google's tablet operating systems until the 2012 back-to- school season - quoting "people with knowledge of the plans".

The report states that Microsoft is working to update its Windows 7 operating system with features more tailored to the touchscreens, size and battery life of tablet.

However, this news suggests that Microsoft will wait for the release of its Windows 8 operating system to synchronise its tablet release.

Microsoft effectively launched the tablet PC category in 2000, but it was Apple's iPad that broke the market.

But the delay is dangerous, say analysts, giving Apple and Google more time to strengthen their grip on the market.

"If 2011 is the year of the tablet wars, Microsoft will be awfully late suiting up for that battle," said Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg.

A 2012 debut for Microsoft would likely put it up against a third-generation iPad from Apple and second and third versions of devices based on Google's Android system, Gartenberg said.

HP's TouchPad and RIM's PlayBook will also have been updated to their second generations by then, he said.

Mark Martin, a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, declined to comment.

"Battle lines are being drawn, land is being grabbed, users are being evangelized and spending money," Gartenberg said.

Microsoft demonstrated the next version of Windows running on Arm processors in the opening keynote of CES - a big move for the company as it attempts to adapt Windows for tablet PCs.

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