Microsoft Tablet Strategy: More Business than Consumer?

Steve Ballmer's WPC 2010 keynote hints at Microsoft's intentions for the burgeoning slate market.

Despite being a pioneer in tablet PCs, Microsoft has failed to translate its ambitions into a successful slate-computing strategy. Adding insult to injury is the fact that archrival Apple has leaped past Redmond with the success launch of the iPad, a consumer-friendly tablet that's proven wildly popular thus far.

The result: Microsoft's playing catch-up again, not unlike the predicament it faces in the mobile computing world, where it lags far behind Apple and Google. But unlike the phone market, tablet computing is in its infancy, and Microsoft has a good chance of attaining major player status--provided it focuses on what it does best. And that, it seems, is to set its sights on business users, where Microsoft's core (and most profitable) products, including Windows, Office, Exchange, and SharePoint, dominate.

Calling Mr. Slate

Redmond plans to migrate its Windows 7 operating system to tablet devices, a strategy outlined by company CEO Steve Ballmer in his Monday keynote at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Washington, D.C. The company's traditional PC hardware partners, including Dell, Samsung, and Toshiba, will build Windows 7-based tablets, some of which will ship over the next few months, Ballmer said.

And while Microsoft's blustery boss did mention (without much detail) that these new tablets would "appeal to end users," his speech focused on the business benefits of Microsoft's slate strategy, one that would allow enterprises to support tablets via today's Microsoft management tools. Furthermore, Redmond's cloud services will play a large role in the company's tablet ecosystem, IDG News reports.

Ballmer's speech focused less on the end user appeal of tablets--such as how Microsoft is working to optimize Windows 7 for touchscreens--and more on back-end integration. Windows-based tablets and other thin-client devices, for instance, will work with the company's new Windows Azure Appliance, a hardware/software platform that's essentially a private cloud. Rather than risk a security breach by storing your information on a third-party Internet server, Azure lets you maintain your data in-house--a boon to large enterprises and governments.

Of course, given the business focus of Microsoft's WPC, it's not surprising that Ballmer's tablet pitch would focus on enterprise integration. His keynote, however, also suggests that Redmond's tablet strategy may focus more on vertical business markets--such as inventory and medical--where slate devices could prove essential. Microsoft's strengths are in the enterprise, and it makes sense for the company to adopt a business-friendly strategy in the burgeoning tablet market.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags business issueshardware systemsdesktop pcscorporatetabletslaptopsslatesgovernmentiPadofficeMicrosoftsecurity

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?