Why Didn’t Microsoft Consider Windows Phone 7 For Tablets?

Numerous different sources across the net have said on more than one occasion that Microsoft is waiting too long to seriously get involved in the tablet market.

While I’ve argued in the past that the market is going to expand in a big way over the course of the next few years, I will also admit that getting aboard early with tablets would likely have helped Microsoft better establish itself in the tablet world.

So why did Microsoft wait so long? Clearly because they are stacking all their cards on the Windows 8 gamble. I am fully confident that Windows 8 will be accepted, in time, on the PC (though many power users might disable METRO in the process).

As far as Microsoft’s aspirations for the tablet scene though?

I am not as certain. I just am not certain if Microsoft will have as much success conquering the tablet market as it did the netbook market (which early on was a Linux victory).

Microsoft’s tablets seem more targeted towards power-users and Enterprise,  but if ARM doesn’t have desktop support in any form, I’m not sure how well it will work even there.

I imagine that Microsoft has something big up their shelves and hope to be pleasantly surprised when W8 tablets finally do hit the market.

It’s a little too late to be looking back at the past, but for argument’s sake I’m going to. My personal opinion is that Microsoft should have entered the market earlier, even though I think waiting for Windows 8 isn’t going to kill them by any means.

So what would an earlier launch have looked like?

It clearly wouldn’t have been a good idea to focus on Windows 7 for tablets, although such tablets do exist they aren’t exactly popular or useful for many types of users.

So that turns our attention to Windows Phone 7. I truly believe Microsoft could had tweaked WP7 into “Windows Tablet 7”, updating the interface for larger screens and perhaps adding a few other features along the way.

Such an effort wouldn’t have required major resources, and I don’t think it would have really gotten in the way on Windows 8 development.

This would have been an interim tablet OS, until Windows 8 arrived on scene. I know you might be thinking, “Starting one OS and then dropping it for W8 in a year or two doesn’t sound like a good idea”.

This might be true in some ways, but keep in mind converting WP7 apps to W8 isn’t that difficult.

If Microsoft had developed some kind of “Windows Tablet 7 Migration Tool” to mass-convert files when people bought new tablets running Windows 8, the problem would be largely irrelevant. Windows gets new releases every few years and so it wouldn’t seem that strange.

I realize all of this is just speculation and really doesn’t change anything, still I would have loved to see WP7 hit the large screen. Additionally, tablets running a modified version of WP7 might have helped the sales of WP7 handsets as well.

Of course we all know Microsoft shot down any and all ideas regarding WP7 on the tablet. This likely because Microsoft eventually plans on ending WP support and merging the NT core into its mobile phone OS.

Do you think Microsoft should have considered using WP7 on its tablets or does WP7 just not cut it for this kind of experience? Will waiting hurt their chances of Windows 8 being accepted in the tablet market? Share your thoughts below.

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  • ECM2

    Based on my two months experience with Windows Phone 7 (WP7), I think it is the best mobile OS ever created: WP7 combines elegance, simplicity, speed, stability, and basic functionality in one package.  It is way better than Android and iOS5.  The only disadvantage of WP7 compared to 
    Android and iOS5 right now is the absence of a Citrix receiver; but when Citrix becomes available to WP& users, WP7 will outshine 
    Android and iOS5  in most, if not all, areas. Since all current  iPads and Android tablets are just “big phones”, it will be utterly foolish for Microsoft and its OEM partners not to release “big WP7 phones”, i.e. WP7 tablets.  Since big phone tablets will never match the functionality of PCs or workstations, WP7 tablets will never compete with Win8 tablets.  In fact, WP7 tablets will lure users back to Windows, in the same way iPad users (most were Windows fans two years ago) are being hypnotized towards OSX.  The fact that the average gadget user will always strive to achieve “platform consistency” (e.g. iPhone-iPad-OSX or WP7-WP7tab-W8tab/pc or Android phones-Android tab-?Android pc) should be taken seriously by any gadget/software manufacturer.  I bet Google is working on an OS that will run on full-fledged computers. Just like Tic-Tac-Toe, the one who connects all three points will be the winner.

  • Dan Dar3

    I think MS did well in waiting for a full fledged OS for tablets – most people might use their tablets for casual browsing, games, music and web, but if you bring it to work or want to do any sort of office work while say on holidays you will the full desktop apps, vps and the sorts. And I think that’s where MS will do well with adding a new device, the casual tablet that can be occasionally used as a laptop when needed (add the portable docking, mouse and keyboard and your set). Work done half an hour later, give it back to your kid to play with it. The dual use will sell a lot I think – the same way people are not drawn into tablets cause they think it might be a waste of money if they can only do the casual stuff, that they can do already on their iPad, Android or WP7 phone.