Categorized | Microsoft, Tablet News

Windows Phone is not for tablets, says Microsoft

If you've admired the attractive Metro interface of Windows Phone 7 and wondered when you'll see it on a tablet, Microsoft's answer is... never. Windows Phone 7 isn't for tablets and won't appear on anything Microsoft-sanctioned,  the firm says, which means Microsoft is effectively sitting out the tablet wars for another year.

Microsoft's Andy Lees, Windows Phone president, told Microsoft partners that Microsoft sees tablets as PCs, and PCs mean Windows. The firm predicts that phones, tablets and PCs will eventually merge into a "unified ecosystem", with a more modular Windows able to adapt to everything from small smartphones to PCs and games consoles. If that sounds familiar, it's because the message is effectively the same "Windows Everywhere" strategy that Microsoft has been following for years.

The unified ecosystem should appear when Windows 8 ships, which we're expecting to see next year. Its interface borrows heavily from Windows Phone, although old-style Windows apps will retain the familiar Windows look and feel, which could be awfully confusing, and it will run not just on Intel-powered PCs but on ARM-powered tablets. Such tablets make up the majority of tablets on sale today, so ARM support is crucial if Windows 8 wants to play in the increasingly crowded tablet market. Windows 8 is expected to supplant Windows Phone too.

The only fly in the ointment is whether Microsoft is taking the right approach here. iPads have been successful because they're simple; in fact, they're the least computer-y computer most people have ever owned. Microsoft believes that customers want "to be able to do the sort of things they do on a PC on a tablet", says Lees, which is the polar opposite of Apple's approach. If Microsoft is right, Windows 8 tablets will be massive - but if it's wrong, they could be a massive mistake.

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