Microsoft preparing tight controls on Windows 8 tablet hardware

By Tom Warren, on 31st May 11 10:52 am with 24 Comments

Ballmer demonstrating a Windows Slate at CES 2010

Microsoft is preparing tighter controls on hardware for its Windows 8 tablet experience, according to reports.

Acer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer J.T. Wang described the controls as “troublesome” during a speech at the Computex trade show in Taipei this week. “They’re really controlling the whole thing, the whole process,” Wang said according to the Bloomberg news agency. Chip suppliers and PC makers “all feel it’s very troublesome,” he added. Wang would not identify the exact restrictions but Microsoft is understood to be creating a controlled experience similar to that of its Windows Phone range of devices.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer teased that the company is planning a unique approach to Windows 8 tablets. The software giant is working on a “unique contribution” to tablets according to Ballmer. “More news about that in the not-too-distant future,” he said during a speech last week. Microsoft’s Windows chief, Steven Sinofsky, is expected to demonstrate the company’s efforts with Windows 8 this week. WinRumors exclusively detailed the company’s plans last week. Sinofsky is appearing at the All Things Digital D9 conference on Wednesday morning. The software giant confirmed Sinofsky’s appearance last week. Microsoft has a habit of introducing new technologies at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital Conference, which will run from May 31 to June 2 this year. Bill Gates introduced Microsoft’s Surface computer in 2007 and the company demonstrated Windows 7 multitouch in 2008. Microsoft will show a “technology preview” of its Windows 8 Tablet experience at the conference next week.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promised Windows 8 PCs, Tablets and Slates next year during a speech last week. Several Taiwan based PC manufacturers have reportedly complained that they have been excluded from early Windows 8 development programs. The software giant has reportedly talked with Nvidia, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Intel and AMD to seek their participation in a special Integrated Development Program for Windows 8. Some companies have complained to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) in Taiwan to seek government involvement.

Microsoft may introduce Windows 8 ARM based tablets ahead of a full desktop release according to reports. Microsoft’s competitive tablet strategy is believed to be further along than expected. Dell’s recently leaked Tablet Roadmap revealed that the OEM has marked Q1 2012 as its date for a Windows 8 based slate. WinRumors understands that Microsoft has been working on an ARM based version of Windows for nearly a year and that it is laboring hard to bring this to the market as soon as possible. Microsoft has previously promised a “major revamp” of Windows for slate applications, that will come in the next version, Windows 8.

  • http://twitter.com/efjay01 Ef Jay

    Best thing that could happen. Look at Windows 7 tablets, some are underpowered with mediocre screens and insufficient memory but are always promoted with flashy promos which bear no similarity to the real, subpar experience. If its anything like the consistent experience of WP7 this is a good thing because users will always have a great experience and will be more inclined to buy W8 tablets. Seems OEM’s are upset they cant be as lazy as they have been previously and just chuck in any old crap and call it a tablet.

  • http://twitter.com/cameron_mck sca2pula

    Do we know a day or time for when Steven Sinofsky will be interviewed at D9?

    • http://www.winrumors.com Tom W

      In the article it states “Sinofsky is appearing at the All Things Digital D9 conference on Wednesday morning”

    • http://twitter.com/cameron_mck sca2pula

      Sorry bout that. Thanks for pointing it out :D Shows that skim reading IS bad :P

    • Crap

      And spelling…

  • jimy

    its needed… its just makes ms look bad when the hardware is crap.

  • Anonymous

    Not surprised to hear Acer is worried about these controls, since they’re known for bad quality and crapware galore. Poor guys, with Windows 8 they’ll be forced to make better PCs, like Asus, Dell, HP, Sony and Toshiba already do.

    • Anonymous

      Toshiba? What planet are you living on?

    • Anonymous

      Earth. Toshiba may be inferior to Asus, Dell, HP, Samsung and Sony, but surely is superior to Acer.

  • Timiteh

    Interesting that Microsoft plan tight control of Windows 8 slates like it did with Windows Phone. P.S: I think that it is more likely slate than tablets that the article is talking of. For me the iPad is a slate and tablet are a bit more advanced and closer to PC.
    However i would like that Microsoft went a bit further and co-develop with some selected OEM constructors to develop for them at least the first of Windows 8 Slates like i would have liked that they did for Windows Phones. Sometimes too many choice is not the best approach. However too limited is not either. Microsoft should focused on the release of a limited set of high quality and reasonably priced first wave of Windows 8 Slates. Then later they could enable a wider offering of such slates. Though in case of slates there are not a thousand of ways to differentiate Slate like there are thousand of ways to differentiate PC. I think that Microsoft and OEM just need a few models of slates with clear differentiation, high quality but reasonable price to be successful. If those Slates use more or less the same categories of components then Microsoft should push to drag the price of these components down. Otherwise those Slates would be either less advanced or more expensive than the iPad which is unfortunately the de facto reference for Slate.
    Regarding Tablet i expected that clearly differentiate from Slate by being clearly and without context more advanced and offering significantly more capabilities. Of course they would have to be more expensive too.

    • Hars

      i think you can a lot of diferenciation on hardware on the new approach of PC.

      Slates. Slates with keyboard (like Dell Inspiron Duo or Samsung 9 series), Slates with stylus (for drawing, ink, etc,..), slates with sytuls and keyboard, 3D screen, and also tablet pc´s (i mean intel, for Photoshop, Autocad work), etc,…..

      And Microsoft DON´T FORGET ALL IN ONES WITH TOUCH SCREEN, AND ALSO WACOM PEN INPUT FOR DRAWING .

  • http://twitter.com/Mitchell90 Greig Mitchell

    I think that Microsoft need to enforce tighter measures for both hardware and software when it comes to OEM’s this time around. Take Windows 7 for example; a fresh installation of the OS with up to date drivers is fast, responsive and overall clean. Compare that to an OEM system such as Acer where the initial boot and logon is painfully slow and the install is riddled with bloatware. 

    Some really spoil a great product, and I hope that changes by the time OEM’s get Windows 8 in it’s finished form. 

    • http://www.digitalcents.net dagamer34

      Ditto. Microsoft really needs to lay the gauntlet down on OEMs that nothing except for necessary items should be loaded at startup as that’s what really slows down PCs.

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      I’m not sure if this is a good thing….

      One the strengths of windows is that OEMs can experiment and release the hardware that they want.  This is how Windows (and Android) dominated in the first place.  Do we really want to restrict innovation by Dell, Acer, Toshiba, etc.?

      I was really hoping for a highly flexible tablet/surface UI not something that can only run in ONE limited form factor.  ARM was just bragging that Windows 8 could be used inside TVs, cars, etc.  Now it sounds like they want to pigeon hole Windows 8 into a single consumer device. I think that would be a huge mistake and stiffle innovation from OEMs and consumers. 

      OEMs don’t want to make bad products.  So either Microsoft:

      1. Assumes that their parterners are going to screw things up if (Treat your partners like children and they will lash out.  Like Acer is doing here to the press, or they will go to another OS that gives them more freedom)

      2. Are restricting the entire tablet UI experience for developers and the consumer market (bad idea IMO, I was expecting much more from MS than just a copy of iOS/Android).

      I hope this is only for the initial tablet devices so that Microsoft can make sure they have a good showing with what they have for Windows 8 so far and they plan on lifting these restrictiions when they release the OS to the mass market.

    • Guest

      “OEMs don’t want to make bad products.”

      Disagree. Look at current Android tablets. You’ve got everything from semi functional right down to POS. OEMs want to appeal to all price points. They’ve shown repeatedly (Vista, Windows Mobile, Android) that they will knowingly ship something deficient. Most simply don’t care enough about their own brand image, or figure – correctly in many cases – that MS or Google will get the blame.

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      Yet they are selling millions of those Android tablets….   The reason that OEMs were able to come out with such a quick response to the iPad was because of the flexability of Android.

      If Microsoft is planning to control every single release in a yearly cycle like Apple they are going to lose the biggest advantage they’ve had with Windows.

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      I’m not sure if this is a good thing….

      One the strengths of windows is that OEMs can experiment and release the hardware that they want.  This is how Windows (and Android) dominated in the first place.  Do we really want to restrict innovation by Dell, Acer, Toshiba, etc.?

      I was really hoping for a highly flexible tablet/surface UI not something that can only run in ONE limited form factor.  ARM was just bragging that Windows 8 could be used inside TVs, cars, etc.  Now it sounds like they want to pigeon hole Windows 8 into a single consumer device. I think that would be a huge mistake and stiffle innovation from OEMs and consumers. 

      OEMs don’t want to make bad products.  So either Microsoft:

      1. Assumes that their parterners are going to screw things up if (Treat your partners like children and they will lash out.  Like Acer is doing here to the press, or they will go to another OS that gives them more freedom)

      2. Are restricting the entire tablet UI experience for developers and the consumer market (bad idea IMO, I was expecting much more from MS than just a copy of iOS/Android).

      I hope this is only for the initial tablet devices so that Microsoft can make sure they have a good showing with what they have for Windows 8 so far and they plan on lifting these restrictiions when they release the OS to the mass market.

  • http://twitter.com/clubdirthill clubdirthill

    Tight controls = Great UX.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=11814278 Chris Woelfel

    Good.

  • http://twitter.com/s_a_r_k_i_s sarkis chamelian

    I want it NOW ! 

  • http://unhub.com/eingoluq Eingoluq

    if a dual screen tablet is one of their form factors/chassis I just might flip.

  • Jackt

    what’s “unique contribution” to tablets going to be ?  Is MS going to introduce Surface technology to tablets ?

  • http://www.appatic.com Avatar X

    There has to be tight control over the hardware if you are going to have not only a good user experience but want to be able to standarize the recompiling and porting of apps from x86 to ARM. I am betting that is also a reason for having to tighten up the control of the hardware.

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