Microsoft’s UK chief claims tablet offering has to be “distinctive”

By Tom Warren, on 19th Apr 11 8:30 pm with 18 Comments

Microsoft’s UK managing director Ashley Highfield has admitted Microsoft won’t produce Tablet software unless it’s distinctive.

Highfield made his comments at a special press event on Monday at London’s saatchi gallery. Speaking to Pocket-Lint, Highfield explained that Microsoft wants to stand out from the crowd. ”We won’t do anything in the tablet market unless we can be distinctive,” he said. The admission comes at a time when the company is preparing its next-generation of Windows, aimed at Tablet form factors. Highfield also admitted that he personally uses a Dell Inspiron Duo. ”We won’t do anything in the tablet market unless we can be distinctive,” he told Pocket-Lint.

Microsoft’s special event on Monday was held to showcase a number of new PCs using Windows 7. The company unveiled its first ever spring collection, featuring 30 models from nine manufacturers. The Windows Collection devices are manufactured by brands such as Sony, Dell, Packard Bell, HP, Lenovo, Toshiba, Acer, Alienware and Scan. The Collection is split into five categories: Everyday; Mobile Companion; Professional; Entertainment and Gaming. Microsoft presented its latest range with Gadget Show hosts Pollyanna Woodward and Ortis Deley. All 30 models are available at major retailers in the UK.

Microsoft is currently working on Windows 8 which is rumored to include an “immersive” tablet user experience. However, the company may introduce Windows 8 ARM based tablets ahead of a full desktop release. 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 long been criticized for its lack of a true iPad competitor. Microsoft has started its own advertising blitz featuring the Asus Eee Slate. Steve Ballmer recently showed his own personal Eee Slate device during a speech at Microsoft’s Imagine 2011 conference late last month. Microsoft’s advertizing blitz follows the introduction of Apple’s newest iPad. Apple’s latest iPad 2 features a dual-core CPU, 9x faster graphics and is slimmer and lighter than the previous generation. The company has also included front and rear cameras for use with FaceTime. Microsoft’s hardware partners have slowly been producing iPad rivals. Samsung unveiled its Sliding PC 7 series Windows 7 Slate hybrid at CES earlier this year. The device features Intel’s 1.66GHz Z670 Oak Trail processor, 10.1″ touchscreen, 32GB SSD and 2GB of RAM. The tablet ways just 2.1 pounds and is due to retail shortly for $699. The iPad currently retails at $499 and sold three million units in its first 80 days of release. The iPad is currently selling approximately 4.5 million units per quarter, Bernstein Research estimates.

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  • Anonymous

    I don’t care what they do, all I want is a great tablet experience. And this time not from Apple ;)

    • Mark

      Unfortunately for MS, a great tablet experience now requires a platform (hardware, OS, apps, marketplace, 3rd party peripherals and support), not just a product. And at this stage MS hasn’t even delivered the OS.

      That puts them years behind Apple and even Google. Sad to say, but this is turning into WinMo getting blown away by iPhone redux. And there’s a lot more at stake this time for MS, because we’re talking about Windows and Office revenue being put at risk.

  • GP007

    Win8 as a full OS plus a metro/tile based tablet UI based off of WP7 will work just fine.

  • Grannyville7989

    I’d rather see Microsoft take their time and do a good job with the tablet experience of Windows than see them rush it to market and being a very cruddy experience.

    • Anonymous

      I believe Microsoft WILL rush their tablet OS to market. Instead of using a stable version of the Windows Phone 7 mobile OS, MS will rush out a new Windows 8 Arm port that may be too ambitious for their release schedule.

  • Joelleigh

    Full blown windows on a slate device is distinct in the market place right now. I don’t think this comment will have any impact on the current plans to release an arm based windows 8 slate late next year.

  • amn01

    The “Courier” is pretty “distinct.” Whoever shot that down at Microsoft should be shot. That’s the tablet I want.

    • Anonymous

      It probably would’ve cost quite a bit more than most tablets, though.

      Personally I’d be surprised if the lessons learned from the Courier project aren’t integrated into their future tablet plans.

  • Dj_alik

    Tablet PC on Windows Phone 7 Platform Based – I think it’s right decision

  • Dj_alik
  • McAkins Online

    Oow Tom, please stop this copy-pasting of articles, maybe it works for your new-readers, but for those of us following your for a long time its begining to sould mechanical and ridiculous. Sometime I wonder if you’re not some AI experimental project somewhere trying to act human. Are you really human Tom?

    • Tom W

      I’ve explained the reasons before. It provides context and updates for those who don’t know the full situation.

    • Anonymous

      But the context and updates are often longer than actual new content.

    • Anonymous

      just stop reading after first paragraphs )

  • Chief

    you want to be distinct…. integrate the tablets with people’s existing desktops and laptops in some way.. leverage the existing Windows desktop market to launch the tablet.. make the tablet an extension of their desktop and then some.. that is what Apple almost has.. and what Android does not..

  • Mark

    I find his comments more worrisome than inspiring. Obviously their offering needs to be distinctive. That’s true for almost any product, but especially true for a product that will enter the market two years late. Is MS just now figuring that out?

    Also, MS has let an entire year go by without any credible iPad response and PC sales are already showing the negative effects. Apple alone is expected to ship more than 30MM iPads this year, and then there’s all the Android and other units. How much longer can MS afford to wait? It’s already hurt the stock price and will probably hurt their upcoming earnings as well. Shouldn’t they already know they’re going to enter with a distinctive offering and be well on their way to delivering that? If so, why is this executive leaving it as an open question?

    • Anonymous

      When MS partners like Dell and HP jump ship to Android and WebOS, you’ve really lost direction and focus.