CES 2011, this time in Las Vegas. was exciting as usual. There many wonderful new additions being presented as part of the global tablet PC family. Some were from existing competitors and some were from companies just entering the foray for the first time. In spite of all of this there was one question going through everyone’s mind – where is Microsoft’s tablet?
The execs from Microsoft spent some time talking about tablet PCs at CES however nothing conclusive was offered to those in attendance. Microsoft, inquiring minds still want to know.
CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer was present with a few words on company performance and some of their latest toys. There were laptops and PC units along with a new, thinner version of Microsoft Surface (now all I can think about is that one scene in Casino Royale) presented later on by Michael Angiulo, Microsoft corporate vice president for Windows Planning, Hardware and PC Ecosystem.
Last year Ballmer had a HP slate prototype on display which received a lot of attention. However this year this much sought after device was nowhere to be found. HP currently has a slate PC available, the Slate 500 Tablet PC running Windows 7. They now have a desire to put out a slate running webOS which they obtained through their acquisition webOS which they obtained through their acquisition of Palm.
The tablet PC that was presented by Angiulo was a Windows 7 device from Asus. Angiulo explained that the bright touchscreen uses 20 percent less power than tablets of the same size. Using a special stylus the operator can write and draw in colored ink on the screen. The tablet can differentiate between a human hand and the tip of the stylus in order to apply this effect.
Ballmer presented a tablet running Windows 7 during is part of the keynote. The most anticipate tablet PC announcement from the company will be running Microsoft’s next version of the Windows operating system.
Before Ballmer took the stage there was a Microsoft announcement on its plans to integrate its next-gen Windows client based OS on the system-on-a-chip hardware. They would be using architecture developed by Cambridge, UK-based ARM Holdings.
The system-on-a-chip (SoC) deals that Microsoft has in the works will be a part of the company’s next version of Windows, now being dubbed as Windows 8 by some.
Microsoft has teamed up with chip manufacturers NVIDIA Corp., Qualcomm Inc., and Texas Instruments Inc. in order to make this all happen. Microsoft’s announcement included that the company would not be neglecting its x86 partners Intel Corp. and AMD Inc. They would also be taking part in the SoC next-gen lineup.
ARM-based processors are valued for their low power consumption. This feature is especially important in today’s world of tablet PCs, smart phones and e-readers. This noticeable trend could mean the slow and eventual end to traditional desktop computing for a lot of people. Apple iOS and Google Android are both receiving a lot of attention. There are other options entering the arena as well. Microsoft is actually trailing behind in this market of mobile operating systems. It has made a few powerful moves recently such as the release of the Windows Phone 7 Series last year.
Microsoft’s move to an ARM-based solution seems like a wise decision in this evolving market of mobile devices. They were slow to the race but now that they have their head in the game I expect to see some great devices being put forth. However we are still left with the lingering question of “When?”