back to article Ballmer: Windows Mobile lost a 'whole generation'

Steve Ballmer has delivered a mea culpa to Microsoft's partners for its slip-ups against Apple and Google on tablets and smart phones. Ballmer told Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference that Windows Mobile missed a "whole generation of users" and promised Windows Phone 7 will set things right. On tablets, Ballmer …


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  1. Badwolf

    Abort / Retry / Fail

    Ballmer stressed the new responsibilities incumbent on partners getting into cloud - reliably, security, privacy and operational excellence.......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


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      [My ribs, my ribs].

  2. Anonymous Coward


    ..once again I'm proved right.

    I say this cloud thing is all bollocks.

    Now that Ball has said it's the future, I'm proven right!

  3. Peter 39

    it's not the "partners" he needs

    ... as they've been shafted a couple of times already.

    It looked funny, but he had it right a few years ago ...

    Developers, developers, developers

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Peter 39

      What about the end user? Ignore them at your own peril (again), Microsoft!

      1. Peter 39


        I wasn't slighting the need for users - after all, they're the ones who have to stump up coin.

        But they will only do it if there are apps, and there will only be apps if there are developers. Building a good app for a tablet or phone is not the same as for a desktop. The developer mindshare does not belong to Redmond. MS has not only lost a whole generation of users, it has lost the generation of developers. And those are the ones needed to build the apps for the *next* generation of users.

        So MS has to first build its developer base, refine WinPhone 7 and only then should it expect to sell in serious numbers. Meanwhile Apple and Android will build on their current strength.

        Sorry, Steve B - things do not look pretty now. Nor do I see them improving soon. In several years - maybe. In the near future - no way.

        1. Kevin Bailey

          They've lost the desktop ones as well...

          Let's face it - most new database type apps are browser based. And ZEND/PHP5/MVC/LAMP is miles better than .NET. If you're on a slow website look at the URL and you'll usually see .aspx at the end. Not to mention that for real power we know we have Amazon's cloud stuff or memcached or MySQL clustering etc.

          And if you're going to write an app for a Windows PC can you be *absolutely* sure that it will run under Win8. When MS stopped doing backwards compatibility properly they effectively lost the desktop.

      2. N2

        End users?

        who?, er, no, never heard of them!

      3. gnufreex

        RE: End users?

        "What about the end user? Ignore them at your own peril (again), Microsoft!"

        Well, Official Microsoft Strategy on end users is that end users are MostPeople™.

        Official Microsof Strategy on MostPeople™ is that they are Sheeple.

        Official Microsoft Strategy on Sheeple is that they do what they should do what most people do.

        Most people do what TV says.

        TV is playing Microsoft commercials.

        That's their advertising strategy and their business model: Dumbing down the masses.

        If you are none of the above, then you are either forcibly locked into Microsoft crap, or you should flee from Microsoft while you still can.

        tl;dr Microsoft never cared about end users and never will. They threat those as mindless cash cows, any they threat other even worse that that if they can.

  4. LenH

    Reaching where?

    "We are going to reach out to work vigorously..." Doesn't he mean "We are going to reach around vigorously..."

    1. Random_Walk

      No, he had it right...

      ...the wallet is usually kept in the back pocket, after all.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The recent clamour for tablet PCs due to the iPad is great news for anyone that's ever owned a HP TC1100 (a tablet PC with detachable keyboard so you can use it screen only like the iPad), since we'd all love the same form factor as the TC1100 but with a hardware upgrade. It seems crazy that it takes the launch of an Apple product in 2010 for the likes of HP to consider re-launching a product form factor that they discontinued in 2005.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC re: TC1100

      I'm not convinced a Windows based tablet will be able to compete against the iPad and (many)Android tablets about to release. What would a Windows 7 tablet provide the others don't? And how will it compete? I sense another failure in the winds.

      1. Richard Read
        Big Brother

        You mean apart from...

        1) The ability to run real software rather than the crippled widgets and web-front ends that Apple allows. Compared to the range of software available to Windows the app store selection is tiny and clustered around the gimmick and lightweight end.

        2) The ability to connect to external devices like printers, usb storage, tv tuners.

        3) VPN access.

        4) Escape from the Apple straight jacket.

        Don't get me wrong - the Apple hardware is lovely but it runs a phone os with a meglomaniac holding all the access tokens.

        1. Player_16

          You are aware that...

          ...Windows 7 on a 'Pad' is tremendously big and may take forever to start-up and load programs like MS Office, AutoCAD, Photoshop, Unreal. You might get 3 hours battery... if you're lucky.

          Welcome to 1999.

        2. GrantB

          Apart from

          1) The ability to run 'real' software.

          Given that there are over 100,000 apps availiable for iOS4, probably next to zero WinMo7 apps, and very few Win7 apps designed for tablet/touch use, then I would say having a huge number of 'real' desktop Windows apps is maybe not so much use as Balmer expects. I have used a Windows tablet and other than OneNote, found most Windows apps (not suprisingly) worked better with Keyboard and Mouse. Every iPad apps is designed for touch in comparsion. Yes you can have keyboard and mouse, but then .. why use a tablet at all?

          "Compared to the range of software available to Windows the app store selection is tiny and clustered around the gimmick and lightweight end"

          Which totally misses the point that there is an App Store that works very well; it takes seconds to find, buy and download & install any app on iOS4.. Windows just doesn't have any functional App store that I am aware of in comparsion.

          2) The ability to connect to external devices like printers, usb storage, tv tuners.

          Riggghttt.. Nice smooth tablet and you want to hook it up to a printer or a TV tuner? Just can't imagine that, but then I have never physically hooked my laptop up to a printer or TV tuneer either (always Wifi to the network printers, even at home).

          For TV Tuners, iTunes provides integration for media & streaming anyway, Admittedly, it would be nice to be able to slot in an SD card into a iPad, but I have 32GB on my iPod Touch & its not fill yet.

          Again though, if MS are designing tablets like a desktop machine hooked up to a bunch of peripherals & adding storage then they will fail again.

          3) VPN access. Er, iOS 4 has SSL + VPN built in. I'm sure its a big selling point for MS tablets

          4) Escape from the Apple straight jacket.

          Riggght.. and into the arms of MS.. who (as KIn buyers have just found) will always look after you. If you don't like Apple restrictions, there is also Android of course.

          "Don't get me wrong - the Apple hardware is lovely but it runs a phone os with a meglomaniac holding all the access tokens".

          Actually I think you miss the point.. the iPad hardware is nice enough, but its the well designed integration of hardware, software and iTunes (the app & store) that all works. MS are caught between open (Android) and closed (Apple) with something that is probably not going to be either. Even calling it a 'slate'.. already, iAd has such a mind-share that people will refer to it as an 'iPad style' device or (fatally) an iPad competitor.

          Might be better for MS to just encourage notebooks, netbooks etc to have touch components which are of additional use, until they can get enough apps together to go sans keyboard.

        3. No. Really!?

          @ Richard Read

          Incorrect => 3) VPN Access

          VPN access on my iPad is smooth and easy. No complaints - and I use it a lot!

          Correct => 2) The ability to connect to external devices like printers, usb storage, tv

          No native printing? - I have no idea what they were thinking. File transfer is a PITA.

        4. Ed


          The iPad supports VPNs - IPsec, SecurID etc.

        5. Anonymous Coward

          RE: You mean apart from...

          "1) The ability to run real software rather than the crippled widgets and web-front ends that Apple allows."

          Where do I start. "Crippled widgets" and"web-front ends"? WTF? All the widgets I've seen work just fine (and there are many, many kinds!)

          "Compared to the range of software available to Windows the app store selection is tiny"

          Windows is an operating system for home computers. The iPhone/iPad OS is not...

          I've got an iPhone and I haven't yet found a gap that a free application from the Apple store hasn't fixed... So you're comparing apples and oranges and as an added bonus, you haven't even seen the apples! Way to fail!

          "2) The ability to connect to external devices like printers, usb storage, tv tuners."

          Where were you when they described what the iPad is for? It's not a PC as you know it, it's a portable gadget. Not very portable if you've got a USB hard drive and a printer hanging out of it now is it? So another fail there. That's 3/2 so far - more than 100%!

          "3) VPN access."

          To what? You're not going to be downloading any warez for the iPad now are you? Or were you just thinking about illegal pornography?

          "4) Escape from the Apple straight jacket."

          I for one would rather have the rather comfortable jacket (sleeves not necessarily tied behind the back) than the shitty, shitty experience of Windows (and I'm not even thinking about their even shittier mobile edition!)

          So every one of your points shows either inanity, failure to understand the purpose of the device or a lack of any practical experience and a willingness to shout "wolf" because everyone else is, not because you've seen one.

          I hope that you sir, think long and hard before allowing yourself any future access to a keyboard.

      2. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

        Windows 7 tablets

        What they can offer is consistency of UI across platforms, for the hundreds of millions of Windows users out there. This, of course, assumes that they can get Windows 7 lean and fast enough for tablet use - initial indications are hopeful, I think, it seems to run quite nicely on Netbooks.


        1. Anonymous Coward


          "What they can offer is consistency of UI across platforms, for the hundreds of millions of Windows users out there. "

          What consistency? MS does major UI changes on every version and you can bet your ass that windows 7 doesn't have "hundreds of millions of users". Millions is possible, though.

          All windows-versions put together may have that but they don't have any consistency between them, like 98-xp-vista-7, all totally different on the UI level.

    2. whiteafrican
      Thumb Up


      Couldn't agree more. In fact, I have a tc1100 sitting on the desk next to me - I still use it pretty much every day. Even though the hardware is now positively dated, it is still the best form-factor for a computer to use on-the-go of any device I've ever seen (I exclude the iPad because it can't run Photoshop/Dreamweaver, so it doesn't meet my needs, but I can see why others like it...).

      Still, it is amazing that HP haven't got their act together and made an updated version of the tc1100 in the last 5 years... Heck, I'd buy 3 just to show my appreciation.

    3. Doug 3

      HP showed and then terminated a Windows 7 tablet this year

      HP was going to launch a Windows 7 tablet and showed it off at CES IIRC. The problem seemed to be a Windows 7 problem and HP canned the project only to bring about other tablets based on Android and now we hear WebOS. The fact that Windows 7 only runs on x86 and that bit about it being a resource hog are the two fails which kill the project. Ballmer can not continue to pay off vendors to ship only Microsoft based tablets and expect people to purchase the products when the iPad is on the market.

      Microsoft's existence revolves around the desktop Windows OS so all Ballmer and the other Microserfs see is the need to put Windows on everything. There's only one problem, Windows just isn't that good.

      What I see is are lots of exclusive Windows-only OEM deals and that till end the onslaught of ARM based and Linux or Android based tablets from these major OEMs. It'll cost Microsoft a couple of billion over 3 or so years and it will fail. Apple will all but own the tablet market. The only dark horse in this play is how much Google gets behind Android or ChromeOS on tablets and how much advertising money they'll send back to the OEMs who get onboard. Either way, Microsoft fails because they are a software company with only one product, Windows and the whole business revolves around that one product.

      grenade, because this too will blowup in their faces like so many other projects in the past 10+ years.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Don't forget the marriage with Intel

        "Microsoft's existence revolves around the desktop Windows OS so all Ballmer and the other Microserfs see is the need to put Windows on everything. There's only one problem, Windows just isn't that good."

        Well put.

        Also Windows is _huge_ OS for anything lightweight. And of course, marriage with Intel is very serious bussiness, prohibiting porting to other hardware (ie. ARM).

        Of course the code is so x86-spesific you can't port it anywhere else, but that's a technical problem, while Intel is political problem and those must be solved first.

  6. hammarbtyp
    Thumb Down

    Windows 7 too power hungry

    Trying to do a slate with windows 7 is the path to disaster. Windows 7 requires to many resources, will only run on relatively power hungry intel processors and was primarily designed for keyboard and mouse input.

    Compare that with the iPad, which was evolved from a mobile platform. Therefore it is relatively resource usage light, has a reasonable time between recharges and designed with touch input from the ground up.

    Lets face it, windows 7 tablet like devices have been available for as long as windows 7 has been released in the form of tablet PC's and haven't really set the world alight.

    We really do need a Balmer icon here....

    1. morsey

      We really do need a Balmer icon here....

      ..dancing, he MUST be dancing

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Ballmer Icon

      Here's 2 nominations:

      1. Rattus Rattus

        That is...

        truly disturbing. I cannot unsee that which has been seen.

  7. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Microsoft's solution

    They simply go to all the US makers of cell phones and tablets and force them to put Windows mobile on all of them otherwise they will cut-off their OEM deals.

    It worked in the PC and server market - why wouldn't it work with cellphones ?

    1. dogged

      "all the US makers of cell phones"

      So that's Motorola and, er Apple?

      I can't think of any others.

      1. Eddy Ito


        err.. HP. lol

    2. Captain Thyratron

      That'll be a good show.

      What could possibly go wrong?

    3. Neil Greatorex

      Fortunately it's not the done thing

      To push out crappy buggy alpha^H^H^H^H^H beta shit & hope to fix it later, in the mobile telecomms field..

      For the last 30 years I've seen Microsoft do this. Repeatedly.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE: Fortunately it's not the done thing

        "To push out crappy buggy alpha^H^H^H^H^H beta shit & hope to fix it later, in the mobile telecomms field.."

        They don't limit it to the telecomms field. Every part of Microsoft has been pretty good at it! I think they're having a secret competition "Who can release the buggiest software". There's probably bonus points for security a bit like a wet paper bag.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft slate

    Which person with sweaty armpits waved a slate round at people before the launch of the iPad and said things about how this slate was real and not vapourware? Where is that slate now? Its sitting in a cupboard somewhere with a large pile of Kins I suspect

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      No, I think they're reformatting it to run WebOS.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      HP bought Palm

      The slate is running WebOS now haha.

  9. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    "push forward with Windows 7 based slates"

    Didn't MS "push" the tablet form factor about 10 years ago? Don't I remember Bill Gates saying that was the form factor of the future? And I seem to remember MS pushing the hardware folks to develop and market tablets. But then it turned out that nobody much wanted a tablet and the hardware guys had poured money down a drain. And I wonder if that's really changed. Are users/consumers really after a tablet PC, or do they just want the iPad? They're worlds apart, IMHO.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Pirate Dave

      the problem with Microsoft (as well as Sun, IBM, Dell and HP) is that they always look for things that please the enterprise folks. And the enterprise folks were not interested, then they will drop the product. Home users were never in the picture. This is their mistake, and mistake that Apple and Google have decided to take advantage of.

    2. Charles Manning

      This is at least their 4th push

      The first was around 1995 or so and there have been various others between then and now - all of which have failed.

      Tablets were always BillG's pet form factor and he'd show off some new tablety feature at every consumer electronics show.

      Remember that Apple makes money from consumer space while MS has only ever made money from Big Corporates. MS tried to push tablets into utility field worker and hospital roles but these all require a long battery life. That's just something x86 is not designed to deliver.

  10. Prag Fest
    Gates Halo

    Taking you back

    Heh, Microsoft, I remember them, happy days, Windows 95 and all that.

    What are those guys up to these days? Are they still about?

    1. hplasm

      The next big thing from Microsoft?

      Clown Computing. As usual.

    2. Daniel 1

      Microsoft's target market these days?

      He's probably grinning at you from the top of this page... Or maybe over to the right, a bit...

      Yes, that's right! "Badly-Drawn-Man"... The Creepy guy from the Sharepoint Advert (he wants to sell you a glorified Wiki, and he's chuckling at the prospect, even now).

      With his crumply blue suit, Skeletor face, and his two weird pinhole eyes (as black as midnight on a moonless night) it is difficult to tell whether Badly-Drawn-Man is actually alive, or whether the marketing department have simply propped him up, after he died, while gripped in a bout of Tetanus. As such, you could say he represented a lot of Microsoft's core market, and Microsoft marketing can see nothing wrong, about any of that.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    some companies have grown so big...

    ... that they have forgotten that they still *need* people to *support* their products.

    developers have been forgotten already, and the end consumer is *not* even in the picture anymore. Microsoft have spent some much time and effort pleasing their "partners" (from HW guys to movie studios) that they forgot who *PAY* them money for their products.

    result? for many home users (me included) Windows is no longer the *ONLY* gaming platform, many have moved to PS3 and Xbox360 for their gaming. As a result, Windows became *optional* to them (for that matter, the PC itself have become optional, I can actually go for days without even turning ON my home PC).

    the enterprise market is HUGE, I'll give them that. But the home consumer market is large as well. Microsoft have turned a blind eye to the home users because of their belief that the home user "will get whatever with through at them." And this is the very market that Apple and Google have targeted.

    Ballmer, you missed a full generation? You never saw them as customers in the first place, the home users were just an extra in your books, they never mattered, they were an after thought once you got the enterprise customers happy. You didn't miss *A* generation, you missed *all* of them.

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge


      do you remember what we got the last time Microsoft focused heavily on the "consumer" market? I think it was called Windows ME. And it was super lame-o.

      Microsoft has never really understood the consumer market. In the pre-Win2k days (before Enterprise IT became so big), it was the "computer"market - MS put out the software and we ran it on our 486's or we stuck to DOS, Xenix, BeOS, whatever, and nobody was bothered. Win9x upped that a notch, but it was still barely more than a "hobbyist" market at that point, not quite yet a "consumer" market. It was when MS tried to throw in the kitchen sink that we got ME and a "consumer" product where the supplier obviously had no clue what a "consumer" was. or wanted. Luckily the enterprise NT line saved us from some of that, at least until Vista came out and crashed the NT line as well. Now the "consumer" market is leaning heavily towards Apple and MS seems to have lost any idea whatsoever in how to target that market. They are out of ideas now and only know how to add layer upon layer of eye-candy to things.

      Thing is, maybe their OS has fully matured and there's not really a lot of NEW stuff they can do with it other than eye-candy and moving buttons around. How the hell many different ways ARE there to allocate memory, handle I/O, and draw pretty pictures on the screen? I mean, they've had 7 (or more) major iterations of their "operating system" to test on, certainly they should have found the optimal way of doing pretty much everything by this point and should be focused on cleaning up the toxic-waste-dump code bases that they've been dragging along since the late 80's. But then, those code bases aren't targeted at the consumer, really. They are still targeted at the hobbyist. Otherwise things would "just work" and none of us would know what regedit does.

      1. Schroeder Washere

        well said...

        a very good synopsis of Microsoft's current problems.

        Especially on the difference between the "hobbyist" and "consumer" markets which so many on here fail to grasp, particularly when the name Apple is mentioned.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: some companies have grown so big...

      "Windows is no longer the *ONLY* gaming platform"

      Except most games are allowed to shut most of Windows down while they run.

      This can only be a good thing as every version of Windows that I've been forced to use has been a pile of steaming horse-manure.

  12. Sampler


    And they've lost a whole other generation chasing iPhone users - having been very happy with winwo 6.5 (and no, i'm not a masochist) and looking at winpho 7 details I'm happily going Android with my next handset.

    1. Dante


      Same here... seems to me they are going backwards with winmo7

    2. Big-nosed Pengie


      With WinMo 6/5? The buggiest, most unreliable, most counterintuitive piece of crap ever made by the company that brought you Fista? You've GOT be joking.

      I say this as a victim of WinMo 6.5 (provided by work - I'd never touch it if I had any choice). The best thin about it is that it makes Fista look good.

  13. JaitcH

    Balmer's mind is clouded

    The only cloud related to this is Balmer's mind.

    MS has 'lost' data previously (mail) and gives Plod instructions have to circumvent security (see Cryptome).

    Why should MS be entrusted with storage? Or possibly anyone - unless you employ multiple back-ups and TrueCrypt? Always remember the Patriot Act which permits the US Government to access any US-based computer without a warrant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Patriot Act?

      Its P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act.

      Calling it 'Patriot Act' gives a false sense of honor, decency, and all that goes with it.

      1. JaitcH

        The Patriot Act - typical American excess

        Please note:

        SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the `Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001'.

        See: < >, <,_Title_I >.

  14. Aaron 10
    Jobs Halo

    The third envelope...

    Ballmer needs to go. No, Ballmer HAS to go.

    He completely lost focus of what the customer wants and is playing follow-the-leader with Apple -- after publicly poo-pooing everything Apple does.

  15. Martin Lyne

    They didn't miss us.

    We just saw the shit they were offering and when elsewhere. My WinMo6.5 phone today sent out a whole MONTHS worth of texts it had been hoarding. Yielding lots of confused friends and relatives.

    Take WinMo7 and cram it up your grey, office-issue ringer, pal.

  16. envmod

    windows tablets will fail

    iPads are not tablet computers - they are just iPads. this is why people like them and I suspect why people will not be so keen on Windows 7 based tablet PCs. people don't want Windows on a PC as has clearly been proven by their historical unpopularity.

    anyway, i wouldn't buy a tablet PC in a million years, but I would consider an iPad as they are totally different things.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We will give you… devices that people will be proud to carry"

    It might be best to keep the Windows badges off them, then. And the Dell ones. ASUS also.

  18. DavidK

    Will these new tablets

    run Duke Nukem Forever?

    1. hplasm


      Just 'til the battery runs down..


    2. Geoff Campbell Silver badge


      No, it'll just feel like it.


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Out of touch with real world

    First, I am pro Microsoft and Windows.

    However, I think Balmer is out of touch with real world IT organizations if he thinks:

    "...and that their company's IT departments then have to run and support."

    The norm is that IT ogranizations typically don't support anything they don't provide themselves to the end user. Not sure what era Balmer is still living in.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      IT tail wags business dog

      Yep, many a business is the slave of its IT department these days.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Gates Horns

      RE: Out of touch with real world

      "I am pro Microsoft and Windows."

      Even Ballmer isn't that out of touch with the real world!

      He only likes Microsoft because he gets paid a lot of money!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Remember when they were an (apprently) unassailable powerhouse of a company ? Even the word monopoly was bandied around.

    Now they seem less and less relevant. Still a lot of legacy stuff around ....

    Oh and a console. Quite a nice console. But nintendo sell a great deal more of them.

    Tablets ? Just another boat you've missed. Apple take the high end, android and cheapy chinese manufacturers the low end.

    You can't keep playing catch up. You're too big. too slow.

  21. Majid

    the holy grail?

    "The Holy Grail is the consumer, seduced by must-have gadgetry that they'll bring into work and that their company's IT departments then have to run and support."

    Are you serious? I can't believe someone would say that! I think a normal IT department would take the BOFH approach and take it from your hands, and break it in two over their knee, saying: Normally we would go to rediculous lengths to support your nice useless gadget, but as it seems broken there is no use, now is there..

    I know IT departements where people can't install anything themeselves everything is pushed by sms or companies where you get a clean image at the start of each day. Let alone someone bringing their own private devices and bind them to the network. Its way too much of a security risk.

    If that is your holy grail. its probably one of the 50 false ones.

  22. damocles

    with a side order of waffle please...

    "The Holy Grail is the consumer, seduced by must-have gadgetry that they'll bring into work and that their company's IT departments then have to run and support."

    So we're to abandon all reason and leave decision making to the style over content brigade?

    Some how I think not.

  23. Christian Berger

    Problem: _nobody_ understands tablets

    I mean what we get today are just weird little movie players. However that's just waste of potential. The companies lack a vision of the future. They don't see computers for what they really are, universal data processors. That's why those user interfaces do nothing more than replicating the interface of appliances from the past.

    My vision is like this. I have something which at first appears like a piece of paper, a "notebook" in it's conventional sense if you will. If I use a pen or perhaps my finger, on it:will behave like any normal piece of paper. However if it recognices certain commands it will interpret them and apply them to the data I wrote there. So it's in a way, a graphic shell.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: Problem: _nobody_ understands tablets

      "My vision is like this. I have something which at first appears like a piece of paper, a "notebook" in it's conventional sense if you will. If I use a pen or perhaps my finger"

      ...better to decide on one or the other, really.

      ", on it:will behave like any normal piece of paper. However if it recognices certain commands it will interpret them and apply them to the data I wrote there. So it's in a way, a graphic shell."

      You mean if I was to say, write a word, I could choose to have it as handwriting or text? Maybe if I made it text and then pressed the word (to select it) I could then apply things like bold, italics etc?

      My PDA was doing that 7 years ago... my phone does a pretty good approximation too...

  24. Kev Beeley


    "The Holy Grail is the consumer, seduced by must-have gadgetry that they'll bring into work and that their company's IT departments then have to run and support."

    Users bringing in their shiny new Windows 7 slabs protected by a 3 month trial of McAfee or something as useless, and demanding that the IT Dept has to support them? I think they're in for some disappointment.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Again, never gonna happen.

    They bet on the wrong horse and lost. Whoever decided that "Cloud computing" was more important than handheld mobile devices is an idiot. They put all their resources into the wrong research and now the market has left them behind. they will never catch up until they start doing it the old fashion way and stealing everyone else's ideas and designs. that's all MS was ever good at., no creativity at MS whatsoever. Their mobile market went the way of Internet Explorer, they didn't take it seriously and push forward so now they are left eating every ones dust. Many companies have got it right....FireFox, Apple. Now MS is trying to emulate them with their products.

    It's such a joke, it's like watching a 60 year old man dressed in disco cloths try and run with the teens on the dance floor. Just to stupid to know when to hang it up.

    1. StooMonster
      Gates Horns

      The most hated software in history

      "Whoever decided that "Cloud computing" was more important than handheld mobile devices is an idiot."

      Has to be Ray Ozzie, inventor of Lotus Notes.

  26. Volker Hett

    no C&P and no multitasking

    Will drive iPhone users to WinPhone7 in masses! It's basically useless and disturbs users anyway, remember?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: no C&P and no multitasking

      Nothing could drive *anyone* to Microsoft. I'm pretty sure I'd rather be without a piece of technology than have to suffer any more of the horrendous output from Redmond.

      Just for the record, you may not know this but the iPhone 4 does multitask (as do previous models, in their own way). I've no idea what "C&P" is but judging by Microsoft's other software, it's probably code for "Cr@p and P1ss"

  27. Giles Jones Gold badge


    The man who is always ridiculing Apple's plans and products is now going to do a "me too" and just do what Apple do with a slight M$ twist.

    Come on HP! give us some nice WebOS products.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm really curious to see what HP...

      will do with webOS and if they'd make their device drivers BSD license I might even start supporting them. In fact, if a lot of these hardware manufactures want to get out from under MS's thumb releasing their drivers under the BSD license would help other OS developers a great deal in building better platforms. Now, how do we get the Game developers on side?

  28. Baudwalk
    Thumb Up

    Microsoft will push into Windows Phone 7 and slates with "energy and vigor"

    That sounds familiar... AHA! It's Balmer who's been vigorously stuffing my box with Vi@gra mails.

  29. SlabMan

    I want my Windows 7 phone, and my Windows slate.

    And next time I meet Wellington at Waterloo, I'm going to win!

  30. gautam

    So Go!

    Be the good Samurai & fall on your sword. What were u doing for a generation Steve? Banging chairs and ranting ?

  31. Kwac
    Gates Horns

    Move along. Nothing to see here.

    MS are doing what they've always done - 'innovation' by copying or buying out..

    Apple's too big for them to buy so yet again they're trying to catch up, again not realising that what is needed is a computer/laptop/netbook/phone/tablet that works - the device is secondary as long as it does the job.

  32. JDX Gold badge

    I'd like a W7 pad/slate

    For the amount you pay for an iPad you can buy a pretty decent laptop or netbook running W7. That suggests to me for the same money as an iPad you can get a tablet running a proper OS and proper apps, the same as on your normal PC.

    The big challenge then is making this as slick as iPad, which at least partially makes up for limited functionality by not being trapped into making desktop apps work on its UI.

    On the other hand a W7 pad can run a browser, and therefore can do anything a google-pad could do, plus run proper apps.

    I can imagine a setup where you have a wireless keyboard/mouse and a stand on your desktop, onto which you can put your pad to run as a 'regular' PC. Then you just pick it up and take it to a meeting as a laptop, but you can then also take it on the train to read the paper or watch a movie.

    I know I'd rather spend £600 on something that can be used for normal stuff when needed. Problem is, MS need to focus on polish and shininess an that's not really their thing, apart maybe from their peripherals range - MS mice are sweet but that's not much to go on.

    1. Ocular Sinister


      Are you proposing that I replace my nice pair of 21" work monitors with a 10" one or that I should lump around a massive 21" tablet? :-O

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Tablet machines are novelty items, they aren't going to be cheap.

      "That suggests to me for the same money as an iPad you can get a tablet running a proper OS and proper apps, the same as on your normal PC."

      If you mean any windows-derivative by term "proper OS", you fail immediately. MS hasn't ever been able to produce proper OS, although the VMS-team, who did NT3.x, were doing good job. It has been downhill ever since.

      Tablet machines are novelty items and thus priced accordingly and if you go and buy Intel-based tablet, it will be very expensive, even compared to iPad. Or made by crappy parts like every 'consumer oriented' PC nowadays.

      On the other hand, "corporate quality" (ie. something that lasts more than 3 years) PCs cost even more than Apples products.

  33. JDX Gold badge

    OTOH, W7 Phone...

    I have a bad feeling about Windows and the phone market. Sounds like at least another generation till they can get that right, based on early W7 mobile discussion.

    But if they can get pads popular, that would drive interest into other devices like phones.

    Maybe I should work for MS :)

    1. Daniel 1

      RE: "Maybe I should work for MS :)"

      So, you want to work alongside five other people (none of whom are actually on the same project as you, are) in an office built for two, in a city that lives under a permanent rain cloud, whose roads spend twelve hours of each day in a state of gridlock, while reporting to some idiot who may once have managed an affiliate marketing department at someone like AOL, and feels this qualifies him or her to mark you down for the lower quarter of the curve, each review time?

      You'd like to be shuffled from one useless, lackluster project, to another, while being rewarded in shares that are worth half as much as they were, when they were given to you, by the end of the five years, when they've matured?

      The prospect of spending your entire professional life trying to work out if your colleagues are plotting against you, while collaborating in plots against other colleagues, is one that interests you?

      Well, what are you waiting for? There's 80,000 of them - ask around... I'm sure you'll find one of them, who'd gladly swap your life, for theirs.

  34. Adrian 4

    This could work.

    After all, Microsoft always does best when it copies Apple.

  35. Mark Simon

    Setting Things Right

    ‘Windows Mobile missed a "whole generation of users" and promised Windows Phone 7 will set things right.’

    A whole generation not using Windows. What is there to set right?

  36. Dick Emery


    Using an OS where the core is too power intensive and apps (Especially stuff like Flash) will drain it further. At least Apple got that right. Code for the hardware. That way you get speed and power savings. By trying to shoehorn Win7 into tablets and smartphones it will spell disaster.

  37. Peter 39

    the tablets

    the tablets that MS needs are not the kind with batteries and touchscreen.

    MS needs much stronger meds. In particular, to dump Steve. His "Use By" date is a few years old now.

  38. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    I am the dissapoint.

    So long Microsoft, and thanks for all the fish.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Set things right?

    The removal of cut and paste is the final nail on the coffin for me. I remember needing to buy a third party app for Palm OS that gives me that functionality, what stupidity- M$ is going that way. That, and the extremely restrictive app installation policy. I love how I can put programs I coded myself onto WM6 and WM5 phones as well as PPC200x handhelds without Microsoft needing to give me blessings to do so.

    No thanks to 7. I'll stick with 6, thanks.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The vindictive EX customer


    The Browser IE was only pushed through twisting of the arm by binding it to the OS.... and not only was it a SHIT browser, they then put their feet up on the desk for the next 6 or 7 years..... AND

    "In 2006 as it was releasing the IE 7 second beta, and with Firefox eating up IE market share, Bill Gates delivered what he called a mea culpa "saying we waited too long for a browser release."

    It took MS some 7 or so years to install a popup blocker - AFTER Opera and Firefox had installed it......

    Oooooooo my favourite porn site.....


    Complain to MS? They do nothing for another 6 or 7 years....

    Change Browsers.

    Ballmer: "We are going to reach out to work vigorously with you to drive enterprise IT and consumers... they got to come into IT and say I want a Windows 7 slate and I want an Windows 7 phone."

    And what if we don't?

    What if WE say, "Stick it up your arse"?

    You mean after seeing how MS rigged it's sales of O7 - to be double the price in the rest of the world - compared to the USA; THE operating system, THEIR operating system.....

    Enhancing the uptake of their NEW OS by shitting in the faces of consumers by ripping them off?

    From the VERY beginning of it's launch?

    Tells me exactly what a pack of stupid, greedy arseholes Ballmer and this company really is.

    After losing thousands and thousands of dollars and hours to a company that makes SHIT naziware, there is nothing so satisfying as being a long term vindictive EX customer, who gets their jollies kicking that company into the gutter - 1 cent at a time.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Ballmer is an idiot.

    "Ballmer stressed the new responsibilities incumbent on partners getting into cloud - reliability, security, privacy and operational excellence."

    I thought he was trying to encourage people to choose Microsoft?

    As far as I can remember their software has a history of being unreliable, insecure and anything but excellent (a quick trawl and the El Reg archives seem to agree). It always appears to be Windows users that have their on-line account details stolen for some reason, so that covers "privacy"...

    Is there anything I missed? Oh yes, 99% of Microsoft software is a pile of steaming sh1te compared to their competitors.

  42. Eddy Ito

    Consumer = CxO

    Now that's settled. Steve is only interested in the CEO, CIO, etc. Who else even stands a chance of walking into IT and demand that they be supported? It will work when the demand comes from the person signing the IT dept's paychecks. Everywhere I've ever worked has pretty much used this model, heck one company owner was so in love with SAP that it was pushed onto everybody for everything.


    Succession of Failures?

    Microsoft succeeded by liberating people from the tyranny of sys admins, putting affordable computing capability in the hands of end users.

    They then missed the boat on the internet, failing to anticipate the revolution in computer communications. And then missed the revolution in portable computing devices.

    But Microsoft have failed at the corporate level too; I'm currently looking at a corporate XP desktop (c) 2001. What reason is there for businesses to 'upgrade'? Performance? Productivity? Hardly. Ten years of failing to meet corporate needs too.

    Microsoft have done a complete about face. They are now advocating putting your computing needs back in the hands of sys admins. Cloud computing makes no commercial sense, if you value the security/confidentiality of your personal/commercial information.

    I'm not sure what Microsoft are trying to sell me these days. Their products don't meet my needs or aspirations any more. "We are not your folks". I think I have been reaching the same conclusion.

  44. Tim Jenkins

    @ Tool of Lucifer

    "Oooooooo my favourite porn site.....


    Dude; some things should remain private.

    I feel soiled...

  45. alwarming


    But what about a whole lot of generations who are lost because of WINDOWS ?

  46. Synthmeister

    Not this time...

    No one cares..

    Posted Tuesday 13th July 2010 14:35 GMT

    The biggest problem for MS, is that no one really cares about their mobile ambitions. Especially the OEMs that will have to sweat a little blood this time for MS to succeed. But just look at their former "partners:" Dell, Moto, HTC, LG, etc. have all shacked up with Ms. Android in the Google trailer park. After all, her favors are "free" and she is always "open." HP, Samsung and even BFF Intel have all found new mistresses. And of course, Apple and RIM have always been dedicated to OS monogamy. MS can simply get no love from anyone and even if they could, $8 to $15 per mobile license gets them no where, not when Apple is pulling in $600 per iPhone BEFORE apps, music, movies, TV shows, e-books, peripherals and now, iAds.

    MS rode the unsuspecting coattails of IBM the first time around to achieve enormous profits and power. It's not going to happen the second time.

  47. Rex Alfie Lee
    Dead Vulture

    Been Slated Lately...

    Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's a cloud.

    A really heavy, slow cloud that travels like a Sydney metro or is that a speeding bullet smashing into the sound barrier & deflecting off into space. Ah well, slated to next year's idea-mongering until we get the idea right & then we'll find a brand new support base from the generations that MS forgot or that forgot MS.

    It's all just a little dim, cloudy, non-distinct & gone for a lonely drive off a tall cliff. Bye-bye M$, you'll be sorely someone!

  48. Gil Grissum

    Get rid of Balmer

    Microsoft has been a joke since Balmer took over. The only thing he's done right is the X-Box 360. Is that even making them any money?? You might have to come back and run the company, Bill, unless you want to see your company continue to be run into the ground.

  49. tom 24

    Windows Mobile was "meh" at best? Shock!

    So, they're just now noticing it. That is the real news.

  50. fred slack 1
    Thumb Down



  51. Anonymous Coward

    "Proud to carry"??

    "set of Windows-based devices that people will be proud to carry " says Ballmer.

    That happens slightly after the pigs fly, not before.

    There are not so many devices people are proud to carry and as far as I know, none of them runs anything made by MS.

    I'd doubt if many of them is made by Nokia either ... except maybe N900.

  52. Richard Read

    The question was...

    >>What would a Windows 7 tablet provide the others don't?

    To be clear I'm talking about a tablet format computer running Windows 7 (not Windows Mobile 7).

    1) Applications - there are lots of apps in the app store but where are the likes of photoshop, dreamweaver and all the other full-featured applications? Thats what I mean by the app store only containing lightweight apps. Now you might saw that the ipad isn't designed for these kinds of uses but thats exactly my point - a windows 7 tablet would offer all these applications by default - no need to have special versions. They may or may be usable but thats my choice as a device owner not something that is decided for my by Apple.

    2) External devices - you may or may not want to connect an external device but unless you have the hardware and driver support its not your choice. This is something that a windows 7 tablet would offer that the ipad doesn't. Don't you think it would be handy to be able to connect your sports gps and upload your workout details to your coach? Don't you think it would be handy to connect your camcorder and upload some video to utube? Download something and write it to a dvd? Get files off a usb key?

    3) VPN access. Yes ios has some vpn access but try using any of the device tokens like SecurID 800 - you may or may not need to but with ios you can't because there is no connectivity. Yes, there are software only solutions but why would a company change its security policy just for Apple? This is something that a windows 7 tablet would offer.

    4) Escape from the Apple straight jacket. Perhaps you like this and perhaps you don't - thats a choice and a windows 7 tablet would offer something for people who want to be able to run their choice of software and do all the things that apple doesn't like.

    There is room for both locked down media consumption devices like the ipad and real computers that run all the same software the we use every day. They are different markets.

    Basically what I want is a netbook without a keyboard. TBH I was disappointed that the ipad didn't run Mac OS.

    1. Volker Hett

      This available NOW

      What you want is a HP tm2 or an Acer ptz 1825. Although I prefer something bigger to work on my photos, even a 12Mpixel raw file from ancient Canon 5D needs some resources when I want to make that kind of adjustments it takes Photoshop to do the job. A mobile Pentium dual core and 4 gig of RAM are sufficient but a 20" screen and a precise mouse are necessary, too.

      OTOH the iPad is great as a tool to show the results, it's more like a thin client and less like a computer, I'm fine with that.

      The ExoPC with 32GB storage, 1GB RAM, Intel N450 and Win7 starter should be available soon, not enough to use Photoshop, but barely enough to install an older version like CS3.

      1. Richard Read
        Thumb Down

        Old news

        No I don't. The keyboards and stupid swivel screens make them too bulky and heavy. Thats why I never bought one of the last generation of windows tablets - they are crap products from manufacturers who are too scared to move away from laptops.

        Like I said earlier the ipad hardware and format is fantastic. The software is pretty good too, if only it ran the software that I want to use and connected to the devices that I have then it would be great.

        The ExoPC looks promising and the price is right too. I wonder when it will be released.

    2. Schroeder Washere

      but you are not the target market...

      Thank you for giving a perfect example of someone not understanding the difference between the hobbyist and consumer markets

      "Real Applications" ... okay then, care to tell us exactly why Joe Bloggs needs the full fat version of Photoshop. I know its an El Reg badge of honour not to touch Facebook, but go and have a look at the pictures your non-IT friends upload on there. Compare how many haven't even had a simple red-removal and cropping applied to them to those that have. I'd be very surprised if the ratio was less than 1000-1, despite the fact that even the simple picture transfer utilities bundled with camera equipped phones usually include this functionality.

      Those transfer apps are of course much nearer in size and functionality to those in App Store than they are to Photoshop too aren't they?.

      Now given in market terms you are outnumbered around 1000 to 1, do you now understand why these 'limited functionality' tablets may well actually succeed when previous 'full-fat' iterations have failed so miserably, and why everyone but Microsoft seems to be thinking of lightweight apps.

      Connectivity is another red herring. Judging from the number of wi-fi networks that my phone picks up if I wander around the fairly average working class estate on which I live, then think its safe to assume that wireless is the way everyone wants to go. My current HP printer/scanner is a wi-fi model and cost me the huge sum of £50. The PS3 has wi-fi as standard, and the XBOX is following suit. They're even starting to build it into TV's and Blu-ray players! Apples time machine is wi-fi hub / back solution if I'm not mistaken.

      I don't think we're that far away from a most people adopting a simple mobile pad, wi-fi base station with combined storage solution. I would imagine that how most of El Regs readers already have this as their set up but with a laptop, router and NAS. Joe public wants something similar, but far simpler in implementation, and that looks to be on the way.

      The majority non techies use computers to access the web and to hold their photo collections with maybe a little video. At a stretch some may do the family accounts, but then even Microsoft have canned Money. Word processing? What for? The occasional CV? That could be done in a simple template app, why shell out £100+ on office. E-Mail has replaced letters even for complaints in most cases.

      The idea that everyone needs a huge powerful PC in the home is mainly superfluous - you may find it hard to believe but most people don't spend their spare time knocking up websites in Dreamweaver. When travelling to and from work I see the current college generation ( especially the female of the species ) spending almost all of their journey interacting most with a computer that is usually very small, not particularly powerful and lacking a proper full keyboard. Interestingly these computers are far more powerful than high end desktops were when I started working over 20 years ago. They even occasionally make telephone calls on them.

      1. Richard Read

        Target markets

        >> Thank you for giving a perfect example of someone not understanding the difference between the hobbyist and consumer markets

        Actually its the difference between the consumer, prosumer and business markets that I'm talking about.

        I understand that the ipad is aimed at consumers who just surf the web and use twitter which is exactly why I believe that there is also a place for a tablet format device in the laptop range. It is aimed at all those people who currently have laptops but want something a bit more portable and stylish while still being able to use their normal applications.

        Hopefully we will see who is right when one gets launched but I'm afraid that manufacturers have drawn the wrong lessons from the failure of the swivel-screen tablets.

        As an aside on the connectivity issue how does widespread wifi help with the usage scenarios I suggested? (Camcorder, gps, usb stick and archiving). OK, I can see that you could archive to cloud storage but none of the other devices have wifi or are likely to in the near future.

  53. wolfi7777

    win7 or winmo 7 ?

    Is Ballmer again trying to confuse everybody by talking about win7 - without explaining what he really means, win7 or winmo7 ?

    Many consumers will not realize at first that these are completely different systems and will be (once again) strongly disappointed by MS.

    Sometimes I think that even Ballmer doesn't see the difference ...

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