back to article Microsoft tablet OS to see light of day in 'autumn 2012'

Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer was given a gentle kick up the backside late last year by the company's board, after he failed to move quickly enough against Apple’s iPad and lost market share in the mobile phone and tablet biz. Despite all that, a Bloomberg Business Week report is suggesting that Redmond is taking its sweet (or …


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  1. GettinSadda

    Good luck with that!

    So, late next year we will be able to choose between the new Windows 8 slabs, or an iPad 4, or any one of a million Android devices!

    I can't see yet what would make people want to switch at a time when the market is used to the 'big two' tablet providers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Businesses like Microsoft and the NHS is brainwashed into preferring Microsoft too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yeah baby

        That was in the nineties. Microsoft and Intel are slowly sinking into irrelevance.

  2. Wibble

    Tablet OS != Desktop OS

    A tablet operating system needs to work with touch screens using big fingers. It also must eek out battery life to beyond a day. Windows 7 - or any 'desktop' OS for that matter - is optimised for mouse input and consumes lots of power.

    Even an infinite amount of bluster from Balmer can't change the laws of physics. Microsoft will have to create two completely different operating systems. They may be branded Windows 8, but they will be different in every way.

    1. Code Monkey


      It's spelled "eke", but I like "eek" better.

    2. CheesyTheClown

      Substantiate please

      Windows 7 as an operating system should be able to be tailored to low power devices with little effort. Currently, from my current tests, a formerly very high end (Qosmio G40 with full HD) notebook can sleep and wake with approximately the same performance as iOS 4.2 on iPad.

      Additionally, that same notebook can go 5 days on battery in sleep mode and respond to wake on lan events signifying that the ethernet mac and minimum hardware is still functional. Windows 7 on top of that can run for 2-3 hours while watching a film or playing games.

      Now, to speculate. If you were to use an iPad level processor meaning something similar to the A5, had a much lower power screen, added support for all the normal bells and whistles regarding power management in a portable device (hardware and driver support, not OS kernel revamp), standby for the system would be the same as the iPad since standby puts the machine itself into a power off state and only the event generating controllers are functioning during that time. In a powered on functioning state, the same technology which makes speedstep function would allow the tablet to run 5-10 hours.

      What is however needed to make Windows 7 function properly for a device like this is :

      a) Removal of all non-tablet services. Services for supporting desktop tech should be tossed. Services for supporting legacy emulation should be dumped. Services for supporting WMI should be dumped. Keep it bare. This can be done by disabling services in the control panel.

      b) Removal of the classical windows desktop shell. It's not designed well for this, it should only be visible and running when the device is docked, charging and has a keyboard and mouse connected.

      c) A tablet desktop instead. This would likely be a modified version of the Windows Phone 7 environment which functions fine already on Windows 7. It's just a .NET app after all.

      So, I'd really like to know what it is about Windows 7 which isn't suitable for a tablet. I'm just a lowly operating system system level developer, so these complex topics like what you've mentioned confuse me. I think it's best to leave it up to the experts like yourself. I'll check back for a response, I need to get back to developing the boot loader and real time task scheduler for a new linux device I'm working on.

      1. A handle is required


        "I think it's best to leave it up to the experts like yourself. I'll check back for a response, I need to get back to developing the boot loader and real time task scheduler for a new linux device I'm working on."

        Although I agree with you, calm down and stop showing off.

      2. Richard 22
        Thumb Down

        Battery size

        You'd only really have a fair comparison to an ipad if you were talking of something with a similar physical size, since you can always put in a larger battery to compensate for the higher power draw. I don't know the details of power draw from the chips in either case, but I'd be surprised if the A4/5 in an ipad was using more than a few W (the best estimate I can find is, which has the processor running at ~0.5W), whereas even a mobile-class intel processor is likely to be drawing 10s of W.

        Regardless of that, I don't think there's any real reason why a desktop OS can't be modified to work with touchscreens. Apple is already trying to do the same with Lion it seems. The question is whether it's a good idea - do you end up with a compromise which fails for both environments, or something which works well in either environment.

      3. Wibble


        There's more to an operating system than the kernel and drivers. The API for instance. And security - which in the case of phone-style devices is a hugely significant issue. Sure, it's possible to create a new shell, but that too is only a little part of the overall challenge. Then there's all the tools, applications, software distribution, DRM... If it were that easy MS would have done it.

        One of the reasons (as far as I'm concerned) that Apple don't do 'full' multitasking is that the more work that's done, the more power that's drawn. Allowing unfettered access to the full multitasking functionality of a full-size OS such as Windows (or MacOS for that matter) is asking for trouble.

        Most developers are rather average and very selfish. Whilst you may be capable, most aren't. Even if most developers are capable, the fact that *some* can screw it up for the others is a good enough reason to question the OS architecture that allows them to create poor code in the first place.

      4. a_been
        Gates Horns

        Windows 7 as an operating system

        "Windows 7 as an operating system should be able to be tailored to low power devices with little effort."

        If they could do it then why the hell havn't they?

      5. Goat Jam


        Qosmio G40 = 5.5 Kilograms for fucks sake. How much of that is taken up by the batteries that give it its "claimed" battery life of 2 hours?

        Please resist the temptation to compare apples with oranges in the future.

    3. Charles Manning

      Windows optimisation

      Seems to be geared towards making a dual core look like an 80386 and making 4G of RAM look like 512M. That, and being tightly linked to x86, prevents it from being a serious tablet contender.

      I call BS on your laws of physics though. Funny though how Mac and iOS can use fundamentally the same OS codebase, as can the wide variety of Linux devices from routers to super computers.

      An organization with the resources of Microsoft should have been able to pull a capable mobile OS together by now. And no, WinCE does not count.

  3. Bilgepipe


    "it seemingly suggests that the company doesn't have faith in running its existing Windows 7 operating system on the increasingly popular touchscreen devices."

    Neither does anyone else with more than one neuron to rub together.

    What's that in the distance? Oh, it's a boat, sailing away. And who's that on the shore? Oh, it's Steve Ballmer.

  4. JDX Gold badge

    WindowsMobile7 Tablet?

    I know they don't advise it for use in tablets, but have they explicitly forbidden anyone from trying? After all we see lots of tablets using lower-version Android right now.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Oh no!

    So we will have to waita whole year before we can point and snigger and generally take the piss? That's rubbish!

    In any case, what's the point? The OS will be pants; it's Windows, for goodness sake. The hardware MIGHT be ok but because of the MASSIVE amount of resources Windows eats up just to stay alive (I use the term loosely), the battery performance will be rubbish and it will run like a slug. Oh, and it'll crash and burn every hour of course.

  6. xj25vm


    Is this the same company that had a (supposedly) tablet friendly version of their OS all the way since (if I remember correctly) 2002? Then, when nobody wanted them, they were shoving down our throats tablet pcs and touch friendly input. Now, when the world is finally ready for it (or so it seems) - they are taking another 2 years to re-invent the same damn thing they've supposedly been working on for 9 years now. Damn if it makes any sense.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Internal conflict

      The problem is nobody apart from the tablet team really gave a toss about tablets. The guy in charge of Office development didn't like tablets and said he preferred mouse and keyboard, so Office wasn't adapted for the tablet OS.

      It's that sort of petty internal conflict that makes Microsoft dysfunctional when it comes to moving their offerings along. Only when something similar is out in the wild and raking in megabucks can such people at Microsoft see the merit in something.

      When producing something new and ground breaking there is no precedent in the market that says "this will work, this will make money", so nobody at Microsoft will want to cooperate with the team producing it.

    2. Wibble

      Even longer

      There was a tablet version of Windows 3.1 in about 1993. Having used one on a long train journey, I quickly realised then that a pen input device was completely inadequate. The user interface then was also poor for exactly the same reason that tablets failed in the early 2000's.

  7. Shonko Kid


    Steve. It's simple. Here's what to do.

    Kick your weed smoking UX 'gurus' into touch, get WP7 running on a Tablet sized display.

    Add in Office and that Handwriting/Note utility from Windows for TabletPCs.

    Undercut Apple, and make the device look good (I know, tricky).

    Bundle some free Cloud services/storage

    Make a killing.

    Trick is, you need to be rolling this out this summer. If you can't get that many people, with the amount of capital M$ has, to execute something as simple as that, you need to stand aside.

    Autumn this year would be too late. Next year?!? FAIL.

  8. amanfromearth
    Gates Horns

    The phrase

    Silk Purse and Sow's Ear comes to mind..

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Fetid dingo's kidneys

      is another

  9. Philippe

    re Oh no!


    You forgot to mention the first update, not supposed to update anything which will still manage to nuke 10% of the devices.

    Having said that, we're talking about 10% of the two tablets they'll be lucky to retailers.


  10. Anonymous Coward

    I came here just to point at MicroSoft and go


  11. Tom 38

    5th to market

    That bodes well.

  12. cosmo the enlightened


    Apple has a head start. Android is building, and Msoft is coming in late next year. Sounds as though they are late to the party, and yes they are.

    They missed the market with W7 cos they never built any touch into the heart of the OS. The problem is bigger than that, coz they have to carry so much baggage in the kernel and bolt on after bolt on to provide compatibility that the legacy of NT to W7 has made the OS in inefficient behemoth.

    smart thinking would have extened W7 for mobiles and built out a replica of iOS / OSX model and seperate the ecosystems (gawd I hate that word)...

    They will still insist that the can shoehorn W8 onto every platform under the sun with a confusing array of versions and licence models.

    Now, this is still not so clear cut because as someone else has mentioned Business investment in Windows is here to stay for a very long time (business software, legacy apps, the sheer cost to move to anything else is prohibitive on a cost front - spreadsheets alone would make your mind explode at the number of them running core processes across the world today) no matter how much you think it is fixable it is not. In addition to this the synergy of an office PC and an on the go buisness tablet running the same will continue to be attractive for large organisations for support, security (hah) and legacy applications.

    Now longer term there are very young people going through education, at home etc, that are learning their basic computing on non windows platforms - my 4 year old figured out the iPad in less than 2 minutes. Over a loooonnng time this will have an effect... so will cloud.

    The transition will take years, companies will begin to develop their next versions more platform agnostic to ensure they can run on as many of these devices as possible.

    Microsoft can afford to come to this late, and it will take a long time to see any shift. The consumer is irrelevent RIGHT NOW, corporations matter. Corporations are hooked in no matter how much they desire not to be. But today's four year old iPad / Android user is the possible CIO / CEO if the future, and this is where Microsoft is loosing them ... right here right now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Those four year old CIO/CEOs ...

      are already using iPads/AndroiTabs in their enterprises much to the consternation of their IT and Info Security staff .. only of course there would be no general support for staff who would have a real need for Tablets (more than the CEO's Dashboard or Roombi apps).

    2. Alex.Red

      You are so right :-)

      My 3 years old grandson hunts EVO 4Gs all over the house (we have 5 on a Sprint family plan). His dad has the best set of kids apps, so that is #1 phone to hunt for.

      But the little man does not mind to grab mommy's or grandmother's phone that also have good Android apps.

  13. llewton
    Thumb Up


    in the fall of 2012? not a moment too soon lol

    will microsoft exist in the fall of 2012, seriously.

    1. BingBong

      of course they will ..

      but after December 21st-23rd 2012 .. well that depends on the accuracy of the Mayan calender.

  14. My New Handle

    Microsoft? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    That is all.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    One word ...

    ... Zune.

  16. MojoRaisin
    Gates Halo

    Bring Back BillG

    BillG was talking up a storm about tablets 4 years ago. He was completely convinced they were the future. Evidently the "super smart" people at MSFT didn't follow his vision.

    The D8 interview with Jobs and Gates in '07 is eyeopening - on youtube watch?v=_5Z7eal4uXI

    1. Charles Manning

      Much more than 4 years ago

      Tablets have always been Bill's favourite form factor. He's been waving them around since the early1990s.

      What they never got right was the UI. BillG was always convinced that the Start button based desktop UI was fine for tablets.

      SinceBill pulled out, tablets have not been given any priority.

  17. Gordon 10

    Waiting for quad core Arms?

    I suspect w8 already exists in a good state and offers a decent tablet experience.

    What monkey boy is waiting for is an Arm chip of sufficient power and battery life to actually run w8 well and for more than 1/2 a day on a battery. Or intel to do the same for Atom.

  18. jubtastic1

    Oh dear

    I've never been a fan of MS's software but WP7 hits all the right notes and looks like it would scale well to tablet sized devices, and more importantly, it's ready now.

    If they're really going to ignore the opportunity to ship a touch based OS and all new touch optimised apps in favour of 'proper windows' some time in the distant future then they've really list the plot.

    1. Knochen Brittle

      I think you meant ... "they've really pissed the lot"

      which seems a fairly canny long-term forecast on their fortunes

  19. Tony Paulazzo
    Gates Halo

    Tablets Gen 1 has been won by Apple

    Time for the other companies to concentrate on bringing something new to the market. After all, pretty much anyone who wanted a tablet has got one, the iPad, a few Archos 101s, Advent Vega from Dixons, Samsungs 7 incher and there are even one or two notion inks out there almost. So, the next battle is gonna be for the next gen. I know I'm not moving on from this ipad until something really sexy comes out, so, windows 8...

    Win7 already has nice touch interface (except for the ui - tiny close buttons etc), it has working text and voice recognition built in, they use the ntrig screen (Microsoft partners), pressure sensitive with capacitive finger and stylus friendly (you need a stylus for writing and drawing). Strip down the OS, Office in the cloud, entertainment from the 360 division and bingo, you've got yourself a world class tablet eco system - second generation. One that I would be interested in.

    It is a shame that Bill Gates retired, I think MS needs his vision back at the helm, rather like Jobs and Apple. Balmer comes across as a buffoon (I'm sure he's not), but Microsoft really needs a visionary now, more than ever.

    Disclaimer: iPad lover, Apple hater.

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