I recently came across an interesting article on ZDNet. The author, Jason Perlow, suggests that Microsoft should be putting out a $199 tablet PC that uses the Windows Phone 7.1 (Mango) platform. He goes on to speculate that the reason Microsoft is not putting out such a system is politics and their internal commitment to Windows 8 as the tablet platform of choice.
I could not disagree more with the premise of this article. The reason Microsoft cannot put out a half-baked tablet, just for the sake of getting into the tablet market, is that they are Microsoft—enterprise customers hold Microsoft to a higher standard.
Amazon or Barnes and Noble (B&N) can put out a tablet offering that is far from perfect. Nobody has lofty expectations of a tablet from Amazon or B&N. Most realize that such devices are meant to serve primarily as a front-end for offerings from Amazon and B&N, and that is what the market expects them to be. I had a chance to play with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. It is a nice device, but by no means is it close to what I refer to as a Microsoft level of completeness. For instance, consider this: The native Kindle Fire e-mail client does not, to my knowledge, natively support Microsoft Exchange. Would Microsoft be able to get away with a similar offering?
Microsoft sets the standard? Not so fast, you say. Look at Apple. They have put out a perfect tablet PC, the iPad. It has a gorgeous e-mail client and an overall excellent user experience. Is it not the gold standard? Doesn’t Apple manage to meet and exceed all expectations? Well, not quite. Consider this: The iPad, while being an extraordinarily capable device, does not have an Exchange client that performs to Microsoft standards. It took iOS version 5 to be able to perform the following tasks with its native e-mail client.
- Formatting text using bold, italic, or underlined fonts.
- Creating indents in the text of your message.
- Flagging important messages.
Can you imagine a Microsoft e-mail client not being able to do any of the above even in version 1.0?
It may not be said very often, but Microsoft is the gold standard when it comes to business applications. Microsoft is very much aware of what is expected from them and they are putting in every effort to deliver a stellar tablet experience that meets and exceeds the needs of their discerning user base. This, I believe, is why they are taking their time. Windows 8 will definitely be worth the wait.
So, as we look at the shiny tablets that will ship this Christmas, keep in mind the best is yet to come!