There’s an interesting story developing out of an investor call that Microsoft held yesterday.
We’ve discussed 7-inch Windows 8 tablets before, confirmed they are technically possible, analysed the market for them and we came out positive but it takes more than just a small set of potential customers to make a product. Microsoft say they’re “set up” for 7” Tablets so it’s really up to the manufacturers now. 7-inch Windows 8 Tablets could be on the way.
…it’s possible to build a new-generation Windows 8, 7” tablet on Atom Clover Trail. With some quality engineering a 16mm Windows 8 7” tablet would be possible. With a smaller battery maybe even a 12mm thick Windows 8 7” tablet would be possible. Source:Chippy.
“We’re really set up for that,” said Microsoft’s finance chief, Peter Klein, when asked about 7-inch tablets this morning at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference. “The notion of flexibility and scalability of the operating system is actually intrinsic to our vision and our strategy. Source: Microsoft
If you take a look at the image above you’ll see a 7-inch Windows tablet. The Viliv. This one never reached the market because it was before its time but it proves that it’s technically possible. I’ve played with a working version of it and it’s light. Just 420gm. This is the design that could work with Clovertrail or BayTrail and Windows 8 although Windows will need a couple of mods for this to work.
There are two options for Windows in this form factor. RT and Win8 and both have a desktop user interface that won’t work with this form factor when held in the hand. Windows needs to be able to lock out the desktop for a 7” handheld device. The virtualization is already built into Windows 8 but it would take some work to get it working in the way it should – Modern UI when un-docked, desktop available when docked. Or even a non-desktop version with a lower license fee. That would probably work better but would require some maturity in the Windows Store. A pro version could re-enable desktop with Clovertrail/Bay Trail of course.
Technically it’s possible. With Bay Trail you might even get the only PC you’ll ever need! From an OS perspective Microsoft should think about license cost and disabling desktop. After that it’s up to the manufacturers.
In 2007-2009 the UMPC market was alive and well based on very poor economics. Sales were not good but risks were taken. That needs to happen again but it needs a push from Microsoft and a silicon partner. The only one with enough money is Intel. Ultratablets or Ultraslates could be just the push needed to make the UMPC finally work.
In two weeks we’re at Mobile World Congress with Intel. We know they’re ramping up marketing (see the #inteltablets and #tabletcrew hash tag) so we’ve got our fingers crossed that we’ll see something in Barcelona.