Microsoft Up For 7-inch UMPCs Again.

Posted on 14 February 2013 by



x70_windows7-slate_thumb

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 X70 Slate. 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 ultra mobile PC 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 ultra mobile PC 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.

Source: Geekwire

Via: Mobilegeeks

11 Comments For This Post

  1. Osiris says:

    Whilst contentious, im of the belief that the next version of WindowsRT will be fully metro, thus cementing its place as a mobile or consumption OS along with Android and iOS (as opposed to a full desktop OS). I dare say the 7″ versions won’t have office either, making them cheaper and at 7″ ideal for consumption, I just don’t believe the majority would ever buy a 7″ tablet to be productive – thats not to say that a 7″ tablet can’t augment your productivity.

    Chippy Reply:

    I tend to agree. I see RT getting cheaper, losing office and relying on Windows Store for consumption and always-on apps. The pricing differential could be interesting.

  2. peejay says:

    No, don’t lock out the desktop. Let those of us with small fingers or patience or a stylus use it if we want!

  3. me says:

    Great, I believed Microsoft when they said they can’t scale Windows 8 that low and 10.1″ was the limit. Now I have a Dell Latitude 10. If a company comes out with a 7″ Windows 8 tablet within the year then I won’t be buying it since my current tablet will still be usable. I wonder if there are others like me and that might show low sales for 7″ tablets again when they first come out. This could make OEMs think no one wants them (again). When I do replace my Latitude 10 then there won’t be any 7″ tablets to buy.

    I don’t think locking out the desktop is a good idea. It’ll just confuse consumers even more than the RT/8 division. Microsoft has always gotten so much flak for having so many versions of Windows.

  4. fenetre8 says:

    whow! that would be great i think !

    right now i’m using a 10″ acer w500 ,loving it, but sometimes i ask myself if i would not buy a (cheap) 7″ android tablet … and be able to use it everywhere and wear it in a pocket !
    of course it must have an hdmi output and usb ports (or bluetooth) then i’ll be able to dock it at home/work and use it with an external monitor and keyboard.

    anyway, i think there really is a place for that kind of device because if it is not a windows device then it will be an android or ios device…so microsoft has just to feel the gap before it is too late…

    i remind of previous great devices like the Zaurus or the Fujitsu U1010 ;)
    (pocketable devices running fully capable OS)

  5. Alex says:

    I was in the middle of writing a longer post about this so please excuse the length. My Fujitsu U820 is coming up to 4 years of age, an eternity in this area but despite the slow speed and relatively fat design it’s still the best device for my purposes.

    The Windows 8 tablet “revolution” has underwhelmed so far. First it was lack of processors from Intel as they were struggling to get the new standby mode right, which delayed things a lot and the marketing campaign was largely wasted. Then the devices finally arrived and did not shine. I’ve looked high and low and can find faults with pretty much all of them. The Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 came closest thanks to its low weight, integrated digitizer and 3G options, however it was let down by the fact that it can’t run USB hard drives and that the optional keyboard doesn’t really dock so can’t be used in truly mobile situations. The only good news in this generation is that the Intel processors have reached power parity with ARM so we don’t need to waste our time dealing with the stillborn Windows RT.

    This is why I’ve decided to sit out this generation of devices and hope for the next one, especially after I’ve found myself in various situations again recently where 10’ would just be too cumbersome (standing room only train for example). The trackstick in particular is the single best feature of the U line, something I hoped a digitizer could replicate though I’m doubtful. My U820 seems outdated, slow, small and pokey but it does precision jobs on the move better than anything else out there.

    Let me therefore paint a picture of what I think the perfect device should look like:
    • 7-8 inch screen with small bezel (Gorilla glass, IPS, 400 nits), 1080p if possible. I like the virtual bezel that Intel showed off if it becomes too hard to operate as a tablet http://www.extremetech.com/computing/145024-intel-at-ces-haswell-bay-trail-android-tablets-and-mandatory-touchscreen-ultrabooks
    • BayTrail processor that can finally handle that resolution but Clover Trail is ok for 768p at this stage
    • Slider design with dense but usable keyboard, hopefully including a 6th row with special characters and function keys. 45 degree max tilt should be enough for most circumstances
    • Trackstick on right side of screen, mouse buttons on the left side for precision control while holding the device, similar to the Gigabyte S1185. This results in three input options: touch, pen and trackstick.
    • All the nice to haves for a tablet: multitouch, digitizer with internal pen holder, GPS, 3G/4G, (micro)SD slot, front camera (back camera less important), full USB, mini HDMI
    • A battery design that would allow adding a relatively slim lithium polymer slice that covers the entire back (except for a camera cutout) and boost battery life from say 6 hours from the integrated one alone to 15 hours. With no fans on the device this should be possible.
    • No need to make it ultra-slim or light, just keep the footprint/bezel down and it will find its market with the ipad mini crowd that may want to become truly productive with a device in this size bracket without giving up the consumption angle. People really want this as shown by this post: http://www.pocketables.com/2013/02/how-im-using-my-ipad-mini-as-my-only-portable-computer.html

  6. kontrol1 says:

    Yeah, no need to lock out the Desktop.Let the users decide how to use it :)

  7. a-non-e-mouse says:

    Instead of locking out the desktop, how about this: in addition to the options of touch UI or desktop as the default, why not a conditional? When not docked, default to the touch UI, and when docked, automatically default to the desktop. If auto switching is disruptive, you can prompt the user if he/she wants to switch or not.

  8. guest says:

    I really hope 7 inch Windows 8 tablets come out. Maybe with Intel’s virtual bezel when needed. I’ll probably be in a market for one in a year and half or so when I replace my Dell Latitude 10.

  9. portable guy says:

    It’d be nice if a company comes out with an up to date X70. Keep the integrated mouse, add a digitizer, pen silo and an extended or secondary battery option.

    If it comes with 1080p then I hope there’s a 1366×768 configuration actual desktop usability.

    Maybe in 2014! My “big” Latitude 10 will hold me off till then

  10. me says:

    Here’s a Windows 8 Pro 4.7″ UMPC/phone: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/brierdudley/2013/02/25/new-windows-8-pc-phone-revealed-plus-tablet-and-desktop/

  11. ElFitz says:

    Well, I’ve got my HTC Shift and my Willcom D4 running Win 8.
    2GB + 128 GB SSD, and “roulez jeunesse” !

    Just have to say that the 1152*864 interpolated resolution necessary to run Metro Apps (not very fast, I should say) is a bit too high for my eyes in the desktop view.