It will be a tough task, especially arriving so late to the game, but Microsoft is betting big on the latest rendition of their flagship operating system, aptly titled Windows 8, which is supposed to run just as well on tablet devices as it does on traditional desktop devices. Though Bill Gates primarily focuses on his philanthropic duties these days, he did preface the ethos of a Microsoft tablet in interviews that happened before the announcement of Windows 8.
Tablet computing is an innovation where Microsoft has been ahead every step of the way, Gates said during an interview with the Boston Globe. In an interview with Larry King, Gates opened up more about his take on the Apple iPad, which is regarded as the best tablet on the market among most gadget-lovers. Gates said, Eventually we want a device where we can browse and read and edit documents. Nobody's got that yet. The Windows PC keeps getting smaller and better. There are specialized reading devices like the Kindle and now the iPad. We're all trying to get to something that you just love to take to a meeting and use.
You need to have input, Gates adds. You need to take notes and edit and things, and Microsoft and a bunch of other companies are working on getting that final, ultimate product.
Will that ultimate product be a Windows 8 tablet? One of those devices may please Gates, who has always preferred Windows devices to anything else on the market--even when those devices were atrocious.
The average computer user, however, may be a more difficult to convince. And before Windows 8 earns any portion of the tablet market share, it first must overcome a little bad publicity.
Developers have been particularly critical of Microsoft because the company is preventing ARM system builders from disabling Secure Boot, a controversial feature that requires a key to be entered before allowing operating systems to boot.
Secure Boot was put into place in order to prevent boot loader attacks on any Windows 8 machine, and Microsoft requires that any manufacturer turn on Secure Boot by default in order to receive a Designed for Windows 8 certification. This angered those would like to have the option to install different operating systems on Windows 8 devices such as Linux.
Windows 8 device certification hardware requirements have also been revealed recently, though there has been less of an uproar over these particulars. All Windows 8 tablets will be required to include a power buton, rotation lock, volume buttons and a Windows key. Tablets must also be able to support a minimum of five touch points at a time. A magnetometer (used as a compass) as well as a gyroscope (for motion controls) will be included, which are hardware devices found in most mass-market tablets. Any camera on a Windows 8 machine must have a minimum resolution of 720p, too.
While the hardware requirements and software capabilities will certainly play a major role in the success of Windows 8 tablets, it will also be determined by Microsoft's main competitors in the tablet world, Apple and Google.
Tablet sales have surged for far more than a year, and all the while, Microsoft has missed out on an opportunity to gain any portion of the tablet sector. According to a reporter from the International Data Corporation, worldwide media tablet shipments into sales channels rose by 23.9 percent to 18.1 million units. The number represents an increase of 264.5% from the same quarter last year.
The same data reveals that Apple shipped 11.1 million units Q3 2011, which represents a 61.5% worldwide market share, a slight decrease from the preceding quarter. Android was performing nearly just as strong, with 32.4 percent of the tablet market share when the report was first published on Dec. 15, 2011.
Microsoft will look to wedge its new tablets, which will be created by several PC manufacturers including Lenovo, HP and Acer. According to rumors from PC World, TG Daily and Washington Post, Windows 8 will appear sometime in the final quarter of 2012 if not early 2013.