Microsoft has Windows Mobile 6.x (on the way out) Windows Phone 7, Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows Embedded Compact 7 and then Windows 7 for tablet PCs and netbooks. What this bevy of systems is missing is a coherent answer for the tablet form factor. Windows Embedded Compact 7, which is the OS aimed at the mobile sector, isn’t yet released, and when it is, it won’t have a uniform UI, but will depend on hardware vendors to customize. It’s an appealing strategy from the vendors point of view, I guess because they get to differentiate their products from their competitors, but it’s not a recipe for success.All this iPad hype in the media is getting a little tiresome, I know. And even if slate-type computers haven’t even really penetrated the computing mainstream yet, the reason why bloggers and tech media commentators can’t shut up about it is that a lot of people think that the foundation is being laid for a big transformation. The release of the iPad marked the true beginning of the post-PC era, and even if Apple ultimately fails to dominate the segment, we’re all very keen to see who (if anyone) ultimately will, and it’s especially interesting to see whether Microsoft will miss it completely.
Of course, Microsoft missed the internet completely, then dusted itself off, pulled out its bag of tricks, and made a good attempt at dominating it wholesale. We’re all lucky that Microsoft ultimately failed to dominate, and now is pretty much forced to be a good netizen on our (the users’) terms.
But as the ZDNet article concludes, I think it’s clear to say that Apple is going to dominate the tablet market for a while, with Google free to give make a big push with all the non-Apple hardware vendors. Microsoft? I tend to think they won’t let themselves botch this one like they botched the smartphone market. But they’ll have to make up for Apple’s huge head start.