Windows Phone 7 likely won’t appear on tablets. According to Engadget editor Joanna Stern, that’s the word from Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s OEM Division, who spoke at the Computex conference in Taipei, Taiwan.
If that’s accurate, and Microsoft decides to stick with a touch-enabled version of Windows 7 to back its manufacturing partners’ tablets, then it’s sort of a loss. As I mentioned back in March, the Windows Phone 7 user interface actually lends itself to a tablet, with its heavy emphasis on horizontal scrolling and overall consumer slickness.
Other companies seem to have adopted the idea that an operating system built for smartphones would be ideal for tablets, given that both types of devices have touch-screen environments and weaker processors than traditional PCs. That’s why Apple’s iPad runs a modified version of the iPhone OS, Hewlett-Packard will almost certainly use the Palm WebOS for its upcoming tablet offering and manufacturers are exploring how to best port Google Android onto the form factor.
Accoridng to Microsoft’s OEM vice president, Steve Guggenheimer, “People are looking for a premium experience and the benefit of Windows familiarity,” he said. When we asked him about Windows Phone 7 scaling up into the larger-screened devices or even a tablet version of Windows 7, he was quite firm in saying that the current PC offering is the platform of choice. He cited netbooks being the record for the company, and that people want to use slates not only for “content consumption,” but also creation. On the other hand, Microsoft also has its Embedded Compact 7 for ARM-based tablets and devices.
Microsoft’s already battling from behind in the tablet market, what with Apple’s iPad success and many manufacturers embracing Google Android. I can’t help but feel that Windows Phone 7’s interface could have offered a ready-made way for the company to convince its partners–not to mention potential buyers–that it was willing to battle its rivals on the same terms, with a stripped-down interface of its own. True, Windows 7 might have worked for netbooks, but I’m not sure the same strategy will prove effective in the tablet market.