Microsoft feels threatened by the iPad. That was made clear by the words of CEO Steve Ballmer at Microsoft's financial analysts meeting. Microsoft intends to come out swinging with Windows-based iPad rivals. It's just a matter of when, and if customers will have anywhere near the same enthusiasm they have had for the ipad.
Of course, Microsoft isn't the only company that has to worry about winning that enthusiasm. Any other player in the tablet market has a lot to live up to after the iPad's phenomenal sales. However, whereas Google, for example, may be able to ride on some of the building enthusiasm for the Android operating system, Microsoft is hoping familiarity with Windows will be the ticket.
Here are some of the things that Ballmer said (based on a transcript provided by Fortune). "There is a category that we've had Windows on for actually a long time. We've had Windows 7 on, tablets and slate machines now for a number of years, and Apple has done an interesting job of putting together a synthesis and putting a product out, and in which they've -- they sold certainly more than I'd like them to sell, let me just be clear about that. We think about that. We think about that in competitive sense."
"Just like we had to make things happen on netbooks, we've got to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates. And we are in the process of doing that as we speak. We're working with our hardware partners, we're tuning Windows 7 to new slate hardware designs that they're bringing them to market. And, yeah, you're going to get a lot of cacophony. There will be people who do things with other operating systems. But we've got the application base, we've got the user familiarity. We've got everything on our side if we do things really right."
Microsoft also appears to be relying on Intel to help boost consumer enthusiasm for whatever products it launches. "We'll get a boost sometime after the new year when Intel brings its new Oak Trail processor to market," Ballmer said. "Oak Trail is designed to be lower power. Lower power is good in a lot of ways. It leads to longer battery life, no fan, lower kind of noise levels, a lot of less weight -- a lot of things that people like."
It will be interesting to see how Windows Phone 7 does, and if it is able to drum up further enthusiasm as well. Either way, look for Microsoft to bring Windows to a variety of new mobile computing devices.