Tuesday Microsoft squashed any hopes that tablets would ever sport the company's new mobile OS, Windows Phone 7. While speaking at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partners Conference, Windows Phone president Andy Lees said that company views tablets as PCs, and that consumers want to do PC-like things on the flattened form factor. That said, the device deserves a PC-like operating system, not one designed for mobile phones.
Naturally he turned his keynote focus on the upcoming OS, Windows 8, which we've already seen running on SoC platforms. Lees said that the networking and printing support enhancements stemming from the upcoming OS are expected to drive the adoption of Windows 8-based tablets moving forward. That may be true, but the thinner, lighter, less bulky iPad-like tablet form factor may also be a huge selling point for Microsoft, moving away from the heavier, bulkier form factors associated with slates.
According to Lees, desktops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones will eventually merge into a "unified ecosystem." These words echo Steve Ballmer's statement during CES 2011 at the beginning of the year as the Microsoft clan showed the world that Windows 8 could run on ARM-based SoCs, and even open PC applications like Word and Outlook.
"Whatever device you use... Windows will be there," Ballmer said during his CES 2011 keynote. "Windows PCs will continue to adapt and evolve. Windows will be everywhere on every device without compromise." The company is already working to consolidate its entertainment arm, merging Games for Windows with Xbox.com with additional plans to integrate Xbox Live directly into Windows 8 itself.
This isn't the first time Microsoft has stated that tablets would only receive a Windows 8 injection. There's also talk that the OS will eventually replace Windows Phone 7 on the mobile front given its supposed modular design and support for ARM-based architecture. But given that it's merely talk, we'll have to wait and see what Microsoft really has up its sleeve when Windows 8 is officially revealed as a finished product.
Windows 8 on the PC, smartphone, tablets, probably the next Xbox... one big unified Microsoft ecosystem.