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Microsoft tablet OS reportedly in the works for a 2012 release

Major Windows 7 update for tablets to be coming later than expected

As tablets gain popularity, numerous major computer corporations have already released, or at least officially announced, tablet plans and models for this upcoming year (Sony being a notable exception). To complement the new tablets, most of the giant software makers have built operating systems specifically for tablet usability in an effort to gain traction on the emerging market. This includes the iOS from Apple, Android from Google, WebOS from HP, and BlackBerry Tablet OS from RIM. In this regard, Microsoft is the white elephant in the room as the company has yet to officially announce a dedicated OS plan for tablets.

Fortunately, Bloomberg claims to have reliable insight on the potential Microsoft OS for tablets, but it won’t be good news for Windows fans. According to the report, a dedicated Microsoft Windows 7 for tablets will not see the light of day until 2012, which analyst Michael Gartenberg considers to be a very late time of entry for the company. He believes that by next year, competing operating systems such as WebOS would have matured considerably, thus making the tablet OS market even tougher on Microsoft’s end.

Microsoft is not entirely absent from tablets, however, as a few upcoming releases such as the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 and MSI WindPad 100W will be running Windows 7 Home Premium. The problem, though, is that Windows 7 only comes with the most basic functionalities for touch-interfaces, meaning usability may not be as swift or efficient as say a tablet running Android 3.0 would be. Additionally, the current Windows cannot run on ARM-based processors, and so a wide range of ARM-based tablets will be excluding any Windows-based operating systems. Microsoft is working on this concern, however, as the company has announced a future Windows version for ARM processors at CES earlier this year.

If Microsoft doesn’t show something new soon, it may quickly find itself overshadowed in the tablet world by the likes of Apple and Google in much the same way Windows Phone 7 underwhelmed at launch in comparison to the iPhone or Android.


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Allen Ngo, 2011-03- 5 (Update: 2012-05-26)