Windows 8 Revealed and the Future Tablet Wars

It has been nearly a month since I have been using my new iPad; I have joined the love affair around me for the iPad.  Largely due to the apps at my disposal, it is revolutionary.  My personal favorites are Dropbox for transporting and reading documents , Flipboard for reading news, Instapaper for reviewing web content and Outline for reading my Microsoft OneNote files.   Bringing together a well designed product with a world of apps, iPad is the productivity boost saving time, paper and ink cartridges.

At first glance, it looks like there is quite a bit of imitation in the market place with me-too products coming forward from Android, WebOS and Windows; Apple may find this somewhat flattering….well initially anyway.  Longer term, both Google and Microsoft are beefing up to move ahead from Apple’s early lead.

Last month, Google announced it’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $12.5BN.  At first glance, the acquisition analysis focused on the patents Google would be enjoying, particularly after Apple and Microsoft had gained access to the Nortel patents.  Then, confusion set in over the channel friction with Google as both a hardware manufacturer and software operating system vendor.  On the surface, the strategy looks a bit like Apple (tight coupling of hardware and software) and a bit like Microsoft (maintaining an ecosystem of providers to embrace software); my read is that Google is simply ensuring access to the mobile marketplace for phones and tablets, much the way that Microsoft created a closer relationship with Nokia earlier this year.  It will be interesting to see if Google and Motorola can work more closely together on set-top-boxes and access to the television — the big looming prize for all three companies.

And then just a few days ago, Microsoft provided a deeper sneak peak into Windows 8 at the Microsoft BUILD Conference  targeting the Windows developers, a community critical to support Windows 8 with applications running on the operating system.  While the press has been quick to show us how Windows 8 looks and feels with inclusion of Microsoft’s Metro user interface, it is Microsoft’s unique approach for addressing the proliferation of devices into a PC world with one operating system — Windows 8 which is most intriguing.

Microsoft is suggesting that everything is a PC and should operate optimized for the hardware it is supporting.  For example, get touch when you are running a tablet, plug in a keyboard and resume as a PC or set into a docking station for presentation mode.

This is intriguing providing a productivity boost beyond my iPad today and providing Microsoft both the challenge of flawless execution (e.g., get Windows 8 to recognize all those hardware drivers) and the opportunity to sell many more copies of Windows across those devices.

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