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The hard truth for Microsoft: Windows may never work as a tablet OS

Published May 30th, 2013 3:20PM EDT
Microsoft Windows Tablet Analysis

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Windows-based tablets haven’t been big successes so far, whether they use the desktop-centric Windows 8 or the tablet-centric Windows RT. iMore’s Rene Ritchie does some sharp analysis of Microsoft’s latest marketing campaign and concludes that the company simply does not understand why people are buying tablets in the first place. Essentially, Microsoft doesn’t get that its central criticism of the iPad — that is, that it’s more of a toy that can’t be used for doing serious work — is precisely why consumers are drawn to it in the first place. Simply put, consumers have PCs at their offices if they want to do work. When they’re at home, they want to play around with their tablets instead; they like having toys.

When you take this into consideration, says Ritchie, it’s clear that any attempt to bring core Windows functionality to tablets is doomed to failure.

“For years mainstream customers have felt alienated by desktop operating systems,” Ritchie writes. “They’ve struggled with their archaic file systems and confusing windows management, their intermediated control schemes and their sheer complexity. And those frustrations are the last thing those mainstream customers want on mobile. They want to pick up a device that they can understand… They want their apps, they want their media, and they want it without all the inhuman bulls*** traditional computing platforms like Windows (and OS X for that matter) have been forcing on them for decades. They want iPads.”

But all is not lost in the tablet space for Microsoft: Ritchie says that the company already has experience in creating a popular, intuitive operating system with its Xbox gaming console. If Microsoft were to make a tablet that took more cues from the Xbox and had gaming capabilities that put the iPad to shame, then it could have a winner on its hands.

“Microsoft will need to find the testicular fortitude to let go of Windows,” he concludes. “It’s 2013 and Microsoft is still trying to sell a PC in a post-PC world, and a truck to a family that just wants a car to get around the suburbs.”

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.


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