With the apparent explosion in tablets quickly approaching, it isn't any surprise that Microsoft make a statement that they are joining the party. They obviously wouldn't want anyone to forget them. But will the tablets boasting Windows really be any competition for the increasingly popular Android and iOS? I'm not so sure.
Apple's iPad with its renowned iOS from the iPhone, and the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Tab sporting Android 2.2 (Froyo) have already received lots of consumer praise. These are systems that are designed specifically for tablet and tablet-like devices. (Despite Google stating Froyo isn't optimized for tablets, it offers a user experience that is said to be very acceptable). Palm's WebOS and Nokia and Intel's Meego is expected to offer a similar experience from a user perspective.
With Microsoft making a claim about a tablet this year, we have to wonder if this isn't a bit premature. Windows Phone 7 has so far received much praise, and Microsoft should be applauded for finally launching an OS deserving to be used in smartphones. Compared to its earlier siblings, it is said to be an excellent and touch-friendly OS. Unfortunately, this isn't the system that Microsoft is using for the so-called Windows tablets which are being launched. They will be donning Windows 7 instead, like the HP Slate that should be here by Christmas.
The problem with this approach should be fairly obvious. Windows 7 was not designed to be a touch-centric OS. The experiences that have been reported so far seem to support this claim as well. My assumption is that this will be similar to using a Windows Mobile phone: it just isn't comparable to Android and iOS for a touch-based smartphone.
I'm sure there will be a market for these devices, presumably the business market. That is where the HP Slate marketing seems to be focused toward. I'm sure Microsoft will be looking into fine-tuning their Windows Phone 7 OS to work with tablets, but for those of you looking for a proper tablet experience in the not so distant future, you may want to look elsewhere.
UPDATE: I read there is a 'rumor' that Microsoft is working on a finger-friendly skin for use on Win7 tablets. Not sure what the fuss is about. This will be required to make Win7 somewhat usable on a tablet. The article mentions that Windows 8 (due to arrive in 2012) will be designed to work with tablets natively. This seems to hint toward MS 'not' considering using a version of Windows Phone 7 in tablets.