ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley has uncovered internal documents detailing Microsoft’s master plan to address the success of the iPad. But the plan reveals a very myopic view of the iPad and what consumer’s want.
In the slide show presentation, Microsoft address some legitimate concerns that enterprise end users (or at least Enterprise IT staffs) may have about deploying the iPad in a corporate environment (such as encryption, compliance, printing, etc.), but severely underestimates the value of the pure functionality of these devices. In fact, despite the shortcomings that Microsoft has identified, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer has stated that 80% of the Fortune 500 companies are now either actively using the iPad in their environments or running a pilot program with the iPad.
But more glaringly obvious is the entire lack of a Windows slate device running a mobile OS. Certainly there are devices running Windows 7 tablet version, but that is not the same as a tablet running a mobile OS. From the information on the slides, it is clear that Microsoft is putting it’s eggs in the Windows 7 basket and hoping that OEMs will focus on building and marketing slate devices running Windows 7. This is clearly not the same as an iPad which is focused primarily on media consumption.
One laughable point in the PowerPoint slides was Microsoft saying that one of the benefits of a Windows 7 tablet was that it had full support for Microsoft Office products. While that is true, it is also true that Microsoft surely hasn’t been tripping over themselves making Microsoft Office Apps for the iPad, either. With this PowerPoint as the notable exception, Microsoft has barely acknowledged the iPad even exists.
I am saddened by this PowerPoint. I think if Microsoft were to come out with a decent response to the iPad, it would be good for everyone. And it’s not that they don’t have the brain trust to do it; they can. The Xbox and the Kinect were huge responses into the gaming platform arena, where they had no presence before. No, I feel it is lack of leadership and vision that is holding them back.
Perhaps Bill Gates need to pull a Steve Jobs and come to Microsoft’s rescue.