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Why small screens won't cure Microsoft's Windows tablet blues

Brad Chacos | May 27, 2013
Small-screen Windows slates are poised to flood store shelves, but they aren't a magic pill for Microsoft's struggling tablet OS.

Gartner's Milanesi agrees that Windows 8's biggest problem is content.

"I think Microsoft needs to focus more on content—not Office—to appeal to consumers," she says. "At the end of the day, smaller-size tablets are all about consumption, not so much about creation of content. Adding books from their Barnes and Nobles relationship, along with games, music, and video from Xbox would be much more appealing."

Windows 8 on a small tablet? Meh. Windows RT, on the other hand, could shine on 7- to 8-inch slates—but only if Microsoft manages to fix the mistakes in the modern UI, enhance its app selection, and shake the death stench that's beginning to emanate from all things RT-related.

Too many compromises
While diminutive displays are all the rage these days and Microsoft needs to be in that space to "stay" competitive, the shift to small screens doesn't look like a panacea from where I'm standing. If anything, small Windows tablets will demand even more compromises than the other (already highly compromising) Windows 8 devices available today, because they'll subject users to the double trouble of a frustrating desktop experience and the desert known as the Windows Store.

Small tablets aren't the cure for Microsoft's Windows tablet woes. The answer is apps, plain and simple. More apps. Better apps. Appealing, high-quality apps that distinguish themselves from the Android and Apple horde.

Microsoft is doing all it can to woo developers to its new-look Windows, but the effort hasn't succeeded yet. Until it does—if it does—Windows tablets will never truly take off with consumers.

Windows hybrids, though... well, they're a whole 'nother story.


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