WindowsXP Preemptively Pushing Midori Linux Aside?
Bill Gates keynote speech with the tablet
PC at Comdex fall last year was heralded by many analysts as a sign of support
garnered because of Mark Allen's close ties to Microsoft.
If that was the case then Mark Allen's rise
to CEO of Transmeta Corp. and the recent announcement of continued development
of the Tablet PC with the Crusoe processor can be seen as no less than a full
fledge strategic partnership. Transmeta has created its own mobile device market
and now has the world's largest software company actively developing
applications for that market.
Microsoft for its part, will be advancing
the development of a Crusoe-incorporating Tablet PC. Crusoe it seems has landed
the preferred, though not singular, position with Microsoft. Said Jeff Raikes,
group VP of productivity and business services of Microsoft, "Working together,
the two companies can further optimize these next generation mobile PC's for
Besides maintaining a common vision for
mobile devices the key to this partnership lies in WindowsXP. By making its
claim on WindowsXP Transmeta assures itself a position that Mobile Linux may
never be capable of providing.
For the still emerging Crusoe chips it is
critical they don't loose access to the mobile market because a suitable OS
(that users will accept) is not readily available. WindowsXP it seems, is being
positioned to take up the slack in IA markets. Joint optimizing by Transmeta and
Microsoft seeks to assure high performance, low weight, cool running
temperatures and naturally, extremely long battery life.
While the market is largely stalled at the
moment, the movement towards feature rich IA's is progressing on the development
side of things rapidly. WindowsXP may be just the key necessary to unlock the
potential of this region which has otherwise been straddled with high price
points and low feature-sets. While high price points are acceptable for emerging
technologies, low feature sets are generally not.
For Microsoft, the next generation Tablet
PC technology is the natural answer because it enables users to interact through
windows-based applications. As Microsoft and Transmeta focus on optimizing
WindowsXP for this type of application, you can rest assured that interest and
acceptance in the tablet market will grow.
Why haven't tablets popped-up on every
remaining dot-com CEO's desk already? Mainly because no matter how many features
or cutting edge bits of technology are included in the units one significant
hurdle remains - the interface between the device and the user.
According to some developers, one of the
main hurdles with the keyboardless tablet formfactor is just learning how to use
it. As frustrating and slow as some people find Palm's Grafitti language,
tablets face the same challenge. It takes time for to learn how to interact with
a device in the absence of a keyboard. A major release of a product with
deficiencies in its' user interface could be disastrous for a manufacturer, and
the entire market segment. Just remember back to the Apple Newton.
A close relationship between Transmeta and
Microsoft will hopefully better prepare Crusoe for an anticipated upcoming
battle royal with Intel.
Having the Windows OS optimized to take
advantage of Crusoe's unique characteristics not only benefits Transmeta, but
also assures Microsoft the chance to keep Linux, in whatever format, biting at
the fringes. It would be hard to imagine Microsoft being content to sit idly by
and let Linux gain a foot hold in the Mobile Device market place, especially as
this area is expected to grow significantly over the next few years.
It will be interesting to see if the Tablet
PC, in whatever iteration, actually makes it to store shelves. Whatever the
outcome, Transmeta with Mark Allen at the helm, and Microsoft in tow, will
present a difficult entity for Intel to smother