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1Why Microsoft Must Make Its Own Tablet

1. Where Are All the Partners?Microsoft currently has a partnership in place with a few vendors to develop Windows 7 tablets. In fact, Acer’s Windows 7 tablet is launching soon. But so far, Microsoft has been unable to sign a significant number of hardware partners. Realizing that, maybe Microsoft should take matters into its own hands and get down to the business of showing everyone why it’s a good time to use Windows 7-based tablets.

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2. Apple Proves It Can WorkApple has proven something to Microsoft: in the tablet market, developing both the software and the hardware can be a good move. After all, Apple sold 15 million iPads last year. In order to be successful following Apple’s lead, however, Microsoft needs to deliver the same unique hardware and software combination that Apple currently offers. Steve Jobs and Company knows how to deliver a worthwhile tablet combination and Microsoft must find a way to do the same.

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3. It’s What Google Isn’t DoingRight now, Google is arguably Microsoft’s biggest competitor in the tablet market. since both companies are offering software to hardware vendors. However, right now, Google isn’t developing its own hardware. If Microsoft can develop its own tablet, it can set itself apart from Google and potentially capitalize on the search giant’s seeming unwillingness to get into hardware.

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4. HP Isn’t A FriendWhen Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was at CES in January 2010, he talked about the HP Slate and how it would help lead the Windows 7-based-tablet charge. Now more than a year later, it’s clear that HP has other plans. The time has come for Microsoft to realize that HP isn’t a worthwhile partner in the tablet space. Developing its own tablet might be the only way Microsoft will be able to overcome the loss of HP.

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5. PC Vendors Won’t CareOne of the biggest reasons Microsoft hasn’t gotten into the hardware game is its partnerships with vendors. As a software provider, it can’t be a competitor to these companies. That’s certainly true in the PC market. But the tablet space is different. And as HP, Dell, and Acer have shown, they’re more than willing to work with Microsoft’s competitors. Why shouldn’t Microsoft acknowledge that, stop worrying about vendors, and do what it must to be more competitive in the tablet space?

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6. It’s About ControlIf Apple has proven anything over the past year with its iPad, it’s that controlling all aspects of a respective product really works. It’s why HP and RIM are following Apple’s lead. And it’s also why Microsoft must do the same. The most reliable experience will come from a device that Microsoft can fully control. That can only be achieved by developing the hardware.

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7. The Microsoft Brand Means SomethingRight now, the consumer and enterprise markets have no idea what to expect from the possible release of a Windows 7-based tablet. And even then, they don’t know if the company offering the hardware can be trusted. But Microsoft can change all that. Its brand still means something in today’s marketplace. And by affixing its logo to a tablet, it might just help sell more units than some expect from a Windows 7-based device.

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8. Microsoft Believes Windows 7 Is ReadyWhether or not an operating system that was built around the idea of a mouse and keyboard is really ready for fingertips is certainly up for debate. But it’s clear that Microsoft believes that Windows 7 is ready for tablets. So, why not prove it? If Microsoft can deliver a tablet that shows off all the virtues of Windows 7, it can prove to the rest of the market and potential customers that it was right all along — Windows 7 really is ready for tablets.

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9. It Needs A Tablet PresenceIf nothing else, Microsoft needs a tablet presence right now. The company is practically nonexistent in the touch tablet market. And a growing number vendors are delivering Android tablets. Simply put, the market will be saturated with products in the coming months. And the time has come for Microsoft to at least have a presence in that space. If it wants some market share, it has no other recourse at this point.

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10. It Could Help Smartphone SalesMicrosoft needs to remember that bolsering its tablet offerings will go a long way in improving smartphone sales. After all, if people like what they see from a Microsoft tablet, they’ll be more likely to warm to the idea of getting one of the company’s Windows Phone 7 devices. Apple’s iPad is extremely popular, partly because of the success of the iPhone. Microsoft should try and repeat that chain effect by delivering a worthwhile tablet of its own.