Microsoft prepares to stuff up tablet plans

For a while there it seemed that Microsoft was going to do something spectacular which was going to give Android and Apple a real kicking and establish itself as a leader in the tablet market.

The rumour had been that Vole was going to release a subsidised Windows RT tablet for about $300 which was practically a giveaway. While this would anger hardware makers, it would establish Microsoft’s new operating system and lead to the company becoming a leader in the mobile market.

Unfortunately the rumour was based on the assumption that Microsoft would use common sense and its piles of money to make itself relevant again.

According to Extreme Tech, the rumour mongers had forgotten that Microsoft is a huge elephant of a corporation ruled by competing factions and overseen by Steve Ballmer. So far it has yet to come up with anything that is responsive or innovative to push itself into the mobile market.

Now, a leak has confirmed that Microsoft’s inability to come up with a decent business plan to deal with mobile is about to snatch another defeat from the jaws of victory.

A leaked slide from Asus says that its Vivo Tab RT, due to be released alongside Windows RT at the end of October, will start at $600.

This is more expensive than the iPad 3, and a full $200 more than the iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. So to be competitive it should have some insane hardware specs – right?

Er, no. The Vivo Tab RT has a low-res 10.1-inch 1366×768 IPS display, quad-core Tegra 3 SoC, 2GB of RAM, NFC, 8-megapixel camera… and that’s about it.

Basically it is the Android Transformer which can be plugged into a keyboard/battery dock for an extra $200 and a docking station only costs $150.

Microsoft is assuming that people will buy the tablet because it has Windows RT on it. This attitude is rather arrogant because it forgets that people are doing rather nicely thank-you-very-much with their Android machines and do not really need Windows.

Vole is basically charging what it always does with its licences, and has no plans to relax the “Windows Tax” to push itself into the mobile market.

To show how much it is expecting punters to pay, a Windows 8 Vivo Tab – which is the Rolls Royce of the range – will set you back $800. But the hardware spec, if the leak is to be believed, does not impress. It is the same as the Vivo Tab RT, but with a 11.6-inch screen (still 1366×768), and a dual-core Clover Trail Atom processor instead of the quad-core Tegra 3. If you want to pay $1000 you could get a mid-range Ultrabook with an Intel Core i5 processor, or two entry-level laptops.

So why is Ballmer cocking up this market completely? He said that the company is turning itself from a software company to a devices-and-services company.

But Microsoft better have something planned. Windows 8 was designed to be a tablet operating system as one of its main claims to fame. The fact that it is too tabletish might cause users to look elsewhere. If tablet fans think it is too expensive, then Microsoft is not going to make up the money on the new crowd either.

It looks like Microsoft is going to get another caning and this time it might not be able to escape in its current form.