HP and Dell forced away from Windows

Microsoft’s chums HP and Dell are being forced away from the software giant because the outfit is not quick enough adapting its Windows 7 software for a tablet gizmo.

According to an IDC report the hardware makers have found that Redmond’s Windows 7 is too unwieldy for a tablet.

David Daoud, an analyst at IDC, said that that although a lighter edition was planned it will not be in the shops until the end of the year giving Apple almost a year’s head start.

Meanwhile Dell and Hewlett-Packard are using Google’s Android operating system and they are likely to be joined by the Taiwanese manufacturers that build most of the world’s PCs.

Joseph Hsu, chairman and president of Taipei-based manufacturer Micro-Star told Business Week  that OEMs didn’t have any choice at the moment. Windows 7 is too powerful and consumes too much energy from batteries, he said.

John Kalkman, a vice president in the Microsoft division that works with computer makers admitted to Bloomberg that the criticism was “fair.” Later this year, Microsoft will release Windows Embedded Compact 7, which will require less processing power and reduces the drain on batteries.

But it is not all the fault of Microsoft. Its other chum, Intel’s most energy-efficient tablet-ready processors won’t run Windows 7 and won’t until early next year.

In the meantime Kalkman suggests using dual-core set-ups and running Windows 7.

Dell is set to start flogging a combination smartphone and tablet with a 5-inch (13-centimeter) screen in the UK this month. It will use use Android and the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.

HP bought Palm to gain its own operating system for portable devices. In the meantime it will be using a Qualcomm chip in a new Android product called AirLife, which it began selling in Spain this year.

Micro-Star is waiting for Windows Embedded Compact 7. It also will be compatible with ARM-designed chips. Meanwhile it is developing a tablet that uses Atom, even if it lacks the power to provide the same kind of smooth video and Internet speeds as the iPad, Hsu said.

Asustek has a Windows 7 tablet with an Intel dual-core chip. It can run for six hours.

But the question is, has Steve Ballmer dropped another ball on this one? It is not as if he could not have seen the tablet coming. Although the jury is still out as to whether it will become a viable long term market segment, he could have made a quick buck on the fad before it dies.