Microsoft plans to unveil a new operating system designed for tablets within days, according to Bloomberg.
Citing three anonymous sources, Bloomberg reported yesterday that the software giant will be discussing its plans for tablets at some point in the next week, though they weren’t certain where or when it would happen. Bloomberg’s sources told the publication that the tablet-friendly Windows version would be running on hardware boasting Nvidia’s ARM-based Tegra processor.
If the tablets are, in fact, running a processor based on ARM architecture, the operating system Microsoft would be showing off would not be Windows 7. That operating system currently doesn’t support ARM-based processors. However, at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, Microsoft announced that the next version of Windows will support ARM technology.
The timing of any announcement by Microsoft seems to fall in line with speculation over the last several months about the company’s plans.
Back in March, technology blog Business Insider cited a source of its own that said Microsoft would demo tablets running Windows 8 by June. That source said at the time that Microsoft was being rather “Apple-like” in its strategy toward tablets and would bring some elements of Windows Phone 7 to the platform. However, Microsoft was tight-lipped at the time on whether it would even discuss Windows 8-based tablets at any point this year.
That quickly changed earlier this week when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said before developers at a conference in Japan that his company plans to outline details surrounding Windows 8 and Microsoft’s tablet strategy quite soon.
“We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows,” Ballmer said before the attendees. “Windows 7 PCs will sell over 350 million units this year. We’ve done a lot in Windows 7 to improve customer satisfaction. We have a brand new user interface. We’ve added touch, and ink, and speech. And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming.
“As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors,” he continued.
Following that statement, Microsoft’s public relations team engaged in some damage control, telling CNET earlier this week that Ballmer’s comments were a “misstatement.”
“We are eagerly awaiting the next generation of Windows 7 hardware that will be available in the coming fiscal year,” the company told CNET in response to Ballmer’s comments. “To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows.”
Regardless, Microsoft must do something quickly to break into the tablet market. According to research firm Gartner, Apple’s iPad secured nearly 84 percent of the tablet market in 2010, followed by Android’s 14.2 percent market share. This year, Gartner sees Apple’s share declining to 68.7 percent, followed by Android with 19.9 percent market share. By 2015, Gartner believes Apple’s tablets and Android-based devices will own 85 percent of the tablet space between them.