We don’t what’s coming today, but here’s what should: A Microsoft-XBox-Live-Tablet!
Microsoft sprung a surprise conference last week, happening today, so what if the company unveiled a tablet?
In just a few hours, we’ll know what Microsoft unveiled at its mystery LA-based conference. Rumors, and sources, have suggested Microsoft is going to unveil an Xbox Live-based tablet.
Windows 8, regardless of the user reception, will be a success: developers will get on board, and Microsoft will be able to promote those apps through the new Windows Store. If the tablet is going to be heavily based on Xbox Live and offer Xbox 360 integration, then those games could be promoted through the Windows Store. My worry is that if Microsoft introduced a tablet that used both the desktop and Metro versions of Windows 8 (more on that below), like any other OEM, then there’s no differentiation. Microsoft isn’t pushing the Xbox 360 as an all-in-one device only for the partnerships to stay on the Xbox.
Exploiting Xbox Live
Of course, if Microsoft is pushing the tablet as a rival to to the iPad then it will have to compete on design. The iPad has been refined across three generations. Microsoft’s devices aren’t known for being attractive at launch – look at the original Xbox, and the launch of the Xbox 360. Nokia produces great hardware with its Lumia smartphones, so a tablet using that form factor would look awesome.
As mentioned, Microsoft is still stuck with the desktop-Metro Windows 8 hybrid dilemma. On the one hand introducing the full Windows 8 experience on a tablet means the desktop side isn’t optimized for touch, while on the other hand introducing just the Metro side means there’s a lack of consistency across the tablets. The way to get around this, if the company is introducing a first-party tablet, is to base it more off the Xbox dashboard. Developing a consistency between the two would position the tablet as something very different, and help Microsoft to market the device as Xbox on a tablet.
Finally, Microsoft has to offer true Xbox Live games. Xbox Live Arcade is an ideal fit for a tablet, and the Indie Game service. Games on Windows Phone feel watered down, and they don’t compete with the games available on iOS.