Nvidia CEO talks smack about Windows 7 on tablets; backs Android. Where's WP7?

This week has been a somewhat exciting one if you've been following the annual Computex show in Taipei.

For one, Asus demonstrated their Eee pad, which sadly won't be out till first quarter 2011. The 12-inch EP121 features Intel's Core 2 Duo CULV processors, Windows Embedded Compact 7 for the UI (and Windows 7 too?), and a supposed 10-hour battery life. The battery here is the killer part if true as that's where the competition, along with 'instant on', is really gaining momentum.  The device is also powered by Nvidia's Tegra video processor, which leads us to...

Despite being featured on an unfinished Windows tablet, Nvidia President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang had no problem distancing himself from such devices and backing Android, stating

Windows is too big and it's too full featured for smartbooks and tabletsThe good news is that we finally have an operating system to unite behind. Android is an operating system that has gained a tremendous amount of momentum all over the world 

Zing. While most of us would agree with such an assessment, it's a bit rough when it comes from one of your featured partners. The issue here is Microsoft's intention to use Windows 7 and only Windows 7 on tablet devices, eschewing a Windows Phone 7 type device which many seem to want. In addition, Google's Chrome OS is finally launching in the fall, which should increase the competition even more with HP/Palm's WEbOS tablet.

So everyone is doing a mobile OS for tablets except Microsoft. This should end well.

Finally, Paul Thurrott recently explained why he thinks the iPad is a consumption-but-not-contribution device, something we've been saying for awhile on our podcasts. This reason is similar to what Microsoft told Engadget on why they want to use a full-fledged OS instead of a mobile one for tablets. While that argument holds true for installing desktop software, it doesn't seem really address how consumers are actually using these devices these days.

We say let the market decide. Microsoft, put out different tablets, one featuring Windows 7 and another featuring Windows Phone 7. No one will confuse them. Seriously, we think you're betting on the wrong horse here and Android, iPad, Chrome and even HP/Palms's WebOS are going to put the hurt on you're tablets by Spring 2011.

[via PC WorldEngadget, WinSuperSite, Raw Story & PreCentral]

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Balmer really needs ousted at Microsoft otherwise they will cease to exist in the next 10 years.
  • Many of you are talking about how Microsoft is betting the tablet on Windows 7 desktop and keeping Windows Phone away from the tablet. I think you're right about them not using Windows Phone on tablets but check out the first link at the bottom of my post. The three video links in the middle of the screen make it pretty clear that Windows Embedded Compact 7 is also going on tablets. The second link shows among other things that Windows Embedded does or will support Silverlight. Does it really seem that unlikely that they will port their other technologies over to it also? I think it's safe to assume that it won't be hard to make the same app for Windows Phone and Windows Embedded Compact 7. Personally I wish they'd be more open about what their fixing to offer us but from what I've seen lately it looks like they're well aware that Windows 7 won't cut it for most peoples' tablet and are already working on fixing the problem. https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co... https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co...
  • Nvidia's statement should be yet another wake up call for Microsoft, but I doubt we will see any kind of positive response from them. They really must have no idea what's going on in the world, apple has sold 2 million ipads so far and the sheer number of android tablets will probably see them reach that number very quickly. At the same time Windows 7 tablet's so far have been underwhelming, looking unlikely to generate the same level of sales as competitors offerings, and you have hardware partners starting to heavily favour a competitors OS. Dont forget chrome this fall, which will again generate hype around a non-windows product which the mainstream media will likely support fully. What will it take for Microsoft to actually respond, are they planning to make a comeback when they have lost out completely in every conceivable market?
  • Windows Embedded Compact is a mobile operating system. That's the new version of what Windows Phone 7, Zune, etc. is built on. It is not full Windows 7 and is not compatible with Windows x86/x64 applications.
  • I get that but there's contradictory info out there. The Asus Eee Pad either runs Embedded Compact 7 with custom UI or Windows 7--Engadget has both down. Either way, the HP Slate is Win 7 and MS has said a few times now that it is Win7 they are pushing for tablets, not CE7. So even if the Eee Pad is CE7, it may be the exception and not the rule.
  • The Eee Pad has two versions, the bigger one, 12" is x86 based and with Win7. It's the smaller 10" that's running that custom UI on WinCE7.
  • Ah, that explains it. Thanks for the clarification.
  • Gotcha. It sounds like the Nvidia guy doesn't know about Windows EC though, which would probably be pretty nice on Tegra based tablets.
  • Yeah, I don't see what everyone is complaining about. Windows har now put out a "mobile" OS for tablets, Windows CE7, this is the same OS-line that is used in Windows Mobile x.x and Windows Phone 7. The problem with this OS is that it's not an OS that has alot of apps and games, so Microsoft must include Silverlight and XMA to make it easy for developers to port their work from WP7/Xbox to this tablet.
  • We'll have to see. Windows Embedded Compact is *not* new. Version 7 is new, but it goes back years on tons of devices that are not in the consumer market. Microsoft, to my knowledge, has not said that WCE7 is for Tablets. All we know is Asus built 1 tablet with it and 1 without. HP has built 1 without it. That doesn't sound to me like WCE7 is MS's choice for Tablets. Furthermore, it begs the question of why it rather than WP7? Why not keep the user experience the same?
  • There are still areas and users who want a tablet with a full OS, so Asus having a version with Win7 makes sense. Then they have another one with WinCE7 which IS mobile. nVidia is just doing marketing. Why do I say this? It's simple. They want to sell more of their hot new Tegra systems and try to fight off Intel more. It's got less to do with MS and OS's and more to do with nVidias hardware needs. Tegra, as anyone who knows hardware should know, uses a ARM cpu, something Windows 7 doesn't support (it's x86 only). So from that angel what's being said is pretty BS anyways.
  • Good point about the ARM cpu thing and marketing. But Nvidia's critique is still accurate, imo. Windows 7 is not really a touch-friendly OS, nor can it be as optimized for battery life as a mobile one. Plus there's that "instant on" thing which is what makes the iPad so nice to use. Until those are addressed, it will remain a niche market and Ms can't be chasing those right now. I'd rather see Microsoft push WinPhone 7 into tablets because the synergy between it and your phone would be outstanding--share the same apps, sync, etc. While CE 7 may be mobile, it won't necessarily run WP7 apps--at least not without some intervention on Microsoft's end (though it could be done). And even if you can easily run WP7 apps, the GUI changes between the two leave a lot to be desired--too jarring and not a seamless experience for the end-user. MS seems keen on missing an opportunity to unite their different platforms again. One step forward with WP7 (xbox and zune), two steps back with their tablet strategy.
  • I dunno about that though, the introduction/info vids for Windows CE7 when talking about dev tools show Expression blend and Silverlight support. So, it's not that hard, with a small UI tweak to a silverlight (WP7 app) get it to have a tablet 10" screen UI and run. Silverlight apps should just work regardless once a dev takes the different screen size into account. So I think MS is setting Windows Embedded Compact 7 as the tablet OS, it's just not out yet (later this year it will be) so they're not talking about it officially. There are also other unifing tech in Compact 7 around networking (uses win7 networking APIs/stack) and has all the same media support as well, I think these are all keys to it and that some might be overlooking this and are just looking at the lack of a central UI like metro as the only factor. I love WP7 and the UI, but one thing that people keep bringing up is the inability to customize it and change it making it harder for OEMs to stand out from one another. I think MS will give them the ability to do so with Compact 7/CE7 and just keep WP7 for phones. They want that UI and that experience to be for phones, but the technology and code and interoperability between WP7, Windows Compact 7 and Windows 7/Server is all coming into place now. That's how I see it.
  • Putting aside battery life, the issue is not which Windows OS becomes the underpinning for these devices. Its the lack of standard, touch "small screen" appropriate UI and MarketPlace. I think alot of us here see the Metro UI as being more appropriate for this device class.
  • I think it is crazy to require OEMs to customize the UI to the point it is no longer recognizable as a Windows device. Thats the same thing that happened to Windows Mobile before WP7. At the very least, provide OEMs a Metro UI/Framework add-on with Zune software built in.
  • @JohnCz 100% in agreement.
  • You have to take into account the fact that maybe (and this could very well be the case) OEMs want to have the ability to make their own UI? I think Metro would work great on a tablet screen as well but it's not odd to think that hardware makers want to be able to stick out more with tablets and having the ability to mold their own UI using Silverlight for example is a plus. It also doesn't take that much to build a nice UI using Silverlight with Expression Blend. The Windows Embedded Compact 7 introduction video that I saw (the one talking about new features) makes it a point to show that OEMs can use Blend and the power of Silverlight to creat rich UIs. It gets pretty hard to sell a tablet when it looks like the other 2 or 3 tablets out there and has the same specs. You know the prices for these will be very close to each other as ell, so then how can you get someone to pick yours over the next guys? This will be the same problem with any Android tablets, so far all of the ones I've seen are the same basic Android UI you get on a phone. That's fine as a UI, but how do you stand out? We see HTC does it with tweaking and molding Sense and having their own custom gadgets etc. It just makes more sense to go with something like Compact 7/CE7 over WP7 with it's more confined UI in this regard.
  • I have seen the ExoPC Slate, which runs Windows 7, and this is a device I would buy. A website that speaks about it:
  • Hey guys, I think this will answer some of the questions and speculation we all have: http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/03/microsoft-windows-embedded-compact-7-...