Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Bill Gates: Tablets Frustrating Without Keyboards, Office

By - Source: CNBC | B 35 comments

Bill Gates explains why Windows 8 tablets are better than the iPad.

Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates recently went on CNBC to talk about where the markets on a whole are heading. Eventually, he was asked about the declining PC market and the surging interest in tablets. What will the world look like in the future and how will the cloud factor in? The cloud is a gigantic opportunity, he said, that allows so many things you couldn't do before.

He then began talking about Windows 8 and how it's revolutionary by blending together the elements of a tablet and a desktop so that the platform can find a home on any form factor. With Surface, you have the portability of a mobile device and the richness of a desktop PC. And as tablets grow in popularity, it will be harder and harder to distinguish between PCs and tablets.

"With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to gain share in what has been dominated by the iPad-type device," he said. "But a lot of those users are frustrated. They can't type, they can't create documents, they don't have Office there. So we're providing them something with the benefits they've seen that have made that a big category, but without giving up what they expect in a PC."

Microsoft has been criticized for not bringing Office to Apple's iOS platform. But Gates seemingly confirmed the very reason why the suite hasn't appeared on the iPad: because of the iPad. Only on Windows 8 and RT-based tablets can you have the true mobile Office experience. Sure, there are document creation/editing apps for both iOS and Android, but it's not the full-blown Microsoft experience, and Microsoft may want to keep that exclusive, competitive edge.

Earlier this month, the IDC said that Microsoft sold 700,000 Surface Pro units, which the company began selling in February, and 200,000 Surface RT units in 1Q13, capturing only 1.8 percent of the market. "Beyond the Surface products, Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets continued to struggle to gain traction in the market," the firm said. "Total combined Windows 8 and Windows RT shipments across all vendors reached 1.8 million units."

In 1Q13, 27.8 million tablets were shipped using Google's Android platform followed by Apple's iOS with 19.5 million units. Tablets sporting Windows 8 Pro were on 1.6 million tablets and only 200,000 units used Windows RT. The IDC noted that Microsoft entered the top five for the very first time, seemingly confirming that the company's market share is growing.

In addition to talking about the PC sector and the rise of tablets, Gates was asked about his thoughts on Apple's declining stock value. However, the whole tablet aspect was kicked off by "Squawk Box" co-anchor Joe Kernen, who asked Gates about his thoughts on the tablet market.

"We gotta just ask you about all these tablets, and, you know, PCs. Everybody's writing off the PC," Kernen said. "You still do… Microsoft still does 80 billion a year doing, uh, I dunno what the hell it does, but obviously there's still something going on in the PC world to still do revenues like that."

To see the full "Squawk Box" interview, head here.

Discuss
Display all 35 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    stevejnb , May 8, 2013 8:40 AM
    While I entirely agree with Bill - personally, I considered tablets toys until I could get one with a fully functional office suite and a good keyboard - the surface keyboards are not the answer. They're better than typing on a touchscreen, yes, but I do not want to type full papers on one of those flat surface things. Keyboards with discrete keyboards are where it is at and, frankly, you can already get those in extremely small form factors.
    The cost of Windows tablets are what is holding them back in my eyes. Windows 8 actually works very well on a tablet but people don't want to pay iPad plus pricing for something they A) don't know is a much more capable product and B) do not understand how it is different. MS licensing fees? Dropped to $30 per license, from their usual $120 (saw it reported on Tom's I believe - feel free to correct if I'm wrong), so I'm not sure that's the big hold back now.
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    icemunk , May 8, 2013 8:10 AM
    There is certainly a market for windows tablets, but most people don't want to pay $400+ for a mediocre spec windows tablet. The only thing holding back Windows tablets are the retarded Microsoft licencing fees.
  • 4 Hide
    damianrobertjones , May 8, 2013 8:21 AM
    @icemunk: Sorry but i do NOT believe that the licence cost is holding anything back and as for specs... the current Atom laughs at anything from Apple or Google so I'm not too sure what you're getting at. High res screens? Marketing and that's about it.
  • 11 Hide
    stevejnb , May 8, 2013 8:40 AM
    While I entirely agree with Bill - personally, I considered tablets toys until I could get one with a fully functional office suite and a good keyboard - the surface keyboards are not the answer. They're better than typing on a touchscreen, yes, but I do not want to type full papers on one of those flat surface things. Keyboards with discrete keyboards are where it is at and, frankly, you can already get those in extremely small form factors.
    The cost of Windows tablets are what is holding them back in my eyes. Windows 8 actually works very well on a tablet but people don't want to pay iPad plus pricing for something they A) don't know is a much more capable product and B) do not understand how it is different. MS licensing fees? Dropped to $30 per license, from their usual $120 (saw it reported on Tom's I believe - feel free to correct if I'm wrong), so I'm not sure that's the big hold back now.
  • -7 Hide
    Benthon , May 8, 2013 8:52 AM
    I'm all for Windows 8 on a tablet. I'd expect nothing less than Bill Gates defending Windows 8 on the Desktop and how it "merges" together the two markets and I'd do the same thing in his shoes (making millions to say a few words and defend your lifes work), but frankly it stinks at the moment. Hope it improves for everyone's benefit!
  • 3 Hide
    InvalidError , May 8, 2013 8:54 AM
    Quote:
    The only thing holding back Windows tablets are the retarded Microsoft licencing fees.

    Win8 OEM is only ~$50 so while the licensing does not help, it is not too much of a deal-breaker.

    I'd say the biggest problem is the massive popularity of 7" tablet in the $175-250 range. It would be pretty difficult to put together a tablet platform capable of running Win8 reasonably well within that price range not counting the "Windows Tax."
  • 7 Hide
    Pallimud , May 8, 2013 9:08 AM
    Quote:
    While I entirely agree with Bill - personally, I considered tablets toys until I could get one with a fully functional office suite and a good keyboard - the surface keyboards are not the answer. They're better than typing on a touchscreen, yes, but I do not want to type full papers on one of those flat surface things. Keyboards with discrete keyboards are where it is at and, frankly, you can already get those in extremely small form factors.
    .


    There are two keyboards for the surface. One has physical keys and the other is what you've mentioned. The physical keys version is actually pretty good.
  • -7 Hide
    squirrelboy , May 8, 2013 9:30 AM
    'Tablets Frustrating Without Keyboards'
    You know how they call a tablet with a keyboard?
    A laptop. A laptop with vastly inferior hardware to normal laptops for the same price.
  • 0 Hide
    cbfelterbush , May 8, 2013 9:42 AM
    I think that devices like the Asus Transformer Book and the Lenovo Thinkpad Helix is where the future of Windows belongs. On hardware that is well beyond the abilities of and Apple offering. While the price is an entire Nexus 10 more than the cost of a 4th generation iPad, I still think that they are the best mobile computing/Tablet solution.
    -CB
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , May 8, 2013 10:11 AM
    Basically, tablets are not good for much, thus they need a kb/mouse, so that they'll become...laptops.
    Also, Windows 8 was revolutionary at highlighting the fact that the biggest OS maker in the consumer market for the last 20+ years can't make a decent OS when under pressure.
  • 5 Hide
    CaedenV , May 8, 2013 10:15 AM
    @Kernen
    If you dont know how MS is making its $80,000,000,000 a year, then you are either not paying attention, or are simply not qualified to have your position. MS is still having OK sales of its OS and office in spite of big headwinds. MS makes some $20 for almost every android based phone (and tablet?) sold due to licencing fees. Xbox sales have leveled off, but it is a mature platform, and the console with the largest volume of game sales. New markets of the WP8 and win8 store have been small compared to the likes of apple and google, but as a percentage of the market share that they own it has more sales, and is quite profitable. xbox live services continue to sell like crazy, and considering MS's rather small role in providing the network, that is almost 100% income. MS has a ton of business leasing patents to various companies for all sorts of things, and they are becoming one of the largest patent holders in the world right now. MS has their own game studios which put out huge sellers like Halo, and Fable, and a host of medium sized titles. Most 'smart cars' have an MS operating system of some sort (these car UIs suck, and MS really NEEDs to push WP8 as an OS option for these devices).
    All of this is going on during MS' "bad" times. I am very curious to see what MS manages to do with a new console which can potentially bring console gaming to every capable win8 PC via the win8 store and the requirement of a controller+kinnect (may not happen... but there is very real possibility). What happens if they 'fix' win8 with the 8.1 Blue release and people really start upgrading? What happens if they tie in more integration between win8 and WP8 so that you can do things like network file browsing/sorting/sync/file sharing, or being able to send things like web pages and browsing history between the phone and desktop? Knowing MS they will manage to flub most of these opportunities, but the point is that they are highly profitable during the rough times, and if they manage to get some of these things right then there is some explosive potential for growth.
    I just can't stand all of the 'news' about apple and MS lately. Yes, MS has not been doing great... but they are doing just fine. Yes, Apple stocks have dropped like a rock lately... but really, was there any justification for them to be so high in the first place? And even if Apple goes into another decade long hiatious like it did in the '90s, they have the money to survive just fine for a very long time without a major hit. They lost their leadership, and now they are doing crazy things like putting creative directors in business decision spots, and it is going to take some time for apple to redefine themselves and pick a direction again, but they are not in any danger as a company of really going away.
    It is just stupid when analysts and reporters think that their own echo-chamber is reality and act so moronically. MS is not a desktop company, they are an IP company that happens to still make platforms for various form factors. That is how they make their money.
  • -6 Hide
    Timmy225 , May 8, 2013 10:30 AM
    What ever Billy Boy, your company is becoming less relevant by the day.
  • 0 Hide
    Murissokah , May 8, 2013 10:47 AM
    Let's see if I got this right:
    1. Microsoft understands the potential of the Tablet market. They also realise their representartion there is very small;
    2. Microsoft goes all-in by making the default interface of their main product (Windows OS) touch-oriented and also developing it for a new architecture (ARM), hoping the OS would bridge both worlds;
    3. Their product fails to gain the tablet market as they hoped to. They also face resistance on the PC front since users don't seem to enjoy the innovations, clearly made to integrate tablet and PC.
    Now, instead of arriving at the obvious conclusion that they should have different OS's for tablets and PCs, since they serve different purposes, they still believe people want their tablet to be more like a PC.
    I wonder if they are just really that bad at market research or they chose not to listen to feedback.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , May 8, 2013 11:06 AM
    Pallimud, actually, I did know about the type cover and while I do agree it more or less provides what I'm talking about, the pricing on it is *ridiculous*. Not just in itself - you can practically get full tablets for as much as you pay for that keyboard - but you can get a variety of Bluetooth keyboards that work just as well, or better since you can move them around separate from your tablet (very handy for when you have your tablet plugged in to a TV/monitor via a micro HDMI sport).
    I just get the feeling this is part of MS's attempt to not only release a successful (they hope) tablet, but also part of their master plan to make as much money as Apple. Unfortunately, it's a big part of why I went with an Acer Windows 8 tablet rather than a Microsoft branded one, so that pricing lost them at least one customer.
    Also, when you look at MS's marketing, the touch cover was the one they were really selling to people and, ironically, I never even considered it after I discovered that they had a type cover in production as well. When I found out both were over $100 each, I stopped considering either.
    I'm sticking by my position... MS's #1 problem with their tablets? Pricing. I actually think both Surface units are very nice machines, but they're pricing themselves out of my being willing to pay for them.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , May 8, 2013 11:24 AM
    Jaber... I love voice activation. Use it very frequently with my phone, and I dictate text messages constantly. Problem is, you ever try and use that in an office building, a library, or heck, even a noisy bus/car? It works, but it's not always the ideal option just because you don't always want to be yakking away. Voice activation, as it is now and as it is likely to be any time in the near future, is a great supplement but a poor primary input method.
    Star Trek had people not drinking booze and wearing pajamas everywhere too. I think we should pick and choose what we want from science fiction very carefully.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , May 8, 2013 11:32 AM
    Squirrel, I disagree. A tablet is a different beast when compared to a laptop. I do like laptops well enough, but tying the keyboard to the screen/machine is a limitation in how you can interact with the machine, and not a necessary one. With a tablet, you can pick the machine up and use it like a book, use it standing, walking, much more easily lying in bed, reclining on a lawn chair, in a car seat, whatever. Then when you want, you hook it up to a keyboard/mouse through a dock/bluetooth/USB port, and you've got, functionally, a laptop. I've been waiting since I first held an iPad for such devices to exist, and they are officially here - just on the fringes at the moment. No shocker, Apple is still making toys that they have everyone convinced is the best thing ever.
    Actually, I have quite a nice laptop - a two year old ASUS G73. Very slick unit, though bulky as heck - can run everything from Skyrim to Crysis plugged in to one HDTV through the HDMI and another through the VGA port. Since I got a full blown Windows 8 tablet, it's getting a *lot* less use, since while I can use my tablet in a whole slew of situations, my laptop is much more clunky/limited. Only thing I really need it for is higher end gaming, and it is now rooted in place hooked up to my TVs while my tablet is just *way* more pleasant to use on the go, in bed, on the dinner table, etc.
  • -1 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , May 8, 2013 11:42 AM
    It's going to be next to impossible for Microsoft to dominate the tablet market, and that's unfortunate. I see Surface being more effective for productivity than I do the iPad, and that's only because of the keyboard.
  • 1 Hide
    everlast66 , May 8, 2013 12:12 PM
    With the most popular tablets being 7" and in the $175 - 250 range even a $50 Windows 8 licensing fee is a huge chunk of the cost and would definitely be a problem!
    Don't see them competing until they start shipping the OS free.
  • 1 Hide
    loops , May 8, 2013 12:15 PM
    I think the issue is not a simple as form factor.
    1. Software. Old 5 year computers can run most programs fine. Anyone read how the old chips did in toms last cpu review? So why do I need a new PC?
    2. PCs have already populated places where we need their form factor for most ppl. Most have PCs at home and at work.
    3. Rather than throwing more hardware at the problem, why not adopted the software to the platforms out?
    4. Lack of real innovation to replace the mouse and keyboard.
    5. Lack of choice in W8 UI. Let ppl boot in W7/W8 UI as they see fit.
    6. Slow growth in terms of economy and rate of pay.
    7. Cost of Widows products.
Display more comments