These guys are crazy to say Microsoft is tablet DOA through 2015

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The strangest thing happened today. Not one, not two, but three stories showed up in my RSS feeds making the same cockeyed assertion -- that Gartner's recent media tablet forecast shows the analyst firm doesn't see Microsoft releasing a tablet/tablet OS anytime soon and certainly not by 2015. Someone is seriously confused.

The first of these stories posted on April 11. It's a report by Larry Dignan at ZDNet's Between the Lines blog: "Gartner: Microsoft will still be a tablet no-show in 2015." As it happens, I don't subscribe to the blog's feed, which is major reason I didn't see the post sooner. The story showed up in a news alert for keyword "Microsoft" overnight.

Dignan writes: "Gartner doesn't see Microsoft as a tablet player at all through 2015. To grasp, this prediction you have to assume that the software giant won't figure out tablets -- period. No Windows 8 tablets. No Windows Phone tablets. Microsoft won't have a clue for 4 years even if Nokia somehow makes a table -- a reasonable assumption. I don't have a ton of confidence about Microsoft's tablet strategy, but to think the company won't have any tablet offering sounds nutty to me."

Yes, it is nutty, Larry. But before explaining how, let's look at the other no-Microsoft tablet missives. Earlier today, at Macworld UK, Shane O'Neill writes: "Research firm Gartner yesterday gave Microsoft a hard diss on the tablet front by not including Redmond in its recent tablet-OS four-year forecast."

He continues: "Gartner report goes on to notably omit the Windows OS as a tablet player...Microsoft will not be able to produce a competitive tablet in the next four years, according to Gartner. This is rather strange considering Microsoft said that the next version of Windows (currently referred to as Windows 8) will be designed for tablets and will run on the ARM-based chips used in smartphones and tablets like the iPad and others running the Android OS. The next version of Windows will likely be released a year and a half from now if Microsoft sticks to its usual three-year cycle."

There's nothing strange at all, Shane. Your assumptions are wrong -- that's the problem.

About 5:30 p.m ET, I spotted another post, similar to the other two and giving me a serious case of déjà vu -- we're talking do do do do do do do do do do Twilight Zone feelings. I had seen this before and wondered: Could several people be writing the same story over and over? Say, it ain't so, Joe. Nick Eaton, writing for Microsoft blog asks "Where's Microsoft Windows?" in Gartner's forecast. "It's not there. Apparently, Gartner doesn't think Microsoft will have much presence in the tablet market even in three years. Windows would go in the 'other operating systems' category, which Gartner expects to have 0.2 percent of the market in 2015."

It's not there, Nick, because Gartner makes a distinction between tablet PCs and media tablets -- and it's the latter category the forecast covers. Gartner counts tablets running Windows as PCs, but not those running Android or iOS. Gartner's media tablet definition, as restated this week:

A media tablet is a device based on a touchscreen display (typically with a multitouch interface) whose primary focus is the consumption of media. The devices have screens with a diagonal dimension that is over 5 inches and may include screens that are as large as is practical for handheld use, roughly up to 15 inches. The media tablet runs a lightweight OS such as Android and iOS that is more limited than, or a subset of, the traditional fully featured OS such as Windows.

While Canalys counts media tablets as PCs, Gartner and IDC do not. These two analyst firms make a distinction between so-called media tablets and tablet PCs. So, yes, Microsoft is counted, just somewhere else. Judging by the number of touchscreen slates and convertibles prominently displayed at my local Microsoft retail store, it's clear the company has a very focused tablet strategy. Microsoft also will bring Windows to ARM processors, yet further evidence of an advancing tablet strategy, albeit slow moving.

I'll be first to assert that Microsoft needs to rethink it's tablet strategy, but there's nothing in Gartner's forecast to suggest the analyst firm sees no future for Microsoft. Hell, the media tablet definition above comes from the press release about the forecast.

There's too much copycat reporting among bloggers and journalists. I wouldn't have bothered with this rebuttal if not seeing essentially the same story posted three different places -- and I wonder: How many more?

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