Microsoft vies with Apple in device battle

A presentation at the Global High-Tech Summit 2010 shows Microsoft software on devices like tablets

While Apple with its iPad tablet device may be hogging all the headlines lately, a Microsoft official stressed Thursday that the Redmond, Wash. software giant should not be counted out when it comes to offering its own software on different types of devices.

A video at the Microsoft Global High-Tech Summit 2010 meeting in Santa Clara, Calif. Tuesday showed how devices such as a tablet and a credit card-shaped unit could be served data via cloud computing. Interviewed afterward, speaker Drew Gude, Microsoft director of U.S. High Tech & Electronics, said the future will include these types of devices.

[ Read the iPad questions Apple won't answer in InfoWorld. ]

"There's a ton of innovation going on right now in form factors," amongst Microsoft and hardware partners, he said. A Windows XP and Vista tablet already has been offered and a Windows 7-based slate device from HP recently was shown at the CES conference in Las Vegas last month,  Gude said.

"That video was intended be kind of glimpse of the future," where Microsoft has taken ideas like Microsoft Surface multi-touch technology and applied it to new types of surfaces and products, he said. Devices shown in the video are under development at Microsoft and could be on the market in the next three to 10 years, according to a Microsoft representative.

Microsoft can serve as an alternative to Apple on the device front, Gude acknowledged.

"Apple has somewhat of a closed architecture in that iPad, and I think people want the power of choice," said Gude.

Gude and Microsoft's Dan'l Lewin, corporate vice president for strategic and emerging business development, cited on Thursday innovations fostered by Microsoft and partners. But the company recently has had to contend with an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times written by former Microsoft executive Dick Brass, who charged that Microsoft no longer brings users into the future and never developed a true system for innovation.

"When I read Dick's comments, being a seven-year veteran of the company, I was kind of scratching my head," Gude said. Large companies are using Microsoft innovation to improve their businesses, he said.

When asked about the Brass piece, Lewin deferred to a statement from Frank Shaw, Microsoft corporate vice president for corporate communications.

"To make his point, Dick generally focused on ClearType, noting that this technology was 'stifled' by existing business groups. For the record, ClearType now ships with every copy of Windows we make and is installed on around a billion PCs around the world. This is a great example of innovation with impact: innovation at scale," Shaw said.

Innovation as a word is overused, Lewin said during his presentation. "Invention is a central element of creating something that might have value. Innovation is more like the process of unfolding it with economic impact," Lewin said.

Meanwhile, the research group at Microsoft has a mission to further the state of the art and insure Microsoft has a future, Lewin said.

Microsoft investment priorities were listed by Gude: Innovation, product differentiation, supply chain transparency, creating superior experiences, and building closer customer relationships. The investment strategy is focused on low-cost computing, business insight, security, consumerization of IT, and cloud computing.

"The consumerization of IT is a huge issue right now that's fundamentally changing our industry," Gude said. "The line is blurring between what is business computing and what is personal computing."

This story, "Microsoft vies with Apple in device battle," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in Apple and Microsoft at InfoWorld.com.

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