Microsoft: Windows 8 Hardware Partners 'Have Finally Caught Up' With Touch


Windows 8 hasn't been a hit in the marketplace, but Microsoft likes what it's seeing from hardware makers now that they've gotten their heads around the touch screen interface.

"Looking at what is now out there for [Windows 8] hardware, it feels like the hardware partners and that ecosystem have finally caught up with where we need to be from a touch perspective," Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of Microsoft's World Wide Partner Group, told CRN Tuesday in an interview at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference.

There's an implication here that hardware partners needed to step up their game. And, OEMs have come out with a greater array of devices since the Windows 8 launch last October, including new tablets, hybrids and all-in-one PCs.

[Related: Q&A: Microsoft's Roskill Says Surface Channel Rollout Is Actually Going Well ]

In March, Dell launched its XPS 18 portable all-in-one desktop PC, which was designed for the Windows 8 touch screen interface. It can be used in three ways: on a stand in desktop mode, standing with flip-out feet or lying flat like a tablet.

Dell has also studied how people use touch with typical clamshell type laptops, to avoid "rocking" when touching the screen, a Dell spokesperson said in an email .

On the other hand, OEMs could argue that Microsoft needed to step up its game by fixing the problems users have experienced with Windows 8. And Roskill said Microsoft has added a number of software improvements in the Windows 8.1 update, which it expects to give to OEMs in August.

"It feels like the hardware has caught up, and Windows 8.1 is the right adjustment on that one," Roskill said.

So what do other OEMs think about Roskill's assessment of the latest Windows 8 hardware?

Hewlett-Packard didn't respond to a request for comment. But, HP has been getting cozy with Google and Android lately, and it hasn't been beating the Windows 8 drum as loudly as it did at the beginning of the year. In fact, Windows 8 garnered nary a mention in HP CEO Meg Whitman's recent quarterly earnings call.

Acer, Asus and Lenovo didn't respond to a request for comment.

Asus CEO Jerry Shen said in March that Windows 8 adoption "has not been so good," though he did note that Windows 8 notebooks were seeing acceptance.

Acer, which has criticized Windows 8 and Microsoft's entry to tablet hardware with Surface, wants Microsoft to take a more measured approach to touch interfaces.

"The world in the next five years is not going 100 percent to touch. Although touch makes a lot of possibilities for PCs, you need to take care of the rest of the world that doesn't need touch." Acer President Jim Wong told The Wall Street Journal in May.

Even Lenovo, the only PC vendor that's thriving these days, has gone on record saying businesses don't want Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 that runs on ARM chips.

PUBLISHED JULY 10, 2013>