Microsoft: Small Windows-Powered Touch Devices Coming Soon


Microsoft is working with OEM partners on a suite of small touch devices that would be powered by Windows, CFO Peter Klein told analysts Thursday evening.

The devices would be competitively priced and be available "in the coming months," Klein said after Microsoft reported its third-quarter earnings.

"Over the last couple of months, we've started seeing devices that take full advantage of Windows 8, and we expect to see more devices across more attractive price points over the coming months," Klein said. "As part of this, we are also working closely with OEMs on a new suite of small touch devices powered by Windows.These devices will have competitive price points, partly enabled by our latest OEM offerings designed specifically for these smaller devices, and will be available in the coming months.

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"Later in the year, we expect to see devices based on Intel's upcoming Bay Trail Atom processor, which promises to deliver tablets and hybrid PCs with extended battery life at competitive prices," Klein said.

Klein also addressed the next release of Windows, code-named Windows Blue, which would be an update to its Windows 8 version. Windows Blue "further advances the vision of Windows 8 as well as responds to customer feedback. The assortment of touch-enabled devices that are built for Windows 8 by our OEM partners is also improving," Klein told analysts.

Microsoft didn't detail the size or form of the new products, but reports have suggested everything from smaller tablets to phones to wristwatch-like devices.

Robert Kratzke, president of GlobeNet Solutions, a Port Jefferson, N.Y.-based VAR, was surprised that smaller form factors would be available so soon, but the market for them is there.

"That seems like where the trend is going. Big computers will stay on people's desks for a while, but people want to take more things they can outside the office to use more in their life," he said.

Klein acknowledged that the traditional PC market and the device market in general is evolving.

"Consumers and businesses are increasingly shifting their focus to touch and mobility and, as a result, they want touch-enabled computing devices that are ultrathin, lightweight and have long battery life. While Windows revenue has been impacted by the transition from the traditional PC to a new era of computing devices, the overall addressable markets are growing, and we are excited by the opportunities ahead of us," Klein said on the call.

"We built Windows 8 with touch and mobility at the center of the experience, which positions us well in this new era. However, the transition is complicated, given the size of our hardware and software ecosystem. We still have an immense amount of work to do, yet we feel good about the foundation we have laid and are optimistic about the long-term success of Windows," he said.

Klein also addressed Microsoft's announcement that he, after four years with the company, was leaving at the end of the current quarter.

"I see a great future for [Microsoft] and I couldn't be more proud of the finance organization. I look forward to working with my successor on the transition," Klein said.

PUBLISHED APRIL 19, 2013