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Monday, December 27, 2010

Microsoft Tablet Aimed at Fighting IPad Faces Long Odds

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, said to unveil new software for tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show next week, will face skeptics who say his company won’t soon narrow Apple Inc.’s iPad lead.

“By the time Microsoft gets it figured out everybody will already own an iPad,” said Keith Goddard, CEO of Capital Advisors Inc. an investing firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that holds Apple shares. “That train has left the station.”

Allying with ARM is Microsoft’s way of stepping up rivalry with Apple, which has garnered the largest share of the tablet market with its iPad. The new Windows version would be tailored for battery- powered devices, such as tablets and wireless handsets. Computer makers have unsuccessfully been trying to sell tablet-style computers based on Microsoft’s Windows for about a decade.

By adapting its computer operating system for a tablet, Microsoft is taking a different approach from Apple, which used a mobile-phone operating system as the basis for the iPad. Microsoft is taking software designed for use with a mouse and keyboard and adapting it to a touch screen, according to the people familiar with the matter. That will require developers to rework PC programs to make them useful on a tablet.

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