SAN FRANCISCO, 29 JANUARY 2010 - Everyone's got an opinion on Apple's iPad, including Microsoft personnel and partners, and -- big surprise! -- they're not enthusiastic.
A couple reports quote Microsoft employees and and members of its partner network trotting out some familiar arguments: It's a novelty item and not a real computer; Apple's app development is locked down; and the very idea of tablets is unlikely to succeed.
"It is a humorous world in how Microsoft is much more open than Apple," Brandon Watson, the director of product management in the developer platform at Microsoft, told Technologizer (a site I also write for and whose content is sometimes syndicated at PCWorld). Watson hit on some other old tropes, saying iPhone developers don't make money (that's not always true) and iPhone app development is expensive because it uses Objective C language instead of .NET framework, which is more widely used.
Members of Microsoft's partner network -- independent businesses that sell and support Microsoft products -- weren't excited, either.
"The iPad will be an alternative to netbooks and e-readers, but to me it's a novelty that I might want for my living room, but nothing more," Michael Cocanower, president of Phoenix-based ITSynergy, told ChannelWeb.
Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East in New Jersey, said even Windows 7 might not be the difference tablets need to succeed.
Microsoft has dissed new Apple products before. In 2007, now-CEO Steve Ballmer called the iPhone "by far the most expensive phone in the marketplace" (not true). He also said it's "not suitable for business purposes," which might be true, but the because it appeals to the average consumer.
Ballmer, so far, has stayed quiet about the iPad. He certainly likes tablets, having teased a few at the Consumer Electronics Show, but the big question for Microsoft will be whether the tablets it supports will be geared toward entertainment, productivity or both. That'll be an issue for Apple, too, when it begins marketing the iPad.
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