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Windows 8 Update: Steve Ballmer's 80-inch Windows 8 tablet

Also, Office for iPads, Ballmer misquoted, Michael Dell predicts no corporate rush to Windows 8

By , Network World
May 25, 2012 09:28 AM ET

Network World - While it lacks the mobility usually associated with this class of device, there's an 80-inch tablet serving the head of Microsoft as a wallboard and as a substitute for other work-related gear.

"Steve Ballmer has an 80-inch Windows 8 tablet in his office. He's got rid of his phone, he's got rid of his note paper. It's touch-enabled and it's hung on his wall," the company's vice president Frank Shaw told "It's his whiteboard, his email machine ... and it's a device we're going to sell."

MORE: Windows RT management could be a key to success for Windows 8 tablets

While there's not a huge consumer market yet for such enormous tablets, that could change over time as customers become familiar with these devices and their demands change, Shaw says. "It's not a consumer thing now, but we know historically that that's how all things start," Shaw told "The idea that there should be a screen that's not a computer, we'll laugh at that in two years."

A Sharp 80-inch touchscreen running Windows was demonstrated at CES earlier this year, but Ballmer's jumbo tablet is something different, made by a different manufacturer, Shaw says.

This screen size goes well beyond the 27-inch "family hub" device described in a Building Windows 8 blog earlier this year that details how to scale the operating system to different screen sizes, but that was not a comprehensive list. "Windows will support just about any screen dimension so long as the graphics driver and hardware combination provide the correct information to Windows," the blog says.

Office for iOS?

The rumor has popped up again, this time from mobile news site, that Microsoft plans to release a complete Office suite for iPads and Android tablets. This rumor comes from "a reliable source," the site says.

Contributing doubt to this rumor is that doing so would shoot Microsoft's Windows RT efforts in the foot, something the company is certainly capable of and that in the big picture may be a good tradeoff.

Windows RT, as the ARM-based Windows 8 offering is known, is the closest thing Microsoft will have to an iPad, and like Apple does for the iPad, Microsoft is limiting what software customers can add to it. One of the features Windows RT comes with is a bundle of four out of seven Office applications. (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote included; Outlook, Publisher, Access left out.)

So that would be a worse package than the "complete Office suite" described in the rumor. Why would Microsoft introduce a tablet whose major differentiator is that comes with some Office and then make a better package of Office apps available for iPads? Doesn't make sense.

Of course Microsoft wants to do a lot more than sell Windows RT. It may make more sense and more money to, say, make the very popular iPad more friendly to work environments with some Microsoft software that reaps licensing fees. The company could reap additional license revenues for software to manage the devices.

Microsoft: Ballmer misquoted on Windows 8 uptake estimate

Steve Ballmer predicts that 500 million devices will run Windows 8 by the end of next year, wire service Agence France-Press reported, but Microsoft says that's not what he really said.

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