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Q&A: Microsoft's Erwin Visser discloses Windows 8 mobile strategy

Diana Hwang

In part one of this two-part interview, Erwin Visser, general manager in Microsoft's Windows Commercial team, discussed Windows 8.1 features, security and Microsoft's faster update cycles. Here, he discloses Microsoft's vision to eliminate the need for multiple devices and deliver one Windows 8 mobile device that can do it all.

Erwin VisserErwin Visser

What is the sweet spot for touch devices? In reality, are we going to get to $300 to $400 ultrabooks that any enterprise IT organization thinks are good enough for their employees, or are those consumer devices?

Erwin Visser: There are two things we want to do here. Clearly, we want to focus on Windows 8.1 to go to the smaller form factors and also support lower-price form factors. In the holiday season at the end of the year, you can expect the price in the market [to be] competitively priced [for] Windows 8 and Windows ARM-based 8-inch screens [devices], and going up from there.

At the same time, we know that we love these devices [points to his Lenovo ThinkPad Helix]. These devices are great, and we see there is a lot of interest in organizations for these, but for a specific subset of users. We also know that the price for those devices have to go into the sweet spot of $600 to $800. You will see in the next month new announcements from our OEM partners for a new generation of touch devices in that sweet spot.

You said the ARM-based Windows RT devices should be coming out. Will they be receiving the same updates as Windows 8.1?

Visser: Almost everything we talked about with Windows 8.1 is almost the same for Windows RT.

And it will be shipped around the same time?

Visser: Yes. The previews will be released the same time, [as well as] the official release.

Do all these companies have the new release in the beta test at this point?

Visser: With Windows 8.1, no, not yet. We have a very select program.

When will that happen?

Visser: With the preview at the end of the month.

Are there specific line-of-business apps that are more relevant than others that will help push enterprise IT to decide on Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 mobile devices?

Visser: Where we see the interest are scenarios in the commercial world where a sales person or adviser is talking to a customer [in an industry] like financial services, retail and health care. We believe you will see a lot of growth there of Windows tablets. It can easily make conversations richer.

[For example], if you walk into a retail store, I could be a car salesperson, and I can help you configure your car on the tablet. Then afterwards, if you make a decision, I can click on a button, and your choice immediately goes into the enterprise resource planning system or goes into my back-office systems.

For us, [we need] to complete everything with the generation of these devices people will use. You don't have to bring a tablet or laptop. You have one device that does it all. For some organizations that use this and have a PC, by buying [a single] device, you can give the user the ability to use the tablet and also a full-size keyboard. We see a lot of interest in this kind of form factor.

Associate site editor Jeremy Stanley contributed to this report.


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