Microsoft Plans Massive 80-Inch Office Tablet

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Microsoft is readying its assault on the tablet market with the launch of Windows 8 this fall. But it’s not just the handheld devices Microsoft wants to hit. The software vendor is looking to large, interactive wall-mounted units for the business market, too.

To say Microsoft is late and an underdog player in the tablet market would be an understatement. While there are Windows 7 tablets on the market, they sell in the thousands while Apple’s iPad sells in the tens of millions.

Microsoft is pinning its future tablet fortunes on Windows 8, due for release this fall, with its innovative Metro interface. Many PC manufacturers – including Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo – plan to release Windows 8 tablets this fall, too. The combination is expected to ignite a business-class tablet trend and expand the market.

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The channel will undoubted play a key role in the Windows 8 business tablet market, but Microsoft isn’t stopping there.

Wired UK is reporting Microsoft plans to support a massive 80-inch wall-mounted version of the Windows 8 tablet, as well. Think of it is a digital white board that provides the full functionality of a tablet or a desktop computer.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, Sharp unveiled the Aquos Board, a large touchscreen product that comes in sizes ranging from 60 to 80 inches. The concept is out there and well understood by the market. Microsoft isn’t working with Sharp, but another vendor, according to Wired UK. (Safe bet: Samsung).

The Microsoft unit reportedly has all of the functionality of a Windows 8 tablet and many of its core features, including being powered by ARM processors.

The wall unit sounds reminiscent of Microsoft Surface, a tabletop, touchscreen version of a Windows computer. While Surface is innovative, it hasn’t sold well in its intended markets – namely hospitality and entertainment.

Touchscreen wall units are in demand by businesses. Security integrator FishNet recently opened its new headquarters which features the largest touchscreen display in North America outside of the military. Broadcasters such as MSNBC and CNN have been using touchscreen displays to enhance their on-air visual reports. And Intel is predicting digital signage will evolve with touch-interface technology, causing an explosion of adoption.

For Microsoft and its channel community, the wall-mounted computer, tablet or whatever it will be called could be a boon. The Windows 8 operating system would make such a unit open for more than just Web surfing and mobile apps, but business-class applications, such as Dynamics and Lync, as well as a plethora of Windows-certified third-party applications.

How users would interface with the wall unit is still speculative. But a safe bet would be that Microsoft will have wireless keyboard and mouse, direct screen touch and non-touch through its Kinect technology available.

Details are few and far between, but a Windows 8 wall unit designed for business and sold by the channel could create a whole new market for the channel and catapult Microsoft to the head of the pack.

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