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Microsoft Slams Apple on Tablets, Apps

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For the guys behind Windows, they should already know a thing or two about glass houses.

This week, two Microsoft execs made separate jabs at Apple -- both in regards to markets where Cupertino clearly excels: tablet computers and mobile apps. Call it sour grapes or differing outlooks, Microsoft upped its chutzpah in the shadow of a chief competitor.

Following comments recently made by Dell's global head of marketing, Microsoft also doubts the future viability of Apple's iPad. Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, spoke at a lunch in Sydney, Australia and voiced his skepticism on the scope of tablet computers in general. This, despite the first and second-generation iPads scoring big with the public.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mundie remarked how tablet computers currently fill the gap between laptops and smartphone markets -- which he refers to as "portable" and "mobile," respectively -- but he doesn't believe that's a sustainable overlap.

"[Mobile and portable] are going to bump into one another a little bit and so today you can see tablets and pads and other things that are just starting to live in the space in between. Personally, I don't know whether I believe that space will be a persistent one or not."

Without needing to go into specifics, Mundie commented on how the iPad's primary use is absorbing information rather than creating it.

"Thing is today those things are being primarily used in a consumptive model because they're not very good for creating stuff," Mundie said. "So I don't know whether consumptive things will remain a category by themselves or not."

Whether this stems from Microsoft's meager attempt to enter the tablet market is up for interpretation.

Back in Redmond, Brandon Watson -- senior director of the Windows Phone 7 -- puffed his chest on some numbers for the company's latest mobile line.

Watson boasted the number of times Windows Phone Developer Tools have been downloaded -- 1.5 million -- as well as number of members in the Windows Phone developer community -- 36,000. But it's when he reaches the platform's scanty number of apps -- 11,500 -- does he launch into a thinly veiled jab at Apple's App Store, and the Android Market by extension. The accusations fly as Watson cites inflated numbers and dubious app categories:

"What is an app? It's a question that really begs some scrutinizing. For us, from the beginning, we have always been focused on quality over quantity. We recognize the importance of getting great apps on our platform and not artificially inflating the number of actual apps available to customer by listing 'wallpapers' as a category, or perhaps allowing competitor's apps to run on the platform to increase 'tonnage.' We also don't believe in the practice of counting 'lite' apps as unique quality content. In reality they only exist because developers can't have a Trial API and must therefore do extra work. Finally, we don't double and triple count apps which are submitted in multiple languages."

Wow. Sounds like somebody has an axe to grind.

Windows Phone 7 is, at best, a plucky contender when compared to heavy hitters like Apple and Google with their respective 300,000 and 100,000+ mobile apps. Microsoft's "slow and steady" smartphone growth may have counted for something four to five years ago, but as an innovation latecomer, Redmond needs an Android trajectory rather than one of an early iPhone.

And when discussing markets in which it's woefully behind, it might want to tone down the trash talk.

(See also: Apple iPad Will Fail, Says Dell Exec and Microsoft Founded on Lies and Malice, Says Paul Allen)

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