IDG: There's a lot of downward pressure on tablet pricing — Asus showed an Android tablet this week for $129. Do you expect to see Windows 8 tablets getting down to those sort of prices?
NP: That's a question to ask our OEMs [original equipment manufacturers, or basically PC makers]. I think people are prepared to pay for value and we see tablets with higher price points having better capabilities and features. I think buyers are getting smart about what's good quality. But OEMs will choose their own prices.
IDG: We saw the first 8-inch Windows tablet launch this week from Acer. What are some of the things you're doing to provide a better Windows experience on those smaller devices?
NP: For any device you can hold in one hand, one of the things you need is portrait mode — so, the ability for the apps to work in the same way, to move and to flow nicely. And for our OEMs, we're giving them the ability to have buttons on the side of the device, because when you're holding it in one hand you might want to push a button on the side. You have to make the OS extensible. So those are the types of things.
IDG: Will that all be part of Windows 8.1?
NP: Yes, we talked about that today.
IDG: I've never thought of Windows as being designed for smaller screens; the netbook experience wasn't particularly great. What are you doing to improve the software experience?
NP: In terms of how the display scales up and down, and in terms of the zooming capabilities — as soon as the preview [of Windows 8.1] comes out you should play with it.
IDG: There's a tremendous variety of form factors out there right now — all kinds of laptops and tablets and convertibles. When you look ahead a few years, do you expect them to coalesce around a few winning designs or will there always be that much variety?
NP: In terms of capabilities, I think touch is going to be the new standard. People aren't going to want to carry around hundreds of devices. You'll have a phone, and I think the phablet is an interesting space. But for two-in-one detachables — I'm seeing the interest in those ramp. People want the best of both worlds. You can have a tablet and sit there and surf, then you plug it into a keyboard and you're off working.
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