Microsoft edging Google out of iPad-like devices

Taiwanese laptop-maker Micro-Star International (MSI) plans to launch a Windows 7 tablet PC next week at the Computex Taipei electronics show, after showing off a prototype tablet running Google’s Android mobile software early this year.

MSI is now the second major Taiwanese vendor to dump an anticipated Google-based tablet launch at Computex in favor of one with Microsoft Windows 7. Last month, Asustek’s CEO said the company's first tablet PC, the Eee Pad, will run on Microsoft software instead of a Google OS.

MSI and Asustek both showed off tablets with Android software at the International Consumer Electronics show in January.

In addition, Acer, the world’s second-largest PC vendor and also a Taiwanese company, last week took the unusual step of denying rumors it might launch a device with Google’s new Chrome OS on board at Computex. Acer normally does not comment on rumors.

Google appears to be having trouble convincing PC makers to use its software, which puts it in a tough position because Taiwanese manufacturers account for the bulk of the world’s computers via contract manufacturing for global companies including Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and others. The island has long been a bastion for Microsoft and Intel, making Google’s job harder.

Google representatives did not return calls seeking comment.

And the losses aren’t just Google’s. They are also losses for chip makers such as Qualcomm, Freescale Semiconductor and Nvidia, which have developed chips based on the Arm processor technology Android runs on. The Asustek and MSI tablets will both use Intel microprocessors instead of Arm-based processors.

Computex is an important trade show for gadget makers, and unlike other electronics shows that provide a view of the distant future, Computex instead shows what gadgets will be on store shelves this year. That means the first round of new devices aimed at rivaling Apple’s iPad will use Windows instead of Android.

The host of the trade show, Taiwan, is also the center of the computer manufacturing industry, and global technology companies often turn to Taiwanese companies with new technologies they hope to promote to the PC industry.

Asustek and MSI both said they may still release tablets with Google software later this year, but neither has said when. And last year, Qualcomm showed off an Asustek netbook with Google Android at Computex, a device Asustek then declined to talk about and put on hold. Now, it’s unclear if Asustek's Google-based netbook will ever launch.

The MSI Slatebook tablet PC, which sports a 10-inch touchscreen, will debut at Computex next week and go on sale globally soon after. The company said the tablets will include built-in 3G and Wi-Fi wireless connectivity and will sport USB and HDMI ports.

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