There is another spate of innovation coming in the tablet operating system sector, and folks interested in unified communications are best advised to take notice.
On one hand, Windows 8 – which reports say will be released next year – is meant in part to extend Microsoft's influence from the desktop onto tablets more effectively than in the past, including the tablet. ZDNet blogger Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes that it is an important moment for Microsoft:
So with desktops, notebooks and netbooks all stagnant, Microsoft needs new places to put Windows on. The smartphone is one of those areas, the other is tablets. Windows Phone is out and slowly it's gaining ground in the face of still competition from the iPhone and Android handsets. Windows tablets will also release to very stiff competition, in particular from the iPad, which by the time any Windows tablets hit the scene will already have an install base measured in the tens of millions.
Microsoft has a definite advantage in its suite of personal productivity applications. The bottom line is that unified communications – albeit using a liberal definition of the term -- is the end goal when an operating system optimized for dual use on mobile and desktop devices can tap into the same software tools.
The other tablet-related unified communications news is from Google. At Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said that the next version of Android, now codenamed "Ice Cream Sandwich," will be released in October or November.
One of the main rationales of the new version of the operating system is to unite Android operating systems serving smartphones and tablets. There is symmetry here: A likely result of both Windows 8 and Ice Cream Sandwich -- if they work out -- will be to make it easier for disparate devices to work together in unified communications-type settings. In one case, these are Android phones and tablets and in the other they are Microsoft Windows-based tablets and PCs, netbooks and assorted other devices.
Both moves, though they don't deal directly with unified communications, create a landscape that makes its success far more likely.