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Tuesday, July 12, 2011, 04:20 pm PT (07:20 pm ET)

Microsoft shoots down Windows Phone 7 tablet hopes, says tablets are PCs

Claiming that tablets should be considered personal computers rather than new age mobile devices, Microsoft on Tuesday again dashed hopes of tablets running the company's new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7 OS.

Speaking at Microsoft's Worldwide Partners Conference, Windows Phone president Andy Lees argued that consumers “want people to be able to do the sort of things they do on a PC on a tablet.”

"We view a tablet as a PC," he said.

As such, Lees maintained that using the OS Microsoft built for phones on a tablet would be "in conflict" with its belief in having the complete power of a PC on any design.

A few years back, virtually every tablet on the market ran some flavor of Windows. That quickly changed with the advent of the iPad in 2010, which took just 9 months to eclipse a lifetime of prior Windows Tablet PC's sales. Since then, Windows-based tablets have continued to plummet, and now account for a meager 1 percent or less of the overall market, according to market research firm IDC.

During his keynote speech, Lees instead turned his focus to Windows 8 OS and its expected networking and printing support enhancements, which he expects will drive adoption of Windows tablets moving forward, adding that the software will run on “systems on a chip” designs.

In time, he expects that PCs, tablets and phones will come together into a “unified ecosystem.” Lees' remarks echo comments made by CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this year promising that "Windows will be everywhere on every device without compromise."

Windows 8, expected to launch sometime in 2012, will be the only tablet OS issued by Microsoft. It is also suspected that when the next incarnation is released, Windows Phone 7 will be faded out and replaced completely by Windows 8. Ballmer admitted on Monday that sales of Windows Phone 7 have gone from "very small to very small," though he believes the company will make "a lot of progress" in the smartphone market going forward.

At first glance, Microsoft's next-generation operating system looks very similar to the recently released phone platform, especially given the included touch-centric interface.

Windows 8 was announced by Mike Angiulo, corporate vice president of Windows Planning, Hardware and PC Ecosystem at Microsoft, during a technical demonstration in early June this year. In a move seen as an attempt to break into the tablet market, the company has designed the new OS to run on ARM-based architectures in addition x86.

According to Angiulo, Windows 8 aims to make the “user experience a natural extension of the device, from the time you turn on your PC through how you interact with the applications you know and love.”