Then there's Microsoft's tablet strategy, which instead of materializing as flashy prototypes during the Consumer Electronics Show, remains a down-the-road promise bolstered by a new, Windows-version chip from ARM Holdings ( ARMH), the U.K. firm whose chip designs power the majority of today's tablets and smartphones. "We believe Microsoft's recent decision to support ARM is a necessary but not sufficient step in responding to the rapid emergence of the tablet category," wrote Atlantic Equities analyst Christopher Hickey in a recent research note. "We still see risk to sentiment and estimates as forecasts for the tablet market increase and PC estimates decline." Analysts say that tablets running Windows aren't likely to ship until 2012, when second and possibly even third iterations of Apple's iPad and other Android tablets will have found their way into consumers' hands. However, in a landscape where less than a handful of tablet devices has actually made it to market, Pund-IT's King says there's still hope for Microsoft. "In my mind, this market is anything but fixed right now. If Microsoft comes up with a great idea and executes it well with good partners -- Windows OS and apps on ARM could be potentially revolutionary for the company -- I don't see why they can't have a place there." Microsoft shares were trading up 12 cents to $28.90 in pre-market trading Thursday. --Written by Maggie Overfelt in New York. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/maggieoverfelt. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.