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11/29/2011
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Windows 8 Tablets: Too Little, Too Late?

Touch-friendly devices running Microsoft's next OS may be more than a year away, leaving some analysts to conclude that Redmond has already lost the tablet market.

Windows 8 Visual Tour: Microsoft's New Desktop
Windows 8 Visual Tour: Microsoft's New Desktop
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Tablets are currently tech's hottest category, with Amazon's Kindle Fire and Apple’s iPad 2 dominating holiday sales. But a report from Asia suggests Microsoft may not be a significant player in the market for at least another year.

Microsoft is developing a version of Windows 8 to run on ARM-based chips, which, due to their low power requirements and snappy performance, have become the processor of choice for tablet makers. But Windows 8 for ARM may be more than 18 months away, according to DigiTimes, a Taipei publication that closely tracks tablet and PC component manufacturers based in Taiwan.

DigiTimes said Windows 8 on ARM "is expected to make an official appearance at the end of 2012" but won't show up in mainstream products until June 2013.

[ How will Windows 8 work on personal computers? Read Windows 8 PCs May Resemble Big Smartphones. ]

If that's the case, Microsoft may have yielded too much of a head start to rivals like Apple, Amazon, and Google to make a serious push in the tablet market, some analysts believe.

"On tablets, Windows 8 is going to be very late to the party," said Forrester's J.P. Gownder, in a blog post Tuesday. Gownder co-authored a new survey report that shows consumers are getting tired of waiting for Windows tablets.

Forrester noted that, as recently as the first quarter of this year, 46% of U.S. consumers said they would prefer a tablet based on Windows. That number fell to just 25% in the third quarter, which happens to be the same period in which Amazon released the hot-selling Kindle Fire.

Gownder said that if it was Microsoft's plan to be a fast follower in tablets, it may be too late. "Windows really isn't a fast follower. Rather, it's (at best) a fifth-mover after iPad, Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, HP's now defunct webOS tablet, and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet."

Gownder further noted that rival platforms like the iPad and Google Android-powered devices may well be into their third generation by the time a true Windows 8 media tablet emerges.

"Meanwhile, newer competitors like Amazon (Kindle Fire) and Barnes & Noble (Nook Tablet) are reshaping consumer expectations in the market, driving down price points (and concomitant price expectations), and redefining what a tablet is," Gownder wrote.

Some computer manufacturers are offering tablets built around Windows 7, but many critics have dismissed such devices as overpriced Windows 7 PCs shoehorned into a portable form factor. HP, for instance, earlier this month unveiled the Slate 2 Tablet PC. At 1.5 pounds and a $699 price tag, it's unlikely to be competitive with the $199 Kindle Fire, or even the iPad 2, which starts at $499.

HP said it is aiming the Slate 2 mostly at business users who need access to the full range of Windows productivity apps. For consumer tablets, Microsoft "needs to take a lesson from Amazon's product strategists" and produce a device that is a gateway to online media and services, said Gownder.

Microsoft has not announced a ship date for Windows 8.

Apply advanced analytics to the sales pipeline, Web traffic, and social buzz to anticipate what’s coming, instead of just looking at the past. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek: A practical guide to biometrics. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2011 | 7:31:14 AM
re: Windows 8 Tablets: Too Little, Too Late?
It will be too little, too late if Microsoft doesn't get a tablet out asap. They seem to be obsessing over the design and trying to compete with Apple in usability. No one buys Microsoft because it is sleek. They buy it, primarily in enterprises, because it is too much of a hassle to re-staff and re-tool for a new platform. Right now corporations are figuring out how to make iPads work with their standards. Microsoft needs to release something before people start figuring out that they don't need Microsoft. If they get iPad to work, it won't be long before they figure out that users are not going to scream bloody murder if they replace their desktop OSs with Linux.
lbell284
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lbell284,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2011 | 12:26:48 AM
re: Windows 8 Tablets: Too Little, Too Late?
These articles are really silly. The software hasn't even hit the market and we have many many people already deciding whether it is going to be a hit or not. Well, I can tell you they will sell at least one because I will be getting one as soon as they hit the streets. If all I wanted to do it watch utube and play with facebook I might consider an Ipad but since I actually want to do real work, I will wait for a real tablet capable of it.
David Berlind
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David Berlind,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2011 | 4:25:05 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablets: Too Little, Too Late?
sburgan201: Seems like this is the Ray Ozzie "I told you so" article, in your mind.
Leo Regulus
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Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2011 | 3:49:55 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablets: Too Little, Too Late?
"Microsoft has not announced a ship date for Windows 8. " ....... What the....... Win 8 hasn't even hit 'Beta' yet and you're talking about 'Ship Date'?
FWIW, I have the 'Developers Preview' loaded on my Netbook that goes everywhere with me. I am very much 'Less than enthused'. This is not a user-friendly portable system in its' current format. I have dual-boot loaded with a linux system. If I want to get any work done, I most normally boot to Linux and only to Win 8 for things that I really need a Windows System for. Windows Explorer (file browser) has gone from poor in XP to Bad in Vista, Worse in Win 7 and even Worserer in Win 8. You don't like 'worserer' ? I really do feel that it applies to the Win 8 file browser, be it grammatically correct or otherwise.
YMOM100
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YMOM100,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/30/2011 | 1:26:10 AM
re: Windows 8 Tablets: Too Little, Too Late?
Tablets are now, so is there a Microsoft tablet that is competitive? No. Microsoft once again is doing too little too late and this time all the money they have will not advertise them out of that hole.
sburgan201
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sburgan201,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 9:11:17 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablets: Too Little, Too Late?
I don't know what's worse ... Windows 8 not coming out for a year ... or the delay of the Medfield-based Intel Tablet until Q12012. Don't these guys know there is competition out there? How many 10's of millions of tablets are going to be sold this Christmas without a Microsoft and/or an Intel solution.They've had more than a year to address the emerging Android / iOS market (in addition to the previous attempts (uh I mean misfires) in the tablet market). Because Microsoft took so long, they are out as a mobile OS. All they can hope for is that if users and businesses leave their desktops or laptops, they'll go to a Windows 8 tablet. I'm baffled by Intel. They've had more than enough time to pull together a chip and tablet reference design that runs Android. If they hadn't been screwing around with MeeGo and had engaged more OEM's maybe they would have been a little bit further along, perhaps. Or maybe if they had been more open and easier to work with versus a TI with their OMAP.

If I were on the boards of Microsoft or Intel, some heads would be rolling over this one!! There needs to be culture change. And the guys at the top might think they understand product (though just because you got lucky on Atom with netbooks after thousands of product team failures DOES NOT MEAN YOU UNDERSTAND PRODUCT!! It only means you have deep pockets), but they lack the understanding of technology like a Jobs, because they aren't technical guys. IBM has the same problem, otherwise they would be 10x the size they are now. But they decided to promote non-techies to management positions, so there you have it. Whatever the case may be, it's a culture problem which is hampering innovation and agility in the marketplace.

The bottom line is this: Apple proved one thing. You need to have a tech savy CEO with a good technical base running a technology company. Period. Otherwise, you won't have the kind of innovation which leads to explosive sales. There is NO reason why Apple should be bigger than Microsoft, Intel, IBM. But they are ... think about that for a moment, particularly given how bad of shape Apple was when Jobs took over. And, oh by the way, I bought AAPL when Jobs took over. And I bought twice as much when Jobs cut that deal with Gates. Think about that for a moment. I might know what I'm talking about.
klutz606
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klutz606,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 8:30:48 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablets: Too Little, Too Late?
Agree that Microsoft is way behind in the consumer tablet market and may have already lost, but I believe they still have an excellent chance of dominating the business tablet market which could be as big, or bigger, than the consumer tablet market. Very few business are purchasing tablets for their staff, but once a tablet compatible with existing software that has the necessary management tools hits the market, I could see corporate IT start to purchase them for staff. Especially, convertable tablets that have real keyboards, but allow the screen to detach and become a tablet.
Byrleytf
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Byrleytf,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 8:06:38 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablets: Too Little, Too Late?
You are nuts! Yes simple tablets with walled gardens will be used by the MTV crowd. But for the rest of us that are required to work for a living, the slate pc or tablet is needed for teaching on the internet, artists and staying in touch with the PC. This is the dawn of the PC tablet era. Be part of it or get rolled over..
sglass
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sglass,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2011 | 7:36:38 PM
re: Windows 8 Tablets: Too Little, Too Late?
Couldn't Microsoft have a Windows 8 tablet almost immediately by installing Windows 8 on the Samsung 7 tablet as was given out at the Developers Conference? I am planning to buy one and to install the developer version on it. I am wondering if any other readers have succeeded at this - I know this has been tried.
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