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8/19/2013
09:01 AM
Michael Endler
Michael Endler
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Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards

Forrester study finds that 62% of tablet users want keyboards, but that alone won't drive sales of Windows 8 for Microsoft.

Nearly two-thirds of knowledge workers (62%) who use or want to use tablets would prefer to do so with a keyboard, according to a new Forrester study.

For the study, Forrester surveyed 1,070 knowledge workers in North America and Europe. Some 35% of respondents said they would prefer a tablet that turns into a small laptop, while 27% said they would prefer a tablet that can be used with wireless keyboard accessories. Some 34% said they would prefer to use a tablet without a keyboard, and to switch to a computer for tasks that require heavy typing. Only 4% were unsure or had no preference.

But Forrester's study also reinforces how much tablets have begun to change the way people work. Some 35% of the study's respondents said their laptop use has declined since they began using tablets. As noted above, 35% also preferred laptop-like tablets. There's clearly a market for a do-it-all tablet that offers not only touch apps and mobility, but also access to legacy software.

[ Microsoft isn't the only tech vendor facing challenges. Read Time For Plan B At Intel. ]

This finding echoes an earlier Forrester study, which found more workers were interested in Windows tablets than in iPads. But that study was conducted before Windows 8 was released. As the sales record has since indicated, buyers liked the idea of a Windows tablet much more than what Microsoft actually produced. In retrospect, it seems survey respondents actually wanted a tablet that provided all of the appeal of an iPad or Android device but that also featured the IT-friendliness and software compatibility of a Windows tablet. What they have not wanted is Windows 8.

In the more recent study, Forrest also reported that 80% of workers would prefer to use a PC, tablet and smartphone in conjunction. This implies, Forrester noted, that some users want both a laptop and a tablet with a keyboard. The subtext is discouraging for Microsoft. Thanks to features such as SkyDrive, Windows 8 should excel in multi-device workflows. Nonetheless, users haven't been interested.

It's also striking that only 35% of survey respondents want a laptop-like tablet. The respondents were all knowledge workers -- the group most beholden to keyboards. Interest among general users is almost certainly lower. IDC recently said it expects touchscreen models to account for only 10% to 15% of laptop sales, which reinforces the idea that hybrid devices cater to a limited audience. If Microsoft can't even succeed within the group to which Windows 8 should be most appealing, what hope does it have -- even with Windows 8.1 -- for success in the larger market?

Indeed, the Forrester study's biggest implication is that people value a tablet's user experience above all other factors. It's useful if a tablet can handle laptop-style content creation, but keyboards and access to legacy software seem to be less important than a device's UI and catalog of mobile apps.

Windows 8 devices embrace keyboards much more aggressively than iOS and Android products do. So, at face value, the data is encouraging for Microsoft, especially with Windows 8.1 arriving in October to clean up the OS's interface. But that doesn't mean Microsoft can expect a holiday season rebound.

Windows 8 offers many features users care about, just not the main feature: a captivating experience. If Windows 8.1 can't address this core flaw, it's hard to see Microsoft rebounding in the mass market.

According to IDC, Windows tablets accounted for only 4% of all tablet shipments in the most recent quarter. Even in the enterprise, iOS and Android devices make up 86% of tablets, according to Forrester's data. If users like the form factor of Windows 8 devices, why have sales been so poor?

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Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/21/2013 | 7:56:21 AM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
ok, pay me 10 min of average salary multiplied for 1,5 billion people.
I'll use those bucks to fund a lobby to switch position of cars' pedals with steering wheel, no manual included.
Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/21/2013 | 7:54:05 AM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
the horse is dead, it is not a matter of how hard they will beat it or how much cash they have to burn (now, it is far far far less than aapl, google, and disgruntled oems turning to android!).
if they lose oem support, pc market will not obviously die tomorrow, but people will buy, as always the 95% did, what they find in the supply chain, and now that Vallmer insulted oems turning ms in a competitor hw company, it will be android or whatever else.
w8 is no longer a selling point.
Mike_Acker
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Mike_Acker,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/21/2013 | 2:55:26 AM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
yep. and they are also in check: XP is sunk and nobody wants 8 and they won't sell anybody 7.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2013 | 9:47:31 PM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
Also, separate point about the laptop usage.

Forrester samples knowledge workers, who are more securely tethered to keyboards than most people. Introducing a tablet only has to reduce laptop use if one assumes that overall computing activity is static.

I, for example, have both tablets (with keyboards) and computers in my household. A few years ago, I had only computers. Today, I probably spend 20% of my time on a tablet and 80% of my time on a computer-- so in percentage terms, my PC usage has declined. However, I type a ton more today than I did a few years ago, which means I spend more time than ever before looking at a laptop. I also spend more time at my desktop working on other things that tablets aren't suited for, such as photo and video projects. My overall time spent at computers has increased by a huge margin. So in that sense, my PC use actually increased DESPITE the introduction of a tablet.

I might not represent a typical case, and I think you're probably right that, on the whole, most people spend less time on their PCs because they now have tablets.

But you can see why only 35% of knowledge workers would perceive that they're using their laptops or PCs any less, or that their laptops or PCs are any less essential. The number of them who do substantial typing on a tablet is predictably confined.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2013 | 9:37:25 PM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
The dinner table analogy is pretty apt-- good thinking.

I agree-- the point of the 80% stat is that most people want to use smartphones, tablets, and PCs together - in some proportion or another - instead of a device that tries to be all things to all people.

Windows 8 built a lot of its appeal around consolidating a tablet and a laptop into one device, and Intel bought in too, by incorporating touch into the Ultrabook specifications. But it's turned out that while people don't mind a tablet that can take over for a laptop in a pinch, they still want real computers. They don't want to replace real computers as often as they replace smartphones and tablets, but they want real computers.

If Microsoft has its way, "real computers" will eventually include Surface Pro-like devices that get docked to a separate monitor and keyboard. The computer's form factor becomes even more modular, in other words. But we're a lot of consumer and enterprise hardware spending away from that vision happening. So the Forrester stats are interesting in the sense that they reinforce that one of Microsoft/ Intel's primary bets hasn't paid off.

The conversation gains another wrinkle because there ARE a minority of users who want a do-it-all device, and Windows 8 still hasn't capitalized on this niche.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
8/20/2013 | 12:47:07 PM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
Agreed but MS is not Commodore. It has a lot of money and horizontal market positions to burn. If MS goes away, which I don't think it will, it won't go quietly and it will continue to burn cash for a quite a while. They are still making huge profits with, for most companies, big margins. Until that stops, they'll continue to beat whatever horses they can.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2013 | 10:24:15 AM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
i hadn't thought of that point, it's a great observation that laptop use only declined for 35% since they began using a tablet. My own laptop use hasn't noticeably dropped -- I use a tablet for reading, taking notes and watching Netflix mostly. That low decline in laptop use casts some doubt on this being the post-PC era. At the least it suggests people are likely to still buy a whole lot of PCs in the post-PC era.
anon9103208109
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anon9103208109,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 10:10:47 AM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
"Some 35% of the study's respondents said their laptop use has declined since they began using tablets."

Shouldn't this figure be more like 100%? How can anyone think that laptop use would not decline after buying a tablet? Unless signif typing is involved, most people use a tablet instead of a laptop when on-the-go, whilst less than 10 years ago a laptop was the only option. Admittedly, a tablet eats even more into smartphone use for lots of users (assuming they owned their smartphones first), but that doesn't mean the answer to 'has your laptop use declined...' wouldn't still be 'yes'.

This whole argument is pretty silly. Almost everyone has both, plus a smartphone. I also have a Netbook, which is great for "I mite need to type more than is practical on my Kindle Fire, but I still don't want to carry my laptop thru the airport." I'd love to replace it with something like the Surface Pro, but the SP costs about 250% what the Netbook did, and the Metro interface makes me want to kill myself. The Netbook also has 3x as much local storage as the SP, which is a difference that apparently everyone except me thinks is no big deal.

This is all sort of like discussing whether dinner plates are being replaced by salad plates, and of course throwing in the suggestion that serving platters (desktop PC's) won't even be around in 5 years. All of them will always be around, just in different proportions.
Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 6:07:56 AM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
yes, just like the last Amiga was saved by stubbornly beating a dead horse...
Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 6:07:23 AM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
they have not talent for whatsoever market. oem were the key of ms success, and now they are starting thriving android business because of the dancing chair throwing ballmerboy bufooooon 1) wasted a decade and did not come out with a good mobile product 2) bet the comany on competing against oem with surface.
i wonder how there us still people not understanding how doomed is ms now.
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