Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards - InformationWeek

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Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
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Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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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,
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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.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
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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.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
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8/19/2013 | 8:05:54 PM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
It strikes me that the primary challenge Microsoft faces is how to navigate a balkanized market. Things were a lot more simple in the desktop era: Everything flowed from the Windows PC.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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8/19/2013 | 6:09:11 PM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
I was also surprised that laptop-like tablet were chosen by only 35%.

Interestingly, laptop-like tablets ARE the most popular option-- by 1%. With 34%, the next most popular option is the precise opposite: keep tablets and laptops completely separate.

It's telling, I think, that no single form factor enjoys a strong majority. Microsoft is trying to sell the Surface Pro as a tablet that's also a laptop, but it seems that only a minority of buyers really care about that functionality. The rest of buyers seem to prefer tablets that are capable in their own right, but that are nonetheless companions to, rather than replacements for, full-fledged computers.

Sure, a lot of people wouldn't mind a tablet that can take over more laptop duties. Everyone like convenience. But the stats imply that such functionality isn't a determining factor-- at least not to the extent that things like UI and mobile app selection are. A subset of people want the purposeful ergonomics of a Windows 8 hybrid, which is why I think commercial sales of Windows 8 will be okay. But many consumers and BYOD users seem just as happy to throw a Logitech keyboard on an iPad. It's not that Microsoft is wrong about keyboards being useful; it's that keyboards can't make up for what people don't like about Windows 8.
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The subtext is that one of Windows 8's primary means of differentiation isn't all that important to a large chunk of potential tablet users. In many of the ways that Win 8 tablets overlap with iOS and Android tablets, iOS and Android do things as well or better, at least from the standpoint of general users. When Windows 8 offers something unique, it appeals to only a subset of buyers. Even though Forrester's study made no judgements about operating systems, studies like this add nuance to what's gone wrong with Windows 8, and what Microsoft can focus on fixing as it rolls out Windows 8.1, its new Surface devices, etc.
Alex Kane Rudansky
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Alex Kane Rudansky,
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8/19/2013 | 5:41:49 PM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
Interesting that only 35% want a laptop-like tablet. I would think that combination would be the most popular.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
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8/19/2013 | 3:11:55 PM
re: Windows 8 Won't Be Saved By Keyboards
No, it'll be saved (or at least given a graceful and dignified exit) by Microsoft's patience and deep pockets.


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