Microsoft's Windows 8 on tablets will face challenges due to their late arrival to a market with entrenched rivals like Apple's iPad and other competitors.
plans on entering the tablet market in a big way with its upcoming Windows 8
operating system, which the company is optimizing for touch screens in addition
to traditional keyboards and mice. However, some well-entrenched tablet foes
could give it considerable difficulty, according to an analyst.
tablets ... Windows really isn't a fast follower," Forrester analyst JP Gownder
wrote in a Nov. 29 corporate
blog posting. "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 tablets."
do all those products have in common? With the exception of HP's TouchPad and a
few other tablets that have crashed and burned over the past few months, their
manufacturers have time to refine their hardware and software. That leaves
Microsoft in the unenviable position, Gownder added, of facing products in
their second or third generation by the time the first Windows 8 tablet lands
on store shelves sometime in 2012.
8 tablets also face pressure from Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's
Nook Tablet, which "are reshaping consumer expectations in the market, driving
down price points (and concomitant price expectations), and redefining what a
the iPad and other competitors are the rock, then the low price-points of the
Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet represent something of a hard place. Certainly
other manufacturers have lowered their tablets' pricing in a bid to spur
adoption. Both Hewlett-Packard and Research In Motion, for example, slashed
their respective devices' sticker prices by hundreds of dollars, increasing
sales in the process. But cutting prices either reduces or eliminates margins,
a prospect surely unappealing to Microsoft's manufacturing partners-even if
they do so to compete against the iPad.
for its part, needs those manufacturing partners to be enthusiastic to make a
truly broad-based push into tablets. But in addition to a competitive price,
those tablets will need hardware capable of running Windows 8 in the truly "no
compromises" way envisioned by Microsoft-not to mention light enough to stand
against other next-generation tablets as truly portable mobile devices. There's
also the small matter of battery power.
pressure, Windows team. But Microsoft seems devoted to delivering a Windows 8
for both tablets and PCs loaded with an array of new, powerful features. To
best appeal to tablet users, the operating system will offer a "Metro"
interface with touch-optimized, app-connected tiles, paired to a more
traditional desktop interface; users will have the ability to flip seamlessly
between the two.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.