Windows 8 dilemma: Consumers don't buy a tablet for the OS

Mainstream consumers buy tablets for many reasons, but rarely because of the OS it runs. This will hammer Microsoft's Windows 8 when it finally appears in the future.

The tablet space is as jumbled as it has been for a while, with the exception of the iPad which continues to blow past the competition. Many companies producing tablets based on Android have discovered the hard way what Microsoft will soon discover with Windows 8 slates. Mainstream consumers buy a particular gadget, in this case a tablet, and not the platform. The average buyer in the street keeps the credit card in the wallet unless a particular tablet grabs his/her fancy.

A new study by Forrester breaks it down with crystal clarity. In just six months, the respondents willing to buy a tablet with Windows 8 inside dropped significantly. Where 46 percent were looking to Redmond for a tablet in the first quarter of this year, only 25 percent were doing so in the third quarter.

I have seen this same response in those primarily looking at Android-based tablets. Outside of the techie world, consumers don't care about the platform. They find something compelling about a particular tablet, whether it be form, price, or something else, and that drives them to open the pocket to make a purchase. One month the latest tablet from Samsung may be the favorite, only to see the new ASUS steal the thunder when announced a month later. Sure they may both run Android, but that is not a factor in the purchase decision for most folks.

This will continue to be a problem for Microsoft with Windows 8 when it is finally released in the future. It doesn't make hardware, and will be totally dependent on the tablet makers to capture the attention of prospective buyers. That hasn't worked too well with Windows Phone, and won't for the tablet space with Windows 8, either. The longer it takes to hit the market, the less relevant Windows 8 will be. The enterprise may be willing to pick up some tablets running Windows 8, but even that is not a given.

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