Microsoft Windows to power 4 percent of tablet market in 2012: Gartner

Microsoft Windows to power 4 percent of tablet market in 2012: Gartner

Summary: Gartner's latest tablet prediction data is out. In spite of Windows 8's imminent arrival, Microsoft and its OEM partners don't fare well.


Gartner Group is predicting Microsoft will control only four percent of the worldwide tablet market in 2012, trailing Apple and Google as a distant third player in the space.

Gartner estimates that Apple will sell 73 million tablets worldwide in 2012, and Android OEMs another 38 million. Tablet makers running Windows will sell 4.8 million devices, Gartner estimated in new data released this week. Gartner is expecting 119 million tablets to be sold worldwide in total this year.

It's not just because Windows 8, Microsoft's first truly touch-centric, tablet-optimized operating system, isn't expected to launch until later this fall that Gartner is bearish on Microsoft. Even by 2016, Gartner expects Microsoft's tablet share to hit only 11.8 percent, despite the fact that enterprise sales of tablets should be a major factor by that time. Gartner's take seems to be that Microsoft's offering won't appeal to consumers, who still will be the dominant customer audience for tablets.

TechCrunch has these new Gartner numbers and more in its post. Here's the Gartner tablet chart from their post:

I've said before and I'll say again that I'm increasingly convinced that Microsoft is going the Windows Phone route with Windows 8. By that, I mean Microsoft seems to be far more interested -- at least initially -- in building and selling a product that is aimed at consumers, rather than business users.

Yes, Windows 8 tablets running x86/x64 chips will be able to run existing Windows apps on the Desktop. But the Metro-style interface and new Windows app store -- the most noticeable new elements of Windows 8 -- so far seem to appeal a lot more to consumers than power users or business users who've dabbled with the Developer and Consumer previews of Microsoft's next-generation operating system.

What's your take? Do you agree with those like my ZDNet colleague James Kendrick who see the tablet market as basically the iPad market? Or do you think Gartner's off base here?

Update: I didn't notice this myself, but one of my Twitter buds (@mcakins) noted that Gartner mysteriously has Windows' share of the tablet OS market at 0 for 2011. They haven't been barn burners, but Windows tablets do exist already. I've asked Gartner for comment on what's behind its current 0 percent share claim for Windows tablets. No word back yet.

Gartner Research VP Carolina Milanesi responded with the following reason for the 0 percent:

"We differentiate media tablets from tablets PC and windows 7 would fall under tablet PCs. We feel that media tablets are a different kind of tablet where not just form factor but the richness of the ecosystem of apps is part of the value proposition to users. Windows 7 was not an OS optimised for tablets."

Topics: Microsoft, CXO, Tablets, Software, Operating Systems, Mobility, Laptops, IT Priorities, Hardware, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Those numbers seem too low to me

    But I am not paid to make predictions. But with the Windows 8 tablet's deep links into the same ecosystem and cloud based services that Windows 8 on desktops and laptops are. Also with the 10s/100s of millions of people using Windows 8 on their new PCs, I would have thought that more than a mere couple of percent of that enormous number would also want a Windows 8 tablet as well. I know that I am in the market for a WOA tablet once they become available. So I am at least 1 of the 4 million :-)
    • Something is wrong, but am happy to be in that 4 %

      Looking to buy 4-5 WOA tablets within the family, plus upgrade all current x86 to Win 8.. so eagerly waiting besides whatever the predictions
      • Well, they said they are ignoring a large group of the devices...

        ...namely the tablets that could be described as a "Windows PC." While Microsoft's marriage with WP8 will likely result in a "too late to the party" impact on a maturing market, I still think their real splash will be in the enterprise...Microsoft's seat of power and where tablets have yet to penetrate in a meaningful way. From Gardner's comment in the article, it appears they aren't going to consider such devices to be in competition with media consumption tablets; so MS could sell a billion of them and still be a distant 3rd in that arena.

        Then again, I recall attending a MS press conference shortly after the Xbox debuted to a rousing thud. They were completely unconcerned that a developed market and competition was far ahead of them...they were prepared to continue throwing money at it until they were successful. I could see them taking that approach with Windows 8 tablets...and by brute force assault surprising those who would underestimate them.
        • Xbox

          It's possible Windows 8 will follow the Xbox path, but it's not like Xbox killed off Sony or Nintendo game consoles even if they did kill off Sega ones. Windows on devices may kill off RIM and drive a stake into the heart of any lingering dreams for webOS, but it's unlikely to vanquish iOS or Android.

          There are constraints on any assaults MSFT can launch. First there's the awkward lingering fact they're a convicted monopolist. Maybe the consent decrees have expired, but MSFT has to be careful not to present the appearance of engaging in similar tactics again. Next, Apple buyers are relatively impervious to MSFT marketing efforts. Finally, hard to beat Android on OS license cost.
      • Apple Buyers/Fans

        >> Next, Apple buyers are relatively impervious to MSFT marketing efforts.

        I think it's a mistake to lump all Apple buyers into one bucket. Apple FANS may be relatively impervious to MSFT marketing efforts. But not all Apple buyers are necessarily fans. I have an iPad. It's great. It's also the only thing out there. Android tablets aren't even worth considering - despite the price point.

        When Windows 8 tablets come out, I will have one. I don't know if I will like it more or less than my iPad, but I don't think it will take me long to decide.
    • numbers in 2012

      In 2012 the number of new PCs with Windows 8 may be a little into 8 figures, but not likely at all they'd sell in 9 figures.

      Next point. How many people are going to buy both a new PC and a new tablet? Maybe a new nonportable PC and a tablet, but I'd figure very few would bother with a new laptop and a tablet.

      But let's get back to the year in question: 2012. This year. Less than 9 months left. Windows 8 still months away from RTM.

      As for WOA, it's not going to be able to run all existing Windows software. You may get IE and Office, but other than that, if reports are to be believed, the only software would come from MSFT's app store.
    • It slices, it dices, it puts fresh litter in the cat box

      Your note is a good example of the confusion surrounding Microsoft's messaging. "Same ecosystem, millions using Windows, I'm in the market or a WOA tablet." Except that WOA tablets won't run legacy Windows apps, and won't look anything like the "Windows" people are familiar with. It's like watching a carnival barker sell snake oil: it's all things to all people, except when it isn't.

      This is all going to be great fun until the units actually start to ship. Then the BS has to stop and customers have to be told the truth about what their money is buying. If people buy WOA devices believing that they'll be able to install their favorite Windows apps, it will be a retailing fiasco.
      Robert Hahn
  • And in 2013...

    Windows 8 tablet market share drops to 2% :-)
  • The post-2012 predictions are too low

    If it were a separate system like Windows Phone, then I don't think it would go anywhere. But with the strong app ecosystem that's pretty much guaranteed to be built, I seriously doubt that Windows 8 will be a minor player for long.

    IPad might hold a good chunk of marketshare for a while, but I don't see Android winning the tablet war unless they can come up with something that integrates well on a desktop the way Windows does.
    • need to distinguish between x86 and ARM tablets

      There's a ton of legacy software for x86 Windows tablets. Whether much of it works well with touch UI is problematic. There's squat for WOA, which it seems won't run legacy x86 software. I don't see WOA tablets selling more than low 7 figures through 2013.
      • might not be as bad as you think

        Its true that apps compiled for x86 will not run on WOA. So your old copies of software that you have laying around won't just work. However, if the software is popular, I don't think it will take long before there are Metro versions of it. I think it all comes down to the availability of the apps.

        You should also understand that the desktop WILL be available on WOA devices even if it will not run legacy apps. (It has to be because many key Windows functions still only run in the desktop.) But that means that software that is rewritten to target WinRT behind the scenes could still run in the desktop on WOA devices. It just depends on whether companies make it available or not. I expect that the Metro/Touch versions will be much more popular.
  • This year doesn't matter, it's 2013-2016 that counts.

    Windows 8 won't come out until Sept of this year, just in time for Christmas. This year's percentage doesn't matter, it's 2013-2016 that counts.
    • Initial sales will affect future hardware.

      I feel that initial sales will make a big difference in what producers will actually join the Microsoft tablet market. Since it will be around Christmas time, sales should show demand for the item in a "money spending" environment (people actually willing to spend money).
  • Microsoft Windows to power 4 percent of tablet market in 2012: Gartner

    Considering it will only be out for a few months in 2012 that 4% is a pretty darn good number for such a short period of time. Starts at 4%, finishes at 90% is my prediction.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Dude you're still eating crow on all your other predictions

      "Everyone that wants an iPhone already has one"
      "Anybody that wants an iPad has already bought one"
      "Zune will bury the iPod"
      "Kiln will dominate smartphones"
      "Vista is an excellent OS"

      You're the Homer Simpson of predictions!
      • Its all true except the kin

        I said the KIN was DOA due to Verizon's mistake. But everything else was true and panned out that way, so we'll stick with my predictions.
        Loverock Davidson-
  • Windows 8 will appeal to people already running Windows devices.

    Just as [i]dechah[/i] said, People who are already running Windows, in particular Windows 7 & 8, will most likely be drawn to the Windows tablet market. Just as Apple has made it simple to connect there devices together, Windows 8 should do the same for the Microsoft market. This fact combined with the overwhelming Windows dominance in the consumer PC market should allow for a somewhat higher percentage in the future. I agree sales for 2012 will be low due to the late launch, but I feel the Windows Tablet market should explode once people realize they can sit in bed on a Windows tablet and have all the same, familiar features as there Windows PC seamlessly integrated.

    I also feel Windows 8 will do much better in the Tablet market than in the PC market due to the dependence of shortcut keys while using a keyboard and mouse. I feel less advanced users will shy away from this due to lack of understanding.

    Being a Windows application developer myself, I am infinitely excited for the windows tablet market to open up. I am hoping this means Better Windows phones offered by Verizon, a decrease in the cost of Windows tablets, and for seamless integration between each and my desktops and laptops. The integration of all the different devices is a niche where Windows hasn't quite met Apple with yet. Hopefully Windows 8 will change all of that.
    • Tablets and smartphones will be commoditized

      The real money is in the cloud services i.e. data, movies, music, strorage etc.
      Going forward I see only 3 real cloud players Google, Microsoft and Amazon.
  • no way they can predict that far into future....

    Comon folks.....2016? There's no way to tell the market that far ahead in the tablet market. It's too new still. The IPad has only been around a couple of years remember. 2012 #'s make sense since who would buy an MS tablet this year....nobody. There's no way to tell until the OS gets released and we start seeing what the devices actually look like, how much of a dent MS can make with Windows 8 on tablets.

    Anyone saying they can predict the tablet market more than a year or two out is just guessing.......mind you, I'd like to hear the reasoning behind the #'s....aside from "Well, the Ipad dominates the tablet market it must continue". Anyone could have made up these predictions.....based on nothing other than current market. Odd that you have to admit the tablet market is relatively how can you assume it will stay as it is today?....very odd
    • I know. Is this the same Gartner that claimed

      WP7 will top iOS by 2015?
      William Farrel