Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

Summary: Microsoft is busy getting Windows 8 tablets ready to take the world by storm, but it is not clear exactly who will want one.

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Forget Android tablets and the iPad, there are a lot of folks waiting for the much ballyhooed Windows 8 tablets due to hit next year. A lot of folks believe a full computer like the Windows 8 tablets will offer lots more utility than the toy tablets currently available. The reality hasn't hit these folks yet, that these future slates aren't really aimed at the current tablet market.

Microsoft is busy working on Windows 8, especially the new breed of tablet that will take tablets to the next level. That may be the plan, but it's already hard to figure out who will benefit from this effort. There will be both Intel-based Win8 tablets and ARM-based models. This will require two different versions of Windows 8, and more importantly two different app ecosystems.

Those expecting the ARM tablets with Windows 8 to be more capable than Android tablets and the iPad better sit down. Windows 8 tablets using the ARM technology will need entirely new apps to be of any use. This means an entire ecosystem of apps, both third party and from Microsoft, will have to be written for this new platform. Those dreaming of running all of the legacy Windows apps are living in a dream world. Even if developers are willing to port all of the apps users might want, they all need to be totally revamped for the Metro touch interface. This means entirely new apps, even if based on existing user favorites.

While Intel-based Windows 8 tablets can more easily use legacy Windows apps, they too will need to be revamped for touch operation. Those of us who have been using touch Tablet PCs for years can tell you how useless most Windows legacy apps are on those devices. It will be no different on Windows 8 Intel tablets. This means yet another app ecosystem, on top of legacy Windows and ARM Windows.

It's too early to tell how many developers will be willing to do all of this work porting legacy Windows apps to these two new tablet platforms, much less write new ones. Without the ability to predict how the app situation will evolve for Windows 8 tablets, it is impossible to guess which market segments might be attracted to which version of Windows.

Will consumers flock to the ARM Windows 8 tablets? Depends on the apps available. Same thing holds true for the enterprise market. Will it be attracted to the Intel-based Windows 8, the ARM-based, or stick with desktops/laptops? That's impossible to predict without seeing how the apps go on each. It all sounds as clear as mud, but it really is even less clear than that.

Microsoft has forked the app development effort into three streams with Windows 8: conventional desktop/laptop (Intel), touch tablet (Intel), and ARM tablets. Each brings its own demands and requirements to write apps, and developers must guess what type of user they must target with the effort. They have to decide if they are going to develop just one or two versions of their apps, or go all-in with all three. Whatever they do, they will be stuck with supporting the various versions, a major investment.

Like many folks I am anxiously waiting the appearance of Windows 8 tablets. I am a tablet person after all. But I can't see how this will all shake out, and exactly who OEMs should target with them. It is anybody's guess at this point.

Image credit: Flickr user Odi Kosmatos

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Topics: Tablets, Android, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Windows

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125 comments
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  • Which market(s)?

    1) The tablet market.
    2) The PC market.
    3) The laptop and netbook markets.

    Isn't it obvious?
    Tim Acheson
    • Who dat

      What exactly [i]is[/i] "the tablet market"? Does Microsoft even know? We know it's not about devices or operating system features. The big-time device makers who thought the "tablet market" was about better widgets spent a fortune and came away empty. HP spent a billion on a well-regarded tablet OS and they hit the rocks, too.

      The only guys who have succeeded in the tablet market are content-oriented: Amazon, Apple, and Barnes&Noble. With the sales numbers now coming in on the K-Fire, we know that -- despite the fates of the XOOM and its ilk -- Android can do fine in the tablet market IF it is backed by a rich content ecosystem. (Some would say the Nook and K-Fire are about price, but if that were all it took, Archos would own the market).

      When Microsoft talks about the "tablet market," they speak of "Windows apps" and a full-blown OS and near-desktop functionality. Meanwhile 50 million iPads have gone out the door with none of that. The skeptic might think that until Microsoft starts talking about buying Hulu or Netflix, and B&N, they're no smarter than the "device makers" who fell on their butts trying to sell Powerful Widgets.
      Robert Hahn
      • kindle fire sales numbers

        @Robert Hahn <br>which sales numbers? amazon doesn't provide any sales numbers for the kindle products, only smokescreen pr bs. what are you referring to? baseless analysts' estimates?
        bannedfromzdnetagainandagain
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

        I agree with the article but don't forget Win8 is much better at touch than previous Windows versions, including Intel tablets.
        bradavon
      • Ya, well, we have been hearing it for years and years...

        @Robert Hahn

        First off, if you listen to a word at all the Mac and Linux lovers have been preaching for endless years, people buy whats foisted upon them and somehow learn to first live with it, then no matter how god awful it is they eventually claim to love it. Thats how they all say Windows got a market. If its even close to the truth then its certainly happened with tablets because the current crop is largely garbage, iPad included. The over priced iPad would barely be worth its value at $100 bucks a pop yet millions have bought one and claim they love it, even if its sitting on the corner of the family coffee table waiting for someone to decide to do something with it, at $500 a shot.

        If you cant see the potential of a full blown Windows based tablet in this kind of a market then you don't understand so much as a single thing about the way the market works.

        What a silly article. What market?

        Take a simple guess and get real.
        Cayble
      • The followup

        [i]First off, if you listen to a word at all the Mac and Linux lovers have been preaching for endless years, people buy whats foisted upon them and somehow learn to first live with it, then no matter how god awful it is they eventually claim to love it. Thats how they all say Windows got a market.[/i]

        True except for the last part. I haven't met anybody yet in the last 10 years that claims to "love" Windows. I've never heard it said or read it until I starting posting on zdnet. Come to think of it, I never realized there were rabid Windows fanbuis until I posted at zdnet. Windows was seen as just a tool people used because there wasn't anything else available and they weren't willing to spend the money on an Apple.

        [i]If its even close to the truth then its certainly happened with tablets because the current crop is largely garbage, iPad included. The over priced iPad would barely be worth its value at $100 bucks a pop yet millions have bought one and claim they love it, even if its sitting on the corner of the family coffee table waiting for someone to decide to do something with it, at $500 a shot.[/i]

        And how do you that's true? How do you know they're just sitting on coffee tables just waiting to be used? Have you ever used one before? Have you bothered to learn?

        [i]If you cant see the potential of a full blown Windows based tablet in this kind of a market then you don't understand so much as a single thing about the way the market works.[/i]

        No I can't see the potential since Windows tablets have been around for the last 10 years and have barely made a dent in the market. If you can't see that then it's perhaps [b]you[/b] who
        ScorpioBlue
      • @cayble

        You have a rather flawed (as in so totally wrong) view of what "others" think happened wrt Microsoft's dominance. That and I'd offer the (correct) opinion that you wouldn't know what a market was even if one wandered up to you and tried to alert you to its presence and function. On that point, you don't even begin to describe a use case for Windows on a tablet. You wave your hands and belch and declare it (a WinTab) is (presumably) going to take some mystical market by storm apparently.

        However, in your defence, the blogger is waving his hands etc and opining, but at least he's a tad more honest in his musings.
        ego.sum.stig
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

        @Cayble

        "First off, if you listen to a word at all the Mac and Linux lovers have been preaching for endless years, people buy whats foisted upon them and somehow learn to first live with it, then no matter how god awful it is they eventually claim to love it. Thats how they all say Windows got a market. If its even close to the truth then its certainly happened with tablets because the current crop is largely garbage, iPad included."

        Sorry but must point out that is true.
        How many car owner you know who have changed their car engine to better one?

        Are you saying that the engine what comes in the car, is the best available?
        Are you saying that people buy that car because they want that engine in it?

        See, every one can change their car engine. It takes just hour or two from skilled mechanic. You just need to buy a new compatible engine for the body.
        But why doesn't no one do that?

        Because they just want a good looking car what goes fast or has lots of space. They do not care so much about the engine.
        Think about if people could learn that they could switch their gasoline/diesel engine to electronic one and then add bottom of their car full of batteries and make a electronic car?
        Or that they could swap the gasoline engine to diesel engine and gain savings with that?
        Fri13
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

        @Robert Hahn The best tablet that is affordable in price and with good features in my think of that one is here: http://www.technologyfazer.com/acers-upcoming-iconia-tab-a200.html
        nomikhokher
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

        @Robert Hahn

        I agree with you. Just to add, I use tablets for finance-related work and school and I am very satisfied, especially with the IPad2. Unfortunately, I experienced so many dissapointments with Windows OS in the past that unless they come up with a truly innovative product, I will not spend a dime on them.

        As you mentioned, Apple, Amazon & B&N are now getting a good portion of their respective market shares. By the way, Amazon does not provide sales numbers for their Kindle, but it is easy to get an idea by simply checking inventory orders from their contracted manufacturers.

        Good posting,
        x7Samurai
    • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

      @Tim Acheson
      +1
      Loverock Davidson-
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

        @Loverock Davidson-

        Apparently Intel and others believe that there is no longer a viable netbook market. (Intel recently pushed back the availabilty of their latest Atom CPU slated for netbooks until next year.)

        I would amend Tim's third bullet to just include laptops. (Ultrabooks are a subclass of laptops.)

        Actually, when you think about it, both you and Tim believe a Win 8 tablet will compete against the Ultrabook market.

        I always felt that, being in the Apple ecosystem, that the iPad enhanced a person's MBA experience. In other words, the iPad doesn't compete against the MBA market. The two products can stand alone, so to speak, but combined, they form a very impressive system.
        kenosha77a
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

        @Loverock Davidson- <br>You've repeatedly said tablets are a fad. Shouldn't MS just stay out of that market? After all, why waste tons of cash just to get into a market that, according to you, won't be around very long??
        THavoc
    • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

      @Tim Acheson <br><br>Right. If it's so obvious why did Microsoft and Windows OEMs struggle to figure the market for over a decade? They've consistently tried to push these devices onto consumers since 2001 but saw little to no sales. <br><br>Apple swooped in with their version of what a tablet should be (light computing appliance type device, not full tablet Mac) and they've sold in one year more iPads than Microsoft and partners managed to push out in 10 years, combined. <br><br>Amazon swooped in with their 7" consumption focus Kindle Fire and already seeing more sales than full Windows Tablet PC saw over the decade. <br><br>Microsoft seem to be chasing the same failed vision of having full Windows as the unifying bases of tablets and PCs. As Ballmer admitted, tablets and slates are just another form of the Windows PCs. Meaning it's just another form factor to continue pushing their bread and butter Windows. But this time with metro-like shell as the lipstick to cover the ugly. <br><br>Microsoft in their own self interest to keep Windows relevant everywhere seem to be purposefully ignoring where the consumer tablet market is heading. Light, efficient, cheap consumption devices not full PCs. Lose the complexity and focus on strong app selection and content ecosystem. The form factor of the device will always dictate its use.
      dave95.
    • Here's the other obvious thing people overlook

      @Tim Acheson
      right now MS doesn't have an ARM based tablet OS, so they created a version of Windows for ARM based tablets.

      But then again, tablets are a tinyt segment of the overall "PC" market. Sure MS could make a totally new OS for tablets, but then again, it would be something different that developers would have to develop for, as they do with Mac OX, iPad iOS, and iPod/iPhone iOS.

      So what's the issue?
      William Farrell
  • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

    Do you think if you do not like others do not like..
    Sreenidotnet
  • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

    Microsoft still doesn't understand the problem. Apple does. Amazon just figured it out. Unfortunately for Microsoft, IT people have just gotten the idea. It's not the operating system, it's the portal to the world. iTunes was the spark. It showed that it's the process, not the computer, that matters. The iPad is the process to do something. The Kindle is the process to do something. Nothing more. Nothing less. It's the struggle to regain the productivity that the PC and Windows stole from the march of progress.
    Tony Burzio
    • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

      @Tony Burzio

      I agree that if you want a browser, ebook reader, or audio/video player, Windows is overkill. But far more people buy Windows PCs than tablets of all sorts combined. If you need the extra capabilities, you can do more on Windows than you can on iOS or Android.
      HildyJhnsn
      • Take tweo tablets, call in the morning

        @HildyJhnsn
        That is true, but 95% of that stuff requires one of two things, neither of which is characteristic of a tablet: The 'productivity' stuff wants a keyboard, and the serious Windows 'gamer' stuff wants a GPU that would last 8 seconds on a battery-powered device. Heck, mine has three power-supply connections and a loud fan. It's just not a tablet kind of thing.

        I don't think people are questioning whether Windows is appropriate on a desktop computer, or even on a laptop.
        Robert Hahn
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets will target what market again?

        @Robert Hahn, ASUS Transformer Prime may be what you have in mind... quad-core processor, gaming graphics, tablet form factor, thinner and lighter than iPad and has attachable keyboard which extends battery several hours beyond iPad's. The up side, it should run Windows 8 as well as Android.
        bstringy