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Simplicity of buying
There is currently a myriad of potential software choices for a Microsoft tablet: Windows on ARM (WOA), now called Windows 8 RT, as well as a full-fat version of Windows 8, and even potentially Windows Phone 8 in future. And that's before you even get to the different hardware options, such as screen size or internal storage, that would go with them.
This tyranny of choice is the last thing Microsoft needs with a new entry to market. It needs to make any tablet own-brand offering easy to understand, and therefore easy to buy.
Take number two in the tablet market, Samsung: with its vast choice of Galaxy Tab sizes and configurations, it's a difficult sell to convince a consumer why they'd buy an 8.9-inch over an 10.1-inch device, or even care about a once-inch difference in screen size. Even master of marketing Apple offers six different iPad options.
Microsoft has a chance to differentiate itself with a leaf out of its Xbox playbook: offer consumers just one choice to start with, make it a compelling one, then market the hell out of it.
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Let's assume a Microsoft tablet has really sparked a buyer's interest. It's slim, light and they know exactly which they want, and now it's just a question of the bottom line. Microsoft has to break down every barrier that stops people buying its devices and so it has to be fiercely competitive on price.
Microsoft doesn't need to compete with the cheapest of the cheap — after all, most budget Android tablets aren't a pleasure to use because keeping costs down that low has a knock-on effect on the quality of the hardware — but it does need to be cheaper than its equivalent rivals like the iPad or Galaxy Tab family.
If Microsoft want to make a splash in the tablet market, it needs to sell millions of devices to build the critical mass that will generate the ecosystem that it needs. Pricing competitively can help it shift those units — and if Microsoft has to subsidise every single tablet it sells to convince consumers to buy, it shouldn't be shy of doing so.
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So I've got my new tablet, svelte bargain that it was, but now I'm getting a little bored. So where are all the integrated services — the cloud storage, the music store, the movie rentals and downloads?
Microsoft had better make sure that all this is in place, available in as many countries as possible and running like clockwork for the day of launch if it decides to bring out its own tablet, because the competition will certainly be doing the same. Once again, it needs to go further than its rivals, and find new services, new apps and new ideas that will appeal to buyers.