While Microsoft continues to complete Windows 8, its first operating system to enthusiastically embrace tablet computing, Apple's iPad is strengthening its grip on corporate buyers.
A new survey conducted by ChangeWave Research shows that companies are stepping up their tablet purchases, and that a growing number intend to buy iPads, as opposed to the rivals currently on the market. ChangeWave said its survey of 1,604 corporate tech buyers shows the highest level of corporate iPad demand it's ever found in a survey.
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The results can't bode well for Windows 8. PC growth, and by extension Windows growth, has slowed over the years, while the market for tablets, primarily the iPad, has soared. Windows 8 is the touch-friendly operating system, designed to help Microsoft tap that market.
And while the consumer market will be tough to crack, given the lead that Apple has there, the corporate business has been seen as one where Windows 8 tablets could make inroads. That's in large part because of Microsoft's long history of selling to enterprises, and the manageability that corporate buyers expect in devices that run Windows.
The new survey, though, suggests that the iPad is increasingly meeting the needs of those potential customers. ChangeWave found that 22 percent of the respondents plan to purchase tablets for employees during the second quarter, and that 84 percent of those companies are planning to buy iPads. That's a seven-point gain from a survey the firm did in November. Some of that interest is no doubt fueled by anticipation of this Friday's debut of the new iPad.
What's more, those buyers are increasingly shying away from tablets made by companies other than Apple. The interest in buying devices from every other tablet manufacturer, from Amazon to Samsung, declined from the November survey. So while buyers are increasingly looking to buy tablets, more often than not, they're only looking at picking up iPads.
The second most popular tablet-maker among corporate buyers is Samsung. ChangeWave found that 8 percent of respondents that are planning to buy tablets for employees intend to pick up a Samsung device, down from 10 percent in November.
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and covers Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. He's the author of the book, Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons (Penguin/Portfolio). He started writing about Microsoft and technology in 1998, first as a reporter for The Seattle Times and later as BusinessWeek's Seattle bureau chief.