Biggest competition for Windows tablets? Other Windows tablets

Companies producing tablets know they must compete with the iPad and with Android tablets. The strategy Microsoft has taken for upcoming Windows tablets may have the platform competing with itself.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

Microsoft knocked down the screens concealing the Windows on ARM (WOA) version of Windows 8 that will become the mobile version of the platform. While expected to power tablets specifically, we will eventually see WOA on laptops and other mobile devices. Microsoft's approach to WOA is a good one as a mobile OS needs to be built from the ground up for mobile usage. Special apps are needed to fully leverage the tablet form, and the requirement that WOA apps be written specifically for that is a good thing.

While building a true mobile platform from scratch is a good thing, making it part of the Windows family may end up creating mass confusion in the marketplace. Companies building WOA tablets may find themselves not only competing with the iPad and the army of Android tablets in the market, they may end up competing very heavily with tablets running real Windows 8.

The strategy of making Windows 8 an OS that will handle all types of computing (at least in name) will end up creating competition within the platform that will be fun to watch. Imagine ads for some whiz-bang Intel tablets running Windows 8 with its distinctive Metro interface, making fun of that ARM tablet (with the exact same interface) that "can't run all of the apps you depend on". Never mind that those apps are legacy Windows apps that don't take advantage of the tablet form, at least you can run them on this tablet over here if you want. Why restrict what you can do with that "entry-level" tablet over there when the sky's the limit with this super tablet?

See also: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps; Windows 8 on ARM to launch simultaneously with Windows 8 on Intel; Microsoft gets it right with Windows 8 on ARM, and why Apple should be worried

This will confuse the average consumer shopping for a tablet, and will end up creating a tiered field of Windows tablets. You will have those ARM tablets that can only run special apps at the lower end of the market. Then you'll have tablets with Intel inside that can do anything you do on a desktop plus run Metro apps. This will result in public perception that WOA is Windows Lite, Intel is powerful even on tablets, and pricing will be affected.

Don't believe for a minute that consumers will pay as much for a WOA tablet with its restrictions as they will for an Intel tablet with real Windows 8. That will result in Intel tablets selling for higher prices than those little WOA things. This will backfire as expensive tablets of any ilk do not sell well in today's market. Rather than competing with the other platforms, Windows tablets will end up competing largely with other Windows tablets. Mass confusion in the market will result.

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