Even though Windows 8 tablets are still possibly a year away from shipping, Microsoft needs to be factored in here, too..
Will potential new tablet buyers want this?
Obviously, buying choices aren't entirely based on just one factor. It's not just the user interface that is the ultimate differentiator. Price, apps, usage plans, device weight, battery life, overall look and feel and many more factors matter, too. And we don't know enough about Windows 8 -- beyond the user interface and legacy app support plans -- to truly evaluate it against the existing and coming competition.
For me, portability is perhaps my No. 1 evaluation criteria for tablets. What makes a tablet portable (or not)? An easy-to-carry form factor, excellent (8-hour-plus) battery life, obviating the need to carry extra batteries and power cords; and fast boot-up/shut-down, enabling me to instantly start or finish using the device. That's why I bought an iPad last year; I couldn't find a Windows PC in tablet form factor that met these requirements. If the Amazon Kindle had been out then, I definitely would have considered it -- and possibly bought it -- instead of my iPad.
Microsoft's Windows team isn't going to allow itself to be rushed to market with Windows 8, no matter which other vendors enter and at what price. I don't think Microsoft's lateness with a true iPad and Kindle Fire competitor is an impossible-to-overcome hurdle. And the $200 price tag of the Kindle Fire isn't a deal breaker, as Microsoft can subsidize with the best of them.
What else do Windows 8 tablets need to deliver to stay competitive against future iPads and Amazon tablets, in your opinion? I'm wondering whether Microsoft could/should introduce a less-capable tablet (based on the Windows core that doesn't offer legacy app support, perhaps) to fend off its rivals at the low end.... Thoughts?