Microsoft is banking on Windows 8 to reverse its fortunes.

With all the buzz over the iPad and Kindle Fire lately, we don’t need a study to tell us that Microsoft Windows is will be playing catch-up in the tablet computer market. But a new report from the Forrester research firm this morning quantifies the effect in a way that will be sounding alarm bells in Redmond.

Windows tablets were the top choice among consumers in the first quarter of this year, with 46 percent of people in the U.S. saying they would prefer one. But as of the third quarter, the figure is now 25 percent, according to Forrester data. Forrester’s JP Gownder draws this conclusion in a blog post about the report.

For product strategists, Windows 8 tablets provide a cautionary tale: To be a fast-follower, you must amp up the experience — and do so quickly, before the market changes beyond recognition. Windows 8 tablets must provide consumers with a more differentiated product experience than it otherwise would have, had Microsoft entered the market sooner. They’ll have to take a lesson from Amazon’s product strategists, who fundamentally changed the tablet product experience by leading with content and services rather than feeds and speeds, at a compelling price point. In the rapidly evolving tablet market, Amazon — and Barnes & Noble, with its Nook Tablet — demonstrate fast following done right.

Microsoft unveiled Windows 8 this year, with a tablet-friendly interface, but hasn’t yet given a release date. Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet has more on the report and the underlying data.


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  • Guest

    “I love our strategy. The board loves our strategy”

    – Steve Ballmer

  • Guest

    I seem to remember the same anticipation that greeted Apple prior to the invention of iPad. Millions of customers were literally throwing money at Apple stores and getting nothing of value in return. Once Apple came through with iPad, these customers became delighted.

    Microsoft has a more than 30-year history of exceeding customers’ expectations. Although they’re taking time to get it right, the proof shall be in the pudding.

    • Guest

      Take another hit on the crack pipe, sir!

  • Ninejawas

    Slow day, lets invent news. Gotta love so-called analysts!

  • Paul

    Can you blame them? MS had a decade head start it tablets. But it was completely disrupted inside one year by Apple. And instead of responding quickly, MS did nothing. Not a single thing. It didn’t allow WP7 on tablets. It didn’t even take W7E and try to create a more tablet-optimized build for OEMs to give them something with which to better compete against iPad until W8 arrives. So they embraced Android, across the board.

    By the time W8 finally arrives, Apple and Google will have had three years to consolidate their leadership and further extend this from an OS battle to an ecosystem one. MS will have a new but still immature OS, a comparative handful of apps, little to no exclusive content, and likely the divided attention of a few OEMs. Sound familiar? It’s an exact repeat of mobile, complete with the initial MS arrogance and competitive misjudgment. Only this time the consequences of losing go directly to the heart of MS’s main cash cows: Windows and Office.

    As long as Ballmer was left in charge, it was only a matter of time before he screwed up something that wasn’t just peripheral but was actually vital to the company’s future. And in tablets he finally succeeded.

    • Guest

      Win7 on tablets was a non-starter.  Totally not optimized for power or functionality, it would have killed windows as a tablet brand.

      • Paul

        W7 is what they have been offering on tablets for a year now and will continue to until W8 ships.

        • Guest

          Those are not positioned as tablets, but as convertables.  And they’ve been poorly reviewed (really mostly ignored) and haven;t sold.

          As he said, non-starter.

          • Paul

            Several are tablets. And yes, they’re non-starters. That was the point made in my original comment.

    • Christopher Budd

      I would just say regarding your last point, in my opinion it’s not simply with tablets but is more broadly the shift away from pc-based computing. Phones and Zune haven’t been successes either. XBox is the exception. But generally speaking he’s done a poor job of understanding and anticipating the shift away from the desktop/laptop.

      • Bob

        Considering he started investing in both phones and tablets a decade ago, I don’t think you can say he did a poor job of understanding and anticipating the shift. The failure in both markets was execution.

        • Christopher Budd

          A fair point and I see what you’re saying. And why your point may mean that he did anticipate at least some of the shift, I still argue he didn’t understand it or anticipate it fully in terms of what it meant.

          One reason Microsoft phones (at least until Windows Phone 7) and tablets have been failures is they’ve been made to be little versions of desktop Windows. Remember how Windows Mobile had a “Start” button? And the XP Tablets were Windows laptops that you could occasionally do tablet-y things with.
          Ultimately this comes back to how Microsoft’s product strategy has been extremely defensive and conservative over the years. Non PC devices had no reason to exist beyond supporting the PC in some way. And that comes back ultimately to Paul’s point about leadership. Microsoft is lagging because it has no one that loves tech running it just like Apple was lagging until Jobs came back.

  • Guest

    Given Amazon’s moves, they should be VERY concerned.  Apple will have close to 140m installed base of tablets alone (not counting phones and iPods, all of which re-enforce the ecosystem) by fall 2012 (the earliest we’ll see a win8 tablet) and amazon is laser targeting the low end.  

    With reports today that taiwanese mfgrs are looking at summer 2013 for Win8 tablets in quantity (I tend to discount this report, but we’ll see) msft is looking to be WAY behind from an installed base perspective.  Perhaps (as with smartphones) irrecoverably so.

    • Guest

      “With reports today that taiwanese mfgrs are looking at summer 2013 for Win8 tablets”

      That was “notebooks”, not tablets. 

      • Guest

        And tablets will be easier to produce in quantity than laptops?  That seems unlikely.

        • Guest

          “Update: This report ties in very well with what Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang had to say back at Asia D. Jen-Hsun saw it as favorable for Microsoft to introduce Windows on ARM strictly on tablets at first — so as not to confuse consumers. Laptops are still seen as “PCs,” meaning devices compatible with legacy software, so in his eyes and presumably those of device vendors, it makes sense to introduce ARM to the keyboard-equipped slate form factor later on and in a clearly delineated fashion.”

  • Christopher Budd

    I tend to think the delay in Windows tablets will help or hurt Microsoft depending on how Amazon does.

    To date, no one has been successful in taking on the iPad, so the delay has helped Microsoft by letting other potential competitors (RIM, HP) eliminate themselves.The world clearly wants an iPad alternative though. If Amazon’s device does well enough, it stands a good chance of snapping up that place. If it fails like the others have, then Microsoft may be in a good position.

    Taking a step back, though, if Kindle wins and the tablet market is like the phone market with Microsoft a niche player, the real winner I would argue is Linux because it will mean that Linux beat Windows (in some form) on phones and tablets.

    • Guest

      All indications are that Amazon will sell more kindle fires than all other android tablets combined, in a shorter timeframe.  So I’d categorize that as success of a sorts, even if it’s not a direct iPad or win8tab competitor at the moment.

  • Dhseattle59

    Everyone on this string is clueless to the fact that Amazon and Apply are consumers of content and serious work or productivity is impossible on them. I have a Samsung Windows 7 slate and an iPad before that. My iPad now collects dust and I will probably donate it because I can’t do the work that is required. Yes I use Office and it runs very well as for watching movies and all the other things I used to do on the Pad. I don’t play games, that is what my Xbox is for. Oh… and the 128GB HD comes in very handy!

  • Guest

    Yes, sometimes Microsoft does have to be slow in order to ensure that a product is truly ready to go to market, but that seems also to be why they haven’t been on the front page of the newspapers for horrendous breaches to their customers’ security and personal information.

    Android – it’s much easier to get to market quickly when your’re copy-pasting the technologies of others to “create” your products.

    Apple – is America’s darling; you could call a brick an iRock and teenagers would be selling their kidneys to get one.

  • Kulturloseramerikaner

    Microsoft is trying to keep themselves going by doing nothing really more than installing new drapes on old products (Windows, Office). All their new products of late seem to be nothing more than “me too!” offerings that fall short of the product they’re attempting to copy (Windows Phone, Zune, Bing). I remember when Microsoft actually INNOVATED.
    God, was I ever that young???

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