“Windows 8 is a bridge and bridges are a bitch to sell,” said Enderle.
Moderator Robert Scoble, who first achieved fame as an outspoken blogger at Microsoft, said “I always assumed Windows 8 would sell hundreds of millions because of Excel and Office. Am I smoking dope?”
While no one addressed the last part of Scoble’s questions, beyond a few chuckles, Enderle said the problem Microsoft has for now is that “Windows 8 tablets are heavy and expensive and Windows RT is limited. It’s an ugly choice.”
He did add that some Windows 8 tablets, like Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet 2, is one of the better Windows 8 products he’s seen. “Lenovo has something there,” he said.
TabTimes columnist and Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin said Microsoft had to develop a new game plan, i.e. Windows 8, “but we’re going through their transitionary pain. Now the initial innovation is coming back to the hardware side and we’re seeing a range of form factors.”
In at least the near term, the panelists seemed to agree that tablet leadership, even in the enterprise, is still very much Apple’s game to lose.
Android fragmention and multiple devices
“Enterprises are terrified of tablets, especially the Android models with all the malware that’s out there,” said Enderle. “These guys get hit, but we only hear about a fraction of the damage that’s reported. Tablets aren’t compliant devices, and they’re being bought in on an ad hoc basis.”
Analyst Maribel Lopez said the many versions of Android (the so-called Android fragmentation) in use has slowed adoption of the devices in the enterprise because of the difficulty of supporting so many different versions.
“But there are some nice devices like Samsung’s Galaxy line,” she said. “Apple has a big lead. It doesn’t do everything, but it does what it does in a fully controlled environment.”
That said, Lopez, added that it would be a mistake to think one device can do it all.
“The definition of what’s a PC continues to blur,” she said. “You see the PC being fragmented out to pieces, a screen and a keyboard and maybe they come together or maybe they don’t. They all now have great processors, so it comes down to work style and you’ll pick your device accordingly.”
The next Tablet Strategy conference is April 30 in New York.