Microsoft is banking on a big rollout of Windows 8 tablets later this year, but will they come too late to disrupt the iPad juggernaut?
NEW YORK -- Windows 8 was a hot topic at last week’s TabTimes Tablet Strategy conference even though the yet-to-ship software wasn’t formally on the agenda. Microsoft has made a test version called Consumer Preview of WIndow 8 available, but the first tablets shipped with Windows 8 aren’t expected to be available till this fall.
Attendees brought up the topic of Windows 8 during several Q&A sessions following speaker presentations, asking what they thought Windows 8's impact would be and whether Microsoft’s partners could be successful selling Windows 8 tablets.
Alan Masarek, CEO of Quickoffice, gave the most pointed response that was also in stark contrast to two tablet vendors who were bullish on Windows 8.
“I actually thing they are too late, said Masarek, who’s company’s Quickoffice app gives users the ability to edit Microsoft Office documents on the iPad.
Masarek has no doubt Windows 8 will gain a foothold, but will struggle to make a serious dent in the iPad’s dominant market share. One of the reasons is the huge lead the iPad has in applications.
“Windows 8 is a binary break from Windows 7,” said Masarek. “[Microsoft is] sprinkling a lot of dollars around to try and get the app developers to write for it and that’s not going to work. Mobile development, when you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of apps and it’s three guys and a dog somewhere, it has to happen organically. You can’t say I’m going to pick the Angry Birds guy and this guy and this guy. In the device world, the application tail wags the device dog.”
Two competing tablet vendors talk up Windows 8
Panasonic said it plans to release a Windows 8 tablet in January designed for enterprise buyers that will run on an Intel processor. Jim Dempsey, Panasonic’s Business Enterprise Development Manager, said Windows 8 “will need more juice” than ARM provides to power tablets that can be considered true notebook PC replacements.
Mark Holleran, President and COO of tablet vendor Xplore Technologies, acknowledged Windows 8 is late, but said Microsoft’s a great company. “They still own the enterprise applications (market). Windows 8 is no XP, the Metro tiles interface is pretty good, I like it.”
Even Masarek isn’t counting Microsoft out completely.
“Windows 8’s got to be good because it’s already late,” he said. Microsoft's willing to spend to the bottom of the hole to defend this thing because they have to.”