Who Wants a Windows Tablet? 200 Million Workers, That's Who

Microsoft is in the smartphone and tablet doghouse in the enterprise. But a global survey by Forrester shows there is a surprisingly strong desire for Windows tablets among the worldwide workforce.

Forrester's new "2013 Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends" report reveals plenty of data nuggets based on survey responses from 9,766 information workers in 17 countries.

Most notably – but not that surprising – there was a 6 percent year-over-year increase in the amount of global workers who use three or more devices and work from multiple locations – from 23 percent to 29 percent. With a nod toward the BYOD (bring your own device) movement, 36 percent of respondents are willing to put in their own money to get the computer of their choice.

And here's a Forrester prediction that puts the notion of the "post-PC era" in perspective: By 2017, the amount of tablets used for work and play will triple to 905 million.

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The report also provides insight into the evolving mobile hardware and operating system landscape. The bottom line: Apple (both OS X and iOS) and Android will be the major suppliers to the enterprise.

What about Windows, you ask? Well, its stronghold on the enterprise desktop and laptop remains solid as 92 percent of survey respondents use Windows if a desktop is their primary device and 87 percent use it if a laptop is their primary device.

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But things change drastically with tablets and smartphones. For those respondents who use a tablet as their primary device, 11 percent use Windows (iOS wins in tablets with 58 percent); if a smartphone is the primary device only 6 percent use Windows Phone, while 15 percent use BlackBerry, 34 percent use Apple iOS and 37 percent use Android.

These numbers are no doubt gloomy for Microsoft, but the company's mobile future is actually bright, Forrester predicts. Global information workers may not be using Windows tablets and smartphones today, but they want them, according to Forrester's survey.

Only 2 percent of respondents reported that Windows was the current OS running on their work tablet. However, a whopping 32 percent want Windows as their next work tablet OS. On the smartphone side, only 3 percent use Windows Phone as their current work device, but 10 percent want Windows Phone as their next work smartphone. Not as big a jump as the tablet side, but it's still triple. And this is not just a few hundred workers, folks; this almost 10,000 information workers worldwide.

So where do the 200 million workers referenced in the headline come from?

Forrester projects that globally, 615 million people will be information workers in 2013, meaning they work part-time or full-time and use a computer or other connected device an hour or more per day for work.

Based on that forecast and the data on the desire for the next phone or tablet, Forrester projects that 200 million global information workers [32 percent of 615 million] would like to use a Microsoft Windows tablet for work.

Microsoft may be an enterprise mobile nobody now, but here's proof that it has a fighting chance on tablets.

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