It’s too bad Microsoft is developing Windows for tablets at a turtle’s pace because, believe it or not, the masses are practically begging for one!
Just when you thought the public had written off any Windows device except a PC (sorry Windows Phone 7, keep trying), a survey by research firm Forrester this week reports that of 3,800 people polled, the numero uno OS people want on a tablet is not Apple iOS, and it’s not Google Android. It’s Windows.
Unfortunately, Microsoft does not share their enthusiasm, repeating the tired company line that Windows 7 is fine for tablets, when we all know that Windows 7 was not designed for the tablet form factor or multi-touch functionality.
Windows 7 is a great PC operating system and is helping to keep Microsoft the king of laptops and desktops, the devices that most people use at work and home. Windows is the user interface they see every day and they are comfortable with it. When and if they make that big scary leap to a tablet, it might make the transition smoother if they are going to Windows again. Most people are not obsessive tech enthusiasts exploring different operating systems. They just want to feel comfortable navigating their device.
It’s a shame Microsoft is not being accommodating to this sudden fervor for Windows tablets. As it stands now, users will have to wait for the next version of Windows (being called Windows 8) to get a true tablet-ready version of Windows that works on the ARM-based chips used in smartphones and tablets like the iPad and those running Android. This will likely happen in a year and a half from now, if Microsoft sticks to its usual three-year Windows cycle.
By that time, those who want a Windows tablet now will have moved on to an Apple iPad, an Android-based tablet from Samsung, Motorola or others, or the soon-to-be-released RIM BlackBerry Playbook.
You know, I’m getting déjŕ vu just writing this. Didn’t we just go through the “too late to the party” stuff with Windows Phone 7? Microsoft has learned the hard way how difficult it is to show up late to a crowded market with passionate and loyal users. We’ll be singing the same tune when those first real Windows tablets release in the fall of 2012 as lines form around the block for the iPad 4.
But just remember Microsoft: For one shining moment in March 2011 the crowd was clamoring for Windows tablets.
Other key points from the Forrester report: iPad competitors like the Android-based Motorola Xoom or Samsung Galaxy will struggle to make headway because they are too expensive and they rely on wireless carriers as a primary retail channel.
The report also points out that Amazon, that’s right Amazon, could be Apple’s biggest competitor in the tablet space. Amazon does not have a tablet nor has it announced plans to develop one (The Amazon Kindle e-reader is not a tablet).
An Amazon tablet is pure conjecture by Forrester, but Amazon is being threatened by Apple’s content consumption business model. If Amazon does develop an iPad competitor it could win on price. Consumers also trust the Amazon brand — they certainly purchase goods and consume Amazon content (music, e-books, streaming video) in droves. It’s an interesting idea, at the very least.
Shane O’Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Shane at email@example.com