by Shane O'Neill

Microsoft and Mobile: So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance

Oct 13, 20113 mins
Computers and PeripheralsMobileSmall and Medium Business

Another survey saying users want a Windows tablet — another survey that does not jibe with current reality. But where there's smoke there's fire, and more research insists that Microsoft will not stay in the mobile gutter for long.

Judging from recent surveys you could almost be convinced that Microsoft has a future in mobile.

Take a recent survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group. The bottom line: People want Windows-based tablets — more so than the iPad, the BlackBerry Playbook or tablets running Android.

All of this flies in the face of data and logic. There is no Windows tablet to speak of and Windows 8, designed from the ground up with touch-screen functionality and a new GUI to work on tablets, will not be generally available until the second half of 2012. In technology time, that might as well be 10 years. It really feels like the iPad has already won the tablet race by a mile.


Yet the Boston Consulting Group study claims that 42 percent of U.S. consumers prefer to have the Windows operating system on their tablets. Apple’s iOS comes in second at 27 percent, followed by Android at 20 percent, BlackBerry at 9 percent, and Palm OS at 3 percent. The study also surveyed Chinese consumers, which had similar results across the board.

Unfortunately, methodology and survey size were not disclosed, so take the Boston Consulting Group’s survey with a grain of salt. But it does follow on the heels of another survey from research firm Forrester that reached the same conclusions.

That report, from March of this year, surveyed 3,800 people and the number one OS survey respondents wanted on a tablet was … Windows!

Microsoft’s other mobile player, Windows Phone 7, is gathering slow momentum but has had weak sales and tiny market share since debuting a year ago. Windows Phone 7 U.S. mobile market share currently sits at 5.7 percent, according to market tracker comScore. A major Windows Phone 7 update — dubbed Mango — began rolling out on Sept. 27, and  brings a slew of new features that could change the game.

Yet Windows Phone 7, despite its small role in the smartphone world, has received sunny forecasts from research firms over the past few months.

IDC’s  Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report from last June predicts that Windows Phone 7 is going to outgrow all other smartphone OS’s in the next four years, even as the firm forecasts that Microsoft’s mobile OS will actually dip in the current year, from 5.5 percent worldwide market share to a dismal 3.8 percent.

But by the year 2015, says IDC, Microsoft’s struggling mobile OS will have a 20.3 percent worldwide mobile market share and be second only to Google’s Android OS.

And according to a July survey of more than 4,000 consumers from ChangeWave Research, a division of analyst firm The 451 Group, Windows Phone 7 gets better customer satisfaction ratings than Android (of course, Windows Phone 7 has far fewer customers).

Does Microsoft really have a bright mobile future? From general observation, the answer is no. But recent survey reports do show that Windows 8 demos have stirred up excitement and that users are eager to see Windows running on a tablet. These surveys may not reflect what we’re currently seeing in the marketplace, on the streets, or in the office, but they are proof that no one should underestimate the pervasive power of Windows.