by Shane O'Neill

Gates Puts on the Blinders to Praise Windows 8, Surface

May 09, 20133 mins
Computers and PeripheralsOperating SystemsSmall and Medium Business

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is having a hard time accepting that people don't want their tablet to act like a PC, at least according to his responses in a CNBC interview.

We all know Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is fiercely loyal to the company that made his name. But he seemed to have fallen into a reality distortion field during an interview this week on CNBC.

Gates covered non-tech, non-Microsoft subjects in the interview, but he did have rosy comments about Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface device. That is comments about their potential. It’s just that Windows 8’s ambitions and its actual sales are still on different planets.

“Windows 8 is revolutionary in that it takes the benefits of the tablet and the benefits of the PC and it’s able to support both of those,” Gates said.

Yes it does this, and it’s revolutionary in that it’s a new idea put into practice. But lackluster sales and enthusiasm around Surface are showing that it’s not changing user behavior and market dynamics. The reaction to Windows 8 and Surface so far indicates that perhaps these benefits are not supposed to take place in the same device, at least not right now.

Gates has turned the argument around when he states, matter of factly, that tablet users are exasperated by all the PC-like features lacking in their iPads and Galaxy Note tablets.

Sales figures contradict this notion. For the first quarter of 2013, according to IDC, the overall tablet market grew by 142 percent, and very little of that had to do with Microsoft and Windows 8.

Microsoft hardware shipments (i.e. Surface) shipped 900,000 units (700,000 Surface Pros and 200,000 Surface RTs) and captured 1.8 percent tablet market share. For some perspective, Apple shipped 19.5 million tablets for the quarter and Samsung shipped 8.8 million tablets.

When measured by operating system, Windows 8/Windows RT garnered 3.7 percent of tablet market share, a distant third place behind Android (56.5 percent) and iOS (39.6 percent).

Yet Gates continues to spin a mostly fictional tale that favors Microsoft.

“With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to gain share in what has been dominated by the iPad-type device. A lot of those users are frustrated. They can’t type. They can’t create documents. They don’t have Office there. So we are providing them something with the benefits they have seen that have made that a big category, without giving up what they expect in a PC.”

That’s all good in theory, but Microsoft simply gave Apple way too much time to define what a tablet is. And undoing those perceptions will be Microsoft’s biggest challenge over the next year and beyond.