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Media tablets powered by new Microsoft operating systems (OS) Windows 8 and Windows RT will have an impact on the overall market; just not this year, according to market intelligence firm ABI Research. Windows-based tablets will commence shipments at the end of October and capture an estimated 1.5% of total tablet shipments for 2012. Pricing for Windows tablets will be a key consideration for end-user adoption.

windows-rt-tablet

 

If priced aggressively toward current Android tablets, Windows tablets could see 2013 shipments increase 10-fold year-over-year; however if priced like Apple’s iPad offerings, Windows tablets may only double or triple shipments in 2013. Growth in the total available market is expected to come from businesses adopting tablets, which is expected to be a strong area for Windows 8.

 

Mobile computing, led by media tablets such as Apple’s iPad, is so far a two-horse race of devices powered by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. “While the main marketing focus has been on Windows 8, Microsoft’s magic bullet lies in Windows RT,” says mobile devices senior practice director Jeff Orr. Windows RT accelerates an existing ecosystem of vendors experienced with ARM-based development and leveraging the architecture strengths.

“Windows RT represents Microsoft’s first OS volley addressing future generations of computing devices while leaving much of the legacy Windows baggage behind,” adds Orr. One area that Windows 8 may be embraced with open arms is in the enterprise. “Neither of the leading tablet OS platforms has squarely addressed the needs of IT organizations and business users,” notes enterprise mobility practice director Dan Shey. “Flawless execution by Microsoft on its Windows 8 Pro enterprise strategy for tablets could catapult it into a mobile computing leadership position.”

For Microsoft to succeed with a new generation of tablets on a mobile OS, it will need to work hard to capture the public attention. This means leveraging its existing office automation dominance with the business community, (Microsoft Office and Exchange) and transferring this experience to the tablet OS, creating a transparent ecosystem for users.

However, this alone will not be enough. Wooing third party developers to create applications for a third mobile OS will probably be the biggest challenge. Developers will be reluctant to create yet another version of their application for a yet unproven platform, unless the software giant provides tools to allow developers to leverage their existing development environments.

The focus for mobile OS vendors is the user experience. It is no longer about how much memory, screen size or CPU power is available. Addressing functional issues such as security, battery life and usability will decide which of the competing mobile OS platform win the hearts and minds of the public.

By Angela Sutherland

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