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back to article Microsoft's uphill battle to push Win8 tabs into punters' paws

Microsoft has its work cut out thanks to its entry into a tablet arena revived by Apple's iPad, according to analysts. Just as the company approaches the finish line clutching Windows 8 for fondleslabs, panting away like Steve Ballmer at a developer conference, punters have already lost interest. Forrester Research has published …

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Facepalm

Actually microsoft were pretty much first movers on tablets, having sold them for years. It's just that they were first, but got it wrong.

Now they have to bounce back with a 2nd attempt, much like they've done with windows phone 7 (they were well 'ahead' of apple on phones too, remember). Well, they didn't exactly 'bounce' so much as 'flop' there, but I think they did do a lot right and might end up rebounding yet. Windows 8 though, I think they've not got nearly so right.

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Silver badge

Worse than that

This is at least their 4th attempt at tablets They've crashed and burned every time so far.

Some people really liked these tablets and found them useful but there were never enough sales, or a good enough experience, to make these viable.

Tablets were always Bill G's favourite platform and he regularly trotted out tablets at industry shows. Without Bill's personal obsession they probably would have given up long ago.

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Windows

Bill G couldn't see the forest for the trees...

... or something like that.

He had vision for tablets, so in some way he saw a glimpse of the future, but he was looking at it through tinted Windows... he wasn't visionary or daring enough to risk his cash cow or significantly alter it, to work with a touchscreen. Ergo the touchscreen became a bolt-on, not the main driver of their desktop evolution.

Just consider the Courier (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/01/the_death_of_the_courier/). Here Steve Ballmer proved, more than ever before, he just never was CEO material. He bottled the decision, deferring to Gates, who killed it because he wouldn't be able to shoe-horn Outlook on there.

What a missed opportunity... between them that decision should have caused both Ball-less Ballmer and Open-Goal Gates a few sleepless nights filled with regret over the last few years.

Still, if it wasn't for them dropping the ball we wouldn't have Android, so I hope he stays on as CEO and continues to drive MS deeper into the quagmire until it chokes on it's own vomit.

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Anonymous Coward

Punters have never seen one, or an advert for one.

You can hardly make a call based on that!

They (MS) need to get it out their now.

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Megaphone

Maybe BUT...

Maybe Microsoft was late to the game but there is a ton of game left. I and 100 million others need a pad that will work seemless with out Windows PC like yesterday. I need it fast, video and wifi ready. Nice tuch screen transition etc.

I think the vast practical people of the PC world is waiting for someone to do all that right.

I do not want a tablet that I cannot get from A to Z in my already full integrated PC life.

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Anonymous Coward

You could say bye-bye to MS if Apple were to

enable input with a sytlus (for taking signatures).

Where I work, the only reason to use Windows Tablets is for Handwriting/signatures. The field sales force could then complete the sale AND get the customer to sign on the dotted line instead of having do that later. They love their iPad apps. The interface knocks anything they had on Windoze into the proverbial cocked hat yet there is a plan to replace all those iPads with Dell Tablets running Windows just because of the signature.

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Silver badge

Maybe buy some capacitive styluses?

They seem to cost about £8 and will work with any capacitive touch screen, whether on the iPad or any of the other finger-oriented tablets.

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Silver badge

Good news for you?

Just taken delivery of my Wacom Bamboo Stylus - "desigined for the Ipad" but works just fine on my Galaxy 8.9.

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Bronze badge

capacitive styluses

are a joke. Capacitive touchscreens are inherently inaccurate and no stylus can change that.

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Sigh...

Did anyone bother to check the "research"? No? That figures... The forrester data was grossly skewed. They did one survey, then recontacted those same people at a later time. Almost 1/3 of those people didn't respond to the second survey, plus the number of people who "didn't know what an OS was" grew. It was previously such a minuscule number that even a percentage couldn't be shown, and now suddenly it grew 2%? Statistics don't lie, unless of course they the way those statistics were gathered was completely wrong.

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FAIL

No Interest In The First Place

Why on earth do I want a W8 cement brick ?

Office ? Yawn.

Legacy apps ? They don't compile on ARM.

It's going to be a half arsed compromise like the windows phone without actually delivering anything new to market.

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Windows

And to back up my legacy app comment...

Here's Mary J Foley:

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsoft-to-drop-desktop-app-from-windows-8-arm-tablets/11325

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Thumb Up

I think I would like a Windows 8 tablet

I work for a school system and all the teachers want are tablets. Providing every teacher with an iPad would be a network management nightmare. We have a bunch of iPad's for a Special Education program and each one has to managed individually. They were purchased without consent from the technology department, but we now have to manage them.

I am hoping and I am sure this will happen, that a Windows 8 tablet can be joined to a domain and controlled via group policy. We could then roll out tablet devices extremely easily for all our staff.

This is where Microsoft can win and are winning in the business sector. The iPad will probably continue to be the main player in the consumer end, but in the business market I see only one winner and that's Microsoft unless Apple get their game face on and provide admins with better controls for a network.

I believe Microsoft will overtake Android though in the consumer end and will be number 2 in the tablet market. There just seems something missing with the Android platform.

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Facepalm

Thank you

...for the thoughtful and articulate advertorial.

So to summarise

Apple: great for consumers

Microsoft: marvellous for business but not bad for consumers either

Android: it's shit

So really, the answer's Microsoft? Why didn't you say? oh, wait...

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Mushroom

Group policy ????

I don't know what it is the syssies like about group policy ... sure, it is fun to reset a guy's desktop background image on every logon for about 5 minutes .... and then?

Group Policy? Probably the main reason I never join a domain .... same local username and password = hardly any trouble !

People who enforce group policies are dictators and should be fired on the spot.

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Black Helicopters

MobileIron

Take a look at MobileIron. We have rolled this out in our Company. It allows us to manage those iphone and ipads.

Install/recommend apps

Block apps.

Install our own apps (apple dev license required)

Change wifi settings

remote wipe geo locate.

add passkeys and lock the device

MobileIron also works with android devices but I wouldn't bother as the functionality is severely limited until ICS is released.

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Ru

"People who enforce group policies are dictators"

Troll.

Incidentally, dictators (being at the top) are difficult to fire. Traditionally, one might have them lynched.

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@gerryG

Sounds like you're throwing your toys out of the pram.

Good summarization though!

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Kind of Amusing

Having played around with the Win 8 Dev Preview (on a non-touch-based laptop) I'll say that Microsoft still has some major work to do on unifying the user experience between Metro and the trad desktop UI. However, it is amusing that when Apple takes its time to get something right nobody does any handwringing. If Microsoft does, then they're too late to the party. As much as I'd like to have seen Win8 out by now, I'd rather they get it right than rush to market. Honeycomb, anyone?

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Anonymous Coward

as pointed out

MS has actually beat Apple to the mark in almost all areas, with the exception of the more recent iPod. MSs problem as been three fold, firstly its marketing sucks so bad its unreal, really someone needs to be shot, with teh amount of money MS is sitting on they could have setup their own television network, let alone an advert every nth tv break.

The second issue is around being lazy, they make something good way ahead of anyone else and leave it until its too late, i mean win mo was essentially killed off by the networks and OEMs, at the time MS only made available core OS, OEMS didnt buy drivers and networks filled it full of crap, so much so that it either made it slow, unstable or unrecognisable, but again, they left it way to late to develope it.

the last thing is Ballmer, i mean come on, i admit im not keen on Apple gear but damn, how many times can MS get kicked in the balls by apple?! MS under that guy is constantely reacting and in some cases that works great, but seriously, think man! Billy boy was no saint but least it had some balls about him, a vision if you will.

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WTF?

You forgot

Apple got a usable GUI to market nine years ahead of Microsoft. Then Microsoft copied it.

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HAHAHA.... how people forget their history... or ignore it.

MS has not beaten anyone, to anything, in any area, ever... EXCEPT to a partnership with OEMs in the mid/late 80's, which allowed them to gain a dominant position, which they subsequently abused to kill off any competition... that's a fact...proven IN COURT.

Microsoft doesn't have ONE single product that they invented themselves.

Their problem with the tablet is that as someone else posted, there is no tablet market... there's only an iPad market.

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Silver badge

How big is the tablet market really?

I still wonder if the tablet market really is approaching the desktop market where size is concerned.

Win8 on tablets? I can see that working out. But on desktops, no way gosee..

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Silver badge
Meh

Re: How big?

ShelLuser - About 2 million units a month in the summer for iPad. Probably 2.5 million per month or 3 this quarter. With profits about $280 per unit including accessories and whatnot, about $700M per month in net profits for Apple. It's not bad for a new product, but it's no iPhone.

Android's probably approaching those sell-through numbers now, but it will never be reported because it's mostly cheap knock-on tablets sold into parts of the world that don't have our compulsive counting fetish, made by people who change their names as often as they buy shoes. Margins are low presumably, but not so low as cheap consumer laptops.

IDC says that for 2011 tablet sales will be 15% the size of the PC market. But tablets didn't really start hitting their stride until summer. Maybe next year 25-30%. Year-on-year growth is difficult to gauge when it's ramping at this scale.

Meanwhile, PC sales are flat.

Nobody's going to buy Windows on a tablet or a phone. Look at your Windows desktop PC. Now look at an iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet. Which is instant on, fluidly responsive, and a joy to use? Which one is "cool?" That's why. We're going mobile and Microsoft isn't coming with us.

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Ru
Meh

There is no tablet market

There's an iPad market. The two are easy to confuse, but the abject failure of everyone who isn't selling an iPad to make any noticable revenue from tablet pretty much proves the point.

If you're prepared to sell at a massive loss (eg, HP) then people will buy your tablets for the novelty factor. That's as close as anyone will get any time soon.

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how can it fail?

Most windows apps wont work, interface is incredibly disjointed. Why would you choose it to over an ipad or android?

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Unhappy

Microsoft should have spent the resources necessary to catch up with Apple. MS will have to spend a lot of money subsidizing the Slates if they have any hopes of catching up.

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WTF?

@Hans 1

You obviously don't administer a network and are probably one of the usualy suspects who I constantly have to fix their PC for, because they are:

a: useless with technology

b: stupid

c: both

Group policy is excellent, and when you have hackers on the inside of a domain trying to get to data they shouldn't, group policy becomes one of our best defence mechanisms.

Problem with not being on a domain. How do you update the software 10000 machines that are in a workgroup? I can do it pretty quickly and easily in a domain.

You'd never get anything done at my work!

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The problem here...

The problem here is that in order to get into the tablet market, Microsoft will have to come up with some innovations of their own. And that would certainly be a first for them.

The bar for quality, stability, ease of use and overall functionality has been set pretty high by Apple. If all Microsoft can do is come close to that... they've already failed. Just like the problem with Google+ was that everyone was already on facebook, the problem with a Windows tablet is going to be that... well it's okay but it's not an iPad.

In order to succeed, Microsoft will have to do to the iPad, what Apple did to the tablet PC. And personally, I do not believe Microsoft is capable of such a leap. They do not have to company culture.

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Gold badge

(From the article)

"Forrester Research has published a report that claims consumer interest has "plummeted" during the past nine months. The bean counters are vague on what the tab-happy public has grown tired of - be it Windows 8, tablets, or tablets running Window 8 - but the conclusion is that Microsoft's got a hard act to follow."

----

Absolutely it has plummeted.

For some history on Windows. So, Windows 1.x-3.x, then 95, 98, ME have a common lineage. NT was basically from scratch, and started with NT 3.1. Between NT 3.1 and 4.0, it supported (besides x86) MIPS, Alpha, and PowerPC. The Alpha version even had an x86->Alpha translator supplied by DEC.

Given this historical context, I read talk months ago about Windows 8 for ARM being targetted even for ARM-based netbooks, and people filling in the blanks assumed an x86->ARM translation thing, and so x86-like experience but on an ARM (with performance and battery life getting better as more ARM native apps come out.) Porting an x86 app for ARM would have been a recompile (plus taking care of any inline assembly.. which hopefully should just be a snippet of MMX or 3DNow... most ARMs have a SIMD instruction set called NEON that should be applicable to keeping the ARM version fast.) Of course for code that was already "managed code", this shouldn't even need the recompile.

Now? Windows 8 for x86 is supposed to have it's own interface, AND a second one that is Windows 8 for arm like. The ARM one looks like Windows phone 7, but instead of even using .NET or anything it's supposed to use HTML5, Javascript, and CSS.

How's that for a loss of enthusiasm? Going from visions of a pain-free transition from x86 to ARM, to "Well, actually it runs web apps" loses any enthusiasm I had for it. And retreating to tablets.

(Side note, my enthusiasm was actually pretty minimal, I'm excited about something like an ARM netbook, and even an ARM desktop, but running Linux. I've actually run either Debian or Ubuntu on PA-RISC, UltraSPARC, PowerPC, and Alpha besides the usual x86. The user experience is identical. A few years ago, I went on vacation for a few weeks. Some of the guys where I worked actually backed up the home directory and data off my Ubuntu for x86 system, pulled a board out of a PowerMac (dual 800mhz or so) and stuck it into a duplicate of my computer's case, and even used a PS/2->USB adapter so the same Model M keyboard was plugged in. They made sure it was already running when I got back, and took bets on how long it'd take me to realize it was a Mac -- about 4 hours, I finally rebooted it and heard that Mac startup sound. I kept using it for quite a while -- there was really no reason not to. This is what I want out of an ARM system -- the same stuff I do now, but with better power consumption (longer battery life on netbook and smaller power bill for desktop.)

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