What Will It Take for a Windows 8 Tablet to Succeed?

What will it take for a Windows 8 tablet to succeed? Less than you think. Microsoft has one big advantage that everyone has been calling their Achilles heal up to this point: they will be last to market.

As a kid I remember playing games at recess. Who could hit the 3-pointer or jump the furthest? Everyone wanted to go last because they could see how well the other guys did and knew what hey needed to do to win. Microsoft knows what Apple has. They’ve seen the Honeycomb tablets from Samsung, Acer, Asus, and Motorola. They watched as HP’s WebOS tablet jumped into the game and then fell out of the ring.

So they know what the playing field looks like. And by the time they finish their OS, Amazon’s tablet will be out. Being last doesn’t offer an advantage if  you don’t get the product to market in a reasonable time, but this space is still in its infancy.

Up till now everyone says Apple’s huge lead will give them a big advantage over Android, WebOS and Windows. That’s true if you have no track record, as in the case of Android and obviously the case with WebOS. But Microsoft has dealt with tablets for ten years. They just needed Apple to show them how to make one the ordinary person would actually want to use.

Now that they see what that looks like, they can succeed.

Windos 8 Lock Screen

One issue that the average observer forgets is this: There is a pent-up demand for a Microsoft Windows powered tablet that runs popular apps like a full version of Microsoft Office, Photoshop, or (fill in the blank with your favorite windows app). Then you can add to that the desire from the enterprise market for a tablet that will run their specialized applications on both a desktop and a tablet. For example, as a pastor I use a niche type of application called Bible study software.

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The Bible software that I run on my computer has more tools than most people would ever imagine using. I love it and it helps me do some advanced study of things like Greek, Hebrew and searching for different subjects in the world’s best-selling book of all time. It also allows me to keep track of my studies by applying a digital version of margin notes and highlighting. I can bookmark passages. All of this becomes searchable through the software. However, when I run the version that works on an iPad or an Android device, I lose most of the functionality I have on my MacBook or Windows computer.

Into the Windows tablet void steps Windows 8. It runs on a tablet but can also be docked, controlled with a mouse or keyboard, and hooked up to my 26″ Samsung monitor. I will have all the tools I use both on the road, at the coffee shop or in my church/home office. One device to rule them all!

Apple makes tons of cash. They sell a lot of Macs, iPads, iPhones and iPods. But they still only account for a small percentage of the install base of computers when compared to Windows. A lot of Windows users love their iPads, but if HP, Samsung, Toshiba, Sony or the other manufacturers who partner with Microsoft can put out a tablet that runs Windows 8 smoothly and at a decent price, they will sell well. What’s more, you will be able to add up all the manufacturer’s numbers together and Windows v. iOS v. Android will find Windows way out ahead within 18 months of Windows 8′s release!

Here’s my list of the bare minimum specs that these OEMs must include for the above to come true. I rate each’s importance from 1-10 with 10 being absolutely essential.

  • 10 hour battery life – 10
  • Fluid and fast response – 10
  • Compatibility with Windows 7 apps – 10
  • Priced within $100 of the iPad’s 16GB model ($400-$600) – 9
  • Ability to dock turning it into a desktop or laptop – 8
  • Cloud storage built-in – 8
  • An app store full of mobile apps – 8
  • An app store with traditional windows apps – 7
  • 10″ minimum display – 6
  • Fluid and accurate inking with a pen – 7

What would you add or take away? Do you think Microsoft and their OEM partners can deliver?

Here’s my out so that I can save face if Microsoft and friends stumble. If the first three things on my list don’t happen, then neither will my prediction. If these tablets are priced more like Windows tablet PCs from the past (over $1,500) then not only will Windows 8 tablets fail, Microsoft might fall apart as a company because they are betting the farm on mobile with the Windows 8 Metro UI.

  

Comments

    • Vizzzy says

      dude…adobe flash support? html5 is here and you are still talking about 3rd party plugins?

    • DNel says

      This is a full OS, not a mobile/phone OS, so of course Adobe flash will be supported. Now for the arm based devices, that could be a question.

  1. Franko Rizzo says

    I think your pricing demands are way out of touch here: basically you want all the functionality you listed, functionality of a traditional PC replacement and everything an iPad does, but near the same price as an iPad? Let’s be honest, if you could have a slate device that you can slam into a doc and run full Adobie photoshop on a second monitor, or duel screen monitors, then folks will be willing to pay $1k for this.  Why?  Because they wouldn’t need a desktop or laptop at home.  Right now people have iPads but still require a personal computer to do productivity work.  Now imagine a Win8 slate world.  At home you only have your docking station and a keyboard and one/two monitors.  You ride home on the bus watching a movie, get home, then slam it into your doc and finish that excel document from work.  Yea, folks will pay 1k for that, since it means they don’t need any other computers.

    • Sumocat says

      If people were willing to pay $1k for a tablet that does everything a PC can do, then Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 tablets would have sold a lot better than they have been. I’ve been living in the world you’re only imagining and it’s a lonely place.

  2. Adrian says

    How about if Microsoft offered an easy way to install Windows 8 on existing ARM Android tablets? Either to replace or to dual boot somehow. It might be something that would let people try out the experience and revert back to Android if they don’t like it.

    • Andreas says

      I don’t think this will happen. If I remember correctly, it was Steve Ballmer who said that ARM tablets are very different so MS will allow Windows 8 for ARM to be taylored to the hardware to fit. And that it would ship WITH the hardware. That way in my opinion it could be difficult to provide a Win8 install for all (older) exixting Android tablets… but maybe the vendors will offer an “upgrade” to windows 8, then???

  3. DNel says

    I think you are confusing an operating system with a hardware product. Windows 8 will be installed on desktops, laptops, tablet pc, pads, slates, etc. Not on just one type of hardware. It will eventually be on all 500 million+ PCs in a year or 2 after release. Pricing for a gaming pc ($2,000-$5,000) won’t meet your requirement, but a sub $1000 gaming PC is not practical for those that game (that is about the cost of a good gpu). Now if we’re only looking at the tiny pad-like market, I would put OneNote coupled with active digitizer as the only choice for students (they could sell their iPad and MacBook pro and upgrade to MS single solution) who want a truely useful portable solution. The big question is will Wacom get their act together and offer active digitzers for the 10″ screen size market.

    • Anonymous says

      I’m not confusing the two. I understand that Windows 8 is the successor to Windows 7, XP on back. But my post was about making a good tablet OS that will compete with the iPad. MS and friends can win this war, but what I suggested as the path to victory I stand by. I believe that Windows 8 will be more prevalent than Mac OS X and Linux combined within a year of its release. But that margin may be narrowing as more consumers are going Mac. This OS can halt that trend and reverse it if MS and friends do what I wrote above.

      Thanks for all the great comments!

    • Anonymous says

      I’m not confusing the two. I understand that Windows 8 is the successor to Windows 7, XP on back. But my post was about making a good tablet OS that will compete with the iPad. MS and friends can win this war, but what I suggested as the path to victory I stand by. I believe that Windows 8 will be more prevalent than Mac OS X and Linux combined within a year of its release. But that margin may be narrowing as more consumers are going Mac. This OS can halt that trend and reverse it if MS and friends do what I wrote above.

      Thanks for all the great comments!

  4. Dale Strauss says

    FINAL JEOPARDY:

    Microsoft Office Professional.

    What will it take for a Windows 8 tablet to succeed?

    Whether an x86 or ARM tablet, it HAS TO HAVE MS OFFICE full suite for success. I realize that Win8 ARM is going to be Metro Only, so that defines where Microsoft has to put a crash development program together for a fully functional, 100% bit level file compatible Metro version of MS Office! Anything less, and you may as well stick with the hobbled iPad/Android market and the Office knockoffs (DocsToGo, QuickOffice, iWorks, etc.).

  5. Anonymous says

    If Windows 8 can run full versions of desktop apps via an API-level shim… I may just ditch my android tablet for some Lightroom loving on the go. But so far nothing I’ve seen from the demos has me cheering, the metro UI looks gawdy and unco-ordinated and none of the features are truly revolutionary. They’re cool little minor updates and nothing to drop $600+ on.  

  6. LeMel says

    OneNote (FULL VERSION)…in fact needs to run full MS Office & full Adobe Creative Suite, a stylus, long battery life, user-replaceable battery, a well-stocked app store, thin & lightweight, and an anything-less-than-iPad price.What? I’m asking too much? Oh, I thought you wanted to BEAT the iPad. If you want 3rd place behind Android, that’s a different, lesser set of requirements…

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