Will Microsoft Surface be the tablet enterprise users want?

Telecom Lead India: Finally, Apple iPad has a
competition. The entry of Microsoft Surface tablet is happening at a time when
Cisco announced stopping production of Cius enterprise tablets and BlackBerry
PlayBook’s mounting troubles in the market.

ABI Research said Microsoft may face an uphill battle by
throwing its hat into the mobile computing tablet ring. Windows is expected to
account for only 1.3 percent of media tablet shipments in 2012.

According to Ovum, Windows has a huge installed base, and
to the extent that IT managers see this device in one of its versions as a
replacement for the Windows computer it should see some decent desktop
adoption. But whether it sees much consumer interest will depend entirely on
price and whether Microsoft is able to fix the poor UI experience in Windows 8
and RT.

Microsoft is introducing a fragmented OS strategy with
Windows RT and Windows 8. Google has been chastised for by developers of the
Android OS.

It assumes that the popularity of Windows for PCs is a
draw for Windows on tablets.

ABI Research expects Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows
RT-based tablets to account for 1.3 percent of 2012 global shipments. This is
due to lack of adoption for Windows 7, but primarily due to the late-in-year
launches of Windows RT and Windows 8 operating systems (estimated to become
commercially available in select devices starting in October 2012).

Microsoft is starting with a two-prong device strategy: a
Windows RT-based ARM tablet powered by an NVIDIA applications processor, and a
Windows 8 Pro tablet based on Intel’s x86 architecture. Each will appeal to a
different audience type, offer different features and functionality, and be
available for different price points.

In 2011, 98 percent of all media tablets were based on
ARM processor architecture.

ABI Research predicts a similar dominance for ARM over
Intel in 2012 primarily due to the availability of device OEMs introducing
first Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro tablets powered by Intel no sooner than
October 2012.

The low hanging market opportunity for Microsoft’s
Surface tablets is with business buyers that have an installed base of Windows

Is Microsoft suggesting that organizations will make the
post-PC era move toward a mobile computing device and ditch traditional desktop
and clamshell form-factors, or is the company hoping that employees will gain
access to multiple devices? So far, businesses have been opposed to buying
incremental computing assets for users due to the support costs.

There are no surprises in the software. The Surface
tablet uses the same two desktop and RT versions of Windows 8 we’ve been
hearing about. As such, nothing has changed there and it still looks like a
huge break with the past on the surface but with a jarring switch back to the
old desktop world hidden beneath,” said Jan Dawson, Ovum’s chief telecoms

In theory, it delivers all the benefits of both the
tablet-optimized environment and the classic desktop approach and apps, but in
reality the versions available to try at the moment are a horrible mishmash of
the two worlds that is likely to be confusing for the consumer.

On the hardware front, what does it say about the tablets
Microsoft is seeing from its OEM partners as it gets ready to launch Windows 8,
that they felt they needed to launch their own tablet? Either they are not
happy with the devices out there, or they are not satisfied with only taking a
licence fee from selling Windows based tablets. Either way, it is a huge vote
of no confidence in its OEM partners, who should rightly feel slighted. It is
rarely a good idea for an OS owner to start competing with its OEM partners,
and this does not feel like an exception.

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