updated 08:30 am EDT, Fri May 4, 2012
Tablet vendors lacking urgency on Windows 8 front
Tablet makers are expected to continue their focus on Android tablets through Q3, according to Digitimes. Although Windows 8 is expected to launch in or around October, tablet makers will continue to push forward with their Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) plans. Tablets running Windows 8 or Windows RT are not expected to start hitting the market until Q4 with vendors said to be in no rush to launch tablets based on Microsoft's new tablet-optimized OS.
According to Digitimes’industry sources, vendors had originally expected Microsoft to launch Windows 8 in the second quarter, which would have given OEM’s the opportunity to start rolling out Windows 8 or Windows RT (Windows on ARM) tablets for the end of June or July. However, the delay, and the growth of the Android platform reduced their urgency to launch devices running the new OS. The new further supports a rumor that circulated in March suggesting that Windows RT may have less than five tablets on launch.
Further, complicating the vendor motivation to put their energy into Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets is Microsoft’s recent deal with Barnes & Noble, which has taken the number five spot in global tablet shipments and which run the competing Android-based Nook tablets. Although part of the $300 million deal involves Barnes & Noble developing a Nook app for Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, the move has raised question about Microsoft’s strategy moving forward.
Windows 8 is arguably Microsoft’s biggest gamble in recent times, as it has radically revamped the OS to be touch-aware from the beginning. This has resulted in the implementation of a Metro UI theme across the OS, and which was first seen on its Windows Phone 7 mobile OS. After starting the tablet market, Microsoft has had to watch Apple ignite the tablet space with its hot selling iPad, which runs the full Mac OS X kernel, but in a much more streamlined form optimized for mobile touch-aware devices.
News that tablet vendors are not yet fully committed to developing a Windows 8 or Windows RT tablet strategy is likely to make the Redmond, Washington company uneasy. Its completely revamped Windows Phone 7, despite being critically well-received, has yet to gain significant market traction. Its fortunes in the rapidly growing mobile space may rest heavily on the success of Windows 8-based tablets.