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Windows Tablet Share Horror Show

I trust analyst projections about as much as campaign promises. In each case they occasionally come true.

So when IDC released projections showing Windows tablets going nowhere fast, I was skeptical. Estimates of current paltry market share are probably good. It's hard to mess up analyzing what is happening now. This year Microsoft has less than a 3 percent share, a reasonable estimate.

But the high and mighty research house claims that in 2016 that share will be a tad over 10 percent, with iOS with nearly half the market and Android picking up the rest.

The Microsoft numbers are far too low for two reasons: Let's assume the flawed Windows 8 doesn't change. It will do far better than 10 percent because besides being a tablet, it is also a PC that can do actual work. Try and do your 30/60/90s on an iPad!

And three or four years from now Windows 8 won't be Windows 8 -- it will be Windows 9 (unless Microsoft comes up with a dumb annoying new naming scheme yet again).

All the wrinkles that folks like you, the loyal Redmond Report readers have pointed out, will have been largely smoothed over.

Maybe I'll check back in a few years on who was right, IDC or me. What's your guess? Vote at

Posted by Doug Barney on 12/13/2012 at 1:19 PM

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Reader Comments:

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Sun, Jan 19, 2014

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Sun, Jan 19, 2014

It's like you're on a miossin to save me time and money!

Wed, Mar 20, 2013 Aaron New York

Selling over 400K Surface Pro at a price over $1000 in one month and only in US and Canada is great news for Microsoft. In fact, Google's communist act is failing miserably. Samsung is taking almost all profits leaving Google and other Android manufacturer's almost nothing. Windows 8 tablet market share will surpass Android tablets very soon according to the IDC's estimate. The IDC's market share estimate is based on number of units. Windows 8 tablets are more expensive now, so it will sell fewer for now. But low cost models will come out soon. On the other hand, Android is going after the lower and lower end market at cheaper and cheaper prices. In terms of market share based on revenue, Microsoft's Surface is selling at $999, or $1140 plus the touch cover, that's about 5 times of 7" Android tablets. Revenue-wise, Microsoft only needs 1/5 of Android's market share to beat all Android manufacturers combined. Moreover, Surface has a gross margin of 45%, vs. cheap Android devices at less than 20% of gross margin, in terms of gross profit, Microsoft makes 11 times more profit selling one Surface Pro than Android vendors selling one Android tablet! And price-wise, Dell, Asus, HP and Lenovo are offering lower end Win 8 tablets at about $399 to $499, which is very competitive to iPad and 10" Android tablets. Lastly, don't forget that Microsoft receives $5-$10 of royalty for each Androud device sold.

Tue, Dec 18, 2012 Scott

Apparently most of you don't have clients in the real world. We are a MS partner-provider with over 500 small business clients. Zero , zero of them have Win 8 on a tablet or desktop OS yet and likely will stay that way. I guess most of you are missing the average business user hates an icon to even change. Windows 8 will fail worse than Vista in the real business world. Those with tablets have their iPads and won't be changing and those who don't still don't want Windows 8 on their desktop. Some of you just live in la la land.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012

Maybe Microsoft should give the tablets away for free. Whenever they wanted to destroy any other competitor who had significant more market share that's just what they did (remember Netscape or Stac?).

Sun, Dec 16, 2012 ibsteve2u Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Think I'm just not going to be in the market for a Windows or Apple tablet. Ever. What I would want to do with a tablet-sized device, I do with my Kindles...that is, read magazines and books. For anything else, I want something larger and more versatile...I don't want to be crippled just for whiz-bang effect...just to show mommy that I can finger-paint. Maybe finger-painting is a nice addition on occasion, but a keyboard...that's what freed me from illegibility and the tyranny of legions of public school writing instructors and their accursed rulers and shouted "Stay between the lines!".

Sat, Dec 15, 2012 karld

Win 8 a disaster? How so? I have on an ultra book and it works as well as xp plus it has the touch screen features. Have the critics used it? I'm going to move to a Win 8 tablet like the ATIV when the price comes down a bit. Think of it, a tablet with full MS compatibility.

Fri, Dec 14, 2012

I'm still angry about getting stuck with vista on a new laptop a few years ago. It was useless for 2 years until 7 came out. I'll never mess around with new Windows crap until it's proven. I'm looking forward to a full Android os. MS is going the way of IBM, good riddance!

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 Australia

Windows 8 is OK. I have yet to find a Windows 8 Tablet or Ultrabook that is under 1KG in weight and that has 3G/4G mobile broadband. Searching shops since Windows 8 release, I have only seen one Windows 8 Tablet (Samsung Atom based device), and three which you could call Ultrabooks. It is not going to be possible for high Windows 8 Tablet PC sales where there is such a lack of stock (which I understand is due to supply shortages of multi-touch screens). Lets see what happens to sales once supply has caught up with demand. Though one other issue that I have is that I have yet to see a model that meets our companies requirements. For us, being able to be remote connected to our company's servers is top most important, and this requires mobile broadband (3G/4G), other features are; something more than a 64 GB HD, docking stations for the office and home (these are PCs after all, not toys), wired (1GB) LAN connection, some way [keyboard] that you can do some serious typing (reports, email, etc) when your on a plane or at an airport lounge. I have a concern that a 10" screen is too small for real use, and after using a few models, would prefer 12"-14" screen size, something you can easily read a full corporate report with. However if what I have seen is only the beginning, in a year or so, Windows Tablets are really going to be the way of the future. I look forward to companies refining their Tablet devices over the following year. And the introduction of Intel's Haswell chipset.

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 Kent Ma WA

it is all BS, analyst know nothing. Look at Newegg and acer website, their I-core tablet and Intel Atom tablets are all sold out. Check Newegg, they bring a batch of Ace w700 and Samsung ativ pro and they are gone the same day, The same thing happens at the Microsoft store in Seattle

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 Dan Iowa

According to my understanding, Windows 8 is already starting to outpace Windows 7 sales... "whaaa!" You wouldn't know that from hearing all the doom and gloom comments. - So my son who's in college needs a device that is more mobile than his desktop. He comes home with this small laptop running Windows 8 (not RT). It has a touchscreen, and keyboard. It also has a multi-touch touch pad. It's only slightly larger than a tablet, but it has a keyboard. I'd be willing to bet that the sale of that device was not included in Windows 8 tablet sales, yet it can do everything you can do with a tablet, and then some, all for less than the price of a Windows 8 RT Surface or an Ipad. My point is this: While studies are coming out talking about the demise of Windows (again), Windows 8 appears to be gaining. Now you might be able to exclude these devices or include those devices in your numbers for your study, but studies are becoming meaningless because of it. I'd say, don't put too much stock in those studies, if I cared, but I don't. I'll continue to look for that perfect mobile device that suites my needs the best, but it isn't going to be an Ipad, and of all the devices out there right now, the new Windows 8 hybrids appear to be the closest thing I've seen to that perfect device.

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 BIGBUFF PA

A note of clarification. My comments in my previous post should really be directed at IDC, NPD, and all the tech journalists who took what was at best a baseless studies (simple not sufficient time to judge the success or failure of windows 8) and went with them because they supported their bias point of views to begin with. Not this author, though I do not like the title of the article. Those studies by NPD and IDC and the many articles based on them I strongly consider to be nothing more than hit jobs. For whom or for what price were they done, remains an open question.

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 Bigbuff PA

A horror show you say. Well I must truly be in love with horror shows. At least I can do my work using windows 8. In fact I have windows 8 on a non-touch PC. It is fast, user friendly, an every bit as functional as windows 7 was for me. Did I say I love it. I cannot wait to get my hands on the lenovo thinkpad tablet 2. That's the tablet I want. It is funny, authors like these do not hesitate pimping for Apple, but I end up with university students who are shocked semester after semester when that find out they took their money and purchased a device they cannot even use to do their homework via a site like myeconlab. (All $800 + sometimes I might add.) So they end up in the same university labs they were trying to avoid in the first place when they purchased their magical iPad. God knows they would have been better off purchasing a $300 PC or a pricy mac. At least, they would be able to do their school work, even from home. Many other professors use sites like myeconlab (mystatlab etc.) No thanks for this horrible article. I mean hit job.

Fri, Dec 14, 2012

Windows 8, a disaster. WinRT, an absolute abomination. Surface, a nice idea, but the WinRT Surface is an extremely overpriced coffee coaster and the Surface Pro, an overpriced device that too little of either useful device for too much money. There are far too many better choices for the same money or less. At drastically reduced rice, a strategic foothold, a purchase worth considering. But given we're seeing yet another Microsoft strategic disaster playing out before us, just as predicted, it's all going the way of Zune. WinRT is already DOA, developer interest in it at just above zero. Now that kharma has FINALLY caught up Sinofsky - so agonizingly overdue - we that have so much invested in Redmond can only hope that Scott Guthrie will return from Azure-exile so as to finally get the company back on track. Until then, don't kid yourself - it's a sow-motion train wreck. Time to purge the remaining ass-clowns and finally stop the bleeding. Can't happen soon enough...

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 MicroFan

The world is changing and we should respect the changes that happen around us. Many people are simply providing good feedbacks about apple without even using it or seeing it. First of all try to do a research on the currently available Microsoft Surface. I have used it. Windows 8 is GREAT!!! No other OS in the world shows live details when you open your tablet/PC. I am saying all these after using iPad,Android and Microsoft tablets. I am not saying that iPad/Android tablets are bad. Hats off to Microsoft for giving us a brilliant and user friendly OS.. The WINDOWS 8.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 Victor Boudolf Charleston, SC

Windows 8 is about form-factor independence. We can now build applications that span PCs, smartphone, and everything in between. (Like 80s rocker said, laptops and tables are merging) And too keep us geezers happy, "desktop" mode keeps existing software running in the meantime. One OS to rule them all. If Enterprise IT buys into it, Win8 will be successful.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 EVVJSK

If this is about tablets (which title of the article/post implies) then my question is, "why would I chose Microsoft tablet over Android or Apple tablet". After the resease and dust settles on Surface Pro, I may very well go to that (but that is a PC not a table), but likely NOT Windows 8 RT if I own an Android tablet (which I do) any time soon.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 80's Rocker

Also for those who think it is optimistic becuase Win8 "is a disaster for MS, expecially on desktop" have not used it on a desktop" have not used it for any period of time. I have had it on my laptop since RC and within a week did not have any issues navigating or finding things. Try using something with an open mind before spouting off. And as far as tablets go, According to my Apple Fanboy Nephew, "Win8 blow Apple out of the water on a tablet".

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 80's Rocker

Also, the integration between Win8 tablets, PC's and Phones is incredible and wil only get better as time goes by.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 80s Rocker

I think people are lookin to much at the sales of just the Surface tablets and not looking at the whole picture. The Surfce sales do not have to outdo Apple, and Ballmer has even said that they expected modest Surface sales. The big thing is all the hybrid (ultrabook/laptops/tablets) w/ touch screens the OEMS are coming out with. The machines give the users the power of a PC and portability of a tablet all in one machine. No reason to have a tablet and laptop any more. These are the machine that are going to take over the market. The question is, will they be counted as tablets or PC's. If tablets, then I see the percentage MS getting by 2016. But if they are counted as PC's, I see MS tablet percentage staying relative low (10%-15%) but the number of PC's will go up instead of down like it has in the past. What would be interesting to see if is they counted them as a total new category called Hybird Tablets, what would the numbers be. Would "Tablet" sales start to go down as sales of "Hybrid Tablets" increased. If that is what happens them MS has put themselves in the a great place as a leader in the new "Hybrid Tablet" market. Apple and Google would then be playing catch up. Based on my conversations I have had with consumers I know I think MS is going in the right direction, people want to have fewer devices, but their phones cannot do it all. But with a "Hybrid Tablet" and phone there is not much they cannot do.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 James Santa Cruz, CA

I work for a large firm and we dont allow iPads on the network.. Given the quality of the Windows RT release I don't see us adding iPads to our network.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012

Not being cheeky or expressing a preference to Apple but beyond Windows 7 I am moving to my Mac. There is something to be said for consistency in operating systems. Adding a feature or 2 isn't bad but to scrap the whole thing to go out and reinvent the wheel is just plain stupid. I want Bill Gates back.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 EWB Tucson, AZ

We are planning to migrate laptops to Win 8 tablets starting next year.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 Dale Tn

Too optimistic! Win 8 is a disaster for Microsoft, particularly on the desktop in corporations. I don't imagine many companies leaping to Touch screens and Wimp 8 OS.. Very little payback to organizations bearing the cost burden for m$oft. And yes, I am running it on he system.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 Dale Tn

Too optimistic! Win 8 is a disaster for Microsoft, particularly on the desktop in corporations. I don't imagine many companies leaping to Touch screens and Wimp 8 OS.. Very little payback to organizations bearing the cost burden for m$oft. And yes, I am running it on he system.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 Tom Gray Pennsylvania

I am a Director of Technology for a school and we are very excited about the Microsoft tablets. We are utlizing both the iPAD and various Android tablets in the school, but the Microsoft tablets have us very excited about the work we can do with them. The two problem areas that must be overcome is the lack of Apps for the device and that in the early stages it was difficult to find a vendor who had them available. The ordering process online with Microsoft was lacking.

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