Windows 8 tablets aren’t expected to arrive at market until sometime next year. And that’s a year too late, according to Forrester Research, which finds consumer interest in them to be quickly dwindling.
That’s bad news for Microsoft, which now finds itself rushing the tablet-optimized Windows 8 to market as the window of opportunity closes. As Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder observes, “Microsoft has missed the peak of consumer desire for a product they haven’t yet released.”
Worse, it’s already two laps behind its rivals in the space and will almost certainly be even further behind by the time the first Windows 8 tablet debuts. Apple launched its second-generation iPad in early 2011 and will likely launch its successor in early 2012.
That means the first-generation Windows 8 tablets will be going head-to-head with the third-generation iPad, which also happens to be the market leader. Asked which brand of tablet they’d most consider buying right now, 61 percent of Forrester’s survey group said the iPad. Just 10 percent opted for the not-yet-released Windows 8 tablets.
And that puts Microsoft in a tough spot. To really succeed it must not only overcome the disadvantages of being a fifth mover in the tablet market, it must meet and surpass a bar for quality and utility that’s been set very, very high by the market’s first mover. Says Gownder, “If Windows is to have any hope, its product strategists must not only bring new features to the platform but also must fundamentally reinvent the experience.”