Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touts Windows 8 as the biggest OS upgrade since Windows 95 (Photo : Reuters)
By 2016, Microsoft's tablet market share is expected to rise from its current 1 percent to 11 percent, peeling off consumers from Apple and Android, reports IDC research director Tom Mainelli. Just this year, IDC predicts Windows 8 to contribute 10 million tablet sales to the 117.1 million total tablet sales estimated for 2012.
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By the end of the year, Windows tablets will devour 4 percent of the tablet market, a considerable jump from its starting point of 1 percent this year. While IDC foresees that Windows 8 will gain traction over time as Windows devices gather dedicated followings. The research firm analyst Jennifer Song blames the lack of clarity in Microsoft's advertising strategy, saying "we expect shipments to remain low in the fourth quarter as high prices and consumer confusion around these devices will limit their appeal."
The tablet market as a whole is expected to see a boost this fall, with the Kindle Fire, Nexus 7, and Microsoft Surface all competing for market share. The Surface tablet will be sold in two versions, one pre-loaded with Windows 8 RT, and the other with Windows 8 Pro. Both versions will feature a 10.6-inch wide Gorilla Glass screen and be available with 64 or 128 GB of storage No official release date has been announced, but the device is expected to launch soon after the October 25 launch of Windows 8 at a price range between $300 and $800 depending on SKU.
Intel will complement the Surface's publicity with its own suite of tablets which run Window s 8 this fall.
With such lofty expectations, Microsoft's gamble to reinvent user interfaces for computers may just pay off. In an interview with the Seattle Times, Balmer attempted to put the Windows 8 launch into perspective.
"You know, Windows 95 was certainly the biggest thing in the last 20 years until now. I think Windows 8 certainly surpasses it. It's a little hard to compare things like the founding (of the company) and the introduction of the first popular PC and the system that popularized it, but it's at that scale."