Why 7″ Tablets Are Bad News for Microsoft

Windows 8 has finally been released by Microsoft, an operating system that is a surprisingly big overall advancement of the software and one that is perfect for tablets. However, since it’s initial announcement, a culture of smaller, seven-inch tablets has emerged that might just pose a threat to Microsoft and Windows 8.

Especially with Apple’s launch of the iPad mini (creatively launched to presales at the same time and date as Windows 8 itself), we’re going to take a look at what Google, Amazon and Apple’s effort might do to hinder the very potential of Windows 8.

Controversy

Windows 8 has been from not controversial. The drastic move from the norm has almost encouraged a culture of fear mongering and left a lot of people with an intention to not upgrade. That might well be a sane option regarding desktops, but the truth is that Windows 8 is an amazing piece of software for tablets.

Unfortunately, with this negative attention in the press (to be fair, it’s not entirely negative but the bad points are the most publicised), there’s a good chance users might turn away from Windows 8 on tablets, instead opting to pick up an iPad or a Nexus 7.

Windows 8 on tablets is actually a pretty good idea.

Price

Windows 8, for now, seems like it’s designed for 10″ tablets at a minimum. However, with Apple, Google and Amazon all having major seven-inch tablet releases, there’s a lot of competition on the front of price. With the iPad mini starting at $329, there was already significant discussion about whether it could compete with $199 offerings from Google and Amazon but it will certainly remain attractive to a large proportion of buyers who’d rather go smaller if it means cheaper.

Microsoft have priced the Surface very aggressively at $499 for a 32GB model. That would be a great way to compete with the iPad but now that seven-inch tablets are gaining steam, the larger price tag is becoming less and less attractive by the day.

Price is a big factor, but the debut Windows 8 hardware is competitive on last year’s standards.

Apps

Google and Apple haveĀ been building up their library of available apps for literally years. While the form factor for new, these tablets have been specifically designed to instantly work with the majority of these applications and therefore launching them into an ecosystem with hundreds of thousands of available apps. Apple certainly made this known at their October Special Event.

On the other hand, Windows 8 doesn’t have an awful lot of Metro apps available. Staple platform apps like Netflix and Skype are there, but most of everything else remains exclusive to running in the Desktop mode of Windows 8 Pro. If you’re getting a Windows 8 RT tablet, you’re out for luck.

The Windows Store is pretty empty, at least compared to Google Play and the App Store.

Final Thoughts

I’m really impressed with Windows 8. I’m so impressed, in fact, that I’m considering swapping out my iPad for a Surface. The UX philosophy behind the new Windows 8-style UI is really great for tablets where we’re used to focusing on just one app at a time and having a much more guided experience. I want a Windows 8 tablet.

However, Windows 8 is really late to the party for a tablet operating system. It’s a great competition in the tablet landscape of last year, but with the rising popularity of cheaper, seven-inch tablets that already have an established ecosystem will make competing a challenging prospect. But if users can get over the steep-but-not-steep learning curve and realise the positive changes in Windows 8, Microsoft could be hosting a set of stellar products in the near future.


  • henreeG

    that’s a 7.8 tablet. apple said they would never do a 7 inch tablet.
    shoulda put an Android tablet.

  • urbanlegend

    Microsoft is not in the position to price their products (however great they are) at $500 vs iPad Retina. Every step they take must be carefully crafted because the time is not on their side (lack of apps when the competition has so many tablets available could spell doom for them). To compete with the next iPad (which will probably be lighter with longer battery life and offer a 128GB option) they need to fix the future Surface ‘tabook’ (which costs them around $300 instead of $600 to manufacture):

    Windows RT version
    – $499-549 for 64GB and $599-649 for 128GB (+ $49 for the TouchCover) minus OS you get less than 20GB for $500 so forget about 32GB version
    – 650-670g is maximum weight for a tablet so something to consider here as it would help you get noticed (especially since the keyboard weights 210g)
    – 10h of battery life is the current standard so that’s essential
    – better resolution and more pixels
    – faster app launching, improved multitouch trackpad, louder speakers, WiFi 802.11ac and USB 3.0 (because it’s almost 2013)

    Windows 8 Pro with full support of old software
    – $749-799 for 64GB and $849-899 for 128GB (both models bundled with TouchCover as it’s part of the device you heavily promote, TypeCover at an additional cost)
    – exclusive digital ink stylus included within price

    Almost everything else could stay the same as it is now except all those elements aforementioned earlier.