The long awaited launch of Windows 8 finally brought in the first real commercial presence of Windows-based tablets. The latest OS to enter the tablet arena is slowly gaining a mainstream retail presence and generating a lot of buzz. However, there are still many unanswered questions, which I hopefully will be able to answer through this blog.

What is the major difference between the Windows 8 operating system versions?

Microsoft is supporting tablets with its entry-level Windows 8 RT, and the higher-end Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro OS versions. While the three different operating system versions offer a fairly similar end-user experience, the main differences between the three are their respective support for legacy apps and varying degrees of connectivity and security options.


Which tablet vendor is leading the Windows 8 Charge?

For now, Asus is leading all Windows 8 tablet placements in gap intelligence’s retail panel with a total of 11 placements. However, this will likely change by the end of next quarter when Windows 8 devices from other players such as Lenovo, HP, and Dell enter the channel or existing tablets from Acer, Samsung, and Microsoft expand their retail presence.

How are retailers adopting Windows 8 Tablets?

Most retailers haven taken on at least a few Windows 8 tablets, but overall adoption remains low. As expected Microsoft stores are currently leading the charge to promote adoption of its highly prioritized mobile OS. Similarly, Office Supply stores have also been the front runners in Windows 8 tablet adoption. Office stores are often frequented by small business owners, a core part of Windows 8 target market, who are looking for productivity devices, rather than something just for entertainment.

What is the level of advertising activity for Windows 8 devices?

In addition to all of Microsoft’s “Click in” TV ads and giant “Surface Click in” billboards, retailers and vendors are also increasing marketing dollars behind print ads for their new tablets. Windows 8 tablets were launched in conjunction with the release of the OS on October 26, 2012 and that last week of October reported a total of 8 print ads for Windows 8 tablets, while a total of 13 ads were reported for the month of November 2012. This will only go up as new Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro tablets from multiple vendors reach the channel and more retailers embrace Windows 8 devices.

However, it must be noted that Samsung and Asus’ Windows 8 tablet print ad spend, the two vendors responsible for all Windows 8 print ads for November, was minimal when compared to ad activity for their Android tablets. It remains to be seen whether these vendors balance their focus area between Android and Windows 8 or continue to invest in Android as their primary tablet line.

How price competitive are Windows 8 tablets?

Currently mainstream channels are dominated by comparably lower-priced Windows RT tablets, which are still priced very high. Widows RT tablets in gap intelligence’s retail panel currently carry a $605 average price, while forthcoming Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro tablets are expected to sell for around $775. In contrast, full-sized Android tablets sell for a $356 average price and the entry-level 9.7-inch iPad sells for as low as $399. That’s a big premium for an unproven tablet OS!


As gap intelligence’s tablet analyst, I feel that Microsoft and manufacturers will have to take drastic steps to bring Windows 8 tablet ASPs down. If consumers only need to use tablets for basic web surfing and communication purposes, then they will most likely buy an iPad based on its popularity or an Android tablet based on its price and the platform’s increasing reputation. Additionally users, who may be interested in running traditional Windows software, may not be willing to invest so much in Windows tablets as notebook prices fall and ultrabooks with overlapping features increase in availability. Early user feedback for Windows 8 has been lackluster and there is little to suggest that vendors will be able to justify the close to 50% premium. Hence, until Windows 8 tablets offer a unique and exceptional user experience, vendors and retailer will have to work towards bringing down ASPs of Windows tablets to promote adoption and mainstream acceptance.