Windows 8 Plus Office Could Equal Success for Microsoft Tablets

Published on June 4, 2012
by John Paczkowski

Initially a little dim, Microsoft’s prospects in the tablet market could improve significantly with the debut of Windows 8. Though the operating system has yet to hit the market, there’s a groundswell of consumer interest developing around it. And it’s large enough that some observers are already predicting that Windows 8 could catapult Microsoft into the No. 2 position in the tablet market, ahead of Google’s Android and behind Apple’s iPad.

A bold, risky prognostication, but Morgan Stanley analyst Katie Huberty says the firm’s latest survey of consumer purchasing intentions backs it up. Of respondents who intend to purchase a tablet, 25 percent said they hoped to purchase a Windows 8 tablet, which is more than the 22 percent who said they planned to buy an Android tablet and less than the 46 percent who saw themselves purchasing an iPad.

That’s a pretty bullish data point for an unreleased OS and one that suggests that Microsoft may be well positioned to establish Windows 8 as a credible alternative platform to iOS and Android and a viable player in the tablet market — perhaps even the No. 2 player.

Of course, it’s hard not to look askance at that prediction. After all, Microsoft’s performance in the tablet market to date has been underwhelming, if not laughable. But if Windows 8 proves to be a compelling tablet experience, the company could quickly move to contender from also-ran thanks to latent interest in a tablet version of Microsoft Office. Turns out there are lots of folks who would love to see Redmond’s office suite on their tablets.

“Our survey indicated Microsoft Office is the most important software feature to consider when purchasing a tablet, especially for first-time purchasers,” Huberty says. “Sixty-one percent of prospective tablet purchasers indicated that Office was the most important software feature vs. 44 percent for current tablet owners — which suggests there may be pent up demand for a tablet offering with a prepackaged Office bundle.”

So for Microsoft, Windows 8 with Office could be a killer combination. But the company must execute well, and quickly, with a strong, well-differentiated app store.

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