10 factors that will determine the success of Windows 8 Tablets

I’ve had a chance to sit back and think about some of the key factors that will determine the relative success of Windows 8 Tablets when they are released over the next couple of years.

I say relative because this is Microsoft and they will sell units either way – the question is just how many.

I put out feelers to my audience to get their feedback about Windows 8 and I’m getting the feedback now in real time, both the good and the bad.

Based partly on that, here are the 10 factors that I believe will determine the success of Windows 8 Tablets.

Hype

Yeah, good old fashioned fanboys and hype. Apple has had them for a while and let me tell you it matters. It helps to have a bunch of enthusiasts who are excited about your platform and will step up and counter the criticism when it (inevitably) comes.

There need to be a lot of developers, bloggers and consumers who are ready to tell a good story about Windows 8 Tablets right off the bat. As the underdog to the iPad, Microsoft can not afford to be labeled uncool right off the bat. They need to rally the troops hard on this one.

That usually requires..

Quality

In order to attract fans, they need need to be able to adore something.

The Windows 8 Tablets that come out have to be perceived as high quality devices. They need to be designed well and look aesthetically pleasing. No tacky plastic parts or loud fans or uneven surfaces. They need to be serious, credible competitors.

Keep It Simple

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the massive reach of these Windows 8 Previews. The Windows 8 Developer Preview, Windows 8 Consumer Preview and finally the Windows 8 Release Preview will have attracted millions of users. These users have given hundreds of thousands of comments and emails and opinions about Windows 8 and there is a common thread – It’s too complicated.

Microsoft need to simplify the UI and OS to take that criticism off the table. In 2012, apps and hardware need to be simple. They need to be easy to use and grow attached to. Less is more.

Thinner and lighter is better

One of the new laws of tablets we can extrapolate from Apple is that thinner and lighter is better. It’s more appealing to the consumer. Is it harder to design? – Yes. Does it cost more? Yes. Does it take more time to get right? -Yes. It doesn’t matter. Nobody wants a heavy bulky tablet.

If we wanted bulky and heavy, we would carry around 17 inch non-Ultrabook laptops. There’s a reason why those are fading away.

Applications Matter

Match the Apple Store app for app as much as humanly possible. There needs to be a mad dash to fill up the store with Consumer and Business apps. No apps, no success – thank you for playing.

Price may not matter

I’m the first to admit that I struggle with this one. My cousin and I go back and forth about pricing for Windows 8 and I realized why I was so adamant about Microsoft keeping the price low.

It’s because psychologically, I assumed Windows 8 Tablets would be inferior to iPads.

Yeah I said it. Sue me.

I would love to eat that assumption. If Microsoft can execute the Tablet strategy perfectly, consumers will pay iPad prices and more. It’s a big IF but that’s the way it goes. Ultimately, consumers and companies just want their devices to work well and they love market based price competition.

Screen Resolution doesn’t matter

As an iPad 1,2 and 3 owner, I can tell you that Retina Display is cool but iPad 2 owners are really fine with their non retina display tablets. People who could afford to upgrade did and those who couldn’t (or just didn’t care) did not.

The truth is, Retina Display is just a great nice-to-have. It’s cool to have but you forget about it really quickly. More importantly, it’s not essential for successful use of the device. The iPad is successful because it does everything else well and that’s really all about the iOS Operating System.

Microsoft should focus on the Windows 8 OS and the hardware will be secondary. Not unimportant, just secondary.

Battery Life Matters

8 to 10 hours. No need to say more. Make it happen.

TV Marketing Matters

Microsoft traditionally make horrible TV ads. Yeah I said it and even worse – it’s true. They need to do something different and make better ads. Not quirky but direct and to the point.

I have a degree in marketing and have been a successful online marketer for almost a decade. It’s painful to see a lot of the spots that MSFT try and use to sell their products.

Apple ads have started to jump the shark in my opinion (Samuel Jackson and Zoey Deschanel) and Microsoft need to jump in and take advantage.

There need to be really clear, targeted ads directed at consumers and businesses extolling the virtues of Windows 8 Tablets.

And finally,

Most importantly,

…*sigh*

OEM’s will make or break Windows 8 Tablets

This is really simple. Microsoft need to set the bar really high for the caliber of device that will be ceritified as a Windows 8 Tablet.

No cutting corners. No trying to make a profit with cheap devices. No trying to flood the market with cheap knockoffs. Every Windows 8 Tablet needs to be a quality device and Microsoft need to absolutely deny certification to any devices that don’t meet the threshold.

Next, they need to take a second look at the Windows 8 Tablet Requirements and make sure the threshold for performance is high enough. OEM’s will make or break this launch because (perception of) a rotten apple spoils the bunch.

Consumers who see a cheap, low quality CERTIFIED Windows 8 device will tell their friends. They won’t blame the device maker, they will just say “Windows 8 sucks”.

It’s not fair, I don’t make the rules – just how it goes.

One Last Thing

A lot of this stuff is self-evident and Microsoft are probably working furiously to make this launch perfect. I’m looking forward to the improvements in the Windows 8 Release Preview.

A lot of us are hard on Microsoft because we want this to really happen. When Apple and Microsoft clash, the result is higher levels of value and innovation at lower prices.

If they fail, Apple will be free to charge $900 for tablets and we’ll have no credible choices and alternatives.

Stay tuned.

That’s my list, now it’s your turn.

What will make or break Windows 8 Tablets?

Use the comments below…

Please Leave Your Comments Below...

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WJGC7242GFDP2QXANKF5WTMEA Rex

    I am not 100% in agreement (especially about the fanboys and hype), but I think I can sum up what you are saying better.  For ARM tablets to succeed, they have to work very well.  They do not support legecy software, so they need applications that also work well and do everything an iPad can do and more.  They need to look as well as they need to perform, and the battery must last more than 8 hours.  I agree as well, leave the cheap spot for Android, because they can never compete against organizations like amazon who can subsidize the machines.  Good advertising will help and they need the public to understand that not all their windows programs will work.

    If they get this right, all the rest will fall in place.  Only Tim Cook and Gartner believe windows tablets will fail, and I wouldnt trust them on this issue.  Most people who say they hate windows 8 even agree it is good for tablets.

  • Damianmcnasty

    Microsoft do make TERRIBLE ads. I still don’t get the ad series with Seinfeld and Bill Gates in a shoe shop to this day. What will make Windows 8 succeed on tablets? 1) Most nb factor is that it can run everything a pc runs 2) It must be simple and easy to use (which Windows 8 is only half way to 3) It must look cool. Tablets are all about looking cool 4) Battery life is nb! 4) The tablets must have a micro usb slot that can run a usb stick (micro or using an adaptor) and can take sd card. This is critical! The downfall of the Ipad is that it is great for viewing pictures but it ironically doesn’t have an SD card card which most people use to save pictures on in their camera.

  • Orkydea Orkydea

    I think that people will buy W8 tablets if they can guarantee mission critical tasks. For example, tablets should run all the software i need regularly on my laptop, e.g. java apps and other apps that are currently based on XP at least.

  • Othersimpson

    i think W8 tablets will be a success no matter what happens because lets face it its Windows. for me atleast the price for tablets needs to be less than ipad not just because i cant afford £500+ for a tablet but also to encourage apple worshippers to buy windows tablets.  for me its going to have to be an intel based tablet because everything i do on desktop i want to be able to do on the tablet but ARM wont allow that and i think ARM tablets will be the cheapest and most popular amongst the consumers who just want apps or a tablet like an ipad but intel will be for power users who want to do things beyond apps. i believe windows tablets will sell and the only issue with how many it will sell will be to do with the price because the best W8 tablet at the moment is from samsung that costs around £1,500.00 which is way overpriced for the tablet market i could buy a top spec pc, a tablet and a phone for that same price.

  • Indra Nawawi Daeng Parani

    Dear Onuora,

    Microsoft has invented a true innovation to answer the call from the market with TABLETS PC as supplement to Desktops and Laptops.

    The hardes decision taken by Windows Tablets designer is how to make the product attractive to the consumers by taking the risk in the making,  even if the market is in the dark situations with so many barrier to entry versus the hard will to lead.  As it was shown above, the first sight matters to the consumers, at a glance it looks preaty cool, so peacefuly looking masterpiece with colorful surroundings form in groups, now it’s better.
    The Pinning and Unpinning Applications idea play an important role in forming the look for the first sight, the Tablets background color can still show wisdom even without the applications, for it was middlely rank in the seven beautiful color. The start and the owners name will increase our belief in owning the Tablets and there’s more hidden surprises if we want to know more about it in private.

    The communications started when the charm attracts the hungry buyer for the first sight, and until then the merchandise will move to a place where it will be treated with full care.
    I hope I have one like that at home.
     
    Thank you.

  • Poetdarlington

    I’m a fanboy for windows 8 but I guarantee you, if Release Candidate is garbage I will be buying an iPad 3

  • more greens please

    There is a need to run MS Office, Adobe etc products on Tablets not just cloud apps. Users want data at hand and they want to “do it their way”.
    The “cool factor” is very important. Look at Vista. It was a huge leap from XP and the security features killed it off as uncool.
    Windows 7 was cool from day one. It had a great range of desktop images, gadgets and a taskbar that was actually useful and  almost like the Apple Dock. Linux Ubuntu has a Cairo Dock app which is similar to Apple’s Dock. It is eye candy but it provides the feel good factor.
    The hardware is critical. Clear screens that work in light and dark, round edges, light and easy to hold. 

    Some stuff which may be gimmicky but … Solar panels on the back for recharging on the go, electo-mechanical charging device when walking or in the car. Induction charging plate?

    Using self charging Tablets is the ultimate “green”. No fossil fuels. No need for carbon credits, no chargers?

  • Hudders

    Apples don’t come in bunches.

  • http://www.slideshare.net/samirsshah Samir Shah

    To me the only thing that matters is whether a Windows 8 tablet is able to run Window Phone 7 and Window Phone 7.5 application in a 1:1 and 2:1 (enlarged) mode. Everything else is secondary.

  • http://www.slideshare.net/samirsshah Samir Shah

    Why did Honeycomb fail? Why is Ice Cream Sandwich (tablet) failing? No applications…

  • Paul

    MSW8 is not going to make it on Tablets for very long. Costs too much $$ to license, per unit. Then there is not enough application support because of fragmentation of two versions, ARM and x86.  Nobody wants to spend $600 for a tablet with Windows on it. Not when they can pay much less for Android, or the same to Apple. Both offer a much more mature OS on the ARM architecture. 
    Windows is too new to the ARM platform. Expect serious problems, come on this is Micro$oft!!  Then there is the x86 tablet. This option costs way too much. At least for a  typical tablet user. I know, I am too smart to spend $700 for a tablet just because it uses the same chip as a desktop. That is not what a tablet is for. 

    I wish them luck, but I see the failures they made and, sadly,  this will be yet another. Bury it with Windows CE, ME, and BoB.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WJGC7242GFDP2QXANKF5WTMEA Rex

      Fragementation?  People need only know that old windows programs wont run on windows RT,  Otherwise the same Metro apps will run on both.  Any less fragmentation is clearly impossible and most sensible people will understand, the cheap machines cant run the old software, simple.  No worse than the days of windows 95 and windows NT.

      Since very few have seen Windows RT, I will hold judgement on it.  But I don’t think it can be any worse than Android on tablets.  Your comment about Microsoft belies your bias, need you or I say any more?

      • Paul

        M$ is not wise enough to make universal binaries that run on all versions. Remember most Windows users have way too many old apps they insist on hanging on to, way too long. They will be dumb enough to expect all Windows labeled programs to work on all Windows labeled devices, RT or not. That is the mindset of a Windows OS buyer. Apple and Android users know the difference between Mobile and Desktop apps.

    • jpt

      “Nobody wants to spend $600 for a tablet with Windows on it. Not when they can pay much less for Android, or the same to Apple”
      If you are proven right, then bravo. Where is your market research to support your claim that “nobody” wants to spend $600 for a tablet with Windows on it? For the record, I would. But I don’t represent the thoughts and opinions of millions of others.

      I’m just one guy. 

      Please, share opinions. But try and refrain from making a bold claim without satisfactory research and proof to back it up. Even if you did, nothing in life is ever certain. 

  • Hristospas

    Well, we must give it to Microsoft: Windows 8 looks (and is) more modern than OSX. The genuine advantage that MACs always had was that intuitive interface. Now they look a bit “old/dusty”. As for usability, Windows 7 has closed the gap already. It’s obvious -in my opinion- the absence of (the genius of) Steve Jobs. Let’s face it: People need ONE OS, not many or different variations of them. Just imagine buying a car and then spend time learning its propriety OS in order to get it going! I believe that in 5-10 years time all this discussion will be over and people will all use the same OS. Because in today’s world there isn’t time to spend learning again and again different OSs in different devices…

    PS. I am under the impression than Bill Gates (out of respect for Steve Jobs) waited for him to pass out before introducing Windows 8 with Metro interface. Just a hunch.

  • jpt

    I would love to see Microsoft acknowledge their “underdog” status, as you speak of.

    You mentioned that Microsoft cannot afford to be labelled “uncool” right off the bat.  So why not just play off of that?It’s like the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” campaign that brilliantly (IMHO) positioned Microsoft (in a backhanded way, I guess) as the plain, uninteresting, stuck in the past, business. Even the “Post PC world” slogan that Apple (smugly) invented, was a brilliant way to make PC’s (MS’s biggest breadwinner) seem outdated (IMHO). When another company has some control over how YOUR company is perceived, and at the same time position theirs – that must be a bitch when that happens. I would love to see (for fun) Microsoft actually run with it, and position (or admit) themselves as the underdog; as the David vs the Goliath. What’s more cooler than a company that admits it’s not the most popular kid in the schoolyard – and admit that they’re okay with that?.  Who is the rental car company that had the slogan “We’re number 2, so we try harder”? (Avis?). Even here in Oz, we have a company called iiNet whose slogan is “We’re the new number 2”. Heck, sports teams in big matches love to claim underdog status. Perhaps it removes the pressure on them, I don’t know. Admitting underdog status can actually be positive if used wisely.

  • http://www.cintamani.co.uk/Kindle_Accessories_--category--18.html kindle accessories

    Tablet sizes range from tiny Dell Streak 6″ to as large as the JoJo’s 13″ tablet.