Windows 8 based tablets may be able to effectively mitigate the shortcomings of existing tablets to improve their use for business and content creation purposes.
IDC believes poor physical design for tablets and the lack of useable software for content creation are aggravating users today. Thus, the importance of Windows 8, Microsoft's latest operating system scheduled for release today, cannot be overstated.
IDC believes success of Windows 8 in the consumer space can lead to success in the enterprise space. Given the fact Asia Pacific enterprises have just begun to migrate to Windows 7 on their PCs, Windows 8 is unlikely to find a foothold with Asia Pacific enterprise PC customers for at least 12 months. The enterprise opportunity for Windows 8 in turn will lie with next generation devices and users who practice Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) at the work place.
Microsoft's Asia Pacific approach for Windows 8 adoption has been clearly focused on device proliferation. Not only has it engaged with partners on designing touch enabled tablets, convertible devices and traditional PCs since Windows 8 was announced, Microsoft also caused many raised eyebrows by introducing its own designed Surface tablets. Although Microsoft's market message was confusing at best, the reception for Windows 8 has been relatively well received in the consumer space.
The enterprise space, however, may not be as receptive to Windows 8 as the consumer markets, at least from the traditional PC standpoint. This is especially true in Asia Pacific, where the migration to Windows 7 only got into full swing in early 2012. As Windows 8 comes with downgrade right to Windows 7, IDC expects many organizations in Asia Pacific to opt for the tried and true Windows 7 instead of the yet unproven Windows 8.
New directions for Microsoft
Nevertheless, Windows 8 represents a new direction for Microsoft, and with it, Windows 8 can fully benefit from the consumerization of IT and BYOD trends happening in full effect across companies in Asia Pacific. More specifically, Windows 8 based tablets has the potential to become the de facto companion devices for many enterprise users.
According to a recently conducted end user BYOD survey by IDC Asia Pacific, BYOD tablet utilization in the enterprise is low compared with smartphones and notebook PCs.
When asked, only about 35% of the respondents who own a tablet utilize it for work (ie BYOD), this is compared to 78% for smartphone and 55% for notebook PC. IDC also found that tasks performed by tablets owners for work is very similar to that of the smartphone. The top three tasks on both smartphones and tablets were:
- checking email/calendar
- browsing the web
- reading documents
IDC sees the first wave of Windows 8 tablet (both ARM and x86 based) adopters to be very similar to the original iPad adopters: Business executives who are less price sensitive but highly appreciate enterprise oriented features. According to respondents of IDC's BYOD survey, 20% indicated that they will buy a Windows 8 tablet and another 25% indicated they will buy both a Windows 8 tablet and PC, with another 45% considering purchasing.
With the Surface for Windows RT (ARM version of Windows 8) pre-order selling out within a few days in the US, Canada and UK, Microsoft must capitalize on the momentum and appeal to BYOD users. In Asia Pacific, consumers have already seen various devices from Microsoft partners designed to run Windows 8.
For consumers, Windows 8 means new choices in devices and user experience. For Microsoft, Windows 8 is a risk that it must take in order to stay relevant in a highly competitive space. While enterprises in Asia Pacific may not switch their PCs fleets to Windows 8 in the immediate future, Microsoft has the opportunity to create a whole new enterprise segment: the business tablet.
Melissa Chau--based in Singapore--is a research manager at IDC's Asia/Pacific Client Devices team.