It’s the Tablet’s World Now and Microsoft Wasn’t Invited

| Analysis

Apple is the single largest PC maker, according to data from Canalys, topping companies such as Lenovo, HP, and Samsung. To find the single largest PC maker, Canalys combined desktop and laptop figures with tablets and those tablets are about to start outselling other computers, and that's a big problem for Microsoft.

Tablets are taking over, and Microsoft didn't get invited to the gameTablets are taking over, and Microsoft didn't get invited to the game

Canalys said Apple shipped 18.6 million computer devices during the June quarter while Lenovo shipped 14.1 million, HP shipped 12.7 million, Samsung shipped 10.8 million, and Dell shipped 9.4 million units. Microsoft's tablet sales were lumped into "Other."

Desktops and laptops make up about 20 percent of Apple's total computer sales, leaving the rest to the iPad lineup. That figure underscores Canalys expectations that tablets will outsell other PCs by the end of this year, and right now those tablets are running Apple's iOS and Google's Android OS, not Microsoft's Windows.

Leaving Microsoft on the outside isn't going to hurt the tech giant -- at least not yet. As tablet sales continue to climb while desktop and laptop PC sales drop, however, Microsoft will start to feel the pressure to make a better stand in the tablet market. So far, Microsoft hasn't been able to successfully impact the tablet space, even with its own Surface devices.

In hopes of boosting its presence in the tablet market, Microsoft introduced its Surface tablets less than a year ago. The company hyped Windows app compatibility, ports that offer expandability not available on Apple's iPad and iPad mini, a bigger touch screen, and a removable keyboard. In essence, Microsoft created an ultra-thin Windows PC that just happens to look like a tablet.

Consumers didn't buy into Microsoft's tablet, and with three quarters of sales under its belt, the company has already a US$900 million write down, and only $853 million in tablet sales. Those sales include all three quarters the Suface has been available, by the way. In comparison, Apple sells the same amount in iPads in just under two weeks.

With the tablet market going to Apple and Android, Microsoft needs to find a way to draw consumers to Windows on tablets and convince shoppers that its operating system has a place beyond conventional PCs. Shoppers spending habits show they see the iPad and some Android devices as the way to go in the tablet market and so far aren't showing any significant interest in Windows.

Microsoft has an in with the mobile market thanks to smartphones running Windows, and if it can figure out how to leverage that into tablet sales, Surface and other Windows-based tablets might be able to get a foothold. Part of Microsoft's problem is that it is presenting Windows-based tablets as do-it-all devices, instead of showing the focused areas where they offer benefits over laptops. Apple, on the other hand, presents the iPad and iPad mini as easy to use tablets that aren't necessarily PC replacements, and that makes it much easier for shoppers to see why they want one.

Microsoft is a huge company and its Windows operating systems are on devices from an amazingly long list of companies, so don't expect to see it shutting down and giving back all the money to shareholders any time soon -- or at all. With the computer market shifting from traditional PCs to tablets, however, Microsoft needs to find a way to successfully play in that game soon or face missing out while watching its customers move on into the mobile space.



I think consumers already have preconceived notions of what a proper tablet UI looks like and folks, it ain’t Microsoft’s Modern UI.  They rejected that UI on the Zune, they rejected it on Win 8 for PCs, why expect any different on a Microsoft tablet?


This could very well snowball. I work in an all Windows shop. Even here they’re looking at deploying tablets, Android tablets, in a number of places where five years ago they would have gone with a Windows PC. Each tablet will be a copy of windows AND OFFICE we won’t be buying. No Windows means no Office, means no MS SkyDrive or Office365. A few months ago an Executive Decision came down: Office2013 with SkyDrive integration is an unacceptable security risk. We will NOT be deploying it even on our Windows 7 systems. Windows 8 breaks our in house applications so it is also a no go here. Because of the issues with the current generation of Microsoft software as we update our systems we will be going to open standard web based interfaces. We won’t be needing Word and Excel and Access to enter data. We will be able to access them from iOS, or OS-X, or Android, or Linux using Safari or FireFox, or Chrome or Opera. I’ve already pushed a number of systems to Thunderbird for mail. Aside from our server systems there are a lot of cracks in the formerly impenetrable Great Wall of Microsoft and I can see this happening at a lot of companies.


I always thought it was a mistake for Microsoft to hold off on porting Office to all mobile OSes.  Microsoft should divorce its Office strategy from its OS strategy.  That way, there’s a greater chance that at least one will survive the post-PC upheaval in a strong position.  iOS and Android are now established, the sooner MS Office become ubiquitous in those platforms, the more likely that Office file formats remain the de facto standard.  Everyday that Office stays off iOS and Android increases the chance that Office will never get a seat on the mobile table.

As it is, the failure of Microsofts mobile OS ensures the failure of its Office suite.

Lee Dronick

It isn’t so much that they weren’t invited, the party was open house, they just arrived too late. It could be salvaged, if they put their mind to it they could turn their whine into aquavit . Balmer might need to get out of the way and let some young Steve Jobs type run the project, what does he have to lose?


  Balmer might need to get out of the way and let some young Steve Jobs type run the project, what does he have to lose?

Well, first off his ego.



geoduck and aardman, great points. In Microsoft’s efforts to win over the consumer space with Windows 8, they have seriously run the risk of losing much of their enterprise business, while also not winning over consumers. Ouch. And agreed, trying to preserve the Windows/Office duopaly is foolish, at best: iOS and Android are the de facto mobile standards, and the sooner Office gets ported to them, the better. Else Office itself could become irrelevant.

Bob Forsberg

The common denominator of Zune and Surface failures is Balmer.
Microsoft didn’t copy Apple this time like they did with Windows.

Lee Dronick

Ego is good, it is necessary, in such matters. However, it takes more than that, one needs a creative mind and forward thinking. Yes one also needs organizational and marketing skills, but you can have subordinates do that.


I think the new Surface OS is finally a step in a good direction for tablets; If it didn’t say “Microsoft on” it, there probably wouldn’t be so much hatin’ going on. Surface is surely not optimized for a keyboard/mouse/multi-monitor environment. In an odd turn of events, I found that a Windows RT slate helped me leverage my Mac better. Writing a book, its been far more productive to use Office 2013 <——> Skydrive <——> Office 2011. The iPad was a constant trial.


They’ll just wait and do what they always do.  Rely on co-dependent corporations to upgrade to win8 when development for win7 halts.  My employers still run WinXP.  Finally just starting to pilot Win7 for staff.(12 years after WinXP’s release).  And probably only because MS will stop supporting it in 2014.


Do you have a link to the original report?

Because you seem to be leaving out i5 and Atom Windows 8 tablets from Lenovo, HP, Samsung, and Dell from your analysis.


Consumers are the invitees and they are not inviting Microsoft to their party. And quite a party it is too. I believe that Android is on more devices than Windows is on PCs. Microsoft really should concentrate on the enterprise customers as not to risk losing them. The Windows 8 Metro look is turning off all business customers as it looks like something which belongs more in a kindergarten class than in a business establishment.


Looks like I was right:

Windows tablet share is growing, even though the Surface itself hasn’t done well. It’s certainly not Android or Apple levels, but it is growing.

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