Microsoft is placing a bet on hardware with Windows 8, and there needs to be quality.
Touting a range of form factors for every consumer, Windows 8 hardware is going to be key for Microsoft
Those who have challenged the iPad have consistently failed, whether due to price of inferior hardware. Those OEMs will be widely adopting Windows 8, so what reason is there to suggest the same hardware can be a success for Windows 8 and challenge Apple?
And those OEMs will be building for Windows RT, or Windows ARM, which is aimed specifically at Windows 8 tablets. For years we’ve seen these OEMs building hardware that is either cheap, full of bloatware, or both. If Microsoft is to build tablets that are competitive with the iPad, then they can’t afford to be cheap.
We’ve seen with Android how an open ecosystem, and open policy towards hardware manufacturers, can backfire: there’s no degree of consistency. Apple puts out one iPad a year, yet Android puts out dozens and hasn’t made any inroads. That’s partially due to the software, but Microsoft is effectively launching a new operating system with Metro and certainly faces the same problem with hardware.
Plenty Of Devices, But Is There Plenty of Quality?
Computex last week showed plenty of Windows 8 hardware, from tablets to hybrid laptops. I’ve said before how I think Windows 8 can position itself uniquely, as the dual OS approach suits the hybrid devices (using a tablet for Metro, and the laptop for the desktop). However a lot of these devices didn’t have a release date, which is slightly worrying considering the OS is expected to launch around October. Regardless of how much market share it gained, Microsoft did a good job of putting out a range of Windows Phone devices across different form factors. They weren’t all excellent, but they were all good. I expect the same with Windows 8.
There’s also the question of how much quality will rise to the top, because the volume of devices will inevitably mean the market becomes diluted. We know about Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia, and we hope the company produces gorgeous form factors similar to the Lumia 900. In the smartphone market right now, there’s little innovation. Nokia’s devices look very different.