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Microsoft's uphill battle to push Win8 tabs into punters' paws

You snooze, you lose, warns analyst

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Analysis Microsoft has its work cut out thanks to its entry into a tablet arena revived by Apple's iPad, according to analysts. Just as the company approaches the finish line clutching Windows 8 for fondleslabs, panting away like Steve Ballmer at a developer conference, punters have already lost interest.

Forrester Research has published a report that claims consumer interest has "plummeted" during the past nine months. The bean counters are vague on what the tab-happy public has grown tired of - be it Windows 8, tablets, or tablets running Window 8 - but the conclusion is that Microsoft's got a hard act to follow. According to Forrester here:

Windows product strategists will have to overcome several disadvantages associated with being a fifth mover in the tablet market. Product strategists in any industry have to evaluate their potential to be 'fast followers': Waiting too long to follow raises the bar your product must meet to compete.

The analysts can, no doubt, offer some well-remunerated advice to help Microsoft and OEM partners embrace the platform and help them regain lost interest. This is often the inspiration for such reports, whose authors publish only the most leading and suggestive portions available on the internet for free.

That said, the analysts' conclusion does highlight how Microsoft's tablet strategy is still predicated more on promises than product.

Apple released the first iPad in April 2010 to an unprepared Microsoft; with Apple selling more than three million units in the first thee months - 270,000 in the first week - Microsoft's chief executive by July was on the ropes and promising something from Microsoft the following year - 2011.

CEO Steve Ballmer indicated we should expect something running Windows 7 on Intel's then-new Sandy Bridge processor this year; Sandy Bridge came but the Windows 7 tablets didn't.

As 2011 comes to a close, the tablet future still has yet to happen for Microsoft. In the last 12 months Microsoft has succeeded in building an early version of the successor to Windows 7, Windows 8, that'll feature a user interface for the tablet and support for ARM chips.

But with no actual date for Windows 8 beyond 2012, and with a UI that's yet to be finished and that will rely on significant levels of conversion from the ranks of ISVs, Microsoft continues to leave the field almost 100-per-cent open for Apple, cementing Cupertino's mental and monetary market hold with the iPad. ®

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