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Microsoft India: More Windows 8 tablets coming soon

BANGALORE: Microsoft is betting on a slew of new tablet computers that will hit the market in the coming weeks to lift the sales of Windows 8 in India, where the latest iteration of its popular operating system has had an uninspiring start.


“With a number of (Windows 8-based tablet) launches in March, I think we’ll start seeing a lot more movement.” Sanket Akerkar, managing director at Microsoft India, said.

Hewlett-Packard launched a Windows-8 based tablet aimed at the enterprise market for Rs 43,500 last week, while others such as Acer, Asus and Samsung are expected to launch at least four new Windows 8 tablets in the range ofRs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 over the next month and a half. “We are still in early days and there were only few of these tablets available during November, December and January,” Akerkar said.

The Redmond, Washington-based software major launched Windows 8 on October 25. With its touch screen capability, the software can span multiple devices, from laptops and desktops to tablets and smartphones. However, the new operating system has not been able to boost PC sales that have been declining world over as users move to tablets and smartphones. Also, the new tablet-laptop hybrid too has not taken off in a big way.

While Microsoft continues to enjoy overwhelming dominance in operating systems for personal computers, laptops and net books, the world’s largest software-maker is yet to find its footing in the smartphone and tablet market, where it faces stiff competition from Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iOS.

Analysts expect Windows 8 to take its time to establish in the highly competitive market. “The shift to Windows 8 tablets is expected to be relatively slower,” said Kiran Kumar, a senior analyst with technology market researcher IDC, who believes that market awareness for Windows 8 is still relatively low.

Android has about 88% market share in India’s tablet market, while iOS has close to 10% share, according to CyberMedia Research. Windows-8 and Blackberry are expected to have around 1% each. CyberMedia Research estimates that over three million tablets were sold in India last year and that number will double in 2013. India is one of the fastest growing markets for Microsoft, where it has two development centres and over 5,000 employees. In 2012, Microsoft clocked Rs 5,417 crore in revenues from the country.

Microsoft’s Akerkar claimed that initial sales of Windows 8-powered devices were much better compared to the previous iteration Windows 7 that came out in 2009. “We’ll see the numbers to pick up this quarter,” he said. Microsoft is expected to have sold over 60 million licences and upgrades of its latest operating system, despite weak PC sales. Faizal Kawooza, analyst with Cybermedia, says Windows 8 can succeed if it can bring out affordable tablets.