ARM Windows 2013 Launch Date Too Late for Tablet Market

by: Yankee Group

By Carl Howe

The Wall Street Journal posted that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will launch a version of Windows that runs on low-power ARM processors last night with this lead:

Microsoft Corp., feeling pressure from hit products like Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, is crafting a new operating system that deviates from the software giant’s heavy reliance on chip technology pioneered by Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTC), according to people briefed on Microsoft’s plans.

The company next month plans to demonstrate a new version of its widely used Windows operating system that targets low-power devices and adds support for chips based on designs from ARM Holdings PLC as well as the x86 chip technology offered by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD), these people said. Microsoft will discuss the software at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January, though it isn’t expected to be available for two years, they added.

If the timing of this development is true, I predict this effort will be a non-starter. In two years time, the battle for what operating systems are running tablets will be pretty much over. A launch in 2013 will be nearly three years after the launch of the iPad. Delivering a new operating system that has to gain hardware manufacturers, app developers, and consumer buyers three years after a competing product has already launched has about as much chance of market success as launching a completely new smart phone platform in 2010, three years after the launch of the iPhone in 2007.

Oh wait, Microsoft did that with Windows Phone 7.

Regardless, readers who want to see for themselves just how far behind Microsoft will be with a 2013 tablet OS launch should look for Yankee Group’s upcoming tablet forecast which will be published in January.