Analyst firm Telstye is predicting that Windows 8 will give tablets a stronger foothold in conservative enterprises that until now have been wary of the form factor, at the same time as it gives Microsoft an in in the tablet market.
Most of Microsoft's various Windows operating systems have focused on the x86 architecture, but Redmond will release a version of Windows 8 that runs on ARM chips; chips based on ARM's RISC architecture dominate the smartphone and tablet arena, and are used in Apple's iPad and iPhone as well as the overwhelming majority of Android devices.
Microsoft expects devices running Windows on ARM (WOA) to ship simultaneously with more traditional x86/64-based PCs running Windows 8. "[WOA] has a very high degree of commonality and very significant shared code with Windows 8, and will be developed for, sold, and supported as a part of the largest computing ecosystem in the world," Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division, wrote in a Microsoft Developer Network blog entry.
"Businesses tend to be a bit more conservative than consumers when it comes to adopting a new technology, for obvious reasons, so there are a lot of businesses hesitant to adopt iPad and Android in the enterprise even though many people are bringing their own [iPad and Android devices to work]," said Telsyte senior analyst, Rodney Gedda.
"With the arrival of Windows 8 it will give enterprises a new reason to adopt a tablet operating system that they feel is more compatible with what they already have, particularly the more conservative enterprises."
However, Gedda does not expect the release of Windows 8 to roll back the "bring your own device" trend of people using their own tablets and smartphones on corporate network. Instead, BYOD will co-exist with Windows 8-based tablets in many cases.
"In the business market where enterprises want to procure a certain amount of tablets for a particular use — it might be point of sale in retail it might be supply chain management it could be field force automation, or things like that — Windows 8 has a real opportunity," Gedda said. "So that may be the preferred tablet [OS] amongst business for specific types of applications. Now will people still bring their own device in? Absolutely. But they may be asked to use a windows tablet for specific business tasks, instead of enterprises using software to push out applications to other devices like iPads and Android."
The tablet form factor is already having an impact on the use of conventional notebooks and desktop PCs in businesses, according to Gedda.
Telsyte is predicting that more than 11 million Australians will be using tablets by 2016, up from 2.6 million today. The iPad currently dominates the market and was responsible for some 76 per cent of tablet sales in 2011 according to the analyst firm.