Redmond may have high hopes for its Surface tablet, but analysts at ABI Research believe Microsoft is likely to face an uphill battle as it attempts to challenge Apple's wildly popular iPad.
Indeed, Windows is expected to account for only 1.3% of media tablet shipments in 2012. In addition, the company is introducing a fragmented OS strategy with Windows RT and Windows 8 - an approach which has earned Google some harsh criticism from Android developers.
This strategy definitely has its limitations, as Redmond seems to be assuming the current popularity of Windows PCs will attract similar attention for Windows 8 on tablets.
However, as noted above, ABI expects Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows RT-based tablets to account for only 1.3% of 2012 global shipments - having little or almost no real impact on the market this year.
While this scenario may be due to lack of adoption for Windows 7, it can primarily be attributed to late-in-year launches of Windows RT and Windows 8, which is likely to become commercially available in select devices starting only in October 2012.
"Microsoft is starting with a two-prong device strategy: a Windows RT-based ARM tablet powered by an Nvidia applications processor, and a Windows 8 Pro tablet based on Intel's x86 architecture," an ABI Research rep told TG Daily in an e-mailed industry note.
"Each will appeal to a different audience type, offer different features and functionality, and be available for different price points. In 2011, 98% of all media tablets were based on ARM processor architecture. [We] predict a similar dominance for ARM over Intel in 2012 - primarily due to the availability of device OEMs introducing first Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro tablets powered by Intel no sooner than October 2012."
As such, adds ABI, the obvious "low hanging" market opportunity for Microsoft's Surface tablets is with business buyers that have an installed base of Windows PCs.