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Forrester Says Windows 8 Tablets Are Dead-on-Arrival

While 46 percent of US consumers would have wanted to own a Windows 8 tablet in Q1 2011, the share has declined to just 25 percent in Q3. Forrester's JP Gownder says that Microsoft's marketing essentially failed to keep a momentum in the market and "amp up" expectations.

Forrester's take is that any late-comer to a market needs a compelling strategy, which is what Amazon and Barnes & Noble apparently created, to establish a necessary consumer desire that can sell products. As it stands now, Gownder indicates that Windows 8 tablets that are simply me-too devices are dead on arrival and require a fresh and convincing approach to stand a chance in a cut-throat market.

"Windows 8 tablets must provide consumers with a more differentiated product experience than it otherwise would have, had Microsoft entered the market sooner," the analyst wrote. "They’ll have to take a lesson from Amazon’s product strategists, who fundamentally changed the tablet product experience by leading with content and services rather than feeds and speeds, at a compelling price point."

Without having seen a Windows 8 tablet, it is, of course, difficult to predict the opportunity of the OS on tablets. We haven't seen a cross-device integration yet. We don't know how Windows 8 tablets can interact with Windows 8 PCs and we don't know how well Windows 8 devices as well as Windows Phones will be able to interact with Xbox Live, which remains a strangely underused asset in Microsoft's Windows and Windows Phone lineups. It is a bit early to discount the opportunity of Windows 8 as a platform spanning a variety of devices just yet, especially since the new touch interface will work much better on a tablet than it will on a vertical notebook or desktop screen.

If Microsoft gets the cross-device integration right, Windows 8 could easily turn into the successful catch-up player Forrester believes it can't be on tablets.