Windows 8 Brings the PC into the “Post-PC” War

Alvin is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Windows 8 recently launched and if there is anything that consumers can agree upon it is that the OS is a bold move for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). By merging the traditional Windows desktop with the touch enabled “Modern UI,” Microsoft has brought the PC (or at least the main OS in PCs) into the “Post-PC” war. While Windows 8 has been getting mixed reviews overall, many of the reviews from tech sites have been positive.

The Verge gave Windows 8 a score of 8.8/10 and stated, “Picking up a tablet PC with Windows 8 makes an iPad feel immediately out of date. The ability to run two apps alongside each other allows this to be more than a consumption device...Windows 8 is a beautiful operating system and one that feels incredibly personal once it’s customized.”

Tech Radar, CNET, and Gizmodo gave Windows 8 ratings of 4.5/5, 4/5, and 3.5/5 respectively. CNET states, “It’s the first serious attempt to unify computing across disparate devices and accounts in a way that looks and feels cohesive. It’s stunningly fast, it presents apps in a new way that avoids the repetitiveness of Android and iOS, and it feels connected to your life and the Internet.”

Windows 8 was developed in order to fight Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android devices in the quickly growing tablet market. The OS attempts to bring Microsoft’s advantages in desktops into tablets. One of Microsoft’s biggest advantages in desktops over Apple is its large number of partners. These partners, which include Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), Lenovo, Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), Acer, ASUS, Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and others, all have big stakes on the continued success of the PC.  

Lately, the PC market has been on a decline, which has been mainly attributed to the rise of mobile devices. In Q3, worldwide PC shipments declined by 8.6%. HP, Dell, and Acer experienced declines in shipments of 16.4%, 14%, and 9.6% year over year, respectively (IDC). This makes the success of Windows 8 in tablets even more important to PC companies. Now that Windows 8 has launched, Microsoft’s advantage in partners can be quantified. At Microsoft’s website, the company has listed 10 tablets and 10 Ultrabooks that it recommends. The following table lists the products recommended by Microsoft from each company.

<table> <tbody> <tr> <td><em>Recommended by Microsoft</em></td> <td><em>Tablets</em></td> <td><em>Ultrabooks</em></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Acer</td> <td> <p>-</p> </td> <td>Aspire S7-391</td> </tr> <tr> <td>ASUS</td> <td> <p>Vivo Tab RT, Vivo Tab</p> </td> <td>ZENBOOK UX31A Touch</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Dell</td> <td> <p>XPS 10, XPS Duo 12</p> </td> <td>-</td> </tr> <tr> <td>HP</td> <td>ENVY x2</td> <td>ENVY TouchSmart Ultrabook 4, Spectre XT Ultrabook</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Lenovo</td> <td>IdeaPad Yoga 11, ThinkPad Tablet 2</td> <td>IdeaPad U310, U410, U510, Yoga 13</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Samsung</td> <td>ATIV Smart PC, ATIV Tab</td> <td>Series 5 Ultra 13 Touch</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Sony</td> <td>-</td> <td>VAIO T Series 13</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Microsoft</td> <td>Surface with Windows RT</td> <td>-</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Total Number</td> <td>10</td> <td>10</td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

The advantage here is that these companies will be pushing their products (along with Windows 8 or RT) and have their own sets of loyal customers, who buy their products. This is one of the main reasons why Windows is so dominant on desktops. It should be noted that the actual number of Windows tablets and Ultrabooks are much higher. For example, Acer is not on the list of Microsoft recommended tablets, but the company has Windows 8 tablets, specifically the Acer Iconia W510 and W700. Regardless, in the tablet market, Microsoft has mobilized its biggest allies and Windows 8 and RT tablets have the Apple iPad tablets outnumbered by more than two to one. There are only five distinct generations of the iPad including the Mini and the fourth generation iPad.

Looking at Android, Windows 8 does not have it outnumbered like it does with iOS. There are a large number of Android tablets, such as the Nexus 7, Galaxy Tab, and Kindle Fire. However, Windows 8 and RT tablets have another advantage, Microsoft Office. This makes Windows 8 tablets appealing to students and people who go on a lot of business trips. There are apps that let iOS and Android devices perform similar tasks, but Office is arguably superior. Furthermore, Windows 8 is compatible with legacy Windows programs. The number of available apps is important for mobile devices and Android and iOS have around 700,000 apps. While the Windows Store does have less apps (around 10,000 total), Microsoft beats iOS and Android with its millions of legacy Windows programs. It should be noted that Windows RT is not backward compatible with legacy Windows programs.

In summary, the OS wars are heating up. Windows 8 has launched and it has received some positive reviews from popular tech sites. The large number of Windows 8 tablets (and Ultrabooks), Microsoft Office, and compatibility with legacy Windows programs are big advantages of Windows 8 over iOS and Android (except the number of products). Windows’ dominant 91.73% market share in desktops (netmarketshare) shows that the PC industry’s invasion of tablets should not to be taken lightly. It is Android vs iOS vs Windows and the winner takes all or almost all.

Alvin owns shares of Microsoft. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Dell, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Dell, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.

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