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How Will Microsoft Windows 8 Tablets Alter the Supply Chain?

In February, I contributed to the 2.67 percent of all global traffic accessing the Internet through Microsoft's latest Windows 8 operating system (OS), after purchasing a Surface Pro tablet with touch screen. Adoption grew that month from 2.26 percent in January, according to web tracker NetApplications, which jumped 1.72 percent in December 2012, sequentially.

While Windows 8 now sits in fourth place just behind Windows 7 at 44.55 percent, Windows XP at 38.99 percent, and Windows Vista at 5.17 percent, the slight sequential rise last month points to changes in the electronics industry that will inevitably occur through a more intuitive OS. It will change the electronics industry and its manufacturing supply chain through touch.

What we should expect
Microsoft expects Windows 8 adoption to quickly ramp among businesses, especially among those that build on the developer platform, but the most obvious uptick points to the ability to touch the screen and interact with the content, making the features similar to those found on mobile phones. It's a complete rewiring of the interaction between man and machine, which may take some getting used to, but should prompt long-term innovation through manufacturing and electronic supply chains.

Simply touching: Microsoft's Windows 8 and tablets like the Surface Pro  will stress the supply chain in new ways, particularly for LCD screens.

Simply touching: Microsoft's Windows 8 and tablets like the Surface Pro
will stress the supply chain in new ways, particularly for LCD screens.

The faster OEMs build touch-screen compatible machines for consumers and manufacturers, the quicker Microsoft will see adoption in the touch interface. While Windows 8 opens the door to the future, it could shut the door on prior operating systems and hardware. I'm hearing more companies have begun work on compatibility issues that will allow people to plug a mobile phone into a touch screen monitor and keyboard to access content through cloud computing. The business applications, especially in manufacturing facilities, would give procurement and factory personnel easy access to information any time.

Possibilities and probabilities
In early January, Microsoft said it had sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses to date, including upgrades and sales to OEMs for new devices. When I recently caught up with Microsoft to ask their opinion on how the OS might spur innovation for consumers and in the electronics supply chain, a spokesperson said the company continues to certify devices, but declined to comment on hardware sales. It now supports 1,800 devices for Windows 8 and Windows RT

Demand for touch screens supported by Windows 8 continues to rise. During the last few months in 2012, demand far outpaced supply, and there was a misalignment between product manufacturing and distribution. The Microsoft spokesperson said the company continues to work with its partners across the entire supply chain to catch up.

All devices in the future will support touch screen, such as convertibles, touch clamshells, all-in-one machines, tablets, ultra-thin, and touch monitors. The devices will come in all shapes and forms with new choices and possibilities for computing. Google also plans to make Chromebooks with touch screens.

I bought the Surface Pro when I sent my Sony laptop in for repairs. It needed a new LCD screen. Half the pixels burnt out on the not even three-year-old screen. If I would have known how much I love the touch screen on a tablet, I would have asked Sony to somehow put one in my laptop. Now I have to upgrade my laptop to Windows 8 and purchase an external monitor with touch screen capabilities, which adds to the need for higher production on hardware that supports the new OS.

Do you use Windows 8? What types of features do you see the operating system supporting throughout electronic supply chains and manufacturing?

21 comments on “How Will Microsoft Windows 8 Tablets Alter the Supply Chain?

  1. Daniel
    March 6, 2013

    “All devices in the future will support touch screen, such as convertibles, touch clamshells, all-in-one machines, tablets, ultra-thin, and touch monitors.”

    Laurie, that's a good thing. I think next generation devices may be of compactable and all- in- one type, with multifunction touch screen. Now integration and foot print minimization are happening.

  2. mfbertozzi
    March 6, 2013

    The device is great and appears useful, no doubts. As you have reported in the previuous post (and Laurie within the article), it is in condition to play a key role in the supply chain; MS has faced just yesterday a new issues due to antitrust in EU; does this event do  a potential negative impact for win8 tablet market success?

  3. Laurie Sullivan
    March 6, 2013

    Jacob, I've had some interesting conversations with execs from across the advertising industry and most are preparing for one operating version across multiple types of electronic devices, including televisions. The biggest problem will become consumers will have to choose between Android, iOS, Windows, or another OS. Someone needs to develop a compatibility plug-in that would enable my iOS device to run Android or Windows apps. Just a dream?

  4. Laurie Sullivan
    March 6, 2013

    Hi mfbertozzi, No, I don't think the EU antitrust issue will have a potentially negative impact on Win8 adoption or success. It just puts less money in Microsoft's coffer. It's a speed bump in a long road that will likely take Microsoft to work more closely with TV manufacturers that might want to build-in touch screens and gesture controls through Kinect technology.

  5. FreeBird
    March 6, 2013

    The answer to the question in the headline is, it will spur development in displays and screens. Unfortunately, short of the components that support the displays, there is little opportunity for hardware vendors. Windows could be hurting the PC market, not that the PC market isn't already in peril. But a very smart person two years ago pointed out that the display is replacing the semiconductor as the key component in electronics. Since LCDs are basically just big semicondcutors, that makes sense. I think mouse, keyboard and connector vendors probably aren't big fans of the touchscreen.

    I personally hate touchscreens. No matter what the device, they are slow, awkward, often too small and add time to any task I try to perfrom. They are fine if you are browsing media content, but e-mailing and writing are a pain. I'm probably in the minority, but they add no value in the tasks that I perform most often.

  6. Laurie Sullivan
    March 6, 2013

    Interesting point you made about the semiconductors and touch screens. And I thought the same way about touch screens until I bought a Surface Pro and spent 2.5 weeks working with it, every day for more than eight hours daily. I hooked it up to my large monitor that I typically use for my laptop as a desk computer. I thought I'd have to forego the touch feature, but I was able to use the touch feature on the tablet and see it on the large screen.  I absolutely love the touch screen now. They sell standalone large monitor touch screens, but I think they're still a little pricey.  When the price comes down, I'll have one. The electronics companies building the components will evolve, similar to the way they did in the past. 

  7. FreeBird
    March 6, 2013

    I'll admit I haven't test-driven the SurfacePro yet, and Win8 was pretty much made with that device in mind. If it works as you say, I'm willing to be converted 🙂 Time for a little “showrooming” at Best Buy…

  8. Adeniji Kayode
    March 6, 2013

    @Laurie,

    Just thinking, for what special reason would you want to run Android apps on iOS devices?

  9. Adeniji Kayode
    March 6, 2013

    @ FreeBird

    I believe you still have enough time love and adjust to torch screen, because very soon most of these devices around us will find torch screen as an upgrade.

  10. Laurie Sullivan
    March 6, 2013

    Adeniji, I think companies should work toward interoperability between operating systems.  I realize it's a competitive, proprietary thing, but what happened to the saying for the good of the user?  

  11. mfbertozzi
    March 7, 2013

    Thanks Laurie, good to hear from you. Thanks also for the persective you have reported about recent Anti-Trust sentence. Speaking for myself, I believe that device could play a key role in the market, at least until another one performing better will come !

  12. Brian Fuller
    March 7, 2013

    I'm looking forward to the “think screen,” when we'll be able to browse a screen's content by thinking. Of course that could get a little chaotic for some of us… 

     

  13. Daniel
    March 7, 2013

    “The biggest problem will become consumers will have to choose between Android, iOS, Windows, or another OS. Someone needs to develop a compatibility plug-in that would enable my iOS device to run Android or Windows apps. Just a dream?”

    Laurie, today it may be dream but tomorrow there is no doubt that it becomes a reality. Technology is capable to realize the dreams.

  14. Daniel
    March 7, 2013

    Mfbertozzi, I don’t think any particular issue with it. MS may end up in paying the penalty 732 Million USD and try to collect the same amount from various sources. Again the end user is going to be the sufferer.

  15. mfbertozzi
    March 8, 2013

    @Jacob: well, it is an interesting analysis and honestly, I didn't think about it in my previous post; it is a fact: end users are really often impacted by the disputes among vendors and Authorities devoted to market rules and in a such way, penalties have been payed by endusers; it would be good to arrange a sort of education policy for making endusers aware of.

  16. mfbertozzi
    March 8, 2013

    @BF: great idea, it seems glasses from Google will represent the first step, in a such way, toward that direction…

  17. Daniel
    March 12, 2013

    “well, it is an interesting analysis and honestly, I didn't think about it in my previous post; it is a fact: end users are really often impacted by the disputes among vendors and Authorities devoted to market rules and in a such way, penalties have been payed by endusers;”

    Mfbertozzi, yes, vendors or service providers don't want to touch/share their profits with anybody. So they used to collect such penalties from end-users at different levels either by hiking the basic price or adding additional service charges.

  18. mfbertozzi
    March 12, 2013

    @Jacob: it is the time, maybe, for a new approach to penalties; maybe they need to focus not only on finance (sooner or later endusers will pay back to vendors the amount), but – for instance – restrictions to market policies or market zone addressable in terms of location. Not to say I am right, they are only my thoughts.

  19. Daniel
    March 14, 2013

    “t is the time, maybe, for a new approach to penalties; maybe they need to focus not only on finance (sooner or later endusers will pay back to vendors the amount), but – for instance – restrictions to market policies or market zone addressable in terms of location. Not to say I am right, they are only my thoughts”

    Mfbertozzi, that's a good point. Financial penalties/burdens can be recovered through various sources either by collecting from end customers or dumping from their profit. So along with financial penalties, governments has to impose other restrictions like banning the product for further sale for a some duration or civil/criminal cases etc.

  20. mfbertozzi
    March 15, 2013

    @Jacob: I agree and I hope others will spent just only a few minutes in looking for possible alternative schemes to suggest, instead of financial penalties which represent, really often, additional damages for endusers…

  21. Anand
    March 20, 2013

    Microsoft has been stepping up the app-development promotion pace around Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. One such initiative is Microsoft is now offering developers $100 for each Windows 8 and/or Windows Phone 8 app they write, up to a total of 10 apps per Store. I am sure such steps will help Microsoft to capture bigger tablet/smartphone market.

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