Will Windows 8 Win? Microsoft's Uphill Battle Against Apple, Android

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While the consumerization of IT and tough competition from Apple and Google may make it tough for Windows 8 to gain the competitive edge it needs, Microsoft does have a few things working in its in favor. The first, solution providers said, is its partnerships. The software giant’s long-standing ties with major OEMs including Hewlett-Packard and Dell may give Windows 8 more of a boost than any new user interface or log-in method ever could.

Specifically, Microsoft’s partnerships could facilitate the adoption of Windows 8 in corporate environments, where PC makers such as Dell already have a massive customer base.

“The beauty of Microsoft -- and I think this is where a lot of people tend to underestimate Microsoft’s potential -- is that that’s where they win. They win at that kind of relationship,” Osgood said. “Microsoft controls the market in a very different way than both Apple or Google. I think they are a sleeping giant in that regard, and once they sink in, that’s where they get their traction. It’s not going to take a lot if they get the Dells of the world to continue doing that.”

Both Dell and Microsoft declined to comment for this story. Earlier this month, however, Dell quietly pulled its Streak 7 tablet --the last of its Android-based devices on the U.S. market -- from shelves. The PC maker didn’t give much of an explanation as to why the tablet was being discontinued, but many speculated that it was in anticipation of the Windows 8 release in 2012.

"With Windows 8 on the horizon and Dell’s continual investments in tablet platforms, I think there is a very strong chance that, coming soon, we will see a Dell tablet with a version of Windows 8," said Tyler Dikman, president and CEO of Cooltronics, a Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider. "I don’t think, though, that means Dell won’t continue exploring enterprise platforms down the road. But if I had to take a wild guess today, if a new version of an Android OS comes out for tablets and Windows 8 for tablets comes out, which would I choose as far as what Dell would pick? I would definitely say Windows 8."

Fellow PC maker HP already has expressed its commitment to the Microsoft platform, along with its plans to incorporate Windows 8 within future tablet releases. “I think we need to be in the tablet business, and we are certainly going to be there with Windows 8,” HP CEO Meg Whitman said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. Other OEMs including Samsung, Nokia and Lenovo reportedly are eyeing Windows 8 as well.

NEXT: Comfort And Compatibility With Windows 8

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