Despite the huge interest in Microsoft’s Surface tablets the company’s share of the booming tablet market is expected to be miniscule this year, dwarfed by iPad and Android .
Microsoft Surface tablet
ABI Research expects Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows RT-based tablets to account for only 1.3 percent of 2012 global shipments; having little impact on the market this year.
See also: Microsoft Surface review
This is due to lack of adoption for Windows 7, but primarily due to the late-in-year launches of Windows RT and Windows 8 operating systems (estimated to become available in select devices starting in October).
Related: Windows tablets reviewed
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.
Each will appeal to a different audience type, offer different features and functionality, and be available for different price points.
In 2011, 98 percent of all media tablets were based on ARM processor architecture.
This fragmented OS strategy with Windows RT and Windows 8 mirrors Google’s mobile plan, which has been chastised for by developers of the Android OS.
ABI Research predicts 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.
The obvious “low hanging” market opportunity for Microsoft’s Surface tablets, predicts ABI, is with business buyers that have an installed base of Windows PCs.
Is Microsoft suggesting that organizations will make the “post-PC era” move toward a mobile computing device and ditch traditional desktop and clamshell form-factors, or is the company hoping that employees will gain access to multiple devices?
So far, businesses have been opposed to buying incremental computing assets for users due to the support costs, says ABI.