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By | Paul Kunert 18th July 2013 07:36

Microsoft admits it's '18 months behind' with Windows 8 slabs

But UK director says 'iPad will become marginalised'

Microsoft's touchy Surface tablet and the wider family of the Windows 8 and 8.1 OEM "ecosystem" are 18 months behind where it "wants them to be", but they will soon start to put the clamps on the iPad, a Microsoft UK director is claiming.

There are now plenty of touch-enabled slabbies in the UK supply chain, something that couldn't be said at the launch of Windows 8, and Microsoft is talking to a few partners about a sales pilot ahead of a wider channel push.

So execs are starting to feel better about taking the fight to Apple, and told us the only reason it has "great market share" compared to Microsoft is because it was "early to market".

But Janet Gibbons, Microsoft UK and Ireland director of partner strategy and programmes, said that with the BYOD trend people want to be "productive at work, to be able to print and have a keyboard".

The answer is Surface and "all the different form factors, all the different sizes that the OEMs are bringing to market".

It is very early days for Windows tablets - the OS was designed with touch in mind - but in Q1 they accounted for 4.3 per cent of global tab sales with iOS and Android accounting for 46 and 43 per cent, Canalys data revealed.

Gibbons said the "OEM ecosystem is still 18 months behind where we want to be but is catching up fast" in terms of breadth of portfolio.

"In many ways as the expansion of touch devices happens, the iPad device will kind of feel somewhat marginalised, because it is what it is and does what it does, but its been a bit leapfrogged by the possibilities of other devices on the Windows platform," she said.

El Chan is not sure possibilities can be leapfrogged, but Redmond marketing people clearly think so.

Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys, said Microsoft was right to target Apple with respect to BYOD, claiming it was easier for enterprises to manage "out of the box".

"The iPad is a personal device with fewer options in the enterprise, " he told us ,"Microsoft is picking the correct target by going after Apple because that is where the majority of enterprise tablet rollouts will be".

Microsoft has already slashed the price of its little-loved Surface RT slab and is shipping Windows 8.1 to OEM by August in time for the Chrimbo rush sales bonanza - a very important period for the whole sector. ®

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