Forrester: Windows 8 Will Just “Stop The Shrinking” – Won’t Take Hold Until 2014

Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett predicts that Microsoft’s Windows 8 will get off to a slow start in 2013, but will take hold in 2014. Windows 8, Gillett argues, will keep Microsoft relevant on the PC, but it will remain “simply a contender in tablets, and a distant third in smartphones.” Windows 8, he says, will “simply stop the shrinking,” but it won’t be a fix.

While Microsoft’s foothold on the PC has remained relatively stable, the report notes, the company was simply too slow to react to the quick rise of smartphones and tablets. As the number of personal device sales continues to increase over the coming years, the Forrester analyst predicts, the company won’t be able to make up much of the ground it has lost against Apple and Google in the smartphone and tablet market. In total, Microsoft’s share of the personal device OS market is now down to 30%.

Forrester projects that Microsoft will continue to hold about 90% of the PC market in 2016 and a respectable 27% of the tablet market. As for smartphones, however, Gillett thinks that Windows Phone will only capture about 14% of the market (and Gillette notes that some of his colleagues aren’t sure Microsoft will even get to 14%).

One thing Gillett specifically notes in the report is that it will take Microsoft some time to work through the Windows 8 transition and that the large number of architectures it will be available on will confuse consumers. The Windows 8 user experience, Gillette argues, will be somewhat inconsistent across different hardware and the average consumer will likely be confused by all of this (and the new Start screen). In addition, he predicts that it will also take about a year before the Windows Store will be fully stocked with a competitive range of apps.

It’s worth noting that this Forrester forecast is actually significantly more positive about Windows 8 on tablets than similar reports we’ve seen recently. NDP Display Search, for example, predicts that Windows RT tablets will only gain about 7% of the tablet market (though the Forrester report doesn’t distinguish between Windows RT tablets and those running Windows 8 Pro).