Will Windows 8 tablets be too expensive to succeed?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| January 31, 2012

Windows 8 is coming soon, and with it a whole new way to use your personal computer or tablet. At least, a whole new way to use those things if you're accustomed to the "old" version of Windows. In truth, it should be a pretty exciting time for Microsoft, as this is probably the biggest revision in their computer operating system, well, ever. But, as I've said in the past, I would personally rather have a Windows Phone-based tablet than a full-fledged Windows tablet, even if Metro UI is at the fore.

Let's be clear: Windows 8 on a tablet is going to not only be a unique experience, especially with those touchable Tiles on a large display, but it should also bring Microsoft to a whole new level against the competition. That's obviously what Microsoft is planning, and with the power of Windows and the facelift it could potentially pan out. But, of course, Windows 8 tablets aren't due to hit the market until the tail-end of this year, and by then we should see a new iPad, and plenty of new Android-based competitors.

When that iPad comes around, the price tag is probably going to be pegged at $499 for the base model, plus a little more for whatever bells and whistles (like 3G/4G(?)) Apple decides to throw in there. And obviously the Android tablet market is going to see all sorts of models, with all kinds of "aggressive" pricing. But, can we honestly say that the Windows 8-based tablets out there, when they finally do launch, are going to see some aggressive price tags of their own? Sure, anything is possible, but even just looking at the Windows 7-based tablets out there right now, the pricing game isn't necessarily first on Microsoft's to-do list.

As it stands right now, if you were to go on a popular retailer's site and look for the cheapest tablet they have available running Windows 7 Professional, you'd probably be a little shocked. $637.18. Head over to the tablets running Windows 7 Home Premium, you're looking at a $569.99 price tag. And then you've got the Panasonic Toughbooks with Windows 7, which will run you $1,475.60. The lesser-priced tablets are running 1.66GHz chips inside, for what it's worth. I could break down every little detail about each tablet, and compare them to devices like the ASUS Transformer Prime, but I honestly think we don't need to do that here.

Because there's no denying that Windows 7-based tablets, in all of their iterations, are expensive. And, from what I've been hearing on the Internet over the last few weeks, it doesn't look like that tradition is going to break anytime soon. Here's another truth: tablets are expensive, and that doesn't look like a trend that's going to break anytime soon. But, there's a difference between an expensive tablet that's running Windows 7 Home Premium, and an Android tablet, or iOS-based tablet. Whether it's the aesthetics, portability, or functionality, there's always a difference.

And here's where Microsoft needs to make the distinction, and they need to make it immediately. Before launch, even. And that's the fact that while people expect their tablets to be able to do some of what their personal computer can do, they don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it. Tablets are already expensive, so to think that a Windows 8-based tablet could be more expensive is a scary consideration. But there's always hope that something could change, and Microsoft could realize that their Windows 8 tablets are tablets, and that's exactly where they should be positioned within the market.