As If Microsoft Weren’t Far Enough Behind…

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) release of the iPad was a killer for the tablet market that it essentially created, and it still is a killer. Competition from devices running Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android has steadily grown, but hasn’t come close to overtaking the iPad. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) faced an uphill battle when it entered the fray with its own tablet and software, and this month Windows RT lost a bit of its footing.

Windows RT and Windows 8 are two of Microsoft’s latest operating systems, and both are found on various devices, including Microsoft’s own Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets. While the issues vary, the problems all spell trouble for Microsoft’s entrance into the tablet market.

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The problems

Mistakes happen, but when they happen early on, they can do serious damage to the reputation of a fledgling product. An error came out of a set of updates that Microsoft released on January 8, and it has been giving Windows RT users trouble updating their devices. So, while Microsoft is already positioned behind Google and Apple in the tablet market, the software on its devices is getting even further behind — and other companies using its operating system for their tablets probably aren’t too pleased.

Microsoft’s own tablet is further impacted by a nominal issue. It’s important for a brand to be catchy if it wants to do well with consumers — the little “i” before so many Apple products seemed to do the trick — but Microsoft is oblivious. On Tuesday, they renamed their tablet devices from “Surface With Windows RT” and “Surface With Windows 8 Pro” to “Surface Windows RT” and “Surface Windows 8 Pro,” respectively, despite the fact that many outsiders refer to them more felicitously as the Surface RT and Surface Pro, which roll off the tongue a bit easier…

The competition

While the name issue may not be Microsoft’s biggest problem, and the software issue is expected to be resolved in early February, these issues certainly don’t help the company gain traction in the uphill battle for a share of the market dominated by Google and Apple, and may force Gartner to lower its expectations for the future, in which Microsoft’s operating systems are still expected to account for less than a third of the sales Android and iOS are pulling in.

Microsoft taking a hit from these issues could prove fruitful for Google and Apple, as the share of tablet sales that would have been expected to go to Microsoft could instead be absorbed by the much bigger players in the tablet market. Of course, it also leaves the market open for another competitor to swoop in and take that number three spot.

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