Microsoft has embarked upon an ambitious plan to introduce an affordable range of tablets in the Indian market. These low cost tablets running Windows will cost as low as just ₹10k, which comes to about $160 USD. With these, Microsoft hopes to stem the steady slide in its user base that has been ditching the notebook or PC segment in favor of Android tablets. The Indian tablet market is inundated with several Android tablets that offer a good mix of cost affordability and performance. Microsoft has also roped in Indian device makers Karbonn and Lava to manufacture smartphones running Windows and its likely they will also be participating in the tablet project. In addition, traditional Microsoft partners HP and Dell are also expected to be in the fray as well.
“We are reducing our required hardware specification for Windows to bare minimum that is needed for good experience. We want to be price competitive with Android. We want to get the bill of material for Windows tablets down,” revealed Amrish Goyal, director of Windows business group in an interview with the Times of India.
“We will probably not sell a tablet for Rs 5,000. But yes, we will sell tablets with a price of around Rs 10,000 by middle of this year,” Goyal further stated.
Goyal however refused to comment on recent reports about Microsoft contemplating a reduction in its licensing fees for devices priced below $250. In any case, the said low cost devices meant for sale in India will surely benefit from the lower license fee structure if it is implemented. That a windows tablet in the budget segment will also make for an interesting choice is almost a surety as buyers right now can only choose from devices running Android. Currently, the cheapest tablet running Windows 8.1 available in India is the Acer Iconia W4-820 that retails for around ₹27,000 or $436 USD for the base 32 GB Wi-Fi only version. What remains to be seen though is how much of a dent that an affordable Windows tablet can make to the Android stronghold, or by how much that corner will be cut to arrive at the desired price point. However, its unlikely the tablet, if successful, will be limited to sale in India only as these could also be introduced in other South-East Asian regions and developing countries elsewhere in the world as well.
The latest Gartner report has revealed just 2.1 percent market share for Windows in 2013, a period during which about 4 million Windows tablets were sold. However, the research firm believes the numbers to reach much higher this year onwards with it being hybrid devices that is expected to bring in volumes for Microsoft.
Note: Image shown above is that of the Acer Iconia W4-820 tablet.