Windows tablets, meanwhile, will explode in popularity, relatively speaking, growing by an average of more than 69% per year between now and 2016. That fast growth will allow Windows to climb from 2.9% in 2012 (including Windows RT, Windows 8, and Windows 7 tablets) to the lofty heights of 10.3% by 2016. By that time most Windows tablets should be running Windows 8 or its ARM-based variant, Windows RT. Windows 7 tablets, meanwhile, which account for a slim niche among enterprises, should be rendered more irrelevant than they already are.
But what will happen to Windows tablets beyond its predicted gains up until 2016? Will Windows 8 and succeeding Microsoft OS tablets continue to grow at a relatively fast rate? Or will the pace slacken, rendering Windows a distant third in the tablet race behind iOS and Android? The prospect of being an also-ran in the battle for the next generation of personal computing deviceshas to be keeping Microsoft executives up at night.
It's too early to say that Windows won't be a dominant software platform for the next generation of computer users who are expected to grow up using tablets. But with Android and iOS having a head start on their software platforms and the chance to build up some impressive app catalogs, it's tough to see how Microsoft will ever become a significant force in the tablet market, at least in the near future.