TAIPEI: TOUCHSCREEN WINDOWS 8 devices will "sky rocket" to make up to 80 percent of major PC markets by 2014, Microsoft has claimed.
Speaking in a Future of Touch Panel keynote at Computex today, Microsoft's GM of OEM engineering Christian Cocks announced that with the help of Windows 8.1 and industry partners, touchscreen PCs will become an expectation of end users in the same way they are on smartphones.
"Today, if you look at touch penetration across major markets, it's probably somewhere in the low teens. But over time, in the next couple of months, we see [touch] penetration rates sky rocketing across the world by this holiday," Cocks said.
"We will see touch enabled Windows 8 devices expanding into emerging markets in 2014, with some larger markets such as the US in the 60-80 percent range, where touch is the expectation not the exception to a PC sale".
He went on to say that touch has become the expectation that end users have on a PC computing device, "much like if you buy a smartphone today".
According to Cocks, touch display PC systems' presently low market penetration tends to be supply constrained because of yield restrictions and is thus premium focused, with most in the $700 and above range.
However, Microsoft also expects an expansion of touch across price points this year, which will help boost its ubiquity along with touch-enabled software developments in Windows 8.1.
"At launch, we basically had touch as more of a premium feature focused on $600 and onwards devices," Cocks said. "For this holiday we expect to see touch down as low as $220 to $250 and see the critical momentum of devices being in the $300 to $600 range."
Assuring that there will still be a premium range of Windows 8 touch products in 2014, such as convertibles, ultrabooks and all in ones, Cocks predicted "a democratisation of touch" across the portfolio to deliver value in the touch segment.
Microsoft is aiding this by working to drive down prices of integrating touchscreen technology so that it's profitably sustainable for all involved, but also in line with the value proposition that users expect of it.
For example, the Redmond firm has been working with the industry to take the price of touchscreens from $4-8 per diagonal inch to a goal of $1.50 to $2 per inch going into 2014.
"[Microsoft has] active conversations with several partners around the industry in how we can have lower costs to standardise solutions, such as lowering the tooling costs, raising yields and increasing the potential to lower the price points for touch solutions," Cocks said.
"Microsoft is also very open to having discussions with other partners across the industry for how we can power that as well."
Along with manufacturers, Microsoft is also making investments to make that change happen via the Windows 8.1 service pack and in what the firm is doing in the API sets that run the Windows Store applications.
"Improvements [in touch] aren't only happening in our device partners, but Microsoft is also putting lot in the OS back in the software services stack to help power that as well," Cocks said.
"We see touch as a requirement in the market and it will continue to accelerate as we go into the balance of this year, into 2014," Cocks added.
Windows 8.1, which Microsoft revealed more details about this week, is set for public preview release at Microsoft's Build conference on 26 June. µ
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