Microsoft: tablets will outsell desktop PCs in 2013

Surface

Microsoft stresses it's not turning its back on laptop or desktop users with Windows 8

Sales of tablets will surpass traditional desktop PCs next year, according to Microsoft.

Speaking at TechEd Europe in Amsterdam, Microsoft’s vice president for Windows Web Services, Antoine Leblond, reiterated Microsoft’s philosophy that touch will become the dominant interface over the next couple of years.

“Next year, tablets will outsell desktop PCs,” said Leblond. “Touch is coming to PCs and that’s going to change the way UIs are designed very dramatically, just like the mouse did.”

Touch is coming to PCs and that’s going to change the way UIs are designed very dramatically, just like the mouse did

Speaking a week after Microsoft revealed its own-brand Surface tablet, Leblond was naturally keen to emphasise the benefits of the touchscreen Metro interface, he also stressed that Microsoft wasn’t turning its back on laptop and desktop users. “It [Metro] works equally well on a desktop or a tablet,” he insisted, with colleagues demonstrating a variety of keyboard shortcuts to navigate the Metro Start menu.

However, the demonstration faltered when Leblond’s colleague attempted to demonstrate touchpad gestures such as double-fingered scrolling, with the demo laptop repeatedly refusing to recognise the gesture controls.

Business friendly

Leblond was also at pains to stress Windows 8’s business credentials, emphasising the ability to switch between the Metro style apps and traditional x86 software. “You don’t have to choose between a small, thin and light tablet and the apps you rely on,” he said. “You don’t have to choose between the device you want and the device you’re allowed to use at work.”

The section of Leblond’s keynote speech that drew the biggest response from the hundreds of developers in the audience was also a business-related feature: Windows To Go.

He demonstrated how employees could run a locked-down installation of Windows 8 on a Windows 7 PC, simply by plugging in a USB drive, allowing companies to give employees access to corporate applications without the security risks of running it on their own hardware.

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