Microsoft reportedly launching low-cost Windows tablets in India later this year

Microsoft to sell low-cost Windows tablets in India later this year

Microsoft will reportedly launch more affordable Windows tablets in India in the coming months, the Times of India reports. These tablets will cost around Rs 10,000 ($160) and will be specifically made for consumers in India.

At present, Android tablets dominate the Indian market, and while there are a few Windows powered tablets available, the price point isn’t competitive and the choice of selection isn't that great. Microsoft is expected to turn to its traditional partners like HP and Dell for making the tablets. But, interestingly, the software giant could also tie-up with local partners like Karbonn and Lava (Xolo).

Price is a crucial factor when you look into developing countries like India. Perhaps it is the reason why Microsoft’s Surface lineup never really took off there.

Recently, we learned that Microsoft might be planning to reduce the licensing fees it charges OEMs for the Windows 8.1 operating system.  "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," Amrish Goyal, director of Windows business group, told Times of India.

The Gartner report that came out early this week revealed the slow paced market traction of Windows tablets.  As of 2013, Windows tablets account for just 2.1% of market share. Compared to 70 million Apple tablets and 121 million Android tablets, Microsoft could only manage to sell 4 million tablets last year. The slashed price could help Microsoft to allure users who otherwise buy affordable Android tablets.

"low-cost Windows tablet is not going to shake the market but will help Microsoft gain some consumers who will otherwise go to Android"

Gartner's principal analyst Vishal Tripathi also thinks that if Microsoft starts to sell low-cost tablets it will help it gain users. “The Windows brand still resonates with people. They use Windows computers in offices. They are comfortable with it and if they have an option to get a Windows tablet at price that is similar to an Android tablet, they will likely pick it," he said. "A low-cost Windows tablet is not going to shake the market but it will help Microsoft gain some consumers who will otherwise go to Android."

He believes that a tablet priced at around 15,000 INR ($250) will be able to attract enterprise users also. But at the same time, Microsoft faces a challenge to deliver great quality build for the given low-price point. “The level of acceptable quality for Windows tablet is going to be higher than what it is for Android tablets. People associate Windows on computer with ease of use and powerful experience. They will look for the same in a Windows tablet.“

While India has a few Windows powered tablets available in the market, the cheapest one starts at around $400 - a price which isn’t really targeting majority of Indian consumers. This is a great move by Microsoft to increase business in India, after all, the Indian market has a huge potential for revenue.

Now the big question - How does Microsoft plan on launching a more affordable Windows tablet? Will there be an entirely new tablet or simply a price reduction on the Surface tablet? More on this as it develops.