While there's been debate about whether Microsoft is launching Windows 8 too soon after the deployment of Windows 7, another discussion is spreading among developers and solutions providers: Can the new OS succeed in the tablet market? Don QuixoteSo far there's no clear consensus. But there does seem to be agreement that going up against Apple's iPad is no small challenge, and that Android's going to complicate things for Redmond even more. "I do believe Microsoft missed the boat here," Andrew Kretzer of Bold Data Technology in Fremont, Calif., told CRN. "I think you will always have those partners and customers who will wait for Redmond's answer to a particular technical question. However, Android and (Apple's) iOS are already part of the corporate IT architecture." On the other hand, Travis Fisher of Madison, Wisc., solution provider Information Systems says Windows tablets running Office and industry apps will be a potent tool for business users. "There's plenty of  market out there to capture," he believes, though he acknowledges, "early adopters of the iPad might be a harder sell." Microsoft seems to know it's playing catch-up. It's supposedly trying to sell chip makers (Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments) to work with a single device manufacturer to speed things along. Still, some say Microsoft partners probably won't wait for Windows 8 when it comes to tablets. Among others things, consumers like the way iPad and Android do things like turn on instantly and offer other features that Windows doesn't have now -- and may not even in Windows 8. But: ASUS may "consider shoving" Windows 8 into the next version of its Eee Pad Transformer some time in 2012. That model would be priced more than Android models because of Windows 8's anticipated cost. Source: CRN Illustration: Wikimedia