Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Toshiba: Microsoft confused tablet buyers with Windows 8

Toshiba Australia's managing director accuses Microsoft of confusing consumers when it launched two different operating systems for tablets.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet with Windows 8.
Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet with Windows 8. Microsoft

Microsoft's strategy to push both Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets has confused the market, according to a Toshiba executive.

In a Toshiba product launch on Wednesday in Sydney, Australia, Mark Whittard, managing director of Toshiba Australia, criticized Microsoft's dual operating system approach. Marketing two types of tablets -- one line with Windows 8, the other with Windows RT -- confused consumers, Whittard said, according to The Australian.

"I think one of the challenges is, there was a lot of confusion with Windows 8, my personal view is that they (Microsoft) confused the market with a couple of different flavors."

Consumers bought Windows RT tablets only to discover that the devices required a different set of apps. Prospective buyers were also thrown off by the prices of Windows 8 devices. Consumers had been buying laptops for $399, $499, and $599, while Windows 8 entry-level devices were selling for $699 and $799, Whittard said, according to The Australian.

Microsoft's own Surface Pro tablet, which comes with Windows 8, starts at $899 for the 64GB version. Upgrading to the 128GB version adds another $100 to the price tag.

Prices on Windows 7 devices also fell as vendors tried to clear unsold inventory, another factor that caused buyers to think twice before diving into Windows 8.

"They were going even cheaper than the traditional RRP (recommended retail price), so the gap wasn't just the $100 or $200 from non-touch to touch, it was $400," Whittard added, "and the customer's going: 'Hang on a sec, that's starting to get unpalatable, that price differential, and I'm not sure about this Windows 8 thing.'"

Despite Whittard's grievances, Toshiba is moving forward with Windows 8. This year, the company will kick off both touch-screen and non-touch devices, including a premium 13.3-inch Windows 8 ultrabook called Kira and a new Portege Z, a Windows 8 tablet that converts into an ultrabook.