Australian retailers are gearing up for a “massive” Q4 Windows quarter with several major stores set to get expensive new Microsoft in store displays which allow users to source information on the Company’s new Windows 8 software direct from servers in the USA.Several vendors, including Samsung, Toshiba, Acer and Dell, are set to roll out new Windows based tablets, notebooks and Ultrabooks to coincide with the launch, with at least two vendors telling ChannelNews they’re looking to drop Android based tablets “if Windows tablets take off.”

Their comments came despite Microsoft announcing their own Surface tablet last month.

Overnight Microsoft said that Windows 8 will go on sale in October, US users will be able to upgrade to the new software for as low as $39.00. Australian customers using Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 can upgrade for just 14.95 via software download. 

Speaking at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference Tami Reller, VP of Microsoft, said that the Windows 8 release date was set for ‘late October’ and the RTM (release to manufacturer) date was penned in for the first week of August.

Reller said Microsoft has sold 630 million Windows 7 licenses to date, which is 30 million over the company’s previous announcement in June.

Read: Windows 8 To Smash ‘Droid?

Both Harvey Norman and JB Hi Fi will have in store interactive Windows displays that let consumers interact with the new devices gaining access to both video and eBook content via the in store kiosks.

Microsoft’s marketing for the new tablet is wrapped around the slogan “Designed for on the go”.

It’s also being positioned as “Built for gaming,” “Awesome entertainment” and “Perfect for work”.

Vendors in Australia believe that Windows based tablets could outstrip Android tablets within weeks of going on sale.

Sales of tablet devices rose 26 percent in 2011, according to a Morgan Stanley report. It also says cannibalisation of PCs has been higher than earlier predicted. The company now says it expects 133 million tablets to be shipped in 2012 and 216 million in 2013: 57 percent and 122 percent higher than it had previously estimated respectively.

Analysts at IDC are tipping Windows based tablets will be a bigger threat to Apple and their iPad devices than what Android has been in the past.

Asus is believed to be planning a dual boot device that runs both Android and Windows operating systems with the concept is being teased online at YouTube. Asus and Acer are expected to show new Intel-based tablets, with Tegra and Intel X86-powered models set to be released. Toshiba has opted for ARM processors.

Toshiba will have a 7.7″, 10.1″ and a 13.1″ Windows tablet range.

The recent Morgan Stanley report predicts that Microsoft will become a key player in tablet market growth, possibly overtaking Android, and that price will dictate what sells – though this is certainly not the current experience, where Apple’s pricey iPad outsells everything, including tablets priced below $200.

The iPad grabbed a 62 percent share of tablet sales in 2011, Morgan Stanley estimates, though others have put it even higher.

Morgan Stanley said Microsoft’s prospects in the market have improved substantially. “Microsoft has made a lot of progress since our last survey with its Metro user interface, first introduced in Windows Phone 7 and included in the upcoming Windows 8 release,” its report says.

“Consumers, especially those considering their first tablet purchase, believe Microsoft Office is a key feature, suggesting Windows 8 with Office could overtake Android as the second largest platform in the tablet market.”

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