Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US) will offer its Surface tablet in China starting Oct. 26, the initial day of global sales for the device, as the company uses its first computer to challenge the dominance of Apple (AAPL:US) Inc.’s iPad.
There’s “no delay” for Surface in the China market, Ralph Haupter, Microsoft’s chief executive officer for the region, told Bloomberg News in Shanghai today. Apple’s newest iPad wasn’t sold in China until four months after the U.S.
Microsoft is trying to jump-start a moribund personal- computer market and lay claim to some market share in a tablet PC category dominated by Apple. Personal computer sales are forecast to decline this year for the first time since 2001, according to IHS iSuppli, as some customers spend on tablets instead, a market where Microsoft currently has zero share. China is now the world’s biggest PC market.
“The Chinese market is obviously, as for the whole IT industry, very important for Microsoft,” Haupter said after the unveiling of the company’s new Windows 8 software in Shanghai today. “The biggest number of downloads in the Beta site have been coming from China on Windows 8, so the interest is great.”
The Windows 8 operating system is an overhaul of the product to add touch controls for tablet computers. Besides touch controls, Windows 8 features a completely overhauled design that drops the start button introduced in Windows 95 for a start screen with tiles for each of the user’s applications, as well as important people.
As in the similar Windows Phone design, the tiles automatically update as new content, such as an e-mail or change in the weather, comes in.
Revenue from tablet PCs is expected to grow 26 percent to $79.4 billion next year, according to market research firm DisplaySearch.
Apple’s newest iPad, which went on sale in the U.S. in March, wasn’t sold in China until July 20. Carolyn Wu, a spokeswoman for Apple, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Haupter’s remarks.
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