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How Microsoft May Wind Up Being Relevant In Tablets

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Don't write off the Microsoft (MSFT) Surface and other Windows-based tablets just yet. If new tablet market projections pan out, Microsoft may come roaring back.

According to the latest research from IDC, the total tablet tablet market, including 2-in-1 devices, is expected to grow just 19.4% this year, after having grown 51.6% in 2013. Much of that is due to the slowdown in mature markets, such as the United States, as the market gets bigger. This is affecting sales of Apple (AAPL) iPads, and Google (GOOG) Android devices, but Microsoft may be the beneficiary, once the market as a whole matures.

IDC now expects 260.9 million tablets to be sold in 2014, up from roughly 218.1 million tablets sold in 2013. IDC noted the projections came from "slowing consumer purchases as hardware iterations slow and the installed base-particularly in mature markets-continues to grow."

"After years of strong growth, we expect the white-box tablet market to slow in 2014 as consumers move to higher-end devices that work better and last longer," said Tom Mainelli, IDC's program vice president of devices and displays, in the press release. "In mature markets, where many buyers have purchased higher-end products from market leaders, consumers are deciding that their current tablets are good enough for the way they use them. Few are feeling compelled to upgrade the same way they did in years past, and that's having an impact on growth rates."

However, consumers' choice of operating system "will be a key differentiating factor when it comes to success in the commercial segment," notes Jitesh Ubrani, a research analyst at IDC, in the press release. "Though Android and iOS will remain dominant, we expect Windows-based devices to capture more than a quarter of the market as its benefits become apparent thanks to growing adoption of 2-in-1s."

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