Microsoft’s foray into the tablet market is not new. Ever since the launch of the Windows XP tablet over a decade ago, there have been several newer versions of the Tablet PC, including those that ran on Windows Vista and more recently, Windows 7. While these tablets have worked more like a light portable PC, the resounding success of devices such as the iPad and android based tablets such as Samsung Galaxy Tab that run on ARM based hardware has pushed Microsoft towards keeping up with this trend. The new Windows 8 Tablets, which are scheduled to be launched in the last quarter of 2012, will be based on ARM. Interestingly, it will coincide with the launch of Windows 8 that will run on both ARM as well as x-86 based machines from Intel and AMD.Sceptics predict that the Windows 8 Tablets may not survive in a marketplace that is already overrun by iOS and android based devices. However, a point that cannot be ignored is that Microsoft has the largest reach in the PC segment with the majority of desktops and laptops running on Windows software. Hence, with a good price and features strategy, it could well give the competition a run for their money. Here is a look at what can be expected from Windows 8 Tablets.
Moving away from the conventional AMD and Intel chips, the Windows tablet will run on ARM architecture. While this will mean a lighter, more portable device with the tap and swipe feature that is so popular in the iPad, one of its disadvantages is that traditional Windows software will not work on it. Windows 8 tablets will require special apps to be written for it.
- Operating System
The Windows 8 tablets will feature the new Metro interface that currently runs on the Windows 7 phones. While users give it a high rating, at present, it faces several challenges on account of price and app selection. However, once this is sorted out, it could pose serious competition to iOS and android.
- Choice of Devices
Unlike the iPad, which allows users to choose only between different versions of the same device, with Microsoft’s multi-vendor policy, there will be a range of Windows 8 devices from hardware partners such as Nokia, Samsung, Lenovo, ASUS, Dell and HP, among others. This would mean a wide range of designs and hopefully, competitive prices, making it more accessible for the average consumer.
Unlike the iPad, which can only open and run a single app at a time, by allowing the use of multiple screens, Windows 8 tablets would allow users to view more than one screen simultaneously. This would be a convenient feature while using it for work, such as reading on one screen and writing on the other.
While the above features are guaranteed with the launch of the new Windows 8 tablets, there are several unknown factors that could play a part in the success or failure of these devices.
- Dual Mode functionality
One of the features where Windows 8 devices could beat the iPad hands down is if they offer the fun filled tap and swipe features of a personal device along with a professional interface for business use. By offering a range of dual mode devices, Windows could gain significant market share from the iPad, which has its limitations as a business device.
- Sky Drive
Microsoft has plans to integrate the availability of all content throughSky Drive, making everything accessible from anywhere, irrespective of the kind of device used. This would be a major advantage for Windows 8 tablets, if it does come into play sooner rather than later.
- Syncing between devices
If Windows 8 devices come with the facility of syncing content using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi between other devices that run on Windows, such as a home PC or a Windows Mobile, users would benefit significantly as it would not require investing in additional hardware.
- Availability of apps
At present, iPad and android devices have the largest number of apps made specifically for them. Whether Windows 8 will see the same pattern is largely dependent on the success of the device, and the number of units sold. However, businesses can’t afford to ignore the prospect of reaching out to the existing Microsoft customer base that might invest in these devices if they come with convenient features such as cloud storage and inter device syncing.
Clearly, there is a lot of excitement in the market about the upcoming launch of Windows 8 tablets. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will offer features that set it apart from Apple rather than trying to copy the offerings on the iPad. Of course, a lot will be dependent on Microsoft’s hardware partners, especially in terms of the design and the prices of these devices. However, considering Microsoft’s success in the PC market, if it gets its act together, it could upset all forecasts and gain leadership of the Tablet market over the next decade.
While the industry and the world wait for the arrival of the Windows 8 devices, for businesses, now is the time to consider having apps compatible for the new platform. At TechAhead, we have designed Metro style apps for clients on Windows 7 and are geared to meet the challenges of designing apps for Windows 8. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE 30-minute no obligation consultation with our mobile experts ($200 Value).
Jitin Narang is COO at TechAhead Software www.techaheadcorp.com, a leading Mobile & Web Application Development company which helps brands to reach, connect, interact with their audience through web and mobile effectively.
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