Microsoft's Windows 8 Tablet Aims to Unseat iPad in Business World

Microsoft's Windows 8 on tablets with the right hardware specs has the potential to challenge Apple's iPad for the mobility crown, at least with power business users.

Could Windows 8 prove the long-elusive iPad killer, at least where business buyers are concerned? That's the question on the table after Microsoft unveiled details of its next-generation operating system on the first day of its BUILD conference in Anaheim, CA, on Sept. 13.

Windows 8 will enter a tablet marketplace crowded with some significant competitors, not only the iPad but also a host of Google Android devices. On the business side of the equation, Research In Motion is still pushing its BlackBerry-branded PlayBook tablet as a solution for knowledge workers on the run. With so many entrenched opponents, Microsoft will need to make the case that a Windows 8 tablet offers a substantial value-add.

In addition to its touch-centric, tablet-optimized interface, Windows 8 will also flip to a desktop mode more reminiscent of previous Windows editions. According to the company, its next-generation operating system will be "equally at home on ARM and x86."

In another nod to mobility, Windows 8 includes an app store, which will list win32 apps in addition to the "Metro" apps designed for tablet mode. The storefront looks altogether different than the app store for Windows Phone, although it likewise emphasizes games and other categories designed to appeal to consumers.

BUILD attendees were offered a Samsung-built tablet running a developer preview of Windows 8. It's powered by an Intel chipset, and includes a microSD port. The 11.6-inch device features:

  • SDK apps
  • A "recovery environment"
  • A dock to connect with a keyboard or dual monitor
  • A 64GB SSD hard drive, 4GB of RAM
  • One year's worth of AT&T 3G connectivity

With the Samsung prototype Microsoft looks to be covering its bases in terms of features that will appeal to business users. This list includes:

  • Ability to connect to a keyboard and dual monitor, turning the tablet into an impromptu workstation
  • Compatibility with existing Windows apps
  • Connectivity with Windows' cloud

The key question--and the one thing will determine whether business users and consumers gravitate toward these upcoming Microsoft tablets as a sort of all-in-one solution--is whether the company can actually deliver on its promise that Windows 8 will offer a versatile, "no compromises" experience. If that indeed proves the case, then Apple may have something to worry about.

For more, read the eWeek article Microsoft Windows 8 Tablet Could Erode iPad's Business Hold.

This article was originally published on 09-15-2011
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