Will Windows 8 Tip Business Back from iPad Envy?

BYOD — bring your own device to work — is a big trend in business. Users want devices they’re comfortable with, particularly smartphones and tablets. And when it comes to tablets, the word has largely been iPad.

Apple moved in early and well into the consumer tablet space, eschewing the pens devices had used in the past for a full touch interface. And, so, that’s the direction most IT departments have headed when push came to shove and they felt pressured to support such devices.

However, Microsoft has come out with Windows 8, featuring an overhauled interface that works natively with touchscreens, as well as its own family of Surface tablets. And other hardware vendors are producing a variety of tablet and tablet-notebook hybrids, all running the new operating system.

A professional with an information technology degree should ignore both the Microsoft hypers and haters and take a close look at these new products, which might offer some benefits not available through an iPad. A poll of 700 IT executives by mobile devices management software vendor Fiberlink suggests that companies are leaning toward bringing Windows 8 in on tablets rather than upgrading Windows 7 PCs that still have a lot of life left in them. A survey of small businesses by iYogi Insights found that 29 percent had no tablets and were considering Windows 8 or Windows RT devices over an iPad.

And 38 percent that already had iPads were considering switching. Some IT departments are already buying into Windows 8 in a big way. One anonymous CTO who spoke to Business Insider is shifting thousands of desktops to the new OS and planning on buying thousands of Surface Pro tablets when they come out. Here are his reasons:

  • Applications run 15 to 20 percent faster on Windows 8 than on Windows 7.
  • One big reason they run faster is that Windows 8 needs less memory than Windows 7 (and earlier versions of Windows), which offers some of the benefit of a hardware upgrade without the expense, to say nothing of the hours that would be needed to swap memory chips on a PC.
  • Surface tablets, whether the Pro version that runs full Windows 8 or the Windows RT one that doesn’t support Windows 7 applications, give users full access to Microsoft Office without the compatibility issues that creep up on iPads or Android tablets using a third party program.
  • Although there is some training needed to switch to the new interface, it’s no worse than having someone learn how to effectively use an iPad.

Also, if you develop an application properly for the desktop, it now runs on the tablet as well. In addition, such vendors as Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer, and Asus are experimenting with many different form factors, including devices that can convert from a conventional laptop to a touchscreen tablet. It may be that someone has the nearly perfect product for your particular need, and one that, at the same time, would reduce the administration and maintenance burden of having to support multiple operating systems.

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