The Future of a Windows 8 Tablet: Looking Good…
I read an article today where Nokia is claiming that a Nokia Tablet device, running the next version of the Windows operating systems, currently code named “Windows 8,” will be available in June 2012. I currently use both an Apple iPad 2 and an Acer Aspire 1420P Convertible Tablet PC, running Windows 7 (the Acer was a give-away at the 2009 Professional Developers Conference – PDC). With my iPad 2, I use either the built-in virtual keyboard or the cool Zaggmate/Logitech bluetooth keyboard which also serves as a case for the iPad 2. As much as I love the “cool” factor when using the iPad, and as wonderful the Zaggmate keyboard is, when I’m under the gun working on documents, I choose to work on the Acer because Microsoft Office 10 is not available on the iPad. Neither Pages for iOS nor Documents to Go Premium provide the kind of compatibility with Microsoft Word that I expect. That lack of compatibility, married with new sexy hardware and an optimized version of Windows, predict only goodness for Microsoft.
As a form factor, the iPad wins hands down over the Aspire 1420P; this point is surely not lost on the hardware product designers at HP, Nokia, Dell, and, of course, Acer. One only needs to take a look at the hot ASUS Zenbook to realize Apple’s influence over the design of competitive products. I think hardware product designers have an implied license to design products that challenge Apple’s grip on being design gods. Assuming I am right, I expect a number of cool tablets to be introduced that will be miles ahead of the current Windows based tablets and on par or slightly ahead (from a design standpoint) with the current crop of Android tablets (which in my opinion, are still inferior to the iPad 2 but are more than acceptable and useable).
This is where the choice of devices gets hard but this conflict likely means good news to Microsoft. Said differently, if I had a tablet device that didn’t suck from a design aesthetic and had useable core operating system software that actually worked, I would likely abandon my iPad 2 (for work) and go with a cool Windows 8 tablet so I could use my base application software, namely Microsoft Office.
What shouldn’t be lost here is that, on a day to day basis, and as it relates to my tablet usage, I use my iPad 2 85% of the time and use my Acer tablet the remaining 15%. Without question, I use my iMac (with Parallels so I can run Windows 7) more than any device I currently own, and that experience has not only been very enjoyable and using my iMac far surpasses any experience I’ve had using a Windows based desktop computer. Additionally, I’m in the camp of loving my iMac, my iPad, and my iPhone because they are a pleasure to use and just work. I opt to run Parallels because our document management system and our practice management system do not have Mac versions; only a Windows version. Similarly, I use my Acer tablet out of necessity because the iPad doesn’t have an acceptable and compatible version of Microsoft Office.
If the device manufacturers of the new Windows 8 tablets get the designs right (above the “it doesn’t suck” bar), and Microsoft gets the operating system right so it is optimized for finger gestures, I believe the future of Windows 8 tablets are exceptionally bright, largely due to being dependent on Microsoft Office. These are very big “ifs” but, nevertheless, obtainable “ifs.”