avatarby Nirave GondhiaJuly 8, 20150 comments

Surface Pro 3

Picking a tablet that you need to use for work and occasionally for pleasure can definitely be difficult, especially considering that Windows tablets are arguably better for work and Android tablets are better for personal usage.

Making this decision often requires a compromise and the actual outcome depends on what business features are key for your use. Deciding between Android and Windows 10 usually focuses around three key areas, communication, productivity and features. Join us as we explore each category in an attempt to decide whether Android or Windows 10 is really best for business.

Best for Communication

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A key part of the business experience is the ability to communicate with colleagues effectively, even if working remotely. Key parts of the communication experience are accessing email, discussing things via IM clients and, for millions of users, native support for communications applications like Slack.

Android users have access to native applications for Slack and IM, while email is handled through either the pre-loaded email client or the raft of alternatives in the Google Play Store. While most of these can handle email well, none can offer all the features you’ll find in the Outlook application on your work computer.

This is where Windows really comes to the forte as it offers a fully-functional desktop version of Outlook that is designed to work exactly how your work computer works. From syncing folders, rules and email layout, to offering filters, a dual screen layout and integrated calendar, the feature set in the full version of Outlook is still unrivaled by ‘mobile’ email clients.

Windows also offers native applications for Slack and some IM clients, but the app selection isn’t as large as on Android. It’s a tough choice between these two so we’ll call it a draw. Android has the larger and more diverse app collection while Windows has the arguably better email client.

Verdict: Draw

Best for Productivity

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This is another area where the full power of the desktop Windows operating system is unmatched by Android and for one reason; Microsoft Office. The most-used word processing suite in the world, Office is used by billions of people and despite the best efforts of millions of developers, there is no Android client that offers the full feature set offered by Microsoft Office.

From Office to another key area for business users: remote working. The ability to access the files stored on your work computer and/or server while on the move is an essential part of making the remote working experience as seamless as possible.

The key difference between remote working on Android and Windows is that Android often requires you to access your computer remotely before accessing the server while a Windows 8 tablet – as long as it is registered and configured to access said server – removes the need to access your work computer. Essentially, a Windows tablet offers the same features your computer does but on the move, while Android will, more often than not, simply act as an extension with which to connect to your computer to complete a task. That said, Android handles remote desktop very well.

The main reason for the vast divide in productivity between Android and Windows is that, while the former is designed with mobile in mind, full Windows tablets are designed like laptops, with working on the move a secondary use case.

The Windows 10 update – which is set to launch in just a few short weeks on July 29th – will change this as universal apps mean the same applications are designed for both desktops and working on the move. As covered in our Windows 10 features first look, the tablet mode is a key element as it lets your laptop detect when a keyboard is being used or not; when a keyboard is attached, the OS converts to desktop mode and once the keyboard is detached, the OS reverts to a finger-friendly interface.

Overall, as long as your workflow requires a document editor, spreadsheets and more, Windows definitely beats Android in the productivity stakes, especially considering the tablet mode in Windows 10. Android is definitely capable of multi-tasking and productivity but the platform is designed for mobile use primarily, which makes it less efficient compared to a true desktop.

Verdict: Windows wins

Best for Features

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The reason that Android lost the previous section is the same reason that Android tablets stand out from other tablets; the feature-set. As smartphones running Android progress to new boundaries in terms of technology, so do Android tablets, albeit on a slower scale.

In comparison however, Windows tablets tend to follow laptop specs more closely, meaning next-generation features such as Quad HD displays and advanced cameras aren’t added to Windows tablets until a generation or two after their Android counterparts. When they are eventually added, the same Windows tablet is significantly more expensive than its Android counterpart.

Overall, whether it’s fingerprint security, advanced cameras (both front and back) or design, the features on Android tablets are significantly more advanced than their Windows counterparts and although this is likely to change with Windows 10 – which brings support for better displays and components – Android looks likely to lead the way for the foreseeable future.

Verdict: Android wins

Android vs Windows: Which is Best for Business?

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Unsurprisingly, the fight between these two platforms was certainly close-run and the overall verdict is that they’re too closely matched to declare one a particular winner.

Given that the choice of platform very much depends on what you plan to use your tablet for, it’s difficult to provide a definitive answer to the question of which is best for business. Rather than attempt this, let’s take a look at scenarios where each platform is the best for you:

  • Android: the platform is perfect for you if you need to occasionally remotely access your computer or edit your files but otherwise plan to use your tablet predominantly for web browsing, IM and media consumption.
  • Windows 10: In comparison, Microsoft’s OS is perfect if your tablet is designed to be a portable version of your laptop and you’ll need to work like you would in the office, while on the move. Alternatively, if your company uses a custom domain and configuration on your work laptop, then it’s likely that your IT department will have better support and knowledge about Windows over Android.

There is one final thought that you need to consider; if your business use includes a specific app or program that is only compatible with one of the two platforms, this is likely to limit the tablets you can choose from.

Which platform do you think is best for business? Does your company use Android or Windows for its tablets? Let us know your views in the comments below and be sure to vote in our poll!