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Southern Illinois University picks Windows 8 tablet over iPad; highlights cost and manageability

by Doug Drinkwater

March 20 2013

An increasing number of school and universities are starting to deploy Windows 8 tablets
An increasing number of school and universities are starting to deploy Windows 8 tablets

Mention it quietly but Windows 8 tablets are gaining traction in education. The Southern Illinois University explains why it swerved the iPad in favor of handing out Dell’s Latitude 10 tablets to freshmen for the fall term.

Freshmen will receive the 10-inch Windows 8 tablet as well as their course and dorm assignments when arriving on campus for the fall term, according to InformationWeek, which reported the news.

The roll-out is part of the university’s Mobile Dawg initiative and is part of a longer-term plan to provide tablets for every student across every class. The project is being subsidized by a $200,000 grant from Microsoft and Intel, and is reliant on the university using the Internet2 e-textbook portal for free and inexpensive digital course materials.

Details on how many tablets are being deployed or how much the university is spending on the project are scarce at this time, although educators did explain why it chose to go with Windows 8 tablets instead of Apple’s iPad, a device which has quickly attracted strong demand from the education sector.

“We started out with the perspective that it would be nice to give every student an iPad, partly because college students still think iPads are really cool," said university CIO David Crain.

"But once we started digging into it, we found a number of reasons to go with Windows."

Crain added that one of those reasons was cost, with the Southern Illinois University (SIU) apparently expecting to save an incredible $3 million or more on hardware, warranty and support costs over four-years, just by NOT deploying iPads.

The CIO did also highlight some of the Latitude 10's useful features. The SUI CIO mentioned that the tablets can be controlled by Microsoft System Center, explained that much coursework is still reliant on Adobe Flash (not supported by Apple’s iOS) and said that many of the classrooms will be fitted with Latitude docking stations, enabling the tablets to be used as a conventional PC with a keyboard and mouse.

Dell launched the first Latitude 10 in October and recently detailed how it was seeing early demand from a number of schools for the device, including from the Southern Illinois University.

R.David Crain, CIO at Southern Illinos University, will speak at the TABLET STRATEGY conference on May 6, 2014 in New York City. Learn more

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