Not sure what Windows 8 tablet to buy for your business? Microsoft wants to help

December 17, 2012
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In a lengthy “Windows for Your Business” blog post, Microsoft’s Erwin Visser, a senior director in the Windows division, detailed some Windows 8 tablet case studies, defined the versions of Windows 8 for tablets and offered a “How to Choose” framework for buying such models.

The case studies comprised premium airline Emirates, furniture retailer Rooms To Go — which is handing out Windows RT tablets to sales staff, Seton Hall University and PCL Construction, which are both using Windows 8 Pro tablets.

A quick guide to the different types of Microsoft tablets saw the firm label Intel Core models as a ‘full PC replacement’ that can support 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise operating systems, as well as run existing desktop and Windows Store apps.

Visser positioned Intel Atom models as something of a hybrid between the Intel Core and ARM models, with them supporting existing desktop apps and Windows 8 Enterprise support but also providing good battery life.

Windows RT was recognized for being lightweight and having a longer battery life, although the Microsoft exec did note that these models only run Windows Store apps and come with Office Home & Student RT installed.

Coming to the important part of ‘How to decide’ and Microsoft split the options down by a number of factors. Here's a breakdown of what the firm advised:

Mobility

The post suggested that travelling workers will ‘appreciate tablets that are lightweight and have long battery life’, and thus recommended businesses to buy either Intel Atom or Windows RT tablets.

Workload

The gist of the comments were that casual users should stick to the Windows RT, with those with ‘heavier workloads’ buying Windows 8 tablets with Intel Core processors.

Apps

Businesses looking to tap into existing desktop apps should choose Windows 8 tablets with Intel Core or Atom processors, although Microsoft did say employees in ‘certain roles’ that  rely on a dedicated line of line-of business apps could well use Windows RT.

Corporate access

Visser said the best corporate connectivity to corporate networks comes through Windows 8 tablets with Intel processors running Windows 8 Enterprise and leveraging DirectAccess technology.

Those looking for more occasional connectivity could also use the Intel-powered tablets to automatically sync files with SkyDrive, the exec added.

Visser went onto suggest that Windows RT tablets could connect to VPN clients with all Windows tablets able to access corporate email using Exchange ActiveSync.

Always On

Businesses wanting users to have constant connectivity so that tablets keep receiving network information even when turned off, should opt for the Intel models with the Connected Standby feature, said Visser.

Manageability

Manageability is split down the center.

IT managers looking for full manageability (Active Directory, Group Policy, System Center Configuration Manager) should buy Intel-powered Windows 8 tablets.

Alternatively, simple manageability comes in the form of Windows Intune for Windows RT, with this allowing managers to set security and VPN setting on the device, as well as push out apps to a self-service portal or app.

Governance

All Windows tablets are able to configure security policies using Exchange ActiveSync.

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