Tablet computers aren’t all that new. They have been actively used since 1989 with industry pioneers like Grid and Fujitsu paving the way for on-your-feet computing. Traditionally tied to verticals like healthcare, insurance and government, they have now entered into the mainstream thanks in a large part to the launch of the iPad and the iTunes store.
What the iPad showed the world is that a tablet can be cost effective, easy to use, and that it can run all day. Primarily a media consumption device, the iPad piqued the interest of many. Soon enterprises were pursuing tablets to outfit workers who required connectivity without the need for a lot of horsepower to automate their work processes.
But this came at the price of a lack of compatibility, durability, security, and content creation.
This “need" device” in many instances became a "want" device that did not replace the laptop, but was used in addition to a laptop. And suddenly, IT needed to contend with the hurdle of enterprise management of different devices running different operating systems, as well as the lack of security features on certain devices.
Windows, iOS, Android… is there a way to deploy a tablet solution that actually plays well with the enterprise and delivers on the vision of a tablet set by the iPad?
With more businesses running on Windows than any other OS, with more business applications being available to run in a Windows environment, and with Windows offering the most security, Windows would be the logical choice if it can deliver on the tablet experience like the iPad does.
Windows 8 will do just this. I’ve spent some time using devices running the Windows 8 Developer Preview and after only a couple of days many of my concerns were put to rest.
The interface is intuitive, supports tiling/sizing, allows for easy launching of applications when in Metro mode, and supports a keyboard and mouse just as a traditional PC does. Windows 8 also supports Windows 7 applications like Microsoft Office and Outlook.
I was pleased to see that the interface works equally well with a finger, a keyboard and/or a mouse. As an example, pulling up the Edge UI that includes Windows 8 Charms (the new configurable version of the WIndows Start bar) requires a swipe on the far edge of the right side of the screen. If you don’t have a touch screen, simply press WINDOWS KEY + C and Charms appear at the bottom left of the screen.
Windows 8 delivers the convenience and intuitiveness of a consumer interface but does not forget that a business system needs to be used to get work done, too. The familiar applications come to life just as they would on your Windows 7 laptop.
It’s not an easy task to integrate a consumer look and feel while maintaining the compatibility, security, and usability of new applications and existing ones. But I believe Microsoft exhibits this well in the Windows Developer Preview release.
Both enterprises and consumers alike will be impressed with its capabilities, ease of use, and compatibility with new and existing applications. Microsoft has done a fine job with Windows 8.