4 advantages Windows 8.1 has over Android in mobile

4 advantages Windows 8.1 has over Android in mobile

Summary: Windows 8.1 proves to be a good tablet OS the longer I use it. It's better than Android in some key areas.

(Image: Dell)

Windows 8.1 gets a bad reputation as a tablet OS in spite of all the work Microsoft has put into it. While it's true that it's quite a stretch to build a platform that covers all possible computing forms, Windows 8.1 has some nice features that leaves Android behind.

Snap view

Microsoft wasn't the first to develop a scheme allowing multiple apps to run and display at the same time, but it's done it better than anyone. Snap view allows putting multiple apps onscreen and then adjusting each pane to the size that works best.

While Android doesn't have this ability, Samsung has its multi-view which works in a similar fashion. It's restricted to a few approved apps, though, and that is a big limiter compared to Windows 8.1. It's only on a few Galaxy devices and not part of Android proper.

Samsung's multi-view is better than Microsoft's snap view in one area, and that's the ability to rotate the screen to portrait and still use it. The Windows 8.1 snap view will only work in landscape, in fact it disables screen rotation when it's active. That smacks of laziness of the developers of Windows and needs to be fixed.

The one restriction aside, snap view in Windows 8.1 is well implemented and it's nice to find it ingrained in the OS.


Galaxy Note 8.0
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Have a lengthy discussion about Android and it will eventually turn to the thorny subject of updates. Perhaps the lack of updates is a more accurate way to put it.

Updates to Android devices are at the whim of the device makers and carriers and there's no guarantee that a given device will ever get that shiny new version of Android. If they do, it will likely be long after it's available from Google.

Windows device owners aren't saddled with this update envy, as all updates are pushed to devices. A very few may not have the smoothest update experience, but at least they get the chance to grab new updates.

While it's true that Android devices continue working just fine without each new OS update, they do miss getting some security updates that are part of these OS renewals.

Mobile experience improvement

Android has been out longer than Windows 8, and it seems that the user experience (UX) is roughly the same as it's been for a long time. Sure there are minor improvements with each new version, but that's about it.

The story is different when it comes to Windows 8. While there were some serious shortcomings in the original version of Windows 8, Microsoft stepped up to the plate and ironed them out with Windows 8.1.

That Windows 8.1 rolled out so fast is a testament to the new Microsoft. The improvements that are ingrained in Windows 8.1 are not minor. The advantage of snap view is due in large part to the 8.1 upgrade.

Rumors are already appearing about the upcoming Windows 9, which will no doubt be another major step forward as far as the UX is concerned.


We've been taught since an early age that sharing is a good thing, and that certainly applies to information. The ability to send information from one app to another is very powerful on mobile devices.

Both Windows 8.1 and Android have the ability to share information between apps, but the Windows implementation seems to be more consistent. The Share feature is always available right there in the Charms menu, and many apps have it implemented well.

There are a few apps that don't have the ability to share, Google's Chrome comes to mind, but for the most part apps make it simple to do so.

A great example of sharing in Windows 8.1 was given to me by a friend. He's able to take ink notes in Windows Journal on his tablet and share them to his Evernote cloud where all his other notes live.

Another good example is the ability to share web pages to the Windows 8.1 Reading List app. This saves information on the web to read later in the Reading List app designed specifically for that purpose.

Sharing information is not missing from Android, but it's more useful in Windows 8.1 in this writer's experience.

The evolution of Windows

Windows 8.1 isn't for everyone but it's coming along nicely. It's not strictly a mobile OS but it's evolving into a decent one. The advantages discussed here are not the only ones over Android, but they are big enough to make a difference.

Some may feel that the availability of Microsoft Office on Windows 8.1 is a big advantage over Android and wonder why it's not on this short list. While the absence of Office on Android is a disadvantage over Windows for some, it's not for the millions of current Android users and thus is not discussed here.

Android makes more sense for some mobile users as it's a robust platform for tablets and phones. It's now making its way onto the desktop, too. Those wanting a pure mobile UX can do well with Android.

Windows is a better mobile OS than some realize, and it would be a mistake to overlook it. Mobile devices of all types are now available with Windows 8.1, and that alone could be an advantage for some over Android.

See related: 

Topics: Mobility, Android, Laptops, Tablets, Windows 8

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  • You know you can use cloud-based Office 365 on Android, right?

    Why do people keep saying you can't use MS Office on Android? And Open Office for Android is out there...
    • And Open Office for Android is out there...

      Open Office for android is not the same as real office. Now with Cloud based office 365 on android, you are absolutely correct.
      Alfred Soyemi
      • Google Quickoffice too

        For when you want to edit documents offline, this free office suite from Google gets the job done.
        • editing docs yes

          Editing Word docs with any level of formatting - NO
          • Really?

            What kind of formatting are you qualifying as "any" when you say that? I've worked up many documents on my tablets over the years and I do a good chunk of formatting...never had an issue.
          • Are you writing books with one chapter?

            Otherwise - the KingSoft Office suite, made for Android will do fine.

            It is based on the OpenOffice code, but a complete re-write, and pretty decent. To sad it is not mentioned and compared here. Well, it is not made in the US, but most things are not made in the US any more.
          • Ouch!

        • Wordprocessing

          With twitter, sloppy emails and texting - the "next" generating does not know what word processing means. Are we now living in an era where "getting the job done" for lack of knowledge is good enough?
          • On a tablet or phone...

            Word processing with any level of formatting is torture. Hell, just replying to emails in depth (not a one sentence reply) is.
          • Ever since some idiot said you can do real work on an iPad.

            Its not brought up with the same frequency it used to be, and I think its because most people who care and understand accept that if you put your mind to it, there is "some" real work you can do on a tablet, but you have to really want to do it and invest in some additional hardware to make it less then torturous.

            But ever since the first idiots started claiming how they so joyfully did all kinds of real work on a tablet its become quite plain that more and more people have begun to talk regularly about "good enough to get the job done", and that dosnt include the often unpleasant reality that even just getting the job done is often a less pleasant experience then doing a good job using real hardware with a real operating system as opposed to a just good enough OS.

            Its the way far too many in the world feel is a "good enough" way to do things these days. Primarily with those absolute kooks who would gladly scribe their work on a piece of old tree bark with a stick while sitting in a pile of turds just to prove you don't really need Windows.

            These people need their heads examined. As the old saying goes; they would gladly cut off their own nose just to spite their own face.
          • Good enough?

            This might be true of an IPad, but when I switched from Windows it was with the full realisation that I'd need to get a new wireless printer, that I might have to work with the manufacturer of the printer to get the drivers written to support it, but with the understanding that this would better fit my needs than any Windows machine than was available then.

            Well, now after four years, my choices proved right. My Android will do any task I set it to do, most often better, and more elegantly than any other solution out there.

            Actually,I think it was only just a few months ago that the statement was being bandied about that you could do real work on a Surface. This sounds amazingly like what you were saying about tablets.

            I would definitely agree that the Win App Store doesn't have the apps it needs yet, and the IPad is substandard in its ability to perform, lacks the flexibility of the Android,as well as the ports or expansion capabilities that Android has.

            I would defy anyone who would say that the Android lacks capability to perform, or lacks elegant apps to accomplish even the most difficult tasks.

            By the way, the last time I checked,I typed 40wpm on a keyboard. On my Android I easily type 100wpm. Can you do as well, or better?

            Anyway, I think it's you my friend who is Fred Flintstone. Come visit me on The Enterprise some time. By the way, we use tablets there.

            Sincerely Yours,

            Jordie, Chief Engineer
            Starship Enterprise
            Robert Christopulos
        • Open Office = MS Office '97

          Open Office may look cool, but Microsoft has the integration, powerful macro, OS support.
          Saying Open Office does the job is like saying all Android apps are good quality ones.
          Microsoft wins in UI, integration, features, programmability, tools, programming languages, etc.

          Open Office is just a kitchen sink - that doesn't integrate with anything else.
    • Cloud solutions still have limitations

      If there isn't a strong reliable wireless connection, then a cloud solutions does little good to a user.

      Having a program stored locally on the device ensures always available access to a needed resource. Whatever that may be.

      That isn't to say cloud solutions have no benefits. They are great, but do have limitations that local storage doesn't.
      • Cloud solutions still have limitations

        Office 365 is both on the "cloud" and physically in my tablet, laptop and desktop; all three can access the same files with an internet connection and the files are physically available after being synced automatically through SkyDrive. Plus, I pay one fee for five devices, though I only use four. But, if Office 365 can't be physically installed on android devices, then your point is certainly valid.
        • True, Office 365 offers flexability for cloud and local synergy.

          and you are right, we were talking about Androids use of office365 in the cloud (or such things that lack a local client/storage).

          I don't know how much functionality is lost by using a non-IE web browser.
        • Google Drive similar

          I use Google Drive extensively. Don;t need a 365 subsription, does nice word docs easily. etc. email is a breeze.

          My tablet is now an extension of my PC. Now to the point I sit in ythe lounge with my family watching Tv and doing stuff on my Android Tablet.

          I saw a post about how WindowsRT can drive you PC using Remote desktop. This looks amazing.

          I think if I was to buy a tablet today I would seriously look at getting WinRT. Seemless apps between desktop and PC is very desirable.
    • Correct!

      I have two full office suites on my Android Galaxy Note. (I used it to make a grocery list. Maybe I am not the target audience?)
    • and Open Officce

      Is nowhere near as good as Office from MS
      • What feature set does MS Office have...

        That you feel is lacking in Open Office? The change in UI with every version, maybe?
        • Obviously....

          Obviously those of you who are claiming that anything other than MS Office is good enough or better have never explored the full capabilities of MS Office. I used to love open office... until I learned what I could do with MS Office. The data acquisition capabilities alone make it superior. The scripting/coding capabilities make it even more so. It is simply so far beyond anything else.
          Lonny Luberts