Android tablets: Training wheels for Windows 8 tablet makers

Android tablets: Training wheels for Windows 8 tablet makers

Summary: The iPad is usually the named competition for the upcoming Windows 8 tablets, but it's likely Android tablet sales that will be most affected. That's evident by all the major Android tablet makers preparing Windows tablets for launch.

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Asus Vivo Transformer
Asus Vivo (Windows), Asus Transformer Prime (Android)

Apple has dominated the tablet space that it single-handedly created with the iPad. As the Windows 8 launch draws near, it's logical to think that they will be competition for the iPad. That may be, but the biggest tablet segment at risk of losing sales to the new Windows 8 tablets are running Android. It's not a coincidence that all of the major Android tablet makers are readying Windows 8 products for sale.

Microsoft did Android tablet makers a favor in producing the version of Windows 8 to run on ARM-equipped devices. Windows RT by design will run on ARM tablets pretty much the same as all of the Android tablets. That makes it pretty straightforward for Android tablet-makers to shift production to Windows 8 models. Think of Android tablets as training wheels for Windows RT tablets. OEMs were able to get the kinks out of hardware designs in plenty of time for Windows RT to hit the shelves.

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Most of the major Android tablet makers have announced Windows RT models very similar to those already being sold with Android. Samsung, Asus, Acer, and Lenovo together account for many of the Android tablets on the market, and all have announced shiny new Windows tablets. You only have to look at the new Windows tablets to see a resemblance to existing Android slates. Some of them are hard to tell apart from a distance.

Acer Iconia W510 Windows Tablet
Acer Iconia W510 Windows Tablet

While Windows RT allows Android tablet makers to produce versions with little change from exisiting models, the major OEMs are already finding it possible to make the changes necessary for the Intel-based models, too. Lenovo, Samsung, Asus, and Acer have already announced full Windows tablets based on both Intel Atom and Core i3/5/7 processors. No doubt the lessons learned from the earlier Android work are helping them ease into the Windows tablet market.

These Android tablet makers are bringing everything to the Windows space. Asus pioneered the laptop dock design with its innovative Transformer Android tablets, and the Vivo brings the design to the Windows crowd. Lenovo will sell the ThinkPad Tablet 2 with Windows and it is a continuation of the original ThinkPad Tablet with Android. Acer is also bringing its Iconia Tab line to the Windows tablet market.

Most OEMs are on their second or third iteration of Android tablets, and they've gotten better each time. Windows 8 will get the benefits of that learning curve as the latest and greatest is what's coming to the Windows line.

The message we seem to be getting from Microsoft with its Surface tablets is that you need a keyboard with your slate to take full advantage of Windows. That makes sense as Windows is a full OS compared to Android. There's no question that Windows tablets with laptop docks will be leveraged better for most users than the Android counterparts.

Those looking for a good Windows 8 tablet will have quite a few models to choose from thanks to the Android tablet space. OEMs haven't made a lot of money on Android tablets but producing them was good practice for building Windows tablets. It's a win-win for both Android tablet makers and those wanting Windows tablets.

Topics: Tablets, Microsoft, Windows

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68 comments
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  • Asus Transformer Prime FTW!

    It maybe now a relatively old tablet but it's hardware is almost identical to the Transformer Infinity (personally I don't need GPS in a tablet and certainly don't need 1080p).

    Windows RT tablets are currently dead in the water, there's very little apps for them.
    bradavon
    • Windows tablet apps > Android tablet apps

      I'm pretty sure there are more Windows RT apps that run appropriately on a tablet than there are for Android. I think it's game over there.
      Jeff Kibuule
      • Android Tablets > Windows Tablets

        The Nexus 7 alone has probably sold more in the last 3 months than the entirety of Windows tablets over the previous 10 years.
        ldo17
        • android tablets are fart tablets...

          android tablets are fart tablets...you can't run any serious applications. Its more of a toy...same like ipad.
          owlllnet
          • What do you consider a serious application?

            I'm just wondering.
            Michael Alan Goff
          • How about ...

            ... LOB applications for our accounting, finance, manufacturing, supply-chain and sales management systems?

            I don't see many of those running on Android/iOS, but I see ALL of them running on Win8 and/or RT.
            bitcrazed
          • LOB applications

            You can already see a lot of these applications all around the place running on iOS. Some do run on Android as well.

            None for Windows RT so far.

            What was your point?

            Windows RT is not Windows as you know it. It's more like an iOS clone. Software will have to be written from scratch, like on iOS or Android. But, those two other have software written for them and developers trained for years already.
            danbi
          • No it wont have to be rewritten from scratch. The C++ and C# code

            will port right over. xaml/html ui largely ports over.
            Johnny Vegas
          • Only if they are RT applications...

            Most such applications are designed for MFC...

            And that means they won't run on RT at all.

            so you are limited to the rather more complex intel based tablets and not the more efficient ARM.
            jessepollard
          • Nope...

            Windows RT might as well be Android. It will not run many legacy & LOB apps at all. I here you, what is the point of anther device, i-whatever or Android, if it really is just a big phone. I too deal with manufacturing & engineering software, as well as a few old Gensys & Prelude based apps. RT will not run these period. I also use a few 3D modeling titles & RT will not handle revit or microstation. Not even the viewers. So unless if is full windows 8, it's just another screen for watching movies on when laptop battery time is too precious to waste on entertainment, like 10+ hour flights.
            George Leon
          • Same like RT

            It is only Windows 8 that will, by your definition, run "real" applications.

            That said, it isn't about the total number of apps available, show me a single Apple user with 700,000 apps installed on their iPad...

            It is about having at least one decent app in each category, plus the "Usual Suspects" - Facebook, Twitter, Evernote etc. available at launch.

            I have Android, iOS and WP7 devices and, when I got the iOS, I tried a bunch of apps, but on each of the devices, I now have the same apps installed.
            wright_is
          • Microsoft Tablets for Serious things and iPad for fun and consuming

            that leaves the stupid Androids out of the game....!!!!!


            Yupiii..!!!!!
            Bunch of copiers....!!!!
            dkaparunakis
          • wrong

            androids are better full of apps dude
            Selena Texana
        • I would HOPE so

          $899 for a full PC in tablet form, vs a $199 simple use device in tablet form.
          William Farrel
      • Game Over

        for Windows in general. We just can hope ....
        Watchmen247
        • Game over for Watchmen247

          Try something believeable some time... you might ge some respect.
          William Farrel
    • They are not dead in the water

      Windows RT is not even on the market yet. The apps for it are in the thousands already.
      rmark2
      • Thousands of apps

        Like what? How many LOB apps exist for Windows RT?

        Correct. None.
        danbi
        • Really?

          Office is available from day one, which is the biggest LOB App.
          Ram U
        • There are actually a few LOB apps in the store.

          I'm not at home, so I can't search the store right now for you, but the most important for my company is Citrix Receiver.

          However, there are a few app developers that are waiting until the launch date to release their apps; hoping to get that initial momentum bounce. I've seen a few of them demoed in their pre-release state. You can probably find a couple on youtube.
          NOEEM