Windows 8 slate or iPad

Summary:Which is the better tablet for the enterprise?

Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller

Windows 8 slate

or

iPad

Josh Gingold

Josh Gingold

Best Argument: Windows 8 slate

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

Nothing beats a Windows computer

Matthew Miller: There is no question that the iPad is THE tablet for the consumer, I have a new LTE iPad on pre-order. I've taken my iPad 2 on the road for short business trips and written articles on how you can get work done on the go, through apps and remote access. However, you almost always have to make some kind of trade-off (connectivity required, loss of formatting, reduced functionality, limited multi-tasking, etc.) to use the iPad for "real work" and as a professional engineer there isn't anything that can beat a Windows computer.

 
Engineers in my office can't wait for Windows 8 slate computers where they will get the portability and convenience of a tablet without the limitations of the iPad. Success of Windows 8 slates may hinge on price, stability, apps, and attractive hardware, but the timing seems right in 2012 and people are excited about the potential.
 
 
 
 

Consumer hearts and minds

Josh Gingold: Apple has already won what might be the most important part of this debate: the battle for the hearts and minds of consumers.

Why is this important?  Because the rising popularity of the iPad (15 million units sold in the last quarter alone) coincides with the equally important trend toward BYOD, or bring your own device.  As a result, enterprise IT and business decision-makers are already forced to recognize and support Apple products in what has traditionally been a PC stronghold.  Arguably, the iPad -- and perhaps the iPhone before it -- have given Apple the foothold it needed to penetrate the enterprise market.

So which is better for the enterprise?  Well, we're not quite in the so-called "post PC era" just yet and this particular category of devices isn't likely to totally replace the laptop or desktop any time soon, at least not for many of the common business applications.  As such, this is really more a matter of which platform is most likely to become a category mainstay for enterprise portfolios.  To me, it's no longer just a matter of form factor and features but rather what people want to use and right now that appears to be the iPad.

The Rebuttal

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Thank you gentlemen!

    I look forward to your closing arguments tomorrow, and I will deliver my final verdict Thursday at 2pm ET. Meantime, everyone, be sure to make your vote count.

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Oh, and one more thing...

    Just kidding. Thanks, everyone. Looking forward to your comments.

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Woo me

    Let's hear your pitch supporting your side to a Fortune 500 CEO.

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Windows 8 tablet: elegance without compromise

    Do you love the elegance and personal interaction of a touch screen device? How about long battery life and the ability to use all the apps you know, love, and require at the tip of your fingers? If so, then look no further than the Windows 8 tablets from Microsoft. Existing Windows apps run while the user interface is optimized for the touch experience. You don't have to make any compromises to use a Windows 8 tablet.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Windows 8 slate

    Re-think your paradigm.

    You have no choice. iPads were at the forefront of the tablet movement and will continue to own the hearts and minds of your employees. Help them be more efficient by giving them what they want so they can find new and innovative ways to help you improve and grow your business. Power to the people!

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

  • Great Debate Moderator

    We're nearly out of time...

    ...but stick around for one more question...

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Support...

    What are the challenges for the iPad as far as corporate tech support? What are the benefits? and... And what challenges will Windows 8 tablets face in the corporate world? What benefits are there?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Companies take time to upgrade and BYOD needs to be accepted or managed

    I think one of the first things is that IT needs to understand and accept that people are going to bring their iPads to work. After that, security becomes the primary concern so policies have to be established and published to the company. If nothing else, IT may want to have the ability to wipe an iPad if it is lost or stolen. The benefits are that people like using the iPad and may make extra efforts to assist IT in resolving issues. The challenges faced by Windows 8 will be the same that they face now with Windows. About half of the computers in my office still run Windows XP and employees get Windows 7 when they get a new computer (a three year cycle). We won't be upgrading to Windows 8 on any computers for several years and we are not the only company that is slow to adopt brand new operating systems. Changing the OS in a company is expensive and also risky as the apps and procedures that get work done are through using the same OS for many years. There may be issues with the Windows on ARM devices, but we haven't seen enough of them yet to make that judgement. While Windows 8 looks and feels different, it is still Windows and should give IT departments the same experiences as they have now.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Windows 8 slate

    Here comes the controversy...

    Less problems means less support required in the first place. One reason the iPad and Apple products in general are celebrated by users is because they're easy to use. They don't breakdown a lot... at least not in my experience. Also, BYOD also means FYOP or fix your own problems. Oh, and the new configuration tool makes all the rest a whole lot easier too!

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Halo effect

    Will Apple's corporate halo effect---iPhone begat the iPad, which pulled in Macs---be too much for Windows 8 to overcome?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Apple still appeals to limited numbers in the enterprise

    I don't think so, there are definitely many companies that can go with Apple products, but then again there are many, like my engineering firm, that will never use Apple computers to perform engineering and other specialized work that requires more than a word processor and a spreadsheet. Right now, Windows Phone is still not widely adopted so it isn't doing much to help Microsoft and Windows 8, but we still have time before Windows 8 is released on hardware and Microsoft's partners are doing all they can to get Windows Phone out into the hands of the consumer.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Windows 8 slate

    First, let's define "too much to overcome".

    Apple isn't going to put Microsoft out of business. However, yes, Apple is on a roll and Microsoft looks like it's playing catch-up. I predict that indeed the Mac will also be pulled into the workplace more for all the same reasons I've expressed previously. Remember, no one thought the iPhone was good for business either. Most thought the Blackberry was superior. A lot has changed since then but it's funny that now we're having the same sort of debate over the iPhone's offspring. Apple is definitely shaking things up and it's paying off for shareholders.

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

  • Great Debate Moderator

    How about Microsoft's halo?

    How important is Microsoft's own halo effect? Windows, SharePoint, Office etc.

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Important, but Microsoft still has work to do.

    I think this is extremely important and is what I think may drive Windows 8 tablet adoption. Windows is often required in the enterprise and if Microsoft can make it appealing then that will help. However, Microsoft needs to do a better job of optimizing these apps for the tablet interface. When I was using the older Tablet PCs I couldn't stand the limited touchscreen functionality and having to bounce between different user interfaces kills the joy of the experience.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Windows 8 slate

    Obviously, very important to IT!

    With all due respect, everyone on this site is in some way involved or interested in information management. Microsoft has served that market very well for many years and will continue doing so. What's at issue here may be whether IT professionals are able to adapt. Microsoft is still steeped in a hybrid model of on-premise and cloud-based solutions. Apple is in the cloud. Microsoft will benefit from the halo effect... as it obviously is here... but the chorus of those who embrace Apple products is definitely rising in the enterprise.

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Apps

    How important is the role of corporate apps to this debate?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Apps are key to why I would like a Windows 8 device

    I know for myself, this is the major differentiator between the iPad and Windows 8 Intel slates. If my iPad could run Office, Project, and my engineering apps then I would go with it without hesitation. I love the hardware, battery life, and apps for personal enjoyment. Windows on ARM may have app limitations, but that remains to be seen at this time.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Windows 8 slate

    Apps are everything.

    Users are driving Apps development. If there is a need, then it will be built. The corporate world still very much favors the WinTel platform but as more users choose alternative platforms then the Apps for those platforms will also improve. Again, I don't think the iPad is ideal for many line of business applications but neither is any other tablet. Having said that, there are sure a lot of business Apps available already.

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Hybrid?

    Does it make sense that some tablet/laptop hybrid will emerge for corporate America?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Keyboards are here for a while

    If you are talking about something like the Lenovo Yoga then I think that would be perfect for many people. You just are not going to change the mindset or work methods of people away from a keyboard, mouse, and display overnight and efficiency cannot be matched by a tablet at this time. There are a few industries where the all touch tablet can work, but not for the majority. If you are talking about something like the old convertible Tablet PCs, then I don't think those will be broadly adopted. They are larger and heavier and if you are going to have something like that then why not just go with a full laptop. The benefit of a table is portability and touch interaction.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Windows 8 slate

    We don't know what we don't know.

    Surely there is some category killer out there that will change the equation but right now it isn't apparent. Invariably, the big complaint is over whether you can attach a mouse and/or keyboard. Yes, you can but then you have all that other stuff to carry around which defeats the purpose. Ultrabooks are cool and kind of well-suited for those who prefer a mouse/keyboard. Maybe we simply need two different types of devices for different case uses. A cross between a car and a motorcycle is something like a tricycle. Let's not do the same thing to tablets.

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

  • Great Debate Moderator

    OK, a two-part question...

    What unique traits do you expect Windows 8 tablets to bring to the enterprise? And, what traits does the iPad bring to the corporate table?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    No compromises with Intel Windows 8 tablets

    The fact that no compromises have to be made to use a device in a tablet form factor is my primary reason for wanting a Windows 8 tablet. This means you get the full Office suite, AutoCAD, specialized engineering programs, Project, and more in your hands. IT departments also get the same security that they have now on Windows. Once we start talking about Windows on ARM, then the conversation changes though and I would likely tip my hat to the iPad based on the limited info we have at this time. The iPad will likely be less expensive and offer longer battery life. Otherwise, I mainly see the iPad as a consumer focused device. However, consumers are bringing them to work for email, presentations, and other reasons so companies do need to consider them.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Windows 8 slate

    Loyal consumers and an Apps ecosystem.

    Apple defines the category and its ecosystem of users and developers is considerable. The potential threat to its competitors is also imposing. Microsoft clearly understands the implications and is taking a step in the right direction with its new Windows 8 operating system. Which, by the way, I think is pretty cool actually. Frankly, both companies are moving in the right direction albeit from different starting points. Microsoft by improving its user interface while still preserving the functionality that business users need, and Apple, by making the iPad, which is already popular with consumers, more business-ready with new configuration functions, etc.

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Laptop replacement?

    Will tablets---Windows 8, iPad or otherwise---effectively be a desktop replacement? Tell me why Windows 8 tablets or iPad will replace a laptop.

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    A tablet can be a replacement, but still need a keyboard for work

    I would love to replace my Windows 7 laptop with a Windows 8 tablet because there are many times when I am viewing information and don't need immediate access to a keyboard yet I want a more interactive experience. I spend a lot of time in the field on ships and having a portable Windows tablet with good battery life would be a benefit over my laptop. There are QWERTY keyboard accessories, Samsung includes one with its tablet, and this would be a necessity since I haven't found anything that can beat a keyboard for text entry. My iPad can replace a laptop only if I can get remote access to a Windows PC. Thus it cannot really replace anything, but it can definitely supplement a laptop.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Windows 8 slate

    Probably not.

    They really are meant for two completely different uses. As nearly everyone participating in this debate has noted, tablets... slates, whatever... are not necessarily ideal for line of business applications. I wouldn't do this event on a tablet/slate. Nor would I write a paper or create a presentation. What I will do is optimize my time by using a single device for as many functions as possible... both personal and professional. Yes... email, social media, uploading content, downloading content, etc... is all a part of my work life (and many others' too, I suspect). Nevertheless, I still use my desktop for the heavy-lifting. The tablet is an extension of the desktop and not a replacement. At least not yet. It is much more likely to replace a laptop which has been the desktop extension for many if not most until now.

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Let's dive right it then....

    Matt and Josh: How does the role of consumerization play into your respective positions?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Microsoft has its work cut out to get consumers to BYOD a Windows 8 slate

    Consumers love the iPad and I see them all over the office, but the only way they are being used for "work" is for email. The rest of the time, they are used for media, apps, and gaming. I think Windows 8 tablets are going to be more appealing to those looking for a portable Windows computer and generate more excitement in the enterprise space. However, like Windows Phone, I don't see the consumer jumping on it by the millions until Windows 8 tablets are in the price range of the iPad and can be shown to offer a similar experience. From what I have seen with the Consumer Preview, Microsoft is not there yet.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Windows 8 slate

    Consumerization is a critical consideration.

    Technology is personal. Nobody wants to use something just because somebody else says they have to use it. Yes, it is extremely disruptive for IT and difficult to support but it's happening despite the concerns and objections. Apple is trying hard to bridge that gap between personal and business use. People who own iPads come to work and say "hey, I want my work email on here" or whatever. It's already happening and Apple is counting on more with the new iPad.

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Mic check, gentlemen...

    Are our debaters standing by?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Morning from snowy Seattle

    I am here and ready to go.

    Matthew Miller

    I am for Windows 8 slate

    Good morning from San Francisco!

    All set.

    Josh Gingold

    I am for iPad

Closing Statements

No compromises with Windows 8

Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller: Microsoft was a pioneer in the tablet space several years ago with the UMPC and then Tablet PC lines, but these never seemed to appeal to the full enterprise or consumer market. People are excited about Windows 8 in a tablet form factor, primarily for the potential to have a portable computer with no compromises in applications. After testing out the Consumer Preview on a Samsung Slate I can see why there is excitement, but also see areas where Microsoft has to improve Windows 8 before release to the market.
 
As Apple has shown, there is more to making a successful tablet product than just having bigger buttons and fewer menus. Microsoft needs to make sure the entire experience is consistent, fluid, stable, and easy. Consumers don't often get frustrated with an iPad and Microsoft needs to make the Windows 8 tablet experience just as easy, while also providing differentiation with application support.
 
Apple redefined the tablet market with the iPad and I use mine every day, including while on business trips. While you can use it for basic work tasks such as email, word processing, spreadsheets, and web browsing, there are still many limitations that hold it back from full enterprise adoption. Apple and 3rd party developers are making serious efforts to address those limitations and with BYOD more and more consumers are going to bring their iPad to work whether or not the IT department acknowledges it.

 

No more status quo

Josh Gingold

Josh Gingold: It strikes me as unusual that we should even be having this debate since the Windows 8 slate isn't yet on the market for which iPad’s share is already greater than 50%.  Nevertheless, this is the mobile showdown that so many (including me) have been waiting for.  And although it feels like much more of the same old argument over which is better, Apple or Microsoft, this may be different because so many PC fans are hopeful that the Windows 8 slate may actually have a fighting chance against the iPad juggernaut.

Unfortunately, many IT professionals still maintain an extreme aversion for anything made by Apple, which may be limiting their ability to see past the traditional Windows platform in which they have so much time and energy invested.  The work place is changing and most business users don’t really care what IT wants.  They want whatever technology they use in their business lives to be the same as what they use in their personal lives.  Those types of devices are not replacing PCs but rather extending them through a more versatile form factor.

Interestingly, much of the same criticisms that were first leveled against the iPhone are now translating over to the iPad.  But, of course, none of the criticism is actually justified.  The iPad has already proven that it can and will be used for business, even if their IT departments don't always like it, and every user I talk to says they’re happy with it.  Perhaps more importantly, Apple has planted yet another flag in the enterprise market.  Like it or not, it might be time to brush up on Apple products.

 

Windows 8 best bet for business

Lawrence Dignan

Congratulations to both Matt and Josh for offering such well-reasoned *and* reasonable arguments, with no mud slung. My take: Although platform choice, in the increasingly BYOD-driven enterprise, will continue to be influenced  by users' personal preferences, I have to agree with the majority vote and give this one to Mr. Miller: Windows 8, with the rights apps, looks to be the best tablet for most business environments.

Topics: Great Debate

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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