Windows 8 tablets: Perfect for the courtroom but they aren't there

Summary:Tablets have the reputation of being media consumption devices, and that slows adoption in the workplace. Attorneys do a lot of content consumption but they aren't turning to Windows to do it.

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Tablets are beginning to make their way into the workplace in growing numbers, but often not for the reason you might think. While many think of media consumption when it comes to tablets, attorneys are picking up the slate to do content consumption in the courtroom. Tablets are perfect for long days in the courtroom where lawyers work and they're often picking up the iPad for this content work, not Windows tablets.

Content consumption is very different from media consumption, as the former is often a work-related activity while the latter is mostly personal in nature. Watching cat videos is firmly in the media consumption category while content consumption often means referring to documents for work.

You'd think that content consumption, reviewing Word documents is a common task, would make Windows tablets the perfect vehicle for doing that activity. From the many professionals I speak to in my quest to meet people daily, it's often the iPad they use instead.

I run into a lot of lawyers in my daily excursions due to the proximity of the extensive local court system. There are several courts just a few blocks from my regular work venues, and that means I meet a lot of lawyers.

That most of them use iPads is surprising to a degree as Windows and Office go hand-in-hand. Even so, attorneys I speak with use the iPad in court to refer to Word documents related to the working case at hand, and Word documents sent them by support staff back in the office. Windows tablets are tailor-made for this, yet attorneys I speak with are overwhelmingly using iPads for this content consumption.

The primary reason I'm given for this choice is the good battery life of the iPad. Attorneys can head to court in the morning without fear the iPad will run low on juice on even the longest days. I've heard several horror stories from attorneys about the laptops they used in the past getting dead batteries on long days in court, leaving them scrambling to find the printed documents they needed. Most importantly, having the dead laptop cut them off from receiving significant new information from the office.

When I point out that there are now Windows tablets that can do that, I'm met with universal resistance. The iPad does what they need in court without issue, and it's easy and worry-free. They have no desire to investigate Windows tablets at all, even though I tell them they should. Showing them a good Windows tablet doesn't change their mind or even bring doubt to their conviction.

Maybe this will change when Windows tablets with Haswell inside start appearing in volume, but the feedback I'm getting from attorneys makes me think that might not be the case. They are effectively using iPads in court for taking case notes on the fly and for the all-important content consumption. They don't need to edit those documents in court, just refer to them. This minimizes the importance of one of the strengths of Windows tablets, the ability to run full Office for content creation. This is not what these attorneys want.

Using the iPad effectively for accessing Office documents has separated Windows from Office, and attorneys I've spoken to see no reason to change that. This is something Microsoft will have to deal with to get traction for both Windows and its Surface tablets. 

This is not a scientific survey by any means, but it is the result of speaking with dozens of attorneys. 

See also: 

10 reasons the ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a top Windows tablet

ThinkPad Tablet 2 and accessories photo gallery

10 advantages Windows 8 has over the iPad and Android

ThinkPad Tablet 2: Best Windows tablet

Epiphany: Windows 8 is a very good tablet OS

Windows 8 tablets: A confusing world for buyers

Windows RT: DOA to almost everybody

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2: First impressions (review)

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Tablets, Windows 8

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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