iPad: Kicking Windows back to the office

iPad: Kicking Windows back to the office

Summary: The allure of the iPad enticed millions to buy one for fun. The discovery that it could do everything desired outside of work led many to forget about using Windows at home.

iPad over Win8
Image credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The iPad garnered the reputation as a new type of device designed for doing fun things at home. People were immediately taken with the fact that the iPad could do lots of fun things, endearing it to the masses. Then developers started writing thousands of apps for the iPad that started to bridge fun stuff with activities normally done on a PC, even Windows PCs. Consumers noticed that the Windows PC (desktop or laptop) that they kept at home was being used less and less. Ultimately they were only using Windows at work.

For many consumers the iPad does everything they want a tablet to do and more so why would they want to use a tablet with Windows?

A familiar sight in public is someone with an iPad in hand, or one being used with a keyboard case. Where it used to be more common to see people using Windows laptops of varying sizes in public venues many of them have been replaced with the iPad. More significantly, iPad users are not just doing fun stuff that tablets are believed to be designed for, they are doing everything they used to do with the forgotten Windows laptop back at home.

Microsoft saw this coming and radically changed the design of Windows to work on tablets, desktops, and laptops. The folks in Redmond saw the writing on the wall and knew they had to change the OS into a tablet OS to keep Windows in the home. They already had the enterprise locked up so bringing Windows to the tablet was an effort to keep folks using the OS at home.

Make no mistake, the Surface RT was firmly aimed at getting consumers to imagine Windows on home tablets, and that effort has failed. Those wanting to use a simple tablet at home have pretty much already adopted the iPad. It sports a mobile form factor that runs a simple OS designed specifically for the tablet. Sure iOS is also a phone platform but Apple has adapted it to handle the iPad nicely. It was also able to get app developers to adapt or create iPad-specific versions of apps to work well on the slate.

I like my ThinkPad Tablet 2, a nice Windows tablet. It takes advantage of Windows 8, especially all the tablet features Microsoft implemented for that purpose. But when I show it (or any Windows tablet) to folks I get pretty much the same reaction.

"Hey, that's a nice tablet."

"Yes I like it. It runs Windows 8."

If the person I'm showing it to doesn't work in the Windows/IT space, I get a blank look for a few seconds followed by this or a similar statement:

"Why would you want to do that?"

The discussion proceeds with me explaining how you can run Windows apps and how new apps are being written for the Windows 8 app store. This is followed by a conversation that makes it clear the other party not only has no desire to run Windows and its apps on a tablet, they genuinely can't see why anyone would want to do that. The iPad does everything they want a tablet to do and more so why would they want to use a tablet with Windows?

For many consumers Windows represents work. It's on the computer in the office and they "have" to use it there. They remember all the times they had to get the IT folks to come fix the PC that stopped doing something. They think of how they can't go to all the cool web sites because they are blocked at work, which they come to think of as a Windows thing. They think of how trouble-free their home computing has become since they just naturally started doing it all on the iPad at home.

Most of the folks I interact with about Windows on tablets who like it, and are excited about Windows 8, are those who either make a living in the Windows ecosystem or have a special need for using Windows outside the scope of typical home computing. Having full Windows in a tablet form is just what they need to do what they want both for work and at home. 

Unfortunately for Microsoft, there aren't enough of these enthusiasts to make a difference, as proven by both the Surface RT debacle, and low Surface Pro sales (compared to the iPad). The vast majority have already been shown that their beloved iPad is all they need outside of work. The iPad has totally replaced PC usage in the home for many owners and kicked Windows back to the office.

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Tablets, Windows 8

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  • So... what is it about this article?

    Other than just another "I-don't-like-MSFT-products" statement? People can't do everything on an iPad that they used to do on a (Windows) laptop, because iOS is not a full-fledged OS. Unless those people used to browse, email and consume content a bit. For the real work, a real OS is still needed, whether it is Windows, OSX or Linux.

    Also, the author seems to be too engaged already within the iOS environment to be able to explain the advantages of a full Windows 8 tablet over the iPad. No offense, but I don't think he can see it anymore. The statement "beloved iPad" makes me a bit cringy. This smells like iSheep instead of an iOS user. Which also might mean that nothing except an iPad is good enough for this author.

    And I am curious what "typical home computing" is and why Windows should not fit in that anymore. Maybe this could be explained by the author?
    • What home tasks can't be done?

      I'm curious as to what home tasks you think you can't do on an iPad. Care to explain?
      • Work and Play

        As a software developer, I cannot use an iPad for that when I'm working at home.

        My gaming rig, which is also run on Windows, throws the whole idea that PCs cannot be fun right out the window (especially with Steam's summer sale which just ended). You will not have an experience like Bioshock Infinite on an iPad.
    • You said it yourself

      "For the real work..."

      Exactly, that's what I do in the office. I do it in Windows. I do none of those things at home.

      The article describes to a T what's happened at my house, tablets won over everybody, there's now more tablets than laptops or PCs. We browse, facebook, twit, youtube, email, ebay, the tablet form factor beats laptops and desktops for all that. Not to mention that the idea of trying to open a laptop on the commute train looks patently ludicrous at this point.

      If I'm going to work, that's going to happen in Windows, and it will be on a laptop. Although I could probably use it, I don't need Windows on my tablet. Android and iOS do the job perfectly.
      • Heck, tablets can even do video editing

        and music production these days. All the "fun" stuff PCs can do can be done by tablets. Sure there's USB this, USB that... but between Bluetooth and the Cloud, any advantage that would give has been all but taken away.

        Most people are going to keep a computer around for "work stuff." But the days of 2 - 3 PCs in the house are coming to a close, I think.
        • At the same time

          There is nothing special about the way iPads do entertainment that any other operating system can't do, which is why Android has caught up and passed it by.

          The only thing that is putting users in the situation where they need to keep a second computer around is the operating system running on tablets and the built in limitations they have.

          Take those same tablets and put OSx, Windows8, Linux (or any other full powered operating system) and put a decent touch interface on them and suddenly there is no need for a secondary computer to sit around to make up for the deficiencies of mobile operating systems.
          • "do entertainment"

            No better way to start an intelligent conversation than to offer glittering generalities with no specifics. I enjoy the masterful way in which you wordsmith this generality to prove only your points, (based on this undefined "do entertainment" statement), and to highlight only the aspects of your predetermined (yet undefined) determinant qualities. Hell, might as well say that since no one besides my favorite OS supports "GobbledygookBS", my favorite OS is best at "GobbledygookBS", and therefore superior.
        • Video Editing, on your iPad?

          Are you suggesting that true video editing, rendering, compression, and processing works as well on your iPad as it would on a multi-core, multi-GPU system? Or, are you just pretending it might? Could you provide some statistics as to just how long your iPad would take to render 120 minutes of HD (1080p uncompressed) from 4 or more RED sources, including audio at 360 kbps plus?
          You have a toy. Your toy is fun for you to learn on. Don't confuse your toy 'lawn mower' for the one daddy uses to cut the lawn.
    • You could as easily substitute Andorid for iPad...

      But the fact is, that Windows 8 absolutely was an all-or-nothing attempt to not lose the home market, and they actually did it at the expense of the enterprise. So he's not wrong. While this article only went so far as to say Microsoft was kicked back to the office; the fact probably is that if they can't find a way to save face and backtrack, make something usable to business, it's about to lose the enterprise too.

      Windows 7 is the last OS to work like "Windows", and companies are using it...sure. But while the tiles are good enough if you want a Skype enabled, game station, and don't care about security; no company wants their whole infrastructure running through what is essentially a glorified extension of XBOX live or the new total police state that Microsoft creates on the back end to secure what is essentially a weak link in the front. Like dumping water in a bucket with a hole in the bottom.
      • Windows 8 in the Enterprise.

        What aspects of Windows 7 (which you state "Windows 7 is the last OS to work like "Windows", and companies are using it..") does Windows 8 remove, and further, hinder Enterprise?

        "no company wants their whole infrastructure running through what is essentially a glorified extension of XBOX live..."

        In what way has Windows 8 imparted any of these claimed differences?

        You are sadly confused, or uninformed. Please correct that situation prior to posting publicly.
    • Foreground / Background

      First, Mr. Kendrick is using Windows 8 and says something nice about how he likes to use it. He is relating anecdotal experience which suggests there is indifference to the proposition that the power of Windows is needed for the type of computing most others do.

      Which is really the point. When iPad detractors/Windows boosters outline the things it does not do, they are essentially accurate. It's just those things not done do not matter. What do you folks think? Tens of millions of people have walked into an Apple Store asking if any thing other than the iPad is running Word and when told "No." begrudgingly and in the meantime get an iPad, necessarily paying a premium over the cost of a Windows-running laptop?

      Maybe that is happening and maybe later a lack of Office will be a deal breaker and materially affect sales. In the meantime, people who suggest I take no offense at being called an iSheep should perhaps give their tired talking points a rest. People did and do buy the iPad and like it. That means they are using it in the way they expected or in ways that exceed their expectations.
      • Well reasoned point.

        While I disagree with your final assessment, I appreciate your thoughtful understanding.

        Without actual knowledge of expectations, I refrain from making generalized statements regarding them, at least, not in a general sense. You may be the holder of such vast amounts of datasets to prove that one point, but I sincerely doubt it.
    • Correction: YOU can't do everything

      on an iPad that YOU used to do on a Windows laptop. But YOU are not "People." The day YOU realize that YOU are a NICHE market and not a MAINSTREAM market, YOU will have gained a great deal of wisdom and understanding into how and why iOS is such a success.
  • Windows still has its positives

    "If the person I'm showing it to doesn't work in the Windows/IT space, I get a blank look for a few seconds followed by this or a similar statement..."

    This isn't saying much, as most of the workforce is actually engaged in a Windows/IT environment.

    Soccer mom might not need a Windows tablet, but Doctor daddy might.

    Now if Microsoft would just market their atom-devices instead of RT...
    • Re: Now if Microsoft would just market their atom-devices instead of RT...

      Unfortunately Windows tablets are too expensive and too heavy, while not having enough performance or battery life.
      • Pricy short time usage!

        Yes, that's the thing, at least for me, pricy but not enough play time especially the pro version. Anyway, does Windows 8 tablets run intensive high graphic games such as Nova or such? Oh, wait a minute, do the Windows 8 has that for its tablets yet?
        • If you know that

          Windows 8 tablets have the battery life of an average ultrabook, than you might know as well that it can run all the games to be played on that ultrabook. However, you might want to choose a high-end gamers pc if you want to run high-end games :-).
        • "Oh, wait a minute, do the Windows 8 has that for its tablets yet?"


          All we have is Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, TF2, CS:S, and every single PC game in existence.

          But of course, we don't have Nova.

          I mean, who needs all those other games when you've got Nova?

          Oh wait, we have BlueStacks, an Android emulator...

          Hey wait a minute, Nova's an Android app...

          • Boink.


      • FUD

        Compared to the iPad 4, Dell XPS10 costs $300 less, weighs less, and has the same 10 hour battery life with a larger display. The ASUS Vivo also costs $300 less than an iPad 4, weighs less, has 9.5 hour battery life with a larger display.

        I too have seen tablets replacing Windows laptops for home use. Both of my teenage daughters have forsaken their laptops for android tablets. they are perfect for web browsing, tweeting, watching videos and otherwise wasting time.

        One daughter had to have an iPhone 5, which her father's new wife bought for her. Hardly a day goes by where she does not complain - loudly - that she wishes she still had her Windows phone, which she gave to her sister.