Two Apple Devices Weigh Less than Two Windows 8 Devices. Will Employees Live With Just One?

Two Apple Devices Weigh Less than Two Windows 8 Devices. Will Employees Live With Just One?

Summary: As Apple sweeps up the dust from their latest launch event, Microsoft expects to reach 2.1 billion people with its Windows 8 marketing launch over the next several months. What does the state of the Windows tablet landscape mean for infrastructure and operations professionals?


As Apple sweeps up the dust from their latest launch event, Microsoft is preparing for the most extensive operating system launch ever, expecting to reach 2.1 billion people with its Windows 8 marketing launch over the next several months. It's as good a time as any to reflect on the state of the Windows tablet landscape and draw some conclusions about what it means for Infrastructure and Operations Professionals.

For the past year I have been passionately explaining to PC vendors the criticality of building a handful of products up to a standard instead of down to a price in a commodity market. If you can't differentiate in ways that people will pay a premium for, the only competitive levers left are quality, price and service…and you can't afford to make any mistakes. In this case, the people in question are those willing to spend their own money (without reimbursement) on tablets and laptops for work. Forrester data shows that it's a $10B market today and a $19B market by 2016. "IT Consumers" may be the only PC growth segment left.

Apple continues to prove this market's viability and they're placing a bet that tablets will remain tablets on their merits, and will continue to be an addition to the computer bag alongside the laptop, and they're building both up to a standard instead of down to a price. Microsoft is betting that what people want is a tablet and a PC all in one, and that apps which behave both as touch and desktop apps on the same device are the future. The Surface represents Microsoft's attempt to make the best possible case, and ensure the device is built to its own standards. Even though the latest Forrsights Employee data show that employee preference for Windows 8 on work tablets is already 20% vs. 26% for iOS, the one-device strategy is an incredibly risky bet. Let's look at some of the numbers from what's on the market:

*Source: Manufacturers' Websites and Press Releases
My colleague Sarah Rotman Epps points out that weight really matters because the lighter it is, the more likely it is to be used in places outside the home. Apple's iPad Mini is the lightest tablet by far at 308 grams (.68 lbs.), so when combined with a MacBook Air at 1343 grams (2.96 lbs.), the total comes in at 1651 grams or 3.64 lbs. All of the other PC vendors come in at significantly heavier weights for a combination of their latest tablets and Ultrabooks, so the one device strategy is crucial. Microsoft's Surface with Windows 8 Pro which is not available yet will come in at 907 grams or 2 lbs. and will double as both a tablet and a Windows 7 or 8 PC, there is only a touchscreen and no touchpad, so if you plan to use it with Windows 7, be prepared to carry a mouse along as well.
Microsoft's bet that a tablet and a PC can come in the same package is a much bigger bet than it might seem at first glance because:
  • Windows 8 is a big OS - bigger than dedicated tablet operating systems. The code base is bigger, the resource requirements are bigger (most Slate tablets require a fan, for instance), and so maintaining high performance requires more hardware and bigger batteries. This presents a packaging problem and adds risk to assumptions around user acceptance.
  • Windows 8 will have similar lifecycle and management costs on a tablet to a Windows 7 PC. Windows 8 will be managed like any other PC, which means that patching, applying security policy, deploying software, provisioning, etc. are all labor intensive, repetitive processes. Many of these activities are either not necessary or possible on iPads, so Forrester believe the lifecycle management cost of iPads will be less.
  • The availability of Windows 8 touch apps trails apps for iOS by a wide margin. Yes, conventional Windows apps will run on a Windows 8 tablet, but that means a keyboard and mouse for optimal use. For Windows 8's touch interface to have value, the apps they want have to be available. My colleague Ted Schadler highlights the gap as it exists today and Frank Gillett proposes what the future will hold.
  • The Microsoft OEM ecosystem is just now shipping its first generation of touch-first tablets. By contrast, Apple is on its 4th generation tablet, so they have had much more time to align the supply chain, corner the market on key components and patent design elements in the process.
What it Means: I&O Professionals will need to be ready for an initial demand from employees for Windows 8 support - especially for the basic services like e-mail, calendar and collaboration. Ben Gray and I will be publishing more specific research guidance in the next several days but we're recommending that firms not get distracted from Windows 7 migration plans. Microsoft has a shot, but the user experience has to deliver. I personally believe that Windows 8 is not a great touch-first tablet OS due to its weight, so will the Surface strategy pay off? What do you think?

Topic: Apple

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  • Humbug

    pointless headline grabbing. And you call yourself 'Research?' Compare the Surface RT to the iPad, or make it a more intelligent headline.
    • WebSiteManager is right

      This article is terrible.
  • Wrong Product Comparison!!!!

    Completely agreed with WebSiteManager. The comparison should be made between iPad 4 and Surface or other OEM RT; and not between iPad mini and Surface Pro. Surface Pro weighs about 907 grams or 2 lbs while MacBook Air weighs about 1343 grams (2.96 lbs.).
  • Your comparison is completely off

    You start by comparing the Apple solution (iPad + MacBook Air) with Surface Pro and even that you get wrong:
    "(Surface Pro) there is only a touchscreen and no touchpad" Wrong.
    • Part 2 (ZDNet, your spam system sucks)

      Then you go on to suggest that the Surface solution is worse by pretending that the MacBook Air didn't exist:
      "Windows 8 is a big OS - bigger than dedicated tablet operating systems."

      But OS X (the OS on the MacBook Air) is not a dedicated tablet operating system and is a big OS.
    • Part 3

      "patching, applying security policy, etc"

      But they are necessary on the small tablet with the fruit logo on it. In fact, appl solution requires even more maintenance because you have to maintain 2 devices and 2 operating systems.

      (many parts of post mangled to get past spam filter)
      • How much fun it is to post on ZDNet

        "But they are necessary on the small tablet"

        should be

        "But they are necessary on the small laptop"
    • Part 4

      "Yes, conventional Windows apps will run on a Windows 8 tablet, but that means a keyboard and mouse for optimal use."

      Or the keyboard / touchpad that integrates with the Surface Pro but the same issue exists with MacBook Air.

      If you are going to pretend that the MacBook Air doesn't exist in this mythical business person's bag, then at least compare the iPad to the Surface RT. Oops, that would destroy 3 out of your 4 points.
      • What is with this strange "anti-spam" system?

        I have plenty of cases when it asserted that I use "profanity" or that my message contains "phrases, associated with spam" -- and, of course, there was nothing ever like this.
      • Part 2

        And I do not even know what to edit out to make the system actually pass my comment.

        How to outsmart this strange anti-spam system?
  • correct comparison is

    People carry a tablet and a notebook , let say ipad+mac air. That is how much weight?
    Now someone carry a 3lb convertible ultrabook that run windows 8, tell me which scenarios weight less?

    What a stupid article.
  • Wrong on several counts

    So the fact that iPads can't be managed by business is some kind of business advantage? Also the iPad is constrained in productivity related activities. The lack of manageability, and and the limited ability to be used in productivity scenarios, significantly undermine the iPad's use in business and eduction.

    "I personally believe that Windows 8 is not a great touch-first tablet OS due to its weight, so will the Surface strategy pay off? What do you think?"

    Windows 8 is software, which means it is abstract, which means that it doesn't weigh anything. The issue is whether Windows 8 tablets will be available that are suitably light. Your own chart shows that many Windows 8 tablets are about the same weight as the iPad 3. Many of you writers consider the iPad the gold standard of tablets, which means many Windows 8 tablets should weigh just fine.

    I personally would like a 15" hybrid, with the tablet section having a nice, adjustable built in stand. I will probably supplement this with a light tablet like a Surface tablet. The Windows 8 ecosystem is all about choice - where over a billion users, who won't have the same taste, will find one or more systems configured to their liking.
    P. Douglas
  • grasping at straws

    .. that's what this article feels like. i can also make a random assessment of weght by saying my 2 smartphones are signifigantly lighter, smaller and easier to carry around than 1 ipad.

    The issue, and ZDnet should already know this, is that these are explicitely not the same devices. They overlap, yes, but they are not the same. You can carry 2 apples device that may or may not weight less, but you are managing 2 machines whereas the win 8 device can be one machine and depending on the form factor you buy, can be more of a tablet or more of a laptop with some overlap in between. It offers maximum flexibility that is simply not offered by the 2 apple devices.

    If you were to compare an RT device to Apple's tablet, then that makes much more sense. Not a pro device with what is essentially a consumer grade consumption device that people are desperately trying to make into a (non) productive machine - similar to how there are some people who still think their smartphones can replace their laptops as business machines - it can be done, but at great hassle and usability.

    I would like to see more sense in these articles from people who really should know better. You can't fall back on "well, the consumer won't know" because the consumer knows or don't know by what you write! If you can't be bothered or, at worst, become ignorant on the matter, of course it is a self fullfilling statement. As writers, you already know that what people know about a product(s) is largely decided by what you write.
    Wansai Ounkeo