Why Windows tablets won't usurp enterprise iPads – however much IT might want them to

Why Windows tablets won't usurp enterprise iPads – however much IT might want them to

Summary: The iPad isn't being used as a desktop or laptop replacement in businesses – which may give hybrid devices such as Microsoft's Surface a chance to gain a foothold.


Companies may be looking to introduce more Windows-based tablets into their corporate IT set-up — but the move is unlikely to dent use of iPads in the enterprise.

Windows tablets such as Microsoft's Surface are more likely to end up replacing corporate desktops and laptops than iPads, according to a survey of senior IT professionals by analyst firm Gartner — however much IT departments would prefer their users on Windows slates rather than iOS ones.

"A lot of the focus we saw with the participants in the study was they were looking at Windows 8 tablets like Surface with somewhat of a hopeful eye that they would be able to consolidate the number of devices that users are using," Gartner research director and report author Mark Cortner said.

For the IT department, the advantage of Windows tablets is that the management tools and experience built up from legacy Windows environments "is easily extended to those devices and that's by no means easily extended to an iPad", he said.

"Windows tablets may very well be a better solution than laptops for organisations going forward and they may provide those to their users, but that doesn't mean those users will stop bringing in their iPads."

Windows tablets are unlikely to end up dislodging the iPad in organisations because of the nature of the bring-your-own-device trend, Cortner said, which is shaped by consumer buying patterns.

"At this point, the consumer market for tablets is overwhelmingly in the favour of devices like the iPad or Android-based tablets as opposed to Windows tablets," Cortner said.

"For those people who are a laptop or a tablet candidate today for a company-provided device, Windows tablets could be very attractive but that doesn't mean that the employee will still not want to be able to access their email, for example, on their personal tablet."

Growing interest in hybrid devices

Cortner said the study suggested a growing interest in hybrid devices, such as the Surface, that could augur well for Windows-based tablets in the enterprise.

Hybrids with a touchscreen display that can be removed from a main unit housing a keyboard and other compute resources are likely to prove popular, he said.

"The Windows tablets specifically will likely do well as touch-based enterprise devices where mobility is a key concern today or where adding mobility would enhance the business process, or make things move faster in the business, or improve employee productivity in a very measurable way. Those products will have success."

However, according to Cortner, the 17 detailed interviews he conducted for his study, How to succeed with the iPad in the enterprise and avoid the pitfalls, also revealed unease about Android-based tablets, thanks to the perception that the OS is fragmented.

"You have multiple flavours of Android and just in general a higher degree of security concerns relating to Android. So in many instances organisations were allowing iPads, for example, as part of their BYOD policies, they were not dismissing Androids as something they would never support but it was definitely something on the back burner," he said.

"A few companies were moving forward with some limited support for Android tablets. For the majority, supporting Android was still on the sideline. Organisations, frankly, had their hands full with the iPad."

How far should IT support iPads?

But the current relative weakness of Android and Windows tablets doesn't mean the iPad has it all its own way in the enterprise, because IT departments have mixed feelings about how far to support the Apple device.

"In terms of the access to the types of tools or systems that the IT organisation can do, basic table stakes can satisfy a lot of what users are initially looking for: email, contacts, internet access — the first tier."

Providing a second tier of more complex applications, however, will yield diminishing returns, as it's delivered to a smaller set of users with more specialised needs, yet takes up a larger amount of development time and IT department resource.

"The message here is for IT organisations not to get their head wrapped around it too much in terms of trying to deliver everything to the iPad, because those people who are using the iPad are using it as a device of convenience — a complementary device to their desktop or laptop, not as a laptop replacement. You can deliver tremendous value to them just by extending that first tier to the users."

Cortner said the bring-your-own-device trend — in which the iPad plays a significant role — is more popular in the US than in Europe and generally constitutes less of an issue than vendors might portray.

"As a general rule, BYOD gets a disproportionate amount of attention for how prevalent it is," Cortner said.

"BYOD as a topic is something that is very popular and top of mind at a lot of industry events and conferences. And certainly top of mind for many companies in the vendor community and I think it gets a disproportionate amount of attention for how commonly it's used within organisations."

More on Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface

Topics: Bring Your Own Device, Android, Apple, Enterprise Software, iPad, Microsoft, Mobility, Microsoft Surface

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  • I await the avalanche from Owllllnet, Lovey, et. al.

    No, the world IS flat!
    I Am Alive and You are Dead
    • Don't you have a life?

      Seriously, I've seen this same comment posted by your alts so many times.

      It's getting tiring, and it makes you look immature.
      • Lol

        You replied....mission accomplished. I suggest if you dont like the comments dont read them. Anything you say wont change a thing.
  • Diversity is a hidden strength

    One issue that is overlooked is if the corporate IT supports a variety of OSes it makes the propagation of malware harder because some devices will not be vulnerable to specific malware. Instead of the entire system being hammered only part of the system is damaged.
    • first rule of security - minimize the number of possible attack vectors

      you are suggesting the exact opposite. now instead of just one or two sources of potential vulnerabilities you have to deal with a whole bunch
      • Hypocrites!

        Most break the first rule by their platform choice.
      • first rule of real life

        be as diverse as possible.

        less short term benefit, guaranteed survivability.

        sadly, some blindly believe the security mantra you learnt...
        • survivability is why W8 tablets are needed in the enterprise

          The ipads are next to useless and the android tablets are security nightmares. The W8 tablets are the ones that are robust and adaptable enough to carry on the tablets species.
          Johnny Vegas
          • Intresrting

            We use iPads in a verity of functions that are very productive in our enterprise. There is a great selection of software to use and I am often surprise how the young work force uses them in areas I would not.

            Same goes for the schools which are turning out future generation of workers. My daughter's school uses ipads for every thing and they are far more productive with them then I ever would have believed.

            In a lot of ways but not all, it is old thinking and habits that limits iPads and not the technology.
          • Load of nonsense

            You don't need iPad to be productive in school. School that adopted iPad did so to be posh. You can equally use Galaxy note and be as productive as iPad and it means nothing. It is the tablet you like to condemned (Surface RT) that looks and work as it's made for work not for goofing off or screen tapping gaming
          • That is

            funny. The best part is, we will know if you are correct in a few years. I predict the Surface RT as we know it (Windows RT on ARM) will be killed when Balmers replacement comes into power.
          • You predicted snow in Sahara Desert too

            You need to reason beyond your love for white or black Apple. I prefer California red Apple. Surface is here to stay, simple. Any new Microsoft CEO will either save it or get shifted. You must be really dumb if you think Microsoft as a corporate entity will do nothing and allow Google and Apple to dominate this field that raises billions in revenue?
          • You have a lot to learn

            Go do some research and learn how to integrate tablets into your network. Your comments shows you are far behind and ill informed.
            new gawker
        • How does that apply to IT devices or security in any possible way?

          As if some company is going to fail, because they didn't have enough different devices running as many different operating systems as possible.

          You are disagreeing just to disagree, not matter how factually incorrect you are.
          • How does it apply?

            Ok, maybe I'll grant that you want to limit the number of attack vectors, however by doing so, it guarantees that the vector that DOES succeed attacks the entire infrastructure and not just limited pieces.

            I might point out that even the military strongly believes in redundancy--parallel systems designed to take over should the main system fail for any reason. Windows as a platform really doesn't allow for redundancy as any successful attack tends to spread itself throughout the network almost unrestricted--taking out the entire system sometimes within seconds. The only way to prevent this with Windows is to completely isolate the network from any outside communications.

            On the other hand, if different systems are set up in parallel--such as Windows and OS X or other UNIX, then any given attack will only hit half the system, giving the enterprise the ability to keep running while the attack vector is addressed and the infection eliminated. While up front costs will be higher (something the white-collar penny pinchers hate) the savings accrued by still functioning during the attack would more than make up for its cost in lost productivity.
          • redundancy is not security

            redundancy in computing is to combat reliability issues. if you hack one redundant system, you hack them all by automatic replication.
            diversity is also at odds with security. diversity creates more "weakest links" in the system. anyone who thinks diversity is the backup to security issues has no clue about IT management.
          • Redundancy and diversity can be the same thing.

            Running parallel but different systems, you avoid the weaknesses of one, though admittedly you add the weaknesses of the other. However, when comparing the weaknesses of UNIX to the weaknesses of Windows, if the parallel system is UNIX, you realize far fewer new weaknesses which typically require manual attack vectors as compared to the automated ones that typically infect Windows.

            After all, an infected system is no longer reliable and if an attack works to take that system down (i.e. ransomware) then the unaffected system will keep the business running while the infection is removed.
      • Re: minimize the number of possible attack vectors

        Go look up "biodiversity" versus "monoculture".
        • Which is a good argument

          against having all Android in tablets...I agree.
      • Yeah

        use platform for everything. Once the security is broken your demise will a lot quicker.