You really can use a tablet for some work purposes, but it works far better if you're primarily an information consumer rather than an information producer. So, sure, if you're looking up data from a spreadsheet, searching the web, or reading email, they're great. But if you're putting data into a spreadsheet, creating web pages, or writing long emails or documents, the platform can quickly become annoying.
You can solve those problems with a Bluetooth keyboard and a mouse, but do you know what you call a tablet with a keyboard and a mouse? I call it a laptop computer, myself.
So, go ahead and support bring your own device for tablets if you like, just don't expect them to replace PCs. They won't.
I know, I know, if you're a Windows user you don't want to hear this, but Macs really are fine PC replacements. You can run many Microsoft office applications on them, such as Office for Mac and Outlook. True, they're not the newest versions, but if you have to have Microsoft applications, they are there. In addition, thanks to virtualization software like Parallels, you can still run your native Windows applications.
The downside, as always, is that Macs are never cheap. They'll also require you to learn a new way of doing things. That said, the learning curve from Windows to the latest version of Mac OS X, Mountain Lion, isn't as steep as from, say, XP to Windows 8's Metro.
3. The Linux Desktop
What's always been far more secure than Windows, a great deal more stable, and with the right combination of distribution and desktop interface? And it actually looks and feels a lot like XP. That would be desktop Linux; in particular, Linux Mint with the Cinnamon interface.
The downside is that it's more trouble to run Windows applications on Linux. It is not, however, impossible, thanks to a program called Wine and its commercial incarnation, Crossover Linux. In addition, just like the Mac, there are ways to run Windows virtually on Linux, such as Oracle's VirtualBox.
Frankly, though, for most office work, I find that LibreOffice and Evolution are better than their Windows counterparts, Microsoft Office and Outlook.
Don't believe me? Give it a try. You can download Mint and use it for free. You may just find that Linux is the operating system for you.
2. Chrome OS
Google thinks you don't need a fat-client desktop — any version of Windows, Mac OS X, and most Linux editions at all. Instead, all you need is enough Linux to run a system and the Chrome web browser for all your needs. With Chrome OS, they may be right.
Perhaps the best thing about Chrome OS and its chromebook is that it has no learning curve whatsoever. If you can use a web browser, you can use a chromebook.
Is it right for you? Sit down and take a long, hard look at what you and your staff actually do all day. If you find — and I think many of you will — that most of their work can be done with software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps such as Google Docs and Gmail, then Chrome OS is your natural choice.
1. Windows 7
What? You thought I was going to tell Windows users that their best move would be to anything else but? Technically, I think Linux is better, but for total cost of ownership (TCO), it's hard to beat Chrome OS. If you're really wedded to Windows, Windows 7 is your best and most natural move.
I would only urge you to at least give the others a look. I really do think you may be surprised at how well they might work for your enterprise.