Windows tablets: About to gain enterprise traction?

Enterprises are eyeing Windows 8 deployments for tablets and could boost Microsoft's mobility ambitions. Windows Phone still struggles though.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

There are a few incremental signs that Windows tablets are getting traction in the enterprise and giving the software giant some mobility momentum.

Christy Wyatt, CEO of Good Technology, a company that manages mobile devices securely, said the last month or so has indicated that enterprises are warming up to Windows 8 and 8.1 tablets in their deployment plans.

Windows RT and Windows Phone devices remain no shows.

Good polls its enterprise customers often on what they plan to deploy. "We've seen a turn in the last month or two," said Wyatt. Good will publishes its mobility index quarterly. The next report probably won't show many gains for Microsoft's Windows 8 on the mobile front, but there's some momentum building, said Wyatt.

More: Microsoft's Ballmer: We'll get to one Windows, multiple screens | Microsoft ramping up to push Surface broadly through resellers

What's unclear is whether Windows can gain significant share on the enterprise mobility front. Android, which has been helped by Samsung's Knox and enterprise security efforts, is gaining share in the enterprise, but Apple's iOS still rules.

In a presentation at the Gartner Symposium and ITXpo, analyst Michael Silver noted that Microsoft's dominance is weakening courtesy of the mobile movement. However, Silver also said that CIOs should consider implementing Windows 8.1 for touch-based hardware starting in late 2014.

According to Silver, the user experience, hardware improvements, mobile device management support and remote business data removal make Windows 8.1 a good option for corporations.

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If CIOs follow Silver's advice, Windows should get tablet traction in the enterprise at the very least. Silver also said companies should proceed with caution on rolling out Microsoft Surface devices in bulk.

The most inexplicable item in Microsoft's enterprise mobility strategy is that Office isn't touch first. In a keynote talk on Tuesday, Microsoft's outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer reiterated that the company was working on a touch-first version of Office 2013 for Windows devices first and then the iPad.

That reference to a touch-friendly Office wasn't new, but it's clear Microsoft's enterprise traction in tablets would be much farther along via consumerization if it's killer app — Office — was already tablet friendly.

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