The iPad is still king in the tablet space when it comes to market share and Android is trying to grab more share all the time. Microsoft designed Windows 8 to run on tablets in an attempt to bring the OS into the hot tablet segment.
Android tablets and the iPad are solid tablets, but Windows 8 has distinct advantages over both of the other platforms. Windows 8 is a full PC OS and that brings some important capabilities to the tablet.
The 10 features in this collection that give Windows 8 an advantage over the competition are by no means the only ones. They are significant enough to break them out from the rest.
Note: some of these advantages exist on Windows RT tablets but not all of them. This article was written for tablets with Windows 8 Pro. Windows 8 Pro is used on numerous tablets currently available.
Tablets are the perfect form to pass around so others can share them. They are also very personal devices and sharing them properly requires a way to keep others out of your stuff.
Windows has long supported multiple user accounts on a single PC and this can be leveraged on Windows 8 tablets. Just set up each user with her own account and all files and settings belonging to each will be protected. It's like each user having his own tablet, all within one device.
It may sound silly to hook external monitors up to a tablet but the more powerful Windows 8 models are essentially full desktop systems in a slate form. They can easily drive a full desktop configuration and can be used as a core module in a setup with monitors, keyboard, mouse, and any other peripherals needed.
Some users have gotten used to having multiple monitors at the desktop, and Windows 8 handles that with aplomb. Configuring the monitors is a simple process that works just as well with tablets as it does other system forms.
The prospect of wireless docking can fully leverage the use of multiple monitors with Windows 8 tablets.
The Windows ecosystem of third party peripherals is huge, and that extends onto the tablet. Peripherals that work aren't restricted to the multiple monitors indicated on the previous slide, virtually any type of hardware that connects with standard connectors can be used with tablets.
Scenario: It is easy to connect a 1TB portable hard drive for handling lots of large files on the go. Not everyone will need such storage capacity on their tablet but audio and video professionals might find that pretty handy.
Microsoft built the ability to run and display two apps side-by-side, a feature called snap view. This is a very useful way to work with two programs together. Snap view in Windows 8 is nice enough and improvements in the upcoming Windows 8.1 make it even better.
Some Samsung Galaxy Android tablets have this capability (called multiview) but it is more limited than the Windows 8 snap view. Any two apps can be snapped together in Windows 8, even the legacy desktop, while Samsung's method only works with certain apps.
The Windows File Manager has long been a fixture on desktops because it is as good a file handler as that on any platform. The ability to perform any file function is a powerful feature on a tablet.
There are third party file managers for the iPad and Android tablets, but few of those are as powerful as the Windows manager. Windows 8 includes it in the box so tablet owners have it at their beck and call.
Security is important, especially for mobile devices that can be lost or stolen. A good way to keep data private no matter what is to encrypt everything so it can't be viewed without a security key.
Enter Bitlocker, an encryption method that comes with Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise edition. You can easily encrypt entire drives with Bitlocker to make sure only you can access the data. This can render a lost or stolen tablet useless for the finder/thief while protecting your private data.
Tablets are the perfect form for supporting handwritten input, and Windows 8 is easily the best platform for such support. Pen input has been available in Windows for over a decade, and Windows 8 leverages it fully.
Certain apps like OneNote and Windows Journal work particularly well with the pen but it's not limited to those. The onscreen keyboard used in Windows 8 for touch entry can be switched to handwritten entry on tablets with a pen. The automatic text recognition can understand even poor handwriting for entry as text.
There are lots of news reader apps on all the mobile platforms but the Bing News app in Windows 8 is superb. It is particularly suited for touch operation on tablets and is a joy to use. It's exclusive to Windows 8 so the competiton is out of luck.
Every browser out there will run on Windows so tablet users aren't restricted to one or two as on other platforms. All of the popular browsers (e.g. Firefox, Chrome) can be used on a Windows tablet so everyone's preference will work. Internet Explorer is pretty good in Windows 8 but it's nice to have options.
Windows 8 can run any legacy software which means even powerful programs like AutoCAD and Photoshop can be installed and used. This turns the tablet into a good work tool for even professionals in the most demanding professions. If it runs on a Windows workstation, chances are it will run on a Windows 8 tablet.