/>
X

10 disadvantages Windows 8 tablets have compared to the iPad and Android

Windows 8 tablets are getting better and better, but the competition still holds the lead in some key areas.
image.jpg
By James Kendrick, Rest in Peace on
00-three-tablets.jpg
1 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

10 disadvantages Windows 8 tablets have compared to the iPad and Android

Windows 8 can be different things to different users and that's by design. I use it heavily on tablets and have come to appreciate how well it works on the slate. Tablets running Windows 8 have some advantages over the competition, detailed in a recent article (linked below).

See also: Epiphany: Windows 8 is a very good tablet OS | 10 advantages Windows 8 tablets have over the iPad and Android

I use iPads and Android tablets a lot, too, and it's apparent that Windows 8 falls short in some areas. That is because both iOS and Android were written from the ground up for mobile devices, and Windows 8 is still a PC OS under the glitz. That is an advantage over the competition in some ways and lessens the quality of the user experience in other ways.

Having discussed the advantages Windows tablets have over the competition, it's only fair to point out how it could be better. That's how to push improvements after all.

This is not intended to bash Windows tablets, the more I use them the more I like them. They are full PCs after all, and that's a good thing. That is also the reason for Windows tablets falling short compared to the competition in some areas.

Windows 8.1 is coming and it may address some of these concerns. That's in the future, though, and this article is dealing with the here and now.

This is dealing strictly with the tablet user experience and how it compares to the competition.

01-apps.jpg
2 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Apps, apps, apps

The Microsoft Store is getting apps at a rapid pace, but the selection falls short compared to the iPad and Android tablets. Not all apps in the iTunes store or the Google Play store are gems, but when you need a good app to do something you can find one. That's not the case with Windows 8, at least not yet.

02-inconsistent-touch-control.jpg
3 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Inconsistent touch control

Windows 8 is very versatile with both the Metro environment and the legacy desktop. The latter makes it possible to install any legacy Windows program you need, but that comes at a cost.

The desktop environment works with touch control, a critical part of the tablet user experience (UX), it doesn't work particularly well. The Metro side of things handles touch control nicely, but when you slide over into the desktop it is not so.

Sure, that's largely due to running old apps not optimized for touch but it's still jarring when you switch back and forth. It's necessary to do that due to the lack of touch apps for Metro, and that needs to improve.

03-3rd-party-accessories.jpg
4 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Third party accessory ecosystem

We love our gadgets, and we love accessories for them. Those accessories range from simple cases to protect them to electronic gizmos to help get the most out of our tablets.

The popularity of the iPad has triggered the growth of a huge accessory ecosystem. You can choose from lots of keyboards, cases, and unique accessories that make using the iPad better.

There are blood pressure monitors that plug into the iPad to help track vitals, and scales that track your weight on the iPad.

The Android ecosystem trails the iPad but major accessory makers are starting to produce cases and keyboards for major Android tablets.

That's not the case for Windows tablets as you are reliant on the tablet maker to produce a case or keyboard, and that's not common.

04-3rd-party-keyboards.jpg
5 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Third party keyboards

Onscreen keyboards are essential for using a tablet and having a good one can make the UX very good indeed. Both Windows and iOS are stuck with the keyboard that ships with the OS, but Android has a lively third party keyboard environment.

Finding the keyboard app that works well can greatly improve how well things work, and it would be nice if both Windows and iOS would allow using third party keyboards.

05-3rd-party-browsers.jpg
6 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Browsers, browsers

We spend a lot of time in the web browser and that's especially true using tablets. Mobile browsers are pretty good, and that includes Metro Internet Explorer (IE) but it's always good to have the choice to run other browsers on a touch screen.

It would be nice if you could run alternate browsers on the Windows Metro interface, but that's not the case. You can install other browsers on the desktop side, but then you deal with the less-than-ideal touch operation.

Both the iPad and Android tablets have other browsers in the app store to choose from, and they are all written for touch control. Windows falls short in this area.

06-drivers-drivers.jpg
7 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Drivers everywhere

Windows 8 tablets are full PCs, and while that's a very good thing it also has its drawbacks. Who hasn't had to deal with system problems that required looking for and installing new hardware drivers for some system component?

It's not as bad as in versions past, but drivers can still cause problems in Windows 8. 

Tablet users don't want to do system maintenance like deal with problem drivers and they don't have to with Android tablets or the iPad. That's a big advantage over Windows tablets in this writer's opinion.

07-notifications.jpg
8 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Notification Center

Tablets are extensions of smartphones and that means getting lots of notifications. Android led the pack from the beginning with a notification center that slides down from the top top inform users of messages from many apps.

Apple finally implemented a notification center a while back, and while falling short of Android's it's still pretty good.

Windows 8 has live tiles on the start screen and while those can be useful they fall short of having one single place you can go to see all of the important notifications. There's an attempt to do this for social media in the Metro People app but it's not comparable to the notification centers on the iPad or Android tablets.

08-widgets.jpg
9 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Widgets

You either love widgets on Android or you hate them but they can be very useful. They can provide useful information on the Android home screen, and apps can have their own widgets to use as desired.

Neither iOS nor Windows 8 has widgets and both could benefit from having them. Sure, Windows 8 has live tiles which are sort of like widgets, but they fall short.

09-headphone-use.jpg
10 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Using headphones

Tablets are extensions of smartphones and as such they are good for listening to music or watching videos. That means using headphones, especially in public areas, and that's an area that Windows tablets fall short compared to the iPad and Android tablets.

Headphone use is ingrained in Android and iOS. Just plug in the headphones and listen to what's playing. Some Android tablets even sense when the headphones are plugged in and offer special home screens to facilitate listening (see image above).

Windows tablets usually handle headphones, but sometimes they don't. I've had tablets fail to play audio at all with headphones plugged in, and even one that played audio at such a low volume I couldn't hear it.

That volume problem was rectified by troubleshooting online and then finding a device driver that resolved the problem. That's something never necessary with Android or the iPad. It's the price of Windows 8 tablets being full PCs.

10-content.jpg
11 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Content purchase/consumption

Tablets are good media consumption devices, and the iPad and Android tablets have the advantage over Windows tablets in this regard. The iTunes Store has lots of music, movies, and TV shows available to rent or purchase. This process is integrated into the OS so it's as simple as clicking and paying.

Android is not quite as good but it's getting better. The Google Music store has a big selection of top music. You can also use alternate content stores like Amazon MP3 for purchasing content.

Both music and video content can be streamed to the iPad and Android tablets with ease. The whole process requires no hassles for the user, just purchase and listen/watch to content stored in the cloud by streaming it to the tablet.

There are options for Windows tablets too, but the experience of consuming the content is not always seamless. Playing music in the background on them is not always possible as sometimes audio stops when you switch to another app. It kind of defeats the purpose when you have to keep the app playing content front and center instead of doing other things while listening to audio. That's not always the case but it happens often enough to cheapen the experience.

 

Related Galleries

Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup
shutterstock-1024665187.jpg

Related Galleries

Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup

8 Photos
Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'
Full of promises!

Related Galleries

Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'

8 Photos
Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup
Asian woman working at a desk in front of a computer and calculator

Related Galleries

Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup

8 Photos
Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup
Person seated at a booth in a cafe looks at their phone and laptop.

Related Galleries

Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup

10 Photos
Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida
ca3b4019-26c5-4ce0-a844-5aac39e2c34b.jpg

Related Galleries

Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida

16 Photos
Incipio, Kate Spade, and Coach cases for Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: hands-on
s22-ultra-incipio-coach-cases-2.jpg

Related Galleries

Incipio, Kate Spade, and Coach cases for Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: hands-on

15 Photos
Casetify Impact Crush Galaxy S22 Ultra case hands-on: in pictures
casetify-s22-ultra-3.jpg

Related Galleries

Casetify Impact Crush Galaxy S22 Ultra case hands-on: in pictures

10 Photos