As you would expect we have been testing Windows 8 on a number of tablets for many months now. Such a radical change to the way we work is not easy to take, but the change to Windows 8 has been rewarding.
It is an amazing operating system for tablets and it competes very well with both iOS and Android. In fact we are sure that you’ll find it a lot easier to use as you’ll see in the video:
Here’s a rough video transcript:
Windows 8 and Tablets – Why it will change the way you use your tablet!
Windows 8 appears to be a radical change and to be honest I’ve been a little bit slow to warm to it. As I use it more and more though, it has become the tablet of choice for me at home over the Android and iOS tablets that I have.
Now, let me just clear this first, I’m not going to talk here at all about the Windows RT tablets . That’s Tablets like the Microsoft Surface and ASUS RT that are built on the same types of low spec ARM processor hardware that is found in the Android and iPad tablets.
Those Windows RT tablets are just as limited as those tablets in terms of performance and capability, and I personally would not bother with them, although for the sake of cost, you might look at them for home use only.
With Windows 8, Microsoft has brought to the PC that consumer friendly consumption, touch environment made desirable by the iPad. Microsoft has done a good job of this with Windows 8.
But let’s face it this touch environment is 99% designed to waste your time. It’s entertainment. Last I checked on iPad 47 or the top 50 apps were games. The other three had no practical value to your life!
So Windows 8 introduces a touch friendly platform for entertainment, watching movies, checking Facebook, twitter and reading web pages, blogs and books.
Don’t get me wrong, these are all important things. I’ve personally learnt an enormous amount from time spent trawling the web on a tablet and all three of these platforms iOS, Android and Windows 8 do this well.
Because of the fluid interface and the powerful web browser, Windows 8 has found its place in the home for me. I don’t personally have an Xbox, but if you see the Xbox Smartglass functionality in action, you’ll be hooked on the Windows tablet as a home entertainment device too.
It’s not all entertainment though because the other benefit of the touch friendly “app” style environment is that it is very easy to use.
As a result, many companies have packaged up simple web based software into touch friendly apps for iOS and Android and they deploy this style of tablet to their employees to fill in forms and collect data. So now we also have this simple app interface on Windows and that is what many companies have been waiting for.
And as far as simplicity goes, I have to say having spent years now with an iPad, and a couple of years on Android, Microsoft have nailed the Windows 8 “Modern” interface. It is by far the easiest to use on a tablet.
It’s very fluid, simple and easy to use. Getting around the system is a pleasure.
Now the real benefit of Windows 8 on a Tablet is that it is a full operating system. You’re not just trapped in the consumer friendly touch environment! You actually have the desktop operating system at your disposal.
So you’ve got the choice of a full browser or a touch browser, and while these consumer tablets are limited about how many browser windows you can open at once, the Windows 8 Pro tablets will just keep on going. They are vastly more powerful…
You can run the exact same software on here that you run on your laptop! And you can use the Active Digitizer Pen to control it, finger touch or you could plug in a keyboard and mouse, connect them with Bluetooth or you could get a tablet like the Fujitsu Q702 or Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro and just clip one on like this!
So this is where we can get really productive on tablets. Because I can run real software on this Tablet PC, I was able to use the incredibly powerful Intel Core i7 processor and 16Gb of RAM in my rugged tablet here to produce this High Definition video. It’s not practically possible to do on ARM hardware.
Then there’s the word documents and excel spread sheets that you deal with on a daily basis. On the Windows tablet, we don’t have a dumbed down try hard version of excel… We have excel. We’ve got all the formulas, the macros and the pivot tables built right in.
Same with word and power point. Full power software. You also can have outlook with its powerful collaboration capabilities. You want to compare your calendar with someone else’s? It’s built right into outlook and exchange.
You’ll never ever be stuck… You’ll never have to go back to your PC to get things done with a Windows 8 tablet.
That simply allows you to speed up your response to information.
There are a couple of negatives about Windows 8 though.
First of all, Microsoft’s Windows team have dumbed down a couple of things about the desktop that I really depended on in Windows 7.
Touch flicks have been removed on the desktop. They still work with pen, but no longer with touch. Flicks are one of those advanced features that should not have been turned on out of the box anyway. It’s something that you have to learn, but it is extremely powerful. Rather than removing this altogether, Microsoft should have left their many intelligent and advanced users with the ability to turn them on for both pen and touch.
Unfortunately in their pursuit of the simpletons switching to iPad, Microsoft have run rough shod over the power user. Here’s another example where we could previously right click with two fingers like this, now in Windows 8 we have to wait. When you do this 100 times a day it sucks.
Also, the tablet input panel still has it’s handwriting recognition, by far the most advanced on any device. But the interface has been dumbed down again, forcing us into a mould that is not as usable as it was in Windows 7. That said, the keyboard options in general are far better than they ever were in Windows 7. In windows 8 you can select a full keyboard like this one rather than the frustrating dumbed down keyboard that you have to put up with in iOS.
Lastly, the app store is still very bare when compared to the two alternatives. There’s plenty there though, and I know that the reason that millions of business users in particular will select one of many Windows 8 Pro tablets is the desktop. The app store is just a bonus.
Now of course, a Windows 8 pro tablet costs more that than the iPad and Android tablets. But when you have to buy your staff a laptop and an iPad, that’ll cost you much more than a Windows tablet. On top of that, having only one device to manage will save your IT people (not to mention you) hundreds of hours and it all adds up to a much operating cost.
Not only that, but your life is so much easier only having one device! No synchronising, iTunes, no jumping through hoops to get hold of data. Don’t have a connection, doesn’t matter! All your stuff is stored locally, probably on a 256Gb Solid State Drive. Of course you can have it in the cloud too… I do, and those cloud storage apps like drop box just work so much easier on a PC than they do on an iPad!
So I can confidently say that windows 8 has the best touch OS out of these three by a long way. It’s easier to use, it’s faster, it’s more powerful. When you throw in the desktop environment and some awesome hardware like any of these tablets you have a winner.
Its not for everyone though, and this is no iPad killer. Not by a long shot. It is a powerful tablet platform that will spawn a new era of productivity in tablet computing.