I own two tablet devices. I have had an iPad for years, and a couple of weeks ago I was given a Windows 8 tablet (a Lenovo Thinkpad 2). I purchased the keyboard dock for the ThinkPad, which also came with a nice optical pointing device that is very similar to the old IBM notebook trackpoint device.
The big difference is that the Windows-based tablet can run Office and Outlook, which are my main applications. Unfortunately for Microsoft, that’s where the difference ends.
Perhaps a little explanation of Windows 8 is in order: There are two interfaces available – the traditional “desktop” (Windows 7 style) interface, and a new Windows 8 touchscreen interface (previously known as “Metro”).
The touch-style app selection on the Windows tablet is inadequate. While you can load and run many of the desktop applications you are used to on your windows tablet, there are several apps that I use regularly on my iPad that are simply not available for the Windows tablet. All of the apps I like are also available on the Android platform.
When I need to do some work, I find myself getting out my notebook (which also runs Windows 8) and sitting down at a full keyboard and mouse with a larger screen. When I am just relaxing and want to check email or surf the net, I find myself reaching for the iPad. It’s just a little easier to use and the app selection is good.
In order for Windows 8 to succeed as a tablet OS, Microsoft is really going to have to expand their App catalog. I heard on the news today (concurrent with the launch of Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablet) that Microsoft now has 100,000 apps available in their Store, while Apple has 900,000 in the App store. That’s a 9x advantage for Apple. I found some of the apps that I tried from the Microsoft store to be buggy as well – which happens with Apple developers as well, but far more rarely.
In the coming weeks, I’ve committed myself to try and use the tablet as a desktop replacement and see how it goes. My plan is to use an external keyboard, mouse, monitor, and our cloud-connected server appliance for files I normally store on my local hard drive. My existing tablet is a bit under-powered, but if it works out I’ll consider getting something like a Surface Pro 2. I’ll let you know how it goes.