Windows 8 Tablets To Provide Stiff Competition For Apple’s iPad? – [OPINION]

Here’s Matt Ryan for Lockergnome on whether or not he thinks Windows 8 tablets can compete with iPad:

It’s hard to compare an operating system to a single hardware device, though it is quite possible to speculate based around what a given operating system is capable of running on. HP, Dell, Nokia, and other manufacturers will undoubtedly be competing to produce the biggest and best Windows tablet possible around launch.

Microsoft is throwing everything it has at the mobile market with Windows 8, and just about everyone in the tech world has weighed in on whether or not it’s too late for Windows to make a splash in the tablet world.

I have to agree with Ryan’s comments regarding the comparison of an OS to a form-factor. Perhaps a more interesting comparison would be to weigh up whether or not Windows 8 will be able to compete with iOS. But that’s not really fair, considering Windows 8 is still in its “Preview” stages for public release this Summer.

It is, however, possible to compare Windows 8 to the iPad when you consider that Windows 8 is also a tablet operating system – and from the Consumer Preview which is now available for download – we can take a pretty good guess at what features might be present in the final version of the OS.

The question is not simply “Which OS is better?” … but rather which OS will be best suited to the tablet form-factor. Some out there may be quick to shout “iOS!” — and perhaps iOS is suited to the modern-day tablet. However, the jury is still out on whether iOS is considered the “best” operating system for the emerging tablet form-factor.

Sure – visually – iOS looks pretty amazing. Under the hood it runs OS X, meaning the OS can provide a few neat features; such as its butter-like multitasking interface, Core-Animation for those fluid on-screen transitions, gesture-driven app-switching, and more. Striping back iOS to its core, though, reveals that Apple has the OS locked down pretty tightly.

Some argue that Apple’s incessant need for providing this “walled garden” (as it were) is duly needed to protect both the user and the operating system from potential threats. Others, however, see this locked system as a way for the company to ensure users stay tied into its iTunes-driven ecosystem.

In the comparison (which is a great read), Ryan talks specifically about different aspects (or deal-breakers) for each of the device types and puts valid points forth for both. Price, Processor and App-Availability are just some of these named aspects.

It’s important to note that the future of the tablet will not be governed solely on how the device looks aesthetically. After all, there’s a limit to how thin and light you can make a tablet before its overall durability is compromised.

Instead, I believe tablets of the future will be set apart largely by the components contained within. The display, processor, RAM, cameras, NFC (when it eventually becomes mainstream), amongst other emerging technologies set to make an appearance in the tablet market in the coming years.

Of course, how much you’re going to have to plunk down to get one of these devices, (and the functionality that comes with it from a software standpoint), is obviously going to play its part in your ultimate decision to buy.

The war of the tablet form-factor, though, is over in my opinion — and everyone took joint first place.

The technology trend-setters (Apple, Samsung, etc) perhaps without even realizing it created a new standard form-factor for the tablet — a flat tray-like design with a touch display.

The tablet is the tablet – and the current form-factor suits the tablet perfectly. I personally can’t see where the general form-factor can go (apart from becoming thinner, thicker, lighter, or heavier) from this point onwards.

With all that taken into account, software is going to become a hugely significant differentiator to this end, and comparing Windows 8 and iOS in this regard, I believe, is warranted. See, no-one has yet “won” the tablet OS war. People are trying. Apple, for example, is doing a pretty good job trying to create an end-to-end user solution to replace the personal computer with iOS – but its just not there, yet.

To become truly useful, the tablet OS needs to provide the user with an option to run desktop applications as they were originally intended to be ran. Full-screen, uncompromised and feature-full. It’ll be an option – not a way of life, but it’ll be there. This is what I see as a major win for Windows 8.

Although not yet available on the market, Windows 8 has shown tremendous pace in pushing the concept of merged OSes, running both an OS designed for touch and an OS originally intended for the desktop, side-by-side. I’m not saying the current implementation Windows 8 has of this is perfect, nor do I think Windows 8 has nailed the functionality, fluidity or performance the true tablet OS should offer users (yet) – but I do think it has potential.

Another aspect which I believe will propel the next generation of tablets is the cloud. The cloud is still in its infancy and is only currently being used to a fraction of its full potential.

Apple has shown the world it has bigger plans for the cloud with its introduction of iCloud, and services such as OnLive are just beginning to show us that, one day – (in the very near future) – our entire lives could be in the cloud, stored with an “access anytime” mentality – (via some sort of subscription fee, of course!)

With all this potentially in our future, I believe Windows 8 once available for tablets will provide stiff competition for any tablet offering in the market, not just the iPad.

All told, the tablet market is still young and the possibilities for it (and the companies that occupy it) are near endless.

I for one can’t wait to see where the next few years take us.

/ Image Credit: Neowin
/ Lockergnome

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