Windows and Apple have always known competition, but Windows are out of their comfort zone in the tablet world, (though, not for lack of trying) and now with Apple successfully establishing a strong market presence with the iPad, and a reinvention of the Apple image with the surge of new Apple stores opening across the UK, boasting innovative tech support and one to one tutorials, it seems as though Apple has successfully established itself as the ‘Market Leader’ in the tablet world.
However Windows are still a hefty commercial presence and the Windows 7 operating system has updated and modernized the Windows image in the minds of consumers. Boasting many new features relating to customization, ease of use and wide software compatibility, Windows, although late in the game, are not out of the running for becoming the new tablet titans.
Apple’s biggest selling point since their reinvention is design; Apple technology is as much fashion conscious as it is concerned with the technology itself, in many cases to the detriment of compatibility and, arguably usability. A problem with Apple’s design choices is that many of the micro USB fittings and peripheral fittings (earphones, hands free sets etc.) are unique to Apple hardware, this may appear a small price to pay for the glossy finished product, but as someone who is used to sourcing universal replacement cables for many of my computer’s attachments dirt cheap a ’la eBay (external hard drive, USB condenser microphone, mini USBs etc.) It can be sometimes hard to justify the cost of device specific cables.
One of the biggest concerns amongst Apple users is the iPad’s lack of flash support, effectively chopping the consumer’s internet experience in half, as many free site builders use a flash drag and drop system, and many multimedia and interactive sites also use the flash engine, this alienates a great deal of interesting sites. A second concern about the iPad is its lack of a camera. For its current price tag of anywhere between £460 and £570 depending on the desired model, a camera of at least 8MP quality is expected, but not supplied. A further issue is the iPad 2’s lack of 3G support on its 64, 32, and 16GB standard models, with only the option of a 3G supported version for an additional fee.
The Windows 8 Tablet scheduled for released around October of 2012, boasts a new interface designated “Metro” which mimics the appearance of the Windows 7 Phone interface. According to Microsoft’s Head of Windows Experience Julie Larson-Green, the new tablet OS will be:
“Fast, fluid and dynamic, the experience has been transformed while keeping the power, flexibility and connectivity of Windows intact…”
My main problem with the very notion of a Windows tablet is the company’s attitude to debugging their new OS’ in recent times, as error reporting saves man hours, beta releases leave much of the bug spotting down to consumers, and I fear the beta release of a Windows 8 tablet may not iron out all kinks before the final release in October (which to a realist equates to February 2013.) The result could resemble Windows Vista, what to my mind should have been Windows 7 to begin with, but felt like a chunky beta that ignored many of the consumers’ basic concerns about compatibility, and product manufacturers were slow to provide patches and remedies to these issues. In fairness to Windows, their online help system is far more useful than it was around the time of Vista’s introduction into the market, and now offers real time support and patching via the Windows website.
So what do you get for your money with the new Windows 8 tablet, and what will that buy you in iPad land? Here’s a quick breakdown of the device’s main features:
- Lightweight, thin construction.
- Widespread support: Names such as Nvidia, Samsung, Dell, and many larger tech figures are displaying a vested interested in the new OS.
- Business specific models: Some models will be specifically designed for the business environment, which will likely include wireless interfacing with devices such as projectors, quick file transfers across networked tablets, etc.
- Windows App Store will provide a wide range of App based content.
- Tablets will run on ARM, Intel and AMD chips.
- Price: Many reviewers have speculated that without competitive pricing, this product may not fly off the shelves, it is anticipated that the Samsung Windows 8 tablets will retail from £480-£560.
Although Apple has achieved firm market support, the Windows fan club is out there, biding their time. I sincerely hope that the Windows 8 tablets can deliver on all of their promises. I am not unhappy with Windows 7 in any way, but the foul taste of Vista lingers, and ruined my Windows 7 experience a little bit.
Although Apple offers us the aspirational image of cool computing, it isn’t enough to sell me an iPad. Instead, I would rather wait to see what the Windows 8 Tablets bring to the table, and if that disappoints, we’ve always got the Mozilla Seabird concept phone to look forward to.