Windows Tablets and iPads together in the Enterprise?

The iPad Mini has been out in the wild for some time now. Earlier this year the agency I work for subjected the iPad an the iPad Mini to a rigorous usability study under the direction of a very capable and well qualified doctorate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). The study concluded that the most appropriate tablet was the iPad Mini. Further hands-on testing by inspectors in the field validated these findings.

The agency’s efforts in mobility started before any Windows 8 tablets were on the market. Although we tested a variety of Window 7 Phones and Androids, the iPad was really the only viable option for the enterprise, based on a variety of criterion.

See my presentation at the 2012 IPMA Executive Seminar

During the intervening year, Microsoft released the Surface and Surface Pro. Other vendors have released both Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets as well but none that I’ve read about, are 8″ tablets or smaller. They are on their way but haven’t been released yet.

It’s important to note that there are important differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT. Microsoft’s Surface Pro runs Windows 8. As do a number of other tablets from other vendors.

Microsoft’s strategy is to establish a single operating system (Windows) across all computing devices; desktop, laptop, and tablet. The Surface and other devices from other vendors weren’t quite able to get there. They run a variant of Windows called Windows RT. This variant of Windows requires less power allowing it to run on the lower-powered ARM processor.

Some features aren’t included in Windows RT:

Windows Media Player

Windows Media Center

HomeGroup creation (you can join an existing HomeGroup but you can’t create a new one)

The ability to connect to your Windows RT PC from another PC using Remote Desktop

Domain join

With Windows RT, you can install apps directly from the Windows Store, but you can’t install desktop programs that you used with previous versions of Windows.

You can only install printers, mice, keyboards, and other devices that have the Designed for Windows RT logo. For more info, see the Compare Windows page and the Windows RT disclaimer.

Source: Windows RT FAQ

These last three items are significant for the enterprise. Without these, a Windows RT device will need to be treated the same as an Android or iPad.

Today there are over 800,000 apps in the Apple App Store, many of which are targeting the enterprise. This isn’t true for the Microsoft App Store.

For now, a lack of 8″ Windows 8 devices positions the iPad as the best device for field staff who would benefit from the smaller tablets. That doesn’t necessarily hold true for knowledge workers.

Knowledge workers typically work in an office environment but may spend a significant amount of time away from their desk. They will be able to make use of the larger 10″ tablets. Microsoft’s Surface Pro and other tablets do run Windows 8 making essentially a smaller form factor laptop.

With each filling a specific need, both the iPad and Windows 8 tablets may be better together in the enterprise. Even with that, introducing the new touch-screen Windows tablets into an enterprise will still entail all the planning and execution that goes along with a major Windows version upgrade.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad