Microsoft Windows 8 has had mixed reviews; from the positive to the negative and everything in between. There is no question that Microsoft has taken a large bet on the mobile form factor, and Windows 8 is the company's response to the IOS-led mobile computing revolution underway. Most reviews have been lukewarm, and customer adoption has not been as rapid as hoped.
Is this because the software / hardware doesn't work, or is the idea flawed ? Having several Apple devices, I can confidently say that while they're amazing personal and consumer tools, they vary between amusing to downright useless as corporate devices. Three simple things that you can't universally do on an iOS device are;
- Correctly view, edit and contribute to a multi-user / versioned document with tracked changes
- Consistently view, present and edit a presentation
- Export, import or share onto a memory stick any content
While these are simple (and you would think trivial) matters, in a business context they're effectively show stoppers. I bought and played with a Microsoft Surface RT (RT stands for ReTarded), which was silly. The hardware is great, the folding thin keyboard is truly innovative but the lack of an Intel processor makes the app and program ecosystem pretty thin. Enter the mouthful; the Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pro 700T (phew). A i5-based processor, 64GB SSD and built-in 3G modem makes this (large and heavy) tablet and associated keyboard cover quite an interesting beast. I've been using it for about a week now, and some initial thoughts;
- Windows 8 isn't sure if it wants to be a tablet, or general purpose computing platform (Metro, desktop, and the confusion and lack of cohesion between the two)
- Windows has a large and solid platform of software that allows you to do almost anything you need
- USB ports are damn handy, as is an open and standardised set of file systems
- 64GB is simply not enough storage; even with an additional 16GB MicroSD, disk space is so tight that you just barely make it
- Windows 8 tablets and devices play nicely with corporate workflow, systems and architecture principles
Windows 8 (and this hardware) are not the prettiest, slickest, fastest or most appealing combo; a MacBook Air or an iPad 4 from a design, weight and general aesthetic perspective kick these offerings into the stratosphere. But as a business tool ? I haven't powered my iPad on since I got this.
For me, even though I'm going to get ridiculed for it, the Windows 8 tablet is a compelling story.