With the public release of both Windows 8 and the Surface tablet around the corner, more and more articles come out either praising or loving the strategy.
Unfortunately a key component of the Surface functionality is overlooked when comparing it against rivals from Apple and Google – Windows 8 supports multiple profiles.
This is a big difference between the tablet OS platforms.
While iOS and Android have been built to operate smartphones and tablets Microsoft has taken a different approach by making their desktop operating system work on a tablet. This allows users to get the best of both worlds instead of having to live on either device – or worse: carry both.
In my work life I have a Lenovo X201 Tablet which is over 2 years old. It runs Windows 8 and is very fast thanks to the SSD hard drive upgrade. The problem is that by todays standards it is heavy and thick. So for many meetings or just working away from my desk I opt for my iPad 3 (the term “new iPad” will be redundant soon so why bother using it). While through SharePoint Online and SkyDrive I’m able to synchronise and work with content it’s just not the same. I can go an extra step and use an app known as Splashtop to stream my Windows 8 desktop to the iPad – it doesn’t seem right to be using both devices at the same time for a single purpose.
For me and many business users the iPad (and similarly Android-based tablets) are extremely useful, powerful and portable – but nowhere near as functional as our notebooks. On the other hand however even Ultrabooks are not tablets and therefore not as versatile, despite their power and battery life.
This is where Windows 8 coupled with hardware such as the Surface (or similar OEM offerings) gives business users the best of both worlds – a tablet that also doubles as our primary desk work machine.
When sitting in front of my notebook the Modern (formerly known as “Metro”) interface is rarely visible – I live in the desktop interface. However I do have the benefit of being able to switch to tablet mode and enjoy a simpler and lighter interface with live tiles.
Going back to the original point of the topic – I personally believe the key differentiator between Windows 8 / Surface and the two other tablet operating systems is that it supports multiple profiles.
In a personal context this means my wife and I can share a single tablet – instead of having an iPad each as we do.
In a business context it means less devices to manage, and also allows for organisations to provide a pool of loan devices as each user will get access to their own profile.
Read on in my latest piece for Dynamic Business about why the Surface is a tablet game changer.