When Microsoft first announced the Surface tablet, consumers were ecstatic over Windows intent to compete with the best tablets in the market. This device was quite impressive to behold and made many professionals want one simply because it can run full Windows apps. However, since that announcement, consumers have had time to realize that it will be quite difficult to justify buying either model of the Surface tablet.
Two Tablets to Rule Them All
Microsoft isn t helping itself by offering two versions of the Window 8 tablet, each with their own inherent benefits. The Intel-based Pro model will run practically any app you try to install on it, both the Metro-specific apps and the desktop apps.
The ARM-based Windows RT tablets, on the other hand, will only be able to run Metro apps (a name many will likely continue to keep calling it despite Microsoft changing its name). This essentially leaves a huge chunk of desktop apps behind, forcing users to only run the few hundred new apps available to Windows 8 tablets versus the tens of thousands of apps that already exist for Windows desktop PCs. That s a pretty hefty handicap to have.
Disadvantages of Both
Having few apps available can greatly handicap the adoption of any tablet. No matter how nice a device may be, if you suddenly need an app to perform a specific task and you can t find it, you ll be in trouble.
The Windows Pro tablets will have handicaps of their own as well. Because of the Intel technology in place, these tablets will cost hundreds of dollars more than their RT counterparts. And they re likely to be even more expensive than the competition, putting this tablet more in the price range of serious PCs rather than just a companion device. In order for Microsoft to effectively market this device, it needs to have a solid user case for the Pro tablet to justify the price and sacrificing getting a full-sized PC.
The Pro tablet also has a bit of an issue with battery life, a feature unsurprising for most devices running Windows. It s not unexpected for a device running Intel-based hardware to be a little power intensive, but this hit is even bigger than that. The ARM-based tablet will be able to easily pull off between 10 and 12 hours of battery life, whereas the Pro is expected to have half that. That s still more than most laptops, but quite below the competition in the tablet market.
The App Dilemma
This is where Windows 8 tablets will need to step up their game. Unless you have a significant business need, the Pro tablet will likely not be your first choice. This leaves the RT model, which is severely hindered by a lack of apps. Both the Android and iOS app stores have hundreds of thousands of good apps available, whereas Windows is just entering the market and may take a year or two to fully build up a store of helpful apps.
If you re considering the Windows RT model just to get the office applications, you can easily get these for Android or iOS devices and still reap the benefits of the numerous other apps they have. Few individuals will need the comprehensive Office apps beyond Microsoft Word and Excel (and PowerPoint if you re a student). Microsoft may take a while to deliver on other options beyond the basics to make this a more worthwhile investment.
Microsoft is years behind the competition when it comes to the tablet market. With the Surface tablets they may yet get the edge they re looking for to take the tablet market by surprise but they might also fall flat.