Friday, March 16, 2012
Dell and HP, the two largest business computer companies have announced that they are working on the design of tablet computers for business applications built around the newly announced Windows 8 operating system. Previously, Samsung and Nokia had announced that Windows 8 based tablets will be launched during 2012, either in Q2 or Q3.
A study report by Forrester Research says that the sale of tablets in 2011 has drawn level with notebook computers at around 26 million units each. In the next 3 to 4 years, tablet computers are expected to double in numbers while the sale of notebook computers is expected to flatten out. Clearly the tablet will do to the notebook computer what notebooks did to desktop computers.
The major sale of notebook computers is to corporate buyers for use by their employees. The corporate employee carries the notebook computer with him when he travels or goes to meetings. He also takes it home for working in the evenings and weekends. When he is back at his desk, the notebook is plugged into a docking station where data and files from the notebook are synchronized with corporate data and file servers.
The launch of an efficient tablet computer for this use would make eminent sense.
The iPad will continue to dominate the tablet market
The Apple iPad will continue to dominate the tablet computer market in total numbers. Apple has a market share close to 74 percent that has not been dented by the introduction of dozens of competing products including the lower priced Amazon Kindle Fire. The iPad3, announced this month, packs in a higher resolution display and new features that raises the bar even further for the competition.
Apple's appeal is to the end user, who sees the combination of superb design and outstanding features built into an easy-to-use device that is unmatched by any competing product.
Apple has not been very successful in penetrating the corporate business computer buying market due to its non-compatibility with the Windows operating system that dominates business computing.
The Windows 8 operating system
The Windows 8 operating system is designed for the touch screen interface that tablet computers need, whereas previous Windows versions were designed for the mouse and keypad interface. Windows 8 will be compatible with previous versions and that will be of great appeal to the corporate buyers, where many applications are written for various versions of Windows.
In particular, Windows 8 is compatible with the MS Office suite of applications which are essential for the business computer market. Microsoft will also deliver cloud based versions of MS Office and the new Sky Drive feature that stores all personal configurations, settings and desktop data on the cloud so that the tablet user will be able to easily reconfigure his tablet to personal or business use.
At the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung had displayed a tablet computer that had a pull-out key pad. This could be a pointer to the evolution of business tablets as a regular keypad is certainly better suited for prolonged periods of use than the screen based key pad that the iPad provides.
The Windows 8 also scores over the iPad in its ability to work with split screens where the user sees data in one window while he works on using it in another window.
One of the talking points for Dell and HP has been security for access to corporate computer networks, but it is not clear in what way the Apple iPad is less secure.
The Operating system needs matching hardware to perform
While the Windows 8 has some great features, it would need a matching hardware platform to deliver the overall user experience that the Apple iPad provides. HP, Dell and the other hardware manufacturers will each design differently and the user will compare each product with the very high standards that the iPad has set.
If the business tablet fails to match that expectation, the sales numbers would fail to take off.
The Windows 8 operating system is power intensive, needing a min 4 GB RAM. With the thin size of the iPad having set customer expectations from a tablet computer, the hardware manufacturers will struggle to achieve the 10 hours on a single charge battery capacity, which is one of the major plus points of the iPad.
The Windows 8 demo version still does not permit displays to change from landscape to portrait orientation that is so effective in the iPad. Microsoft has however claimed that this feature will be in-built in future releases.
The launch of Windows 8 based tablets later in 2012 from multiple manufacturers will determine if business computing become a significant new market for tablet computers. If that does happen, we could also begin to see some competition to Apple in the market that it has so far defined as its own.
About the author: Margaret is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on environment and technology. Beside this she is fond of books. She recently did an article on windows 8. These days she is busy in writing an article on mobileoperatingsystems.