When it comes to Windows 8 tablets, the opinions vary on whether they have what it takes to really give Apple a run for its money. While I do not honestly think Apple has to worry about being completely knocked off its pedestal anytime soon, it is more than likely it will eventually begin to lose at least a chunk of its current market to Windows 8, and even Android.
The question is, what can Windows 8 tablets do better or differently than iPad can? One of the biggest areas where I feel Microsoft can make a difference with Windows 8 is in the hybrid world. Okay, so tablet/laptop hybrids have existed since Windows XP and have pretty much bombed– why should 2012 and beyond make any difference in their acceptance?
To answer that, we need to think about why hybrids from the XP era all the way to Windows 7 still haven’t gained any real traction.
With new technologies such as ultrabooks, Windows 8 Metro, and even possibly ARM-laptops, this is all changing. Hybrids were the first true tablets, but they didn’t have what was needed to make themselves popular. I truly believe that Ultrabook hybrids and netbook-sized hybrids will soon be quite popular, at least if they can manage great battery life, a sleek as heck design, and can get touch just right (which with Windows 8, I believe they can).
While this may not apply with ARM hybrids, with x86 models you will have a device that is very appealing at an enterprise level. A highly mobile device that can run all of the company’s internal Windows applications but also has the portability needed to make them an alternative to mobile solutions like the iPad.
Faster dual-core Atoms and even i3/5/7 processors that are energy-efficient will help turn the tide of this war. If a hybrid netbook can manage to have the power of a traditional laptop, and the portability of a netbook/tablet, you again have a win.
The caution to this tale is what if Apple does the same thing? So far, folks like Tim Cook have scoffed at the idea of an ultrabook hybrid, likening them to the bastard-child of a toaster and a refrigerator. While many older hybrid devices have been this way, times are changing. There may in fact be a time when Apple makes the move to an iPad hybrid.
At this point though they will either have to completely unify OS X/iOS (which I doubt), use iOS on the hybrid, or use Mac OSX on the hybrid. Having iOS will make it an iPad with a keyboard, nothing more. It won’t really compare to a Windows 8 machine that has touch, Metro, and works with legacy Windows applications.
They could probably solve this by putting Mac OS X and giving it an emulation layer or something that runs iOS apps, though. Still, Apple is years away from doing this, giving MS and its partners an advantage.
What do you think of hybrid devices? Do they have the potential to turn the tide in Microsoft’s favor in regards to mobile devices? Share your thoughts below.