I’m at the MVP nation Windows 8 conference on the Microsoft Campus in Redmond and we’re having quite a grand old time (more about that later). Yesterday evening on my Alaska Air flight from California to Seattle, I spent most of the two and a half hours switching between two tablets.

On my tray, I had an Ipad and a Windows 8 tablet and I was going back and forth between the two.

A sweet older lady next to me looked really puzzled because she had never seen Windows 8 before (ironically, she had an Ipad).

After trying to ignore the multi-tablet swiping stranger next to her for 10 minutes, she finally leaned over and asked “Excuse me for asking but what is that?”.

I chuckled and replied “It’s a new Microsoft tablet – Windows 8”. She then asked the 800 pound question right away:

“What does it do that my Ipad doesn’t?”.

This is a TRUE story.

This is the question. I would guess that she was between 55 and 60 and that was the first question out of her mouth.

Answering this question is going to be what will determine the success and relevance of Windows 8 on tablets. When an older person asks you about an Apple-Windows 8 comparison, she doesn’t care about integration with Windows Server 8.

She doesn’t care about a Windows Store or Windows to Go. She really doesnt care about a Metro interface or WinRT.

What she was looking for was a simple answer that would turn on a lightbulb and illuminate the difference between both tablets.

Since I am not employed by Microsoft, it’s not my job to evangelize this tablet so I told her that there were several new features we were just finding out about and it would work better with the Windows she was used to.

She shrugged and went back to her Ipad.

To the Microsoft sales and marketing team – this is going to be the central challenge – Articulating Windows 8 value to the consumer in a brief, honest and concise manner.

Let’s stay tuned.

About the Author

Onuora Amobi is the Founder and VP of Digital Marketing at Learn About The Web Inc. Onuora has more than a decade of information security, project management and management consulting experience. He has specialized in the management and deployment of large scale ERP client/server systems.

In addition to being a former Microsoft MVP and the founder and editor of EyeOnWindows.com, he is the CEO of a Pasadena based online marketing education startup - Learn About The Web Inc. (www.learnabouttheweb.com) and The Redmond Cloud (https://www.theredmondcloud.com).

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  • Dan Dar3

    Not really, while we love our grannies dearly, I wouldn’t buy myself a tablet cause it works for my grannie.

    • http://www.windows8update.com/ Onuora Amobi

      1) I wouldn’t necessary call 55 Granny
      2) It might be more helpful to answer her question

      • Dan Dar3

        Did you ask the lady what she uses her iPad for? Would you be able to sell an Xbox 360 to someone that is happy with their Wii? I doubt it, I don’t think the target of Windows 8 is to replace iPads, so I’m afraid she’s got the product she needs, and that’s all in that case.

        Now, for the rest of us that don’t have a tablet and fell might want / need one, choosing between iPad and a Windows 8 tablet is a personal choice, that comes down to why you want one. Want a tablet for leisure and coolness? You’d probably still get an iPad. Need one to run your existing apps, Office and integrate with the rest of your Windows PCs, at home and at work? Then you will probably go for a W8 tablet. Windows 8 will only be relevant in a couple of years when it will have as many apps as iPads, now it’s just a concept that most of us are looking for, and existing tablet users will probably not move until they will need a hardware refresh.

    • Willem

      Which misses the point entirely. If Microsoft wants your average consumer to buy a Windows 8 tablet then they are going to have to answer the questions that most consumers ask. I reckon that is a question that most people ask of anything – what will it do for me that my current bit of gear isn’t doing already?’ If Microsoft can answer that question in a way that the average consumer can get, then it has a good chance of cracking the consumer market. They’ve got the gear – Windows 8 looks the goods – now they need the message.

      • Dmart5761

        The biggest thing is that your tablet is a computer that you can do all the stuff you do on your other computer!

  • Mutz777

    1) In an iPad, you can not open up two apps and run them along side each other. In Windows 8, you can. In this perspective, it could be a cookery book and and a video chat with the grand daughter,etc

    2) People of that age usually don’t like switching. Especially gadgets. Its better not to waste you time trying to market the tablets to them, unless they don’t have a tablet and they do travel a lot.


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WJGC7242GFDP2QXANKF5WTMEA Rex

    I really want a Windows 8 Tablet.  I want the ability to automatically use the same apps I will buy for my Windows 8 Computer.  That being said.  If I already owned an iPad, I wouldnt consider getting rid of it just for that functionality.  So for this exact question, there really is no answer.  If you are happy with what you have, there is no reason to change.  The more important question is for those looking into buying their first tablet.  Which should I buy and why.  In this case your answer has relevence.

  • Anonymous

    Well what does her ipad do that the windows tablet doesn’t or won’t do in the final preview? Shut up, grandma,

  • Ecmader2

    What it will let grannies do … continue to be very productive, continue to be very creative, and continue to have a geeky attitude,,, in the face of dementia and arthritis. Continue to be a relevant human being and put some good use for all the information you managed to accumulate in your brain after all those years of reading, watching TV, chatting on the phone, surfing the net, etc. Prepare to reach your final destiny… with dignity and digitality. 

  • Robert_IT

    Here’s what I see as key challenges for Microsoft moving forward.

    1. Create awareness of what mode the OS is in and make sure it aligns with the consumers desire – am I a tablet, a desktop or both… If I am both, when is it best to be what.

    2. The graphics are mismatched between Metro and the desktop. We all hate Metro because there is no eye candy.

    3. Developers at Microsoft see the performance gains from Metro, but the public wants both eye candy and fast – Metro could be sweet if it had eye candy.

    Clearly there is a distinct need for a hybrid between tablet and PC, but honestly Microsoft needs to get it right out of the box. This is one of the few times in history that Microsoft stands to lose a great deal more of its customers base if it rushes.

    I work in the IT field and thank god I got out of the engineering side and moved into security years ago. I see the Microsoft engineering side taking a huge loss if this fails to impress.

    Good luck Microsoft, I am running the consumer preview on the box I am posting and I am NOT impressed so far… You got to WOW us this go around Redmond Dudes!

    • Timiteh

      Happy to see that i am not the only one who can acknowledge that one of the biggest problem of the Metro U.I, especially on the Start Screen , is the lack of eye candy.I can understand why for low end ARM based devices and low end x86 based devices (especially tablets), but i can’t understand this for even mid end x86 based devices and high end ARM devices.I find the XBox 360 Metro U.I much more prettier than the one of Windows 8. I can stand squares and rectangular tiles (though i would prefer rounded edges) but it is very hard to support those kiddy and ugly icons,the almost too simplistic/monochromatic  background of most tiles and of most load screen of the Metro apps preloaded with the Consumer preview.I sure hope that Microsoft intend to make all the Metro aspect of the U.I much prettier before the next preview or through updates.I sure want than the U.I was much prettier on the high end PC, i am currently building.

  • http://voleheart-skytex.blogspot.com/ Zeke

    you should have told her the truth that the Ipad is not half as good as her Ipad junk.