March 20, 2012, 7:00 AM — Dell is committed to joining the tablet fray once again--this time with Windows 8 tablets aimed at going head-to-head with the Apple iPad. That is good news for Microsoft because Windows 8 tablets will essentially be dead on arrival without strong support from Dell and HP.
The concept of a worthy Windows tablet has been a sort of Holy Grail since the launch of the Apple iPad. Windows 8, with its Metro interface, and compatibility with ARM architecture devices has established an expectation that Windows 8 tablets will fill the void Android tablets have been unable to, and provide some worthwhile competition for Apple--especially in the business market.
There are tons of vendors lined up to jump on the Windows 8 tablet bandwagon. Lenovo showed off its unique IdeaPad Yoga Windows 8 tablet concept at CES in January, and it has vowed to be first out of the gate with a Windows 8 tablet when they launch. Other vendors like Nokia, Asus, and others also appear to be on board.
But, the success or failure of Windows 8 tablets may be made or broken by whether or not businesses embrace them. Because of the dominant role that Dell and HP play as preferred providers of servers and PCs for businesses, it's crucial that these two come to the party with tablets that can deliver unique advantages compared to an iPad at a reasonable cost.
The potential is there as long as Dell, HP, and others can package it all into a compelling device at the right price. A device that is directly connected to the traditional Windows network, seamlessly integrated with the tools and network resources businesses are already using, and provides a consistent experience at the desk, or from a mobile platform is a recipe for success. Of course--as my PCWorld peer Ian Paul points out--it's also a potential recipe for confusion.