March 19, 2013, 8:49 PM — It was with a high degree of skepticism that I read a recent CITEworld story with the headline "Four reasons why Windows 8 tablets could beat the iPad in business." And while the research behind the story, a paper from Moor Analysis, was sound in its thinking and basic reasoning -- that the traditional Windows preference inside enterprises would eventually make Windows 8 tablets a winner -- it's just too easy to come up with reasons why they won't.
It didn't take me long to come up with four reasons why iPads will remain champion, and I'm betting you can think up more. But here's my quick thinking on the competition:
No. 1: BYOD. If we all agree that BYOD is taking over inside enterprises, then Windows 8 tablets have a huge challenge in trying to usurp the iPad. Mainly that's due to the fact that these devices are not just business devices but also personal devices. And people who buy devices themselves will want iPads simply for music and movies, and the simplicity of iTunes store. And don't forget the ubiquity of Apple retail stores. It's simply easier to buy an iPad than a Windows tablet. That factor alone will be hard to overcome anytime soon.
No. 2: App developers. Though the Moor research talks about the hassles of securing iPads, you've got to think that security app developers are hard at work now, trying to make things like security and Windows applications work better on iPads. The simple reason for that is the installed base of 190 million iPads, versus having to wait for Windows tablets to catch up and catch on.
No. 3: You can already do Windows on an iPad now. One of the big reasons the Moor research likes Windows tablets is their ability to run apps like Office natively. I get that, but wonder why the research ignored the fact that you can actually run Windows apps on iPads today, using virtualization software like Citrix Receiver among others. Plus, with lots of apps moving to the cloud you have to wonder for how long native Windows app access will seem necessary. To argue that enterprises are "Windows shops" sounds a lot like the old "mainframe apps will always be with us" arguments we used to hear. To all that I have a one-word answer: Salesforce.com.
No. 4: Apple innovation vs. Microsoft. Right now it might seem like Windows 8 tablets will have some advantages over iPads, but for how long will any small technical lead last? Though the research points toward Windows tablets finally reaching iPad levels of thinness and battery life, it makes no guess as to where Apple might go in the future. Based on the recent past I think it's safe to say that Apple has a much better track record at delivering innovation in the tablet space first. By the time enterprises get around to making the big tablet-buying decisions Moor seems to expect, there will probably be another generation of iPad out.
I'm sure there are other reasons I've missed, so feel free to offer your own suggestions in the comments below. Or if you think Windows 8 tablets are finally the answer, please let us know why. I don't think they will beat the iPad, but then again I'm not in charge of an enterprise IT budget. Are iPads too hard to manage and integrate?
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