July 17, 2012, 2:30 PM — Windows 8 on touch tablets is only months away, with Windows 8 approaching its final version and Office 2013 also well under development. The combination of a real office productivity suite and a version of Windows that honors both the new world of touch and the legacy of traditional desktop computing should make a powerful combination that would invalidate the iPad and Android tablets.
That's Microsoft's hope, so it loaned InfoWorld a Samsung Slate with the latest Windows 8 and Office 2013 versions installed to let us put that hope to the test.
My colleague Serdar Yegulalp has looked in depth at the new Office, but primarily as a desktop productivity suite. Does an Office-equipped Windows 8 tablet work well in a tablet context? I've been experimenting with the combination for several days, and the answer is a decided no.
[ InfoWorld's Serdar Yegulalp takes a first look at Office 2013. | Get the best apps for your mobile device: InfoWorld picks the best iPad office apps, the best iPad specialty business apps, the best Android tablet office apps, and the best Android specialty apps. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobilize newsletter. ]
The bottom line is that Windows 8 is a tremendously awkward mishmash that honors few of the usability realities of a touch environment. It's true that neither iOS nor Android has anywhere near a strong competitor to Office available, upping the appeal of an Office-savvy tablet. But Windows 8 is so frustrating to use on tablets that it's hard to believe anyone will choose Windows 8 slates over iPads or Android tablets, even with the Office advantage. IT may want to make that choice for enterprises, to continue the familiar Windows monoculture, but it'll be a nonstarter with users.