Last week, Microsoft announced its own line of tablets (called Microsoft Surface), and while those gadgets won’t arrive until fall, they are already posing a conundrum for those in the market for portable gadget.
Until recently, it was pretty much an “iPad market” as opposed to a “tablet market.” Sure, there were other tablets around, but none really posed much of a challenge to Apple’s iPad. According to a recent study from the IDC analysis firm, Apple is projected to dominate the tablet market with a 62.5% slice of the pie for iPad devices, with the remaining 36.5% split amongst a number of Android devices. While some consumers are going for other tablets, it’s fairly clear that the iPad is the market leader.
With the introduction of the Microsoft Surface line, however, things appear to be shifting. While Windows 8 has been available in preview editions since January, the final version isn’t expected to arrive until fall. A big selling point has been the idea that it will be able on a number of form factors — from desktops to tablets and everything in between. While third-party manufacturers have already announced their intentions to release tablets, Microsoft’s own hardware launch makes this venture that much more serious.
As I mentioned last week, Windows Surface tablets will come in two versions: RT and Pro. While the Pro version will be running Windows 8 Pro and come with storage options of 64 and 128 GB, it will more than likely end up being priced like a laptop. The RT version will carry a lighter version of Windows 8, and I suspect that it will be priced more like the iPad.
Thus, it’s the RT versions that will make it more difficult for you to choose which tablet to choose. While the iPad has a huge catalog of apps to choose from, it is not the most versatile when it comes to business. Microsoft emphasized the fact that the Surface will share the same core infrastructure as regular Windows 8, which will make it easy for app developers to move their software back and forth between the two. And that should make it easy for everyone get the most out of their tablet for both work and pleasure.
If you aren’t currently in a situation that demands you have a tablet right this minute, I would definitely recommend waiting until the fall to see just how well the Windows 8 tablet works. The idea of carrying a full-featured operating system around in your hand is an alluring one to be sure, and much more enticing than a closed ecosystem like Apple’s iOS.
Fall isn’t all that far away, and if you’re on the fence now, it certainly won’t hurt to wait so you can make a more informed decision.