Is Windows 8 the only credible iPad killer?

win8

We’re just a few hours away from the unveiling of the next iPad and it’s clear that Apple will reassert its dominance in the tablet market with this new device. While we expect the iPad HD/iPad 3 to have some incredible new features, this may be the year that Apple finally finds some real competition in the form of Windows 8.

The iPad was supposed to get some real competition last year too but almost all of the challengers fell by the wayside. The Motorola Xoom and Android Honeycomb felt rushed and a bit half-baked and even the Ice Cream Sandwich update doesn’t appear to be galvanizing the Android tablet app ecosystem as much as consumers would want.

Android still has a shot in the tablet market, which is more than you can say about the other pretenders to the throne. Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Playbook seemed like an “iPad killer” when it was first introduced but it was released too late and didn’t get all the features it needed until the just recently. HP was also thought to be a contender in the tablet market with webOS and the TouchPad but it showed absolutely no faith in webOS, killed the TouchPad before it had a chance and eventually turned the platform open source.

Apple pushed forward and, just like Steve Jobs predicted, 2011 was all about the iPad 2. We’re not just talking about dominating the tablet market, as Apple sold more iPads in the fourth quarter than HP sold computers. That whole “post-PC era” seemed closer than ever.

That’s why Windows 8 is so important for Microsoft and why it’s a radical “re-imagining” of the platform with tablets and touch in mind. The Consumer Preview was just released and while it’s geared toward desktops, you can see how big of an influence the iPad had. The Metro-style interface has been built from the ground up with a tablet interface at the forefront, as it’s fast, fluid and the large icons are perfect for tapping with your fingers.

If Microsoft just wanted a touch-friendly platform for tablets, it could have just used Windows Phone Mango on a these larger screens but the company promising that Windows 8 will deliver a “no-compromise experience.” That means you’ll be able to use your Windows 8 tablet on the go like an iPad but if you have to do some hardcore work, you can dock it on your desk and then get some real work done with a connected keyboard and mouse. Throw in the neat SkyDrive integration which brings your apps and settings to whatever device you’re using, a developer ecosystem which is well-known, and you have the makings of something special.

Windows 8 will also support ARM chips and this will enable manufacturers to create iPad competitors which arguably have a more powerful operating system but with a gorgeous user interface. This will also open the doors for new manufacturers to play in the tablet space, as we expect HTC and Nokia to eventually have tablets running Windows 8. Microsoft and its partners also have the resources and resolve to make a major push against the iPad. Because of these reasons – and a host of others – I do believe that Windows 8 devices will be the biggest threat the iPad has seen.

I just don’t know if it will be enough.

The next iPad (iPad HD?) will likely have a Retina Display, boosted camera, better internals and generally be one of the most powerful devices out there but what really sets it apart is its robust ecosystem. By this, I’m not just talking about the thousands of developers creating custom iPad apps – this is a major part, though – I’m also talking about all the other little things which can only be found around iPad products. If you want an amazing case for your tablet, chances are it will be for your iPad. This can also be said for accessories and specialty software.

While Windows 8 is meant to be tablet-first, the support for ARM won’t be without its own limitations. As Microsoft has detailed, the legacy apps probably aren’t going to work on ARM devices and it’s unclear if Intel-based tablets are going to be able to deliver the form factor and experience that users want. We used a developer preview version of Windows 8 on a Samsung Intel tablet and it had a fan … that’s a non-starter. If you cut out the advantage Windows had with its legacy apps, then Apple’s iPad is actually quite far ahead when it comes to tablet-ready programs. Additionally, god help the Best Buy clerk who has to explain to customers the difference between an ARM tablet with Windows 8 and an X86-based one.

Of course, enterprises would flock to the Windows tablets, right? I’m not so sure about that one because while you’ll be able to manage ARM-based Windows 8 tablets, these won’t be able to operate as full desktop machines on the network. You’ll still be able securely manage these devices but the iPad is already gaining traction with businesses and I’m not sure I see a truly compelling reason to switch.

Another reason many of the iPad competitors haven’t been able to compete against Apple’s tablet is pricing, as we’re still seeing beautiful devices like the Galaxy Tab 7.7 come out with price tags that are anchors. This isn’t greed or stupidity, as these things just cost a lot to make and unless you’re willing to take a loss on each unit like Amazon does with its Kindle Fire, it’s tough to get a state-of-the-art tablet out at a palatable price.

Windows 8 won’t be able to solve this issue because of the licensing fee that Microsoft will charge. Apple’s supply chain mastery ensures that it can deliver its tablet for a somewhat acceptable $499 entry-level pricing and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it discount its iPad 2 devices to the $300 range. Oh yeah, it will still make insane margins off all of these.

For all the talks about iPad killers, the truth is that the iPad and Windows 8 can (and likely will) coexist with both Apple and Microsoft making tons of cash. I think the days of a single company holding a dominating percentage of the computing market are over. Still, Apple is so far ahead of the competition in the tablet space that it’s going to take a lot to knock it off the throne.

  • Saga

    MW8 will crushed the ipad no question about it! Wait and see!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TKTVNKVRVSEBMHN5G2IHGL3HM4 ND

    Microsoft; looks like you have a great product here. Please simplify and market the heck out of a couple high-end phones/tablets across sprint, verizon, att, and tmobile. Apple dominates in part due to simplistic branding in a tech confused market. Have Nokia and HTC make a high-end super phone each for each network initially..and then let the other hardware companies release their phones. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001702362382 Matthew Madlock

    i like your take on the tablet race :-)

    P>S. Microsoft has ruined its desktop experience in favor of the tablet experience. As I tried windows 8 I liked the metro ui but not the thoroughly disjointed overall outcome.    

    • Marin

      Yeh it’s kind of weird swapping from the touch-first experience and then going back to a keyboard, mouse interface. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Simon-Smith/100001213634181 Simon Smith

    Windows 8 is very likely to knock the ipad seriously within the creative industries as a production tool if the right hardware is provided to make it a true production tool, after all its a full os rather than a glorified phone OS.

    What virtually every designer, 3d animator and illustrator is still waiting for is a platform to use programs like photoshop and zbrush with, that has a tablet form factor but also a decent pressure sensitive pen, the samsung slate 7 is about the closet so far and thats a windows 7 device with window 8 planned for release onto it later in the year, but is still only 512 level of pressure, a slightly odd form factor and with windows 7 it isn’t really an OS designed at touch screens.

    What computer artists, illustrators and designers want is that wacom cintiq functionality built into a device with decent specs, with the likes of the new intel and nvidia tech due out right there at your fingertips and the ability to load all the programs you require. I’m still surprised that apple hasn’t release a macbook pro in a ipad form with a proper touch screen and a decent pen, but they are still after the causal user rather than the creative professional that buys their desktops and laptops, its like the forgot the industry that kept them afloat for all these years before the iphone/ipad boost.

    So unless apple get with the program and release a useable macbook pro/desktop replacement in a touchscreen tablet format, then windows 8 will surely be an outright winner with the right hardware

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Simon-Smith/100001213634181 Simon Smith

    Windows 8 is very likely to knock the ipad seriously within the creative industries as a production tool if the right hardware is provided to make it a true production tool, after all its a full os rather than a glorified phone OS.

    What virtually every designer, 3d animator and illustrator is still waiting for is a platform to use programs like photoshop and zbrush with, that has a tablet form factor but also a decent pressure sensitive pen, the samsung slate 7 is about the closet so far and thats a windows 7 device with window 8 planned for release onto it later in the year, but is still only 512 level of pressure, a slightly odd form factor and with windows 7 it isn’t really an OS designed at touch screens.

    What computer artists, illustrators and designers want is that wacom cintiq functionality built into a device with decent specs, with the likes of the new intel and nvidia tech due out right there at your fingertips and the ability to load all the programs you require. I’m still surprised that apple hasn’t release a macbook pro in a ipad form with a proper touch screen and a decent pen, but they are still after the causal user rather than the creative professional that buys their desktops and laptops, its like the forgot the industry that kept them afloat for all these years before the iphone/ipad boost.

    So unless apple get with the program and release a useable macbook pro/desktop replacement in a touchscreen tablet format, then windows 8 will surely be an outright winner with the right hardware

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Newman/100001803717276 Gregory Newman

    The Apple Ipad is so good a product and has so many Apps that I believe that the New great Windows 8 Tablet will be only be a great alternative to the Ipad that will sell well if it’s battery life is good. The main problem with having Windows 7 OS on a Tablet computers was the OS ate up too much battery power.  Microsoft and it’s OEM partners have to fix this problem for Windows 8 to be alright on a tablet computer. The Plses of Windows 8 Intel CPU chipset tablets is that the will run almost all Windows 7 programs Like Microsoft office and most PC games that are on the market with the aide of a blue tooth game controller and with the aide of the Blue stacks app a Windows 8 tablet computer will run thousands upon thousands of Android Apps.The Business Enterprise has been waiting for a GOOD Windows Tablet OS for a long time. This could the one that they have been looking for

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Newman/100001803717276 Gregory Newman

    The Apple Ipad is so good a product and has so many Apps that I believe that the New great Windows 8 Tablet will be only be a great alternative to the Ipad that will sell well if it’s battery life is good. The main problem with having Windows 7 OS on a Tablet computers was the OS ate up too much battery power.  Microsoft and it’s OEM partners have to fix this problem for Windows 8 to be alright on a tablet computer. The Plses of Windows 8 Intel CPU chipset tablets is that the will run almost all Windows 7 programs Like Microsoft office and most PC games that are on the market with the aide of a blue tooth game controller and with the aide of the Blue stacks app a Windows 8 tablet computer will run thousands upon thousands of Android Apps.The Business Enterprise has been waiting for a GOOD Windows Tablet OS for a long time. This could the one that they have been looking for

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Newman/100001803717276 Gregory Newman

    The “New Ipad” will make it harder for Windows 8 to make a dent in the Tablet Market but if the Windows 8 tablets have fair battery life and the Intel x86 Windows Tablets can run windows 7 Programs as advertised and the new Blue stacks App can enable a Windows 8 Tablet to run the thousands of android programs as advertised then the Windows 8 Tablets still have a chance to sell well. At least it will have thousands of Apps when it comes to market

  • Dvar00

    No MS Office Suite no chance to compete with Windows 8.

  • Anonymous

    Dude you jsut really never know now days wow.
    http://www.Total-Privacy dot US

  • Nathan

    You are assuming that even *it* is an iPad killer. Stop using the “killer” line. It’s stale.

  • Johnsonmicro

    This must be a joke. Windows 8 won’t make a dent on the Pad market. Microsoft simply does not understand the user experience or even what the user wants a tablet to do. I avoided Apple products till the iPod proved they had a better idea. My iPad beats any laptop I have ever owned with it’s instant start up and ease of use and an, almost, total lack of cables. I can’t imagine a Microsoft product that competes, but I am willing to be surprised.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Mitchell/1332846926 Michael Mitchell

    32 Developers of Windows 8 Tablets Ranging in Price from $300 – $1200
    Microsoft Office included with the OS for Tablet Devices.
    If you use Windows 8 you get an idea of how good it is already
    80,000 apps already for the Windows Phone 7.5 device
    Nokia Phone with Windows 7 which is selling out on AT&T
    1ms response times on some of the tablets google it if you dont understand why thats important.

    Nobody thought Microsoft knew game consoles either and they are now the leader.
    Windows Phone 7.5 is just starting its growth because if you try one youll understand how good it really is.  People who never tried or used one have a lot of negative things to say about the product they have no experience with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/srikanth.remani Srikanth Remani

    There are very few “Killer” stuff out there, be it a Killer App like Facebook Killer or IPad Killer. The “Killer” news is basically filler news for click-baits. Yes, Windows 8 is a competing product, to IPad but there are way too many IPads out there. Is Kindle Fire IPad Killer, if not, is Kindle Fire a failure.

    Windows 8 tablets will find broader acceptance and will perform better than Android tablets as an overall class. 

    To spin, the question on its head is OS X HP killer ?

  • Gregory C Newman

    Many PC Users and PC Fans Like Myself  are not looking for an “Ipad” KIller. what we are looking for is a well built Tablet computer that will run the many thousands of Windows Business,
    Educational, PC Games, and Customized Windows programs that are already available that run on Windows Desktop and Laptop Computers The Apple fans have their “Ipad”  and we PC fans have our Microsoft “Surface Pro”

  • Gregory C Newman

    the Microsoft Surface did not crush the ipad but 85 percent of those who bought a “Surface Pro” says it’s pretty good. their main complaints are it’s cost and it’s battery life. is not that great. I judge how good a product is by the reviews of the people who bought the product and use it more than a tech site Editor who only has it or a week or two to use it. The verdict of the “Surface Pro” is it’s a good tablet computer by most the people who bought it. now what Microsoft has to do is make it cost less to buy and increase it’s battery use time. the New “Surface Pro #2 with the Intel Haswell chip
    anf it’s new type cover with a built in battery will increase it’s mobile battery use time
    but will it be cheaper to buy. time will tell

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