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Unanswered questions include how easily users can switch between the different interfaces and how quickly ISVs will embrace the UI. "Third parties have to get onboard early with this stuff," he said.
"It looks like they took the mobile OS and re-skinned it for the desktop. Which I like. It's easier," said Ronnie Parisella, director of information technology at the Power Consulting Group, a New York-based solution provider. And he thinks Windows 8 will be "killer" when it's running on a tablet device.
Others aren't as impressed. "It appears that Microsoft is content with [taking] a 'follow me' approach to business," said Vincent Paragone, executive consultant and owner at KK Enterprises Inc., a solution provider in Huntsville, Ala. "Creating a new operating system that mimics what Apple has been doing is unfortunate. I would like to see a strong push for voice recognition and voice as a primary input device."
Microsoft is developing versions of Windows 8 that will run on tablet computers built around ARM system-on-a-chip microprocessors from Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. The company is reportedly trying to get each chip maker to work with a single device manufacturer in an effort to get Windows 8 tablets to market more quickly.
With the success of Apple's iPad and the proliferation of Android-based tablets, however, Microsoft will be entering an already crowded market. Can it catch up?
"I don't think it's too late for Microsoft's tablets at all," said Travis Fisher, executive vice president at Inacom Information Systems, a Madison, Wis.-based solution provider. He thinks Windows-based tablets, combined with Office and a line-of-business application, will be more attractive for some business users than current tablet computers. "The tablet boom is just now hitting that exponential growth curve, so there's plenty of market out there to capture. Early adopters of the iPad might be a harder sell, but you can't be everything to everybody."
Fisher does wonder whether a Windows 8-based tablet can compete price-wise. "How much is Microsoft going to charge manufacturers for the OS?" he asked?
"A variety of enterprise customers out there don't want tablets, at least not yet. So yes, they can wait, especially for Windows tablets that can be centrally imaged, managed and secured," said Andrew Brust, CTO at Tallan, a Microsoft gold partner, and CEO of Blue Badge Insights, a strategy consulting and advisory service company for Microsoft customers and partners. "But companies who want tablets today, be it for their sales forces, people in the field or their execs, are already buying into iPad, no question," he said.
Brust added that the iPad is entrenched, while Android tablets are not, and iOS and Android dominate the smartphone arena. "But the two-year upgrade cycle means that balance of power can be disrupted," he said.
"I think that people like the tablet experience, which is why they’ve purchased iPad and droid based tablets," said Tony DiBenedetto, CEO of Tribridge, a Tampa-based IT services and business consulting company, and Microsoft partner. "However, the Operating Systems for these tablets are the same ones created for phones -- iPhone IOS and droid OS, so it is severely limited in functionality. Windows 8 is based on the full feature set available within Windows, a rich user experience -- it’s a huge difference for companies looking to run business applications. A full-featured, stateful application will be able to be run natively on the Windows 8 platform -- not so for droid and iPad.
"It would seem to me this will be the first true business tablet based on an enterprise platform instead of a consumer platform -- business users will be giving it serious consideration," he said.
Next: Too Soon For Windows 8?