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Solution providers attending the conference said they see Windows 8 tablets as a major new opportunity to bring enterprise-class business applications and security to their customers that are looking to implement tablet-based solutions.
Christopher Hertz, founder and CEO of New Signature, a Washington D.C.-based Microsoft partner, said he is already pitching Windows 8 devices vs. iPad in businesses and winning 100 percent of the time in his customer base.
"What is compelling for customers is that whether you go from the phone to the tablet to the PC, you have got a single, unified experience in the business environment with pretty aggressive security," said Hertz. "When we find customers that haven't used an iPad and put a Windows 8 tablet in front of them, they go to Windows 8."
New Signature has invested in building Windows 8 applications including a mobile polling and analytics application called Votifi.
For his own personal use, Hertz said he has an iPad, which he uses for content consumption but does not use for business. What's more, he said, the Samsung 7 Series with a wide screen provides a better video experience because of its larger screen size compared to the iPad. "Video on this [Samsung 7] is pretty darn good," he said. "On my iPad, I have that letterbox effect."
Douglas Grosfield, president of Xylotek Solutions, a Microsoft partner based in Cambridge, Ontario, predicted Windows 8 will drive big sales growth for partners in 2013.
"Windows 8 is going to be a boon for businesses," he said."Microsoft has a good track record of going all in on a new technology like Windows 8. When they recognize there is opportunity, they are all over it."
Grosfield also predicted that Surface and other Windows 8 tablets will give fits to the Apple iPad. "The Surface tablet is disruptive technology," he said. "It is a business tool. It is designed first and foremost for business use in the enterprise. It is a corporate device."
The Surface for Windows RT tablet is slated to ship Oct. 26, the same day Microsoft's long-awaited Windows 8 enters the marketplace. Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 for ARM-based devices. Another tablet in the Surface product line, based on an Intel microprocessor and running Windows 8 Pro, is slated to be available in late January 2013.
Microsoft plans to sell the Surface tablets only through the Microsoft Store and other retail outlets, not through the company's legions of channel partners. Selling its own tablet device also puts Microsoft in competition with OEM partners such as Samsung, Lenovo and HP.