Two things happened yesterday: Apple introduced the New iPad and Microsoft said it’s relying on Windows 8 tablets to satisfy the tablet craving business users demonstrate by bringing their own devices – mostly iPads – to work.
From the Microsoft perspective, these are both significant events. The New iPad improves processing power, has a super hi-def display and support for LTE wireless all make it attractive to businesses. That means even more non-Windows devices worming their way into corporate networks. The more consumers like iPads, the more they’ll want them at work.
At the Cebit IT and communications trade show in Germany, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner pushed Windows 8 tablets as a better alternative. The operating system expands a consistent interface across all business devices – smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops – to make for a familiar user experience, he says.
More important to IT departments is that Windows 8 supports mobile security in the form of Windows To Go, technology that enables booting a Windows 8 machine from an encrypted USB device and leaving no trace of the Windows 8 session on the host computer when the USB device is removed. That makes it possible for workers to use their business machines securely wherever they can find a host.
Turner also pushed the ability of Windows 8 mobile devices to dock in corporate networks, giving users full network capabilities when they come into the office. The machines will also be manageable under Windows corporate management platforms.
He also argued that the Metro style, touch-centric user interface can boost productivity for mobile workers.
All of this paints a rosy picture for Windows 8 being adopted by enterprises, particularly those that think tablets and other portable devices are good for business. They offer real advantages over iPads that are important to IT managers.
The downside for Microsoft is that none of this is available in bulk until the end of the year or perhaps early next year while iPads continue their relentless advance into the hearts and minds of end users.
If corporate strategy is to support bring-your-own-device, then iPads may well have the edge. But if businesses decide the better way is to issue corporate tablets with the benefits that Turner outlined, the edge will likely go to Microsoft.
In that case, Apple will have created a demand in business settings for these mobile devices that Microsoft satisfies by adding features IT cares about.