Windows 8 and the iPad
Much has been said about the failures of Windows 8 as a desktop, laptop, and tablet OS. According to many, Windows 8 is confusing, frustrating, and even stressful to use. I disagree.1 In my opinion, Windows 8 makes a better tablet than the iPad.
Rene Ritchie wrote a post yesterday, which claims that Microsoft has failed to understand what people want in a tablet. At least for me, it looks like Ritchie fails to understand what I want in a tablet because I love the Surface Pro.2 Ritchie’s post sums up the opinions I have seen in the Apple community, so I’ll use it to express my contrary opinion.
Ritchie describes Microsoft’s latest ads:
The ad shows Live Tiles, and contrasts them with the iPad’s static Home screen. It shows multi-window computing, and contrasts it with the iPad’s one-at-a-time app experience. It shows Power Point, and contrasts it with Apple’s Keynote. They show the price of the cheapest Windows 8 tablet and contrast it with Apple’s mid-capacity, full-sized iPad.
To mainstream customers, tiles that change pictures seemingly at random are disorienting, multiple apps at once is stressful, Power Point is something best left locked in beige cubicles (even though Microsoft could make it, and all of Office, available for iPad any time they so choose), and the price paid up-front isn’t always as important as the value obtained throughout the life of a product.
First, let’s talk about Live Tiles. I’m not sure who Ritchie considers to be a “mainstream customer,” but he seems to think they are absolute morons. Live Tiles are a fantastic feature. Checking the weather is a perfect example. On a Windows 8 tablet, you simply glance at the Live Tile for your weather app. On an iPad, you have to actually open the application and wait for it to load to see the weather. Or take Twitter. Your latest mention is displayed right on the Live Tile. No need to open the application every time you get a notification. Live Tiles are absolutely convenient. The iPad’s lock and home screens look childish by comparison.
Second, let’s consider how stressful it is to support multi-window computing. Two applications. Open at the same time. On the same screen. I NEED A DRINK. To the contrary, one of the most frustrating experiences on the iPad is the lack of multitasking and multiple windows. Windows 8 allows you to snap two windows side-by-side, which works extremely well. For example, your Twitter feed can be open while you browse the web. Your email can be open off to the side while you are reading a document. It’s an optional feature that comes in quite handy, and the lack thereof is frequently cited as one of the iPad’s biggest flaws.
Third, let’s discuss Office. The fact of the matter is, like it or not, a significant number of people rely on Office daily. Whether for a job or school, it’s how many people do their work. Natively supporting full versions of Office is a huge selling point, sometimes the primary one, for Windows 8 devices. Not everyone can write a blog for a living, which is probably quite manageable on an iPad. Many people have jobs or school assignments that require preparing presentations, complex documents, and spreadsheets. While Apple has done an admirable job of supplying iPad versions of their productivity suite, you can’t get real work done on an iPad. Believe me, I’ve tried. The lack of a mouse, multitasking/multiple windows, and native Office apps means that it takes exponentially more time to get the job done on an iPad, if you can do it at all.
I almost tucked Ritchie’s post away for another day because I would like to compare it to his review of a future iPad. What will Ritchie think of an iPad that supports a rich, data-filled home or lock screen? Disorienting? How about an iPad that supports multiple windows? Stressful? I think not. When these feature exist on an iPad, and they will, Ritchie is going to love them. And I’ll love reminding you of his post.