Going beyond words of caution on taking too much from incidental information on the Microsoft Surface RT device, what if I told you that Windows 8 and the Surface device are set to completely dominate the business space? What if I told you that not only is that going to happen, but that it looks like Google and Apple are stepping aside and letting it happen? Let’s start with a good look at Windows 8 and the Surface Pro.
Leading the charge is the Surface Pro from Microsoft. We don’t have a date just yet, but we know it’s coming as soon as January and the enterprise can’t wait much longer. IT has been waiting for quite some time for a tablet computer that they can support. The simple fact of the matter is that the iPad and the Android tablet devices are not fundamentally designed to be productivity devices. These devices and their smartphone counterparts are designed for consumption versus productivity. Supporting them is a force play to IT – the base of devices is fragmented, the security picture is a nightmare, and control is an issue – just to name a few issues. The fact that they are being used in the enterprise is due to a number of workarounds and tweaks, but mainly because IT in the enterprise has been forced to accept the BYOD movement against their wishes. The Surface Pro in the enterprise and a whole host of other products will change that.
After spending some time in the Windows 8 ecosystem, namely with the Surface RT and Windows Phone 8, it is clear that to review these products from the hardware features perspective alone is a colossal fail. The Surface and to a lesser degree the Windows Phone 8 are well-polished business-class devices (in the case of the Surface RT- a business-worthy device with a consumer focus). The products just simply work so very well from a business productivity perspective. Let’s just follow this example – on my Android device logging into Sharepoint to open a document is a chore – I have to have the right app, I am constantly prompted for credentials, the format of the display is rarely correct, and the entire experience is buggy and prone to non-informative crashes. On a Windows 8 device and without fail, the same operation executed instantly, seamlessly, in the appropriate format and delivered quickly. Documents can actually open in email programs without spawning yet another third party program. Everything is easy to find, easy to open, reliable and fast – the way it should be. That is an indicator of when a product has done things right – that it should have been that way the whole time. We can expect the same functionality from the Surface Pro.
However this is not just about the Microsoft Surface. There are a number of other product manufacturers set to make this enterprise jump. Mark Hopkins covered Dell and HP’s stance on killing BYOD. Samsung, Lenovo, and Acer are among a number of other companies putting out compelling Windows 8 offerings. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to one of these companies websites, have a look around. Everything from convertible PCs to tablets are available, each with its own bevy of specific features for its audience. The story is saying that Windows 8 is poised to be phenomenally successful through all of these channels. The fact that Microsoft is in the hardware game only adds to that.
So given that it appears that the Surface Pro and Windows 8 products are set for widespread success in the business space, why would Google and Apple appear to be helping them? Apple and Google might be playing themselves out of the enterprise, and I’ll cover that in a story to follow.