Sometimes you need to use something before you really understand it. Windows 8 on a tablet is one of those things. On the desktop, it’s easy to laugh at the shortcomings. The interface elements that were obviously designed for fingers and for swiping. The full screen apps that obscure your view and take up half of your dual monitor setup just because you wanted to read a PDF. You fight back and install third party solutions that remove the biggest problems and return you to a usable desktop operating system.
You assume that coming from it at the opposite angle will be the same. On a tablet those normal windows are going to be a tiny target for your fat fingers. That without a mouse and keyboard, half the OS, even simple things like the Control Panel are going to be impossible to use easily. And in many cases, you’d be right.
So why would anyone use a Windows tablet over and iPad, where the experience, fit and finish and breadth of tablet friendly apps is all better? Simply put, it’s because the Windows tablet makes no sacrifices.
Of course that’s been the basis of Microsoft’s argument for these devices since the start, but it’s hard to understand until you actually use one. If you’ve ever tried to use an iPad for serious work, you know what it’s like. Everything is fine, and then you need to download a zip file, take a file out of it and upload it to a webserver somewhere. And then all that fit and finish goes out the window as you long for a browser with basic download functions, or a local file system you can extract the file too. Sometimes you can get around these issues, and you find something on the app store that gets you most of the way. Then you find the webserver you need to upload to requires a proprietary VPN client and two-factor authentication and you give up and go and use a real computer.
On the Windows tablet, you use the nice tablet versions of things and then when you run across a problem like that you remember what’s in your hands is a full Windows PC, drop into the desktop to get the job done, then return to Metroland without breaking a sweat.
And in the case of this 10” Linx tablet, you do that for £150, a full £250 cheaper than an iPad. And for that you also get expandable storage, HDMI output and a full size USB port for all your existing Windows compatible devices.
No, it can’t compete with the iPad for ease of use, and they really need to convince more developers (like Google!) that it’s worth releasing apps for, but if you want to do real work in your real apps without jumping through hoops, this can do it in a way an iPad just can’t compare.
I understand now what Microsoft have been saying. Maybe you can have your cake and eat it too. Maybe it’s messy, but maybe it’s worth it.