10 ways Windows 8 tablets can take on the iPad

There's more to tablets than just trying to ape Apple

TODO alt text

Are you excited about Windows 8 tablets? We are.

Microsoft's latest Windows is a really attractive OS, and the tablets and hybrids we've seen so far are pretty impressive.

In a market where too many firms' strategy is simply "copy Apple", Microsoft is prepared to - yes! - Think Different.

Here are ten ways Windows 8 tablets could compete with the iPad 3.

1. Corporate customers

While many people do use their iPads for work, Apple hasn't explicitly targeted the big corporate market - and that's a huge business that Microsoft knows very well. Tablets that securely connect to corporate systems could be a big win for Microsoft here.

2. New Office

Microsoft Office remains Windows' killer app, especially in the business market - one reason Microsoft's own Tablet PC didn't succeed was because Office compatibility was "sabotaged" - so you can be sure that Office will be on both Intel and ARM-powered tablets. It'll be interesting to see whether Microsoft takes the opportunity to completely transform the Office UI for the ARM version: Office Metro-style, anyone?

3. Dual-mode machines

The iPad is very, very good at what it does, and what it does doesn't include being a desktop device. Microsoft thinks there's an opportunity there. Fancy a tablet that's finger-flipping good until you dock it, at which point it becomes a "proper" Windows PC with am OS designed for your keyboard and mouse or trackpad? We do, and we really hope Microsoft can make it work elegantly. Windows tablets with split personalities could be a lot of fun, not to mention seriously useful - as would...

4. Hybrid tablets

The combination of a dual-mode OS with dual-mode hardware - think Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime or Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga could be very interesting indeed. Tablets that effortlessly switch between work and play modes could turn out to be the electronic equivalent of daytime to evening workwear.

IdeaPad yoga

TWICE AS NICE: Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga is a tablet that transforms into a notebook, "like the Tablet PC but good"

5. Mega Metro

Metro is Microsoft's newest, whooshiest interface, and we like it a lot. We're not alone: pretty much everybody who uses Metro likes Metro, and we reckon that if everything else - hardware, app selection, price and so on - were equal, some people would choose a Windows tablet over an Apple one because they prefer Metro to iOS.

6. SkyDrive

Microsoft's vision for cloud-based sharing is very ambitious: your Windows ID will bring your stuff and your settings to whatever device you happen to be on, whether that's a tablet, a PC, an Xbox or something else. That's not just music: the goal is what Microsoft describes as "all your content. Anywhere."

SkyDrive

CLOUD ATLAS: Microsoft's SkyDrive puts cloud storage, synching and sharing at the heart of Windows

7. Beaming between devices

Microsoft is reportedly working on "beaming" between Windows devices for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, so for example you'll be able to beam content from your Windows 8 tablet to your PC or phone over whatever wireless connection happens to be present - Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct or NFC - without any fuss. That's the kind of thing that makes people say "wow" and reach for their credit cards.

8. Side-by-side apps

The iPad's single-minded focus on the app you're using is usually a great thing, but sometimes you want to do two things at once - such as read what's in one application while you write in another. Provided the screen's big enough, Windows 8 will let you see two apps simultaneously.

9. Nokia tablets

No disrespect to Microsoft's many hardware partners, but Nokia's the one we're really interested in when it comes to designing exciting tablets: the Finnish firm is famed for its hardware, and we're getting some tantalising hints of interesting new models, possibly coming as early as this summer.

10. A wider choice

It's probably safe to say that nobody can make iPad-spec tablets that match Apple's quality, price tag and enormous profit margins, but then not everybody wants an iPad. As we've seen with devices from the likes of Asus and Amazon, there's plenty of room in the market for devices that don't just ape Apple.