iPad Vs. Surface Tablets in the Enterprise

iPad Vs. Surface in the EnterpriseThis past week we technology geeks have been teased with some new toys that many of us can’t wait to get our hands on. Microsoft took top spot with its new Surface tablet computers in two distinct flavors: RT for the ARM crowd and regular Windows 8 sporting the traditional Intel inside. In addition, rumors have been flowing that Google and Asus have plans to challenge Amazon and its Kindle Fire, while Microsoft also came out with its Windows Phone 8.

However, for the purpose of this article, I wish to concentrate on two tablets that I believe are specific contenders for the enterprise. The first is the very popular Apple iPad, and next would be the Microsoft Surface tablet flavored with Intel inside. Though I believe that business customers could use the Surface tablet with an ARM processor, I think that these business types may need a full flavor of Microsoft Office. When I read articles about any tablet, I always have some type of suspicion that the writer has some kind of a bias that may influence their writings. So before I proceed, let me share with you my biases and what hardware and software I feel most comfortable with and why I feel the way I do.

Microsoft Windows

I have been using Windows since Windows was in diapers. I have been using a Windows PC for so long that breaking the mold and going to OS X or Linux hasn’t intrigued me. No Apple because I believe the pricing compared to a PC is too expensive, plus I am just too lazy to learn a new OS, so Linux is out also. I own two Toshiba laptops, and both run Windows 7.


I own an Apple iPad and I personally believe that it is the best tablet computer on the planet. The one word I use when describing the iPad is “fantastic.”


I own an Amazon Kindle Fire, which I enjoy, and have ported the interface to resemble Ice Cream Sandwich. I also have an Android-powered smartphone that I enjoy using. Basically, I like Android.

How Are the iPad and Surface Going to Fare in the Enterprise?

Microsoft has sat in its ivory tower for the past decade, happy that Windows was on over one billion computers worldwide. The company’s other cash cow, Microsoft Office, was safe and sound as companies across America — and around the world — were dependent on Office to meet their needs. When Apple introduced the first iPad, Microsoft felt no immediate threat. Yes, consumers were buying what Microsoft considered a toy, but businesses wouldn’t need or use it.

But then a strange thing started to happen. Corporate folks started using their iPads at work and wanted more. IT departments recognized this phenomenon and started to wonder if they would be required to support a new device — one that they knew little about. In turn, Microsoft was starting to feel the pressure and needed something to counter this invasion on what had been its turf. Windows 8 and Surface were born in hopes of keeping the iPad from further invading the enterprise.

Enterprise customers may be more inclined to buy more stuff from Microsoft for the following reasons:

  • IT departments are familiar with Windows, even if this is a new flavor.
  • Windows 8 Pro will provide support for older software that some companies still use.
  • Windows 8 Pro will provide integration of Office products.
  • The built-in keyboard will be an added benefit for corporate users.

But the biggest reason Microsoft needs Windows 8 Pro and Surface to survive in the enterprise is because in 2012, the enterprise market will expand to some $120 billion worldwide. This is where Microsoft products need to succeed and where the company needs to remain in control.

The Apple iPad is intuitive, and the hardware and iOS are a pleasure to use. One can do work on the iPad, but some of what one calls work may be limited to specific applications that need to be added to accomplish tasks that Windows completes effortlessly. Windows 8 Pro Surface tablets will come with a built-in keyboard that — in the opinion of many — is needed in a work environment. In addition, Windows 8 Pro Surface will have native support for Microsoft Office, which will entice corporations and their IT departments to use the units.

In my personal opinion, Microsoft will eventually prevail in the enterprise market, while Apple will continue to garner the consumer marketplace as the iPad continues to shine as an entertainment device.

What do you think?

Comments, as always, are welcome.

Source: Gartner

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by jeffalldridge

Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1651530188 Joseph Chang

    In my opinion the Surface with the intel chipset is more so a direct competitor to the 11″ MacBook Air more than it is a competitor with the iPad.

    • Alan Wiggs

      This. To most of the people that say “why get a Surface when you could get an ultrabook?” I generally say a Surface Pro *is* an ultrabook, it’s just a new form factor, essentially.

    • Daniel Mraz

      No. as said, many are using the iPad for business solutions. Apple’s growth in this area got Microsoft thinking like Apple – take what it there, and make it better

      • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

        Actually, Microsoft appears to be trying to appeal to two separate segments – touch and non-touch computer users. I’m not sure it can address each one of them with equal weight (and, perhaps most importantly, positive results).

        • http://www.facebook.com/bharatkumargupta Bharat Kumar Gupta

          personally i believe they shud have targetted macbook pro and apple’s desktop line up by building a great designed laptop or pc and i always agree with what u said earlier “metro ftw for touch not the desktop os”, it has an awkward design that can’t be called as well thought of, again i agree that its not the specs that matters its experience, targetting ipad is wrong for ms

  • BertVisscher

    You write about OS X that you’re “just too lazy to learn a new OS”, and then you speak very positively about iOS. Aren’t these two so much alike, that there would hardly be any learning involved?

    • Alan Wiggs

      It probably depends on use cases more than anything. iOS isn’t going to be used for the document production, file manipulation, media organization, etc. that a desktop gets used for, so it doesn’t require as much of a learning curve. Plus iOS is pretty dang intuitive. People say the same thing about OS X, but if you’ve been using Windows for decades it just ain’t the case. People don’t generally have nearly as entrenched habits with tablet/smartphone OSes.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thong-Nguyen/1106644276 Thong Nguyen

    If you want a tablet with a keyboard you probably need….an ultrabook. Surface with a keyboard is a distraction (and a mistake — remember Balmer’s dissing of iPhone because it didn’t have a keyboard?). Microsoft can redeem themselves by creating a super thin tablet based around a touch screen and digitizer with ink. Relegating ink to the intel tablet with low battery life (instead of the ARM) and instead focussing a cheap keyboard experience is a mistake. The keyboard will prove to be insufficient compared to a “real” laptop and the tablet experience will suffer as a result of the lack of focus on the form-factor that the inclusion of the keyboard will cause.

    • PadPivot

      I agree Thong and would add. The tablet experience, particularly the iPad is like having a magazine on steroids quite different from the keyboard. IMO it won’t be an iPad killer just because it has a floppy keyboard.

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  • Daniel Mraz

    Head on. Nice goin.

  • Humberto Mancuso

    I see the iPad as a lean piece of hardware, stripped of the clutter (flap and keyboard cover) MS included in their tablet. For a company that announced a long time ago that physical keyboards would eventually disappear, MS seems to be crawling back to the cave. I suppose when Surface sleeps, it dreams of becoming a MacBook Pro. As for business user adherence, time will tell whether they will favor real innovation, or office compatibility.

  • http://twitter.com/Andrew_France Andrew France

    A Windows desktop and tablet experience all in one with Windows 8 personified in the surface, could be genius especially for Enterprise. And if nothing else, even if the surface never makes it to market, MSFT have made a strong statement on the build quality they expect the Window 8 system to be running on.

    But there is a danger of becoming a “Jack of all trades, Master of none”… I really hope that doesn’t happen

  • A reader

    One factor that is really important for the enterprise users and the supporting IT departments is the manageability of the device. While the iPad provides so far an excellent user experience, what are the options for the IT department to centrally configure security for example. Don’t forget that tablets are also endpoints having access to enterprise data. On the other hand Surface offers manageability with the Active Directory, which is a big plus.