5 Things That Windows 8 Does Better Than the iPad
March 16, 2012 3 Comments
Microsoft recently unveiled the consumer preview version of Windows 8, and the industry is abuzz with the possibilities offered by this platform. Of course there are inevitable comparisons to the market leader in the tablet space, Apple’s iPad. Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages for businesses. Here are five things that Windows 8 Consumer Preview (on a tablet) does better than the iPad.
Apple brought the use of gestures on tablet devices to the mainstream, but Microsoft is taking gestures to a whole new level with Windows 8. From the start page, a user can do a ‘pinch’ gesture to get an overview of apps. While within an app, a ‘swipe down’ gesture is used to close the app, and a ‘swipe up’ is used to bring up a context menu. A very nice addition is the ‘swipe from right’ gesture that brings up the “charms” menu for quick access to options such as system settings and integrated search. By comparison, the iPad supports a much smaller range of gestures.
The iPad handles multi-tasking in a rather limited sort of way. While a user can perform a gesture to swap between apps, each app uses the entire screen and only allows interaction with a single app at a time. In contrast, Windows 8 uses a ‘snap multi-tasking’ paradigm. A user can ‘snap’ one app in the sidebar while continuing main interaction with the larger content pane. One example usage scenario is viewing a Twitter feed on one side of the screen while browsing the web on the other side of the screen. Anyone who has fumbled around with switching back and forth between multiple apps on the iPad will appreciate this feature.
3. Split Keyboard
The idea behind the split keyboard is to provide an option for easier typing while the tablet is in landscape orientation. The iPad actually does have this feature, but Windows 8 offers resizing options to accommodate various finger sizes. This is a nice productivity boost for users that will produce lots of content on a tablet.
4. Metro UI
Microsoft initially introduced the Metro UI to the world via the Windows Phone 7 platform, and has done very well to extend the platform to the tablet form factor with Windows 8. In contrast to the rather limited information displayed by the iPad’s home screen icons, the Metro ‘live tiles’ display a wealth of information without requiring a user to actually dig into an app. For business users on the go, this helps provide information more quickly and effectively with more context.
5. Mobile and Non-Mobile UI
Users have probably noticed that Apple has done much work to make its desktop OS X user interface more similar to its iOS counterpart on the iPad. Microsoft has created Windows 8 with the idea of making the user experience the same between the mobile and non-mobile worlds (or at least as similar as possible). Admittedly, there is going to be an initial need for user training when switching to Windows 8. However, once users are trained they will have a more consistent experience while in the office and on the road.
In summary, Microsoft’s Windows 8 is an exciting platform for tablets that offers some advantages over Apple’s iPad. Of course, there is still much work that Microsoft must do to prepare Windows 8 for launch. The best may be yet to come!
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