If you read the pages of most computer magazines you'd think that the iPad dominates the tablet market, Android is closing in fast and Windows doesn't exist. However, this isn't true. In many ways Microsoft created the tablet market with the Tablet PC and Ultra Mobile PC back in the 1990s. However, it was leapfrogged and is now playing catch up.
The software factor
There are a lot of reasons business people ought to consider a Windows tablet rather than an Android or iPad. Although the Google Play and Apple App Stores boast more apps than you can shake a stick at, Windows is still a very significant platform. If you use Microsoft Office documents then there is no truly 100% compatible Microsoft Office companion application.
If your business uses a specific accounting, warehouse or sales application that runs only on Windows and you're looking for a portable, tablet computer then an iPad or Android tablet might look cool but won't cut the business mustard.
The situation is improving, with some popular apps like MOYB AccountEdge available on the iPad.
Examples of applications that work on Windows, but not the iPad:
Point of Sale systems
Our experience with a Windows tablet
We road-tested the Toshiba WT200 Touchscreen Tablet to see if the current generation of Windows tablets are ready for business.
The best way to consider this device is to treat it as a notebook with a removable keyboard. When you're out and about, the onscreen soft-keyboard is OK for the odd bit of text but forget about it for more than a few words. Also, icons, menus and all the other stuff you usually click on are too small unless you've had your fingers tapered to a point. There's an optional stylus but that's just another thing to lose.
When you return to the office, the WT200 can be docked so that you can easily connect USB drives and other peripherals. Add a wireless mouse and keyboard and it's a good compromise between a desktop system and tablet. The Atom 2600 processor, 2GB or memory and 64GB of storage make this a good email and document writing workhorse but don't expect to use this for heavy duty graphics.
Where Windows excels
Where the WT200 excels is that it can run all the software that uou're probably running on your other computers. Also, it's just 800g - a bit more than an iPad but certainly not too heavy to carry.
If you're looking for a media consumption device then perhaps an Android tablet or iPad is a better choice. But for serious work, the Toshiba WT200 is worth looking at. The RRP of $999 is a little steep but this is very portable PC that will work in the office and on the road.
Use a tablet at your work? Add your comment below.
Anthony Caruana is a small business operator with experience in enterprise IT management as well as a journalist. He works with businesses on realising their business needs through the smart application of technology.