Windows 8-based Surface versus iPad and Android tablets
Along with the launch of Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft also unveiled the Surface tablets. Presently the Surface tablets are only available with Windows RT which is a stripped down version of Windows 8. With Surface, Microsoft hopes to challenge the likes of the market leader iPad and Android tablets. But it won’t be easy for Microsoft to compete with tablets that have already established themselves and captured a huge market share.
Can Microsoft’s Surface tablets beat the iPad?
With a global market share of 50.4 percent in the third quarter of 2012, the Apple iPad is no doubt the king of the tablet market. To counter competition from tablets in the 7-inch category such as Google Nexus, Apple recently introduced a smaller version, that is, the 7.9-inch iPad mini. On the other hand, Surface with Windows RT is available in the 10.6-inch screen size only. The iPad has a better screen resolution and front/rear cameras. While the Surface has a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, Apple has equipped the 4th gen iPad with the powerful A6X processor.
The Surface comes with the keyboard Touch Cover that can be connected to the tablet to use it as a laptop. But you can’t install any software on the Windows RT-based Surface like you can do on a laptop. That’s because Windows RT supports only the apps in the Windows Store, which are far less than the iPad apps. However, the Windows 8 Pro-based Surface will allow you to install other software as well. The iPad is basically a content consumption device, while the Surface is suitable for content creation also. Microsoft has got the basics right but it would find it hard to beat the iPad.
How Surface fares in comparison to Android tablets
Android tablets are manufactured by a number of vendors. So, there’s an added advantage that the tablets are available in several models in different sizes and hardware specifications. Android is led by Samsung which shipped 5.1 million tablets in the third quarter of 2012. During this period, Samsung accounted for 18.4% of the tablet market. Android is an open source platform, so hardware manufacturers as well as app developers find it easy to customize the OS or design applications. There are close to 700,000 Android apps, whereas Windows Store presently offers 120,000 apps. Android surely beats Surface with Windows RT when it comes to the number of models and apps from which customers can take their pick.
So, which is the best – Surface, iPad, or Android tablets?
Surface with Windows RT is certainly an innovative product as it comes close to replacing the PC. But it doesn’t completely succeed at it because of the limited apps in the Windows Store. Perhaps Surface with Windows 8 Pro will provide customers the flexibility of using the device as a tablet or a full-fledged laptop. The iPad, which packs powerful performance in a sleek design, is still the best tablet but Android is fast catching up with devices such as the Kindle Fire, Nexus 10, etc. Many new tablets will be launched in 2013 and the market share will likely shift in favor of innovative products with competitive prices.