Two Windows 7 tablets: HP Slate 2 vs. Samsung Series 7 Slate

Companies that need Windows-7-based tablets have two very different choices in these new devices

While the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement has IT departments scurrying to figure out how to cope with the all the issues inherent in consumer technology, there are still tablets out there that are less about entertainment and more about work: Windows 7 tablets. In fact, according to Alex Spektor, associate director for wireless device strategies at Strategy Analytics, thousands of companies use Windows tablets to get business done.

"They're not about fun and games," explains Spektor. "Windows 7 tablets are pure business and they are used every day by insurance agents, architects and contractors, real estate agents, salespeople as well as doctors and nurses doing their jobs."

While Android tablets and iPads are slowly acquiring the software (such as the upcoming Microsoft Office for the iPad) and security add-ons (such as ForeScout Mobile) necessary to make them practical in the workplace, there are three critical areas that Windows tablets immediately deliver on:

  • Standardizing your tablets to the same operating system as your desktop systems (assuming you're a Windows shop) reduces your company's acquisition, maintenance and training costs.
  • Windows 7 tablets generally have robust configurations that include 2GB or 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage space. By contrast, the iPad 2 has 512MB of RAM and tops out at 64GB of storage, while the typical Android tablet comes with 1GB of memory and up to 32GB of storage space.
  • Windows 7 tablets have stronger defensive options, including Total Protection Module (TPM). "This allows a corporation to make its remote access as secure as possible these days," adds Spektor. "No Android tablet or iPad has it."

This emphasis on business has paid off -- somewhat. Worldwide sales of Windows 7 tablets have risen from a few thousand units in the fourth quarter of 2010 to 400,000 units in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to figures compiled by Neil Mawston, executive director of global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics.

Of course, it's a drop in a bucket of tablets compared to sales of 15.4 million iPads and 10.5 million Android tablets for the same period. Still, Windows 7 tablets currently account for 1.5% of global tablet demand, and with Windows 8 on the way, Mawston forecasts that the market share of Windows tablets will rise to 15% by 2015.

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