The race is on for Windows 8 business slates.
Despite a bruising exit from the tablet space after the Android-powered Streak failed to gain traction, Dell is still bullish on the market. That is, if those tablets run the latest OS from its long time software partner, Microsoft.
Earlier this month, Michael Dell told Bloomberg that his company is seeing strong corporate demand for tablets that drop seamlessly into their Windows environments. "Having a secure Windows tablet that works with all the Windows applications -- we’re hearing a lot of demand for that and we think that will be quite attractive," he said.
He added that Dell would have a Windows 8 tablet on the market the "exact day" Microsoft's tablet-friendly OS launches. The competition isn't sitting still, however. Another company with strong ties to corporate computing is preparing to challenge Dell.
Lenovo, makers of the iconic ThinkPad line of business notebooks, is preparing an Intel-powered Windows 8 tablet. An inside sources told The Verge that the company is aiming to be "first to market" with hardware that supports the OS.
Dell's remarks were echoed this week by Steve Felice, Dell's chief commercial officer. In an interview with Reuters, he praised the Windows 8's touch capabilities, reiterated plans to reveal its Windows 8 tablet lineup later this year, and took a moment to slam Apple's iPad.
"When people put their computer to the side and take their iPad with them to travel, you see a lot of compromises being made," said Felice.
This month, Apple raised the stakes by launching the new iPad, with a fast processor, a more powerful, quad-core graphics subsystem and a higher resolution "Retina" display. Unsurprisingly, it launched in retail to rave reviews and healthy sales. It also set the stage for more iPads in the workplace.
iPad's popularity hinges on more than just appealing, consumer-friendly hardware. Increasingly, businesses are making room for the device as part of their IT support mix. In some cases, iPad adoption has been startlingly brisk according to Nathan Clevenger, author of "iPad in the Enterprise."
In an article for Datamation, Clevenger wrote, "Because of user demand, the iPad managed to penetrate 50 percent of Fortune 100 companies in less than 90 days." Frank Modruson, CIO of Accenture, provided Clevenger with some vivid insights into his company's reasons for supporting the device.
"The day the iPad was introduced we had some discussions about adding them into our environment; 24 hours later, we had 500 devices accessing e-mails. People expect their personal devices—iPads, iPhones and the like—to be usable at work," said Modruson.
"They want to be more productive, they want do a better job, and there’s an expectation that they’ll be able to integrate consumer devices with enterprise applications at the office," he adds.
Clearly sensing a threat to Microsoft's dominance in business software, the company is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to wrest some of the tablet market from the iPad.
With Windows 8, Microsoft is targeting both ARM and x86 microarchitectures, the former having emerged as the de facto standard for tablet and smartphones. Windows 8 also supports desktop and tablet views on all form factors, and will ship with popular Office components.
Knowing that developer support can make or break a software platform, the software giant is giving the coding community ample opportunity to prepare for Windows 8's impending launch with lengthy developer and consumer previews.
Time will decide whether its enough to win over corporate IT departments that have been warming to the iPad since 2010.