Windows 8 has been touted for quite some time as the operating system for people to actually get real work done with. The problem with this is that Windows 8 RT doesn’t quite support the features that enterprise users want and expect. In addition to that, Windows 8 RT simply does not have the compatibility that the enterprise, and frankly most consumers, are used to.

With the standard Windows 8 tablets running Intel x86 processors, we saw a much more familiar experience albeit a different one. As more tablets have begun to trickle out since the launch last fall, we have seen some tablets with some serious enterprise capabilities which finally satisfy the needs of the enterprise. In a recent whitepaper, Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategy details the key five factors that explain what is needed from a tablet in order to gain market-wide adoption. He then compares this against what has happened with the iPad in the enterprise, hitting on some key factors.

In his report, Patrick Moorhead talks about the Intel Atom Z2760 processor’s importance to the equation stating, "The Atom Z2760 uses a custom, two core, four thread design based on the ?Penwell? core, used in Intel-based smartphones. It is based on the X86 instruction set and therefore will run the latest Windows 8 Metro-style and all Windows 7 applications. To the surprise of many in the industry, independent reviewers like AnandTech showed that at a minimum, the Z2760 provided at least the same system performance per watt and in some use cases, surpassed iPads."

While we entirely agree with the sentiment regarding the Atom Z2760, we’re a little disappointed to see him not mention to absence of AMD, which could provide an affordable alternative. With an AMD enterprise-ready tablet we could potentially see similar performance and battery life with improved graphical capabilities. While we understand the need to stay on topic, the fact that AMD is still missing from the enterprise tablet market is both bad for the company and for the market.

The three tablets that Patrick Moorhead states are part of this ‘New Breed of Enterprise Tablets’ are the Dell Latitude 10, HP Elitepad 900 and Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2. He then proceeds to compare these three tablets against the iPad 4 in a multitude of ways including Design and Display, Battery and Battery Life, Expandability, OEM Supported Enterprise Features and Software, IDE and Hardware Compatibility.

The real truth is that these Windows 8 tablets are not only more ready and capable for enterprise deployment, but they’re overall more productive devices than any iPad could ever be. Most iPads that need to be deployed across a whole enterprise require custom applications for specific uses and dont have nearly the enterprise features that you would expect from an enterprise device.

Looking at the pricing, we can see that many of these tablets actually sit fairly close to eachother in terms of price when you take into account the accessories they all require in order to be fully featured. The sweet spot for these enterprise tablets appears to be between $700 and $800 and then appear to move upward from there. We believe that there is a very large niche of the tablet market which hasn’t been carved out yet, and it is exactly for Windows 8 tablets. The truth is that Android and iOS simply do not have the flexibility that x86 based Windows 8 tabelts have to run desktop applications. This fact alone already gives Windows 8 tablets their own niche.

However, in order for Windows 8 tablets to be able to gather significant market share they need to meet the parameters that Patrick Moorhead details in his report. Furthermore, we foresee these tablets being able to garner a higher ASP, enabling better performance Windows 8 tablets that also get good battery life. There are already plenty of Windows 8 ‘Pro’ tablets out there, but many of them simply don’t have enough battery life and are too thick to be considered truly elegant solutions. We are interested to see what Temash (28nm) from AMD and BayTrail (22nm) from Intel have to offer later this year for enterprise tablets. These two architectures should deliver significantly better performance and battery life.

As Patrick states in his whitepaper, "Enterprise tablets now exist that provide the best of both worlds between end user and IT, which puts the Apple in a precarious position of needing to add more robust enterprise features. Until that point, Moor Insights & Strategy recommends enterprises re-evaluate their iPad pilots and deployments. Enterprises should immediately evaluate the latest enterprise tablet offerings from HP, Dell and Lenovo and make their decisions on future deployments incorporating those additional options."

I couldn’t agree with him more, however, I believe that the next crop of Windows 8 enterprise tablets will really be what the enterprise will want. This current generation is a good start, and many enterprises should buy a few of these tablets to understand where we’re coming from, but I believe they should wait until the next generation of SoC/APUs.