Apples iPad has dominated the consumer tablet market since its inception, but that hasnt stopped any number of competitors from taking their own runs at the crown. For the past several months, tablet after tabletusually running Google Android, with occasional exceptions such as webOShas entered the arena as an ostensible iPad killer only to suffer through anemic sales and lukewarm reviews.
Apple is hosting an event March 7 where it will almost certainly debut the iPad 3. We have something you really have to see. And touch, reads the invitation sent to the media, which includes an image of a finger touching the calendar app on an iPad screen. Over the past few months, rumors have focused on the next-generation tablets possible features, including a high-resolution screen (in a Feb. 9 article, AllThingsD pegged the resolution at 2,048 by 1,536), as well as a more powerful processor and camera.
Those features might gain the iPad franchise an extra competitive advantage over the lightweight tablets in the space, but Apple faces a much larger challenge on the tablet horizon: Windows 8.
On Feb. 29, Microsoft offered up the Consumer Preview (or beta) of Windows 8, which will arrive sometime later in 2012. The Consumer Preview can be found in a special area on Microsofts Website; the betas ISO files (for those who wish to install it on another partition or virtual machine are also available. In a bid to spread the Windows franchise onto tablets in addition to traditional PCs, Windows 8s start screen is composed of a set of colorful (and touchable) tiles linked to applications, with the old style desktop interface accessible via a single click or finger tap.
That alone might not make Windows 8 a viable iPad competitor, but Microsoft has more up its sleeve than a sleek user-interface redesign. For months, Microsoft executives have insisted that their new operating system will provide a robust, no compromises experience. Power users will have access to the usual features they expect from Windows. The Windows Store will offer a wide variety of apps. Cloud-related features include cloud storage, the ability to roam all settings, and communicate with email and contacts from a Windows Phone smartphone or Windows PC.
With those features in place, Windows 8 tablets could prove attractive to business users and consumers who like the familiarity of the Windows brand. But Microsoft will still have to deal with Apples significant lead in the space.