Windows 8 could make you rethink buying iPad 3

Windows 8 on a tablet
Windows 8 borrows heavily from Windows Phone

Let's make something clear. I love iOS. I use it every day. But now more details on Windows 8 have emerged, Microsoft's new OS could pose a very real challenge to Apple's tablet supremacy as well as the exponential growth of Android.

Let me explain. Despite slow sales, Windows Phone is a surprisingly good phone OS. If you're guffawing at that last sentence, we reckon you probably haven't used it.

But Microsoft isn't just going to stick a variant of Windows Phone onto tablets, but onto every new PC as well, as part of Windows 8. And Microsoft's new OS has a potentially game-changing trick up its sleeve.

Microsoft isn't redesigning the Windows that we all know. Indeed, Windows 8 will have a desktop that's actually very similar to Windows 7. But it will be overlaid by the Windows Phone-style interface. Two operating systems in one, you might say. And that's actually going to propel Windows 8 devices past their competitors in terms of do-it-all devices.

Windows 8

SEAMLESS: Windows 8 tablets will enable you to move directly between a Windows Phone-style interface and a standard Windows desktop

The iPad is a terrific device and is supreme in terms of apps, support and games. But it's not a workhorse. I know, because I use one every day. Yes, you can write stuff in Pages, do presentations and get your work email.

But it's just not as effective as a Mac or PC at doing serious work. If you disagree with this statement, we simply point you to the fact you can't attach an image in the Mail app or that sharing files between apps is still very limited.

While Apple is introducing iOS-like interface tweaks in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion (and wants to preserve Mac sales), there's still a massive opening here. Something with the flexibility of Windows but the simplicity of iOS. And yep, Windows 8 has both.

A tablet for all purposes

Suddenly, you could have one tablet that could do everything. You could use the Windows Phone-style touch interface on the sofa or the train, arrive at the office and plug it into a screen, keyboard and mouse. And instantly, there you are in the traditional Windows desktop with access to all the same stuff.

Now that's something we'd like to have.

It's actually the second masterstroke of Windows 8. The first was made at CES, with the announcement it would move beyond the traditional AMD and Intel platforms and run on ARM-based silicon.

That means the first Windows 8 tablets could be packing the quad-core chips that will be coming from various manufacturers like Qualcomm and Nvidia later this year. It's also meant that Intel and AMD have had to seriously up their game in terms of mobile architectures.

Longer term, that will mean more compute power at the same time as giving longer battery life. And, of course, being supported by such a massive spread of manufacturers is great news for Microsoft.

Finally, Windows can emerge from the shadow of the PC as we know it.


Liked this? Then check out ARM: low power is in our DNA

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Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.