Tablets

Poll results: IT Pros plan to buy Microsoft Surface tablets not iPads

IT pros are more likely to purchase a Windows 8-based tablet than they are likely to purchase any other tablet, including the Apple iPad.

On June 19, 2012, just after Microsoft announced they were manufacturing their own version of a tablet PC running Windows 8, called the Surface, I asked the TechRepublic audience if they were interested in the device. As the TechRepublic audience is not only very tech savvy but also very curious, I expected some interest. However, I did not expect such a high level of acceptance.

Yes, we want it.

IT professionals are much more interested in purchasing a Windows 8-based tablet than they are in purchasing any other tablet, including the Apple iPad. There are those who will tell you that the iPad is the only tablet worth owning, but the evidence suggests that, in the eyes of the TechRepublic membership, this is just not true.

Over the next few weeks (and perhaps years), we'll be looking into this trend to reveal why IT professionals are leaning in this direction. So far, much of what we are hearing is that the IT pro is looking to Windows for the additional security and tools that will help them manage devices attached to their enterprise domains.

Of course, this attitude may fly in the face of what users want, especially in an increasingly "bring your own device" world. How this plays out is going to be very interesting for the industry.

Do you want further proof? Check out the results of Bill Detwiler's poll in the Cracking Open Blog.

Do the results of these polls surprise you? Do you agree with your peers? What is your thought process on incorporating tablet devices into your organization? How does BYOD play into these questions?

Also read:

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

64 comments
canewshound
canewshound

A Windows 8 Surface will run everything your Win 7 laptop runs.

fabiogil
fabiogil

The first question is a little bit misleading, it can be interpreted as, now that Microsoft is working on releasing Surface, would you buy a MS tablet. And I'd say I would but probably won't. The 3rd question doesn't work by itself, it would have been more interesting to have asked, do you have a tablet that you use at work and what tablet is it? The conclusion that is drawn from the 3 questions can only be IT Pros would buy the Surface because is "out there". On the other hand even though IT participates in the decision regarding the infrastructure, we have come to a point that the users are driving the adoption. Until recently there were only BB because they were the only intrinsically secure. Not anymore, people demanded support for other devices and they got their way ...

BarryGill
BarryGill

@cybershooters - you say that IT Pro's don't need these things. I think that you should be saying "I don't need these things"... I have not bought a tablet becauswe everything that is on the market doesn't do what I need. And not enough to justify the expense over and above my laptop. However I do travel a lot and a tablet that gives me remote terminals, ssh, vpn access and access to my office applications like visio, excel, project and word is something that I will use on a daily basis. I think the Surface with Win8RT is useless for me as I cannot run my full blown apps on it. The Surface Pro however with full Win8 is a whole different story. I have also played with Win8 and it takes a little getting used to, but once you have your shortcut kingdom defined you will be able to navigate to full view apps and back into metro with marginal fuss. in fact, I think it will become a preferable way to work. With any luck, I will be able ot offload more computing to my corp servers and keep on basics on board, that means that the tiny lightweight computer called a Surface with Win8 will become my new laptop. THAT is an end game I am prepared to spend money chasing.

kerry.sisler
kerry.sisler

Have to suspect most enterprise IT responses stem from their frustration in dealing with the iPAD and its manufacturer rather than any specific current affection for the coming alternative device.

Kieron Seymour-Howell
Kieron Seymour-Howell

I would advise purchasing one of the Surface tablets, then reinstall it with Windows 7 Professional. Don't get caught up in the hype and clamour of the latest fad. The potential downtime and stress is not worth what you will gain. I can also suggest some REAL Tablet computers instead of these Android and iOS toys being offered now. The Sahara Slate PC i500 Tablet PC is an excellent choice. A notable piece of software to check into is PenCommander 2.1. And if you do not mind waiting, you can always wait for the top of the line (www.axiotron.com/index.php?id=modbookpro) ModBookPro which will run Windows 7 perfectly. or evan both Windows and Apple OS at the same time.

JJFitz
JJFitz

AD integration GPO support RDP support Imaging support Hard Drive encryption Supports the vast majority of commonly used Windows based programs and tools Mobility Multiple user logins with varied permission levels Stylus input USB port Micro-SD slot Plus I don't have to buy or support anything additional to join them to the Enterprise.

OldHenry
OldHenry

First, IT departments didn't buy IBM PCs, renegade departments did to escape the clutches of IT. I worked with two different groups one that had PCs and one Macs and Lisas (remember those!). Neither was supported by IT and neither was purchased by IT and they were both so we did not have to be in thrall to the Vaxen. Next, even if all the IT pros in the world decide the Surface is the right thing it won't make it a success. Consumers will have to embrace it and start buying the Surface instead of the iPad for Microsoft's tablet to truly be a success.

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

The ONLY reason for a computer professional to buy Surface, is because they will be expected to support it. They more than likely already own an iPad, which they probably support, AND use. My own personal feeling, as a computer/network technician is that if the boss will not buy me the thing that I will need down the road, because people will expect me to support it, I will have to buy it for myself. I don't want to have to learn the thing by osmosis. Chances are that they will use it only when it will do things that the iPad will not do. (not accounting for the raft of Microsoft fan boys out there, who will buy ANYTHING Microsoft.)

gke565
gke565

I will most definitely look at the surface for tablet computing - not for myself but for those EVPs that insist on a tablet. This is a device that runs Windows natively, has full Office access, domain aware and can be managed by the same systems currently in place in 95% of the enterprises today. Implementation and true management of iPads and Androids has been a cluster at best, and is overly time consuming, and in the end (as pointed out in other comments) you have to go to a real computer to get any work done, and these will be true winodws with truely compatible apps. As for price - by the time you purchase your Zaggo keyboard, dport video convertor, USB adapter, etc. the cost will be the same if not less - and you wont need to install iTunes on every machine and try to keep up with updates.

ben
ben

Starting with "why?". I've heard a number of complaints (which seem valid to me) about iPads (well anything Apple) being hard to manage in a big IT environment. Are the IT pros perceiving that Microsoft will provide better tools for integrating the tablet into the enterprise? That's the kind of thing I'd like to know - what makes MS a more attractive option to the IT pro? I can see other concerns. The dependence on web-services like iCloud to do much would seem like something that strikes fear into the heart of the IT pro - but I keep hearing about how cloud dependent windows 8 is, so how is MS' approach to "the cloud" easier on corporate IT?

kiwiak
kiwiak

Yes we all want a tool that allows us to do our jobs. In a Windows world MAC/APPLE fails to support that. But as to whether Windows 8 on a tablet format will be that answer remains to be seen. I love my windows phone but still run a dual boot laptop, there is still a lot of XP out there.

gcurrier
gcurrier

I live and work in Germany. People here are as crazy about the iPad (i-anything for that matter) as anywhere else, I suppose. Where I work is no different. I see end users carrying around an iPad, using it for nothing more than a show off piece to their colleagues and to have "bragging rights" that they have the newest, latest, greatest, most expensive "toy". I too, am an IT Pro (I guess). I work as a DBA and can tell you that I have absolutely no need for ANY tablet of any kind. The work I need to do is often too complex or too processor heavy to use a tablet. For that I have a laptop that is, more or less, a carbon copy of my desktop (smaller in size though ;-) ). Would I buy a tablet? Sure, if I could find something practical to use it for. Otherwise, it's another toy that I don't really need and would likely end up on the shelf next to my XP tablet. I have to agree with Cybershooters...no serious IT professional would really need one...not for the work that we need to do - from infrastructure management to software development, it's not that useful. I can almost say that it a tablet would not be very useful for the end user either...maybe as a surfing tool or email reader, but not much else. I am on vacation in New York at the moment and had the chance to visit the observation deck of the Empire State Building...guess what I saw? I saw people (maybe 20 or 30 out of the 200 that were crammed out on the deck) using the iPad as a camera...funny. Glen

carpetking
carpetking

For those of us old enough to remember when Apple took on IBM presenting those of us with IBM compatable computers to be lemings following some false god on a projection screen. It seems like over the 28 years, things have changed. It now seems like those with Apple gear are the ones hypnotised and it is Microsoft, and others that are trying, valliantly, to break into Apples profit margines. Am I interested in the Surface? You bet I am. I'll be willing to pay a slight premium even for it. However, if it were made in America, I'd be even more willing to pay a larger premium!

sarai1313
sarai1313

right and i have bottom land for sale the bottom of a lake.the cameras,texting,and makeing a phone call thats IT work.how about security.or maybe just maybe you are going to need to make nice nice or lose your jobs do to the lack of need of you skills ? haha no need of for a bunch to techs if a lot is done from microsoft it self and the device is locked down by the company and the enployees cant screw it up .

marcwillemsen
marcwillemsen

I think that there will be a big market for Microsoft with this tablet but the tablet MUST perform! If they don't get it right the first time (at launch) they will never recover. If Microsoft brings the enterprise connectivity (DirectAccess or...) and good apps like a nice Office suite to this tablet than I am sold! But hey, I am an IT Pro and look at the integration options. Home users don't care what it takes to integrate with the corporate network and that it works well with our internal Windows servers, it just needs to work and they just love Apple, that won't change (much). So I think that there will be more than one player in the BYOD world.

felix1761
felix1761

So what does the Surface let me do better? With an RDP connection to my Win 8 desktop i can maintain my ticketing system in real time, Sametime a collegue for info/advice, map a drive from another pc where a batch file might sit onto a different target...the possibilities for a support person are endless. And because it is Windows it will fit in the security framework and it wont be virtualized on the tablet. Surface will kill Good Technology on the tablet, bye bye Ipad and Android in the corporation. and if I can RDP why do I need a full version of Office? A lightweight version for when I am offline will more than suffice. You pick the right tool for the job. If you need mobile and lightweight take your surface. Road warriors take their laptops. C-Suite consume info, Surface gives them that and the security kludging an Ipad or Android into your network doesn't!

w5gl
w5gl

Our company uses Active Directory for 30000 plus Windows machines. The first tablet that runs all of our applications and FULLY participates in AD will be the tablet we buy.

rambiss
rambiss

So they are going to make the same mistake they made when the bought IBM PC instead of Mac. Great going. Irrespective to the pain it brought to the IT world for the last 30 years.

jkameleon
jkameleon

There's no way around it. So, Microsoft Surface is a good idea as far as hardware design is concerned. Alas, metro interface is designed to be primarily finger friendly, so... I don't know how this combination is going to work. The ideal combination would probably be Surface and Linux.

cybershooters
cybershooters

But this is an "if you bought" a tablet question - speaking as an IT Pro why would I? Why wouldn't I stick with my laptop? Yes Windows 8 runs more of my stuff than an iPad but it doesn't run as much of my stuff as a laptop with Windows 7 on it. If you held a gun to my head and said I had to choose then yes I would buy a Windows 8 tablet but frankly I'm not going to buy either. People keep saying that Windows 8 is designed for tablets - yes it is but having spent some time using it now I don't think it's that good actually, even on tablets. Anytime you want to do anything even marginally complex you end up having to go into the desktop mode and groping through Control Panel to do it. All I wanted to do was change the power settings! Tablets are just not that big of a deal for serious IT - if they were they would have taken off years ago with XP tablet edition. Yes Windows 8 is far superior to XP tablet edition but I still can't see much point to it in the workplace. I can see a few people using tablets for mobile work (e.g. delivery people, maintenance operatives and the like), making presentations and the usual high-level corporate types who want a toy but that's about it.

Gisabun
Gisabun

My "clients" are 98% using Windows. I would need to use various tools that use Windows. But I wouldn't touch the RT version but the regular Windows 8 Pro edition. Only downside is that Windows 8 is on it! Another issue could be the price. Rumour has it that the cheapest non-RT version will still be more expensive than the cheapest iPad model.

Marc Garza
Marc Garza

And what of the price, or the fact there was no mention of celluar support? I think it is to soon to have a poll on what IT professional would buy. This poll simply shows what people want. We would all love for the surface to be as good as it looks. But until I see a teardown and read some reviews. I will stick with my iPad. MS doesnt exactly have the best mobile device reputation. And that's not even to bash them. Its just fact. MS is a solid company with a solid product. But it doesnt mean they are the best. MS is the sedan of the world. We all have one. Apple is the luxury car. Most of us can't justify the cost. But those who have swear by them.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Do you think you'll be able to get reliable W7 drivers for a Surface tablet?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Powerful enough to run the software the organisation's staff needs The staff have the time and capability to learn how to use Win 8 and Metro There is a need for a mobile device The organisation is in need to changing its computers

NonBreaker
NonBreaker

They may finally give us a reason to set up one of those DirectAccess servers we've all thought about at some point or another. I'm tired of buying more AnyConnect licenses for my ASA because everyone with iPads needs VPN, lol.

NonBreaker
NonBreaker

IT departments (and any other departments) have evolved since then, have they not? This is truly a subject that I am unfamiliar with, as I am a young naive network administrator. I've never had a department try and take the reins for the technology they use, but rather work with us to find the correct solutions. We also don't rule the network with an iron fist, so maybe that helps. Maybe I am naive, but I believe that user education is what works. Our users understand that the things we do are to protect us (the organization), and not to simply cause frustration so we can laugh at it.

bellrm
bellrm

Over time it became IT's job to take on the various departmentally purchased PCs and integrate them into the evolving enterprise IT environment. I see the same trend repeating with portable devices (tablets, e-readers, smartphones ...) and the enterprise It environment will evolve again. However, whilst I anticipate the majority of enterprises to standardise on a common primary user platform - probably Windows, what I do not envisage is that it will be the only user platform supported, because Android devices in particular and iOS to a lesser extent are very much commodity devices and hence can be used to fulfil new roles, particularly roles that play to their stengths and substantial consumer market presence compared to Surface.

genghis7777
genghis7777

I've never encountered a MS Fanboy. Plenty of people who buy on merit. But few who buy for love. Never once have I met someone who proudly held up a product to me and said with pride, this was made by Microsoft.

NonBreaker
NonBreaker

...it's not exactly the same thing, but wouldn't using Win8 on the desktop be sufficient for supporting these things? As IT Pros, one of the main aspects of our jobs is to rapidly adapt and understand new technology, even if it's our first time with it. I didn't have an iPad at first, but I could definitely support people with them thanks to my company provided iPhone. If someone needs some help on their Samsung tab, my personal LG Revolution phone was similar enough for me to understand and help.

NonBreaker
NonBreaker

Without speaking for the RT version, the Pro version could probably be managed through AD. I wouldn't imagine it being that different from a laptop.

NonBreaker
NonBreaker

I went to NYC in 2011 and saw the exact same thing on the ESB. I'm a network administrator, and I do about 50% of my work outside the office. Personally, I would love a domain-joined tablet complete with a keyboard... i.e. the Pro version of Surface. Right now I carry an iPad when I'm on the road or out for the weekend, and can VPN and RDP to my desktop when I need to get something done. It is incredibly painful, and the Surface probably wouldn't be much better in that respect. However, it could definitely allow me to get rid of my laptop that I use when I am at my home office. I could just dock the Surface and be on my way. I used to use my desktop for work from home, but last year I bought my fiance some computer games, and most days I can't pry her away from it for long enough to get any work done on it. Small victories, right?

genghis7777
genghis7777

Modern tablets are way more portable and light. I visited relatives over the last week and was pleasantly surprised to find a whole new generation of Uncles and Aunties in their 80s using iOS and Android devices. All laughing and talking while merrily holding their tablets in one hand and then stopping and talking to some other relative with Skype in some other country. Great fun to watch. The big difference is not having to have a keyboard and their lightweight. Convertible tablets are way too heavy. They need to be less than a pound and a half (750g). Assuming everything else equal, then MS are onto a winner.

Skruis
Skruis

And I use my Win8 slate for 100% of my mobile work, 20% of my regular Office work, 100% of my casual use and 60% of my own off hours development. It's suitable for serious IT work, now more than ever because it has the added value of being able to be your only device. Touch on the desktop seems to be better for some reason but that could be subjective to the hardware/screen/drivers.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"We have no plans to buy tablets in the next year."

Skruis
Skruis

There's more functionality in the Pro model than the iPad. That's not to say that the iPad is a bad device but rather a mobile finger friendly pc brings more to the table. Getting customers to understand that difference and the value it brings will be the real challenge though from the time I've spent with my clients, they 'get it' in a few minutes..

bop
bop

Apple iPad might be the luxury car - but with restictions. You are not allowed to be kissing in the car, and the back seat are ONLY for seated-and-belted children any thing else is immoral ;-) - fresh or sporty driving behaviour is prohibited in this car as it is a luxury car and is supposed to be driven approbiate for a luxury car !. It can't be driven on a dirty out-back country road, and music for the sound-system can only be purchased and loaded from and by the car manufacture. The "very green and eco-friendly" gasoline can only be bought and refilled from the car manufactures own gas stations - any attempt to check the quality or eco-friendlyness is a violation of the enduser-agreement. No wonder why many preferes another product !. I would have prefered the Surface to have been made by another manufacture - like Acer, Lenovo, Asus, MSI or ...... just not MS The Surface, probably, will not be the best build product - but if its just one of the best of the rest - it will do! Apple is indisputable one of - if not the best - builder of high quality mobile products. But my old (5 years) DELL Latitude 630D with all options on the list except for theft and total-irresponsible-behaviour insurance, is still going strong and probably costed the same as a comparable iBook. Haven't had an insident - call the servicecontract a waste - but nice to have. Maybe an iBook is slightly better build but as tool the 630D is so much more versatile for me. Back to the Surface - it doesn't please me that MS has total control of both SW and HW - it might be a "loser" for the users just as it is with the Apple/iPad.

JJFitz
JJFitz

You can RDP into a computer that is powerful enough to run your programs and you are mobile.

OldHenry
OldHenry

Unfortunately many businesses try to go around IT for a variety of different reasons. I've spent a great deal of time trying to get the two sides to talk and understand each other.

NonBreaker
NonBreaker

...he made it pretty clear the Pro version would be the best candidate. My organization has the same needs, and the Pro is looking pretty attractive.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Surface Pro for the Enterprise. Surface RT for the home user who wants a media consumption device.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

They're all told by consortiums and advisers as to how to think... and yet those entities are not responsible for when boom-boom happens...

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

what you need it to do. It's kind of like cell phones: some people feel they need one with texting, Internet access, and a built in camera, yet others just want a cheap device to make and receive voice calls. No point in paying for the extra unless you need it.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

It's all in the chassis. That myth of Apple = luxury is just that. A myth. Ran by egocentric, unethical creeps who knew their iphone had an antenna problem long before its release and then yelled at customers and saying they were holding it wrong. "Every crowd has a silver lining" -- PT Barnum. It's a good phrase to know...

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

and it isn't as the most common enterprise usage of a computer is the preparation of documents. As I've said elsewhere, I can see limited usage for a tablet in business where it can be useful, but it's very limited. And RT makes it less useful for some of those usages.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

them at all and it also buggers the file trying to open and convert it. For some versions you can now get some MS add-ons to open them, but it's not a default part of MSO and is very unli9kely to be part of any cut back version.

DukeCylk
DukeCylk

And besides, who trusts any document editing program - I could fake the origination date of any doc made by any editor except adobe acrobat professional which is what any legal document should be stored with,

Skruis
Skruis

RT is targeted at the basic casual user that every once in a while uses Word/Excel.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

the apps that it does have. From what I've read from Microsoft it's about as capable as the old Office Works set up. Mind you, the full blown version of Microsoft Office is absolutely no good to me as it's incapable of safely opening the old MS Word and MS Excel files from several years ago that I'm required to keep in 'as they were' condition for legal reasons until seven years after the contract run out. That's an issue I found with Office 2003, and why I now use Libre Office, as it will do what Microsoft Office can't. Personally, I think any tablet system has a very limited usage in the majority of work organisations, and trying to stretch it beyond those needs is only going to screw it up.

Skruis
Skruis

Which is where RT comes into the mix. With Office bundled, it's pretty much ready to go for the basic casual user.

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