While I will agree that there are now three major players, only one has so far made any impact in the enterprise. Apple has set the bar and that bar is pretty high. Google, with its Android efforts, has so far failed to even get its foot in the door, consistently failing to offer any level of enterprise-level security even though the OS itself is quite popular among its users. Microsoft, on the other hand, is an unknown that may be coming into the field late, but with the advantage of learning from the successes and failures of its predecessors. Microsoft's Surface tablets offer two levels of hand-carried computing that can not only offer direct competition to the others but with the Pro version perhaps exceed those others in certain areas.
In the beginning, everybody except Apple believed that a lightweight tablet would come out stillborn. It was simply not an enterprise-level device in their minds and never would be. This, by the way, despite the already obvious inroads the iPhone had made in that market. Still, there were those who insisted that Apple, out of all of them, would fail spectacularly. They believed that openness and customizability would make Android far easier to adopt and far more adaptable to enterprise needs. Strangely, these two factors appear to be the primary reason Android is failing as it has become impossible to secure.
Of them all, Microsoft has the real advantage, though. Windows has been in the enterprise for almost 30 years now and Microsoft knows what is needed for enterprise connectivity. Heck, Microsoft pretty much originated the local area network as far as desktop-to-desktop communications went. With that kind of history, making a tablet version talk with that network should be easy, right? Then again, for whatever reason Microsoft claims that the ARM version--RT--won't have that connectivity. What we don't know as yet is what they've done to at least come up with an iPad level of communications which is currently so successful in the enterprise. Surface Pro is different. Surface Pro is a tablet carrying a full, desktop version of Windows 8 which uses its "Modern" (formerly known as "Metro") interface for touch accessibility. It should give those who need a full laptop level of computing power true tablet functionality while maintaining that tablet ease of use that Apple's iOS has introduced. Desktop Windows has been an abysmal failure on tablets for 12 years now, so we really don't know if Surface Pro will do any better.
As such, we're NOT into the teenage years of tablet computing yet; we're barely in grade school. We've already seen one player make a strong move--apparently ready to step up to middle school. The second player seems stuck in second grade; just not willing or able to learn a critical lesson to move forward. The third player is like the child who was held back--old enough in its way to run ahead of the first yet only now entering school to face the ridicule of the second-grade bullies. Well, in this case I believe that newcomer will overwhelm the bullies and may even surpass the leader. We'll just have to see.
(Please note that I was oversimplifying Microsoft's role in early enterprise computing. There were many protocols then which Windows either adapted to or otherwise accommodated to the point where Windows replaced almost all other operating systems in use at the time. I am aware of the token ring networks and the daisy chains. Somehow, with NT in particular, Windows adapted to the point where the end users saw nothing but Windows and only IT knew different.)
Keep Up with TechRepublic