Michael Dell Is Excited About Windows Tablets, But There’s A Catch

Michael Dell is excited about Windows 8 tablets, and says that Dell will have them available for sale whenever Microsoft releases Windows 8 — presumably this fall.

Speaking on Bloomberg West last night, Dell said:

I think for the business customer who has a very large installed base of Windows and the Windows ecosystem, having a secure Windows tablet that works with all the Windows applications, we are hearing a lot of demand for that, and we think it will be quite attractive.

He’s probably right.

But there’s a fine point that he’s not talking about.

The Windows 8 tablets that Dell is talking about will use Intel-style chips, which probably means they’ll have significantly less battery life than the iPad and Android tablets. Think four to six hours, like a laptop.

There’s another kind of Windows tablet coming out around the same time. They will use the ARM-style processors that the iPad uses, and will run a slightly different version of Windows called Windows On ARM.

But they won’t run old Windows apps. They will only run new apps written for that platform.

There may be workarounds — for instance, Citrix makes a product called Receiver that lets iPads (and other non-Windows devices) run Windows apps that are actually living on a server somewhere. But apps running like this generally don’t perform as well as apps running directly on the machine.

So the real choice for businesses that want Windows 8 tablets is:

  • A business tablet that runs Windows apps and uses all the traditional Windows management tools — but with worse hardware than the iPad.
  • A consumer tablet that is more like the iPad — locked down, with all new apps — but isn’t really part of the traditional Windows ecosystem at all.

For now, Dell has only said that it’s going to make the first kind.

Here’s the full clip of Dell talking, courtesy of Bloomberg Television: