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Apple tightens its tablet grip on enterprises ahead of Windows 8

A new survey finds tablet adoption increasing among corporate tech buyers, with Apple extending its lead over rivals as Microsoft readies its tablet-friendly operating system.

Apple's iPad is strengthening its grip on corporate buyers as Microsoft continues to put the finishing touches on Windows 8, its first operating system to enthusiastically embrace tablet computing,

A new survey conducted by ChangeWave Research shows that companies are stepping up their tablet purchases, and that a growing number intend to buy iPads. ChangeWave said its survey of 1,604 corporate tech buyers shows the highest level of corporate iPad demand it's ever found in a survey.

Apple's iPad

The results can't bode well for Windows 8. PC growth, and by extension Windows growth, has slowed over the years, while the market for tablets, primarily the iPad, has soared. Windows 8 is a touch-friendly operating system designed to help Microsoft tap that market.

While the consumer market will be tough to crack, given the lead that Apple has there, the corporate business has been seen as one where Windows 8 tablets could make inroads. That's largely because of Microsoft's long history of selling to enterprises and the manageability that corporate buyers expect in devices that run Windows.

The new survey, though, suggests that the iPad is increasingly meeting the needs of those potential customers. ChangeWave found that 22 percent of the respondents plan to purchase tablets for employees during the second quarter, and that 84 percent of those companies are planning to buy iPads. That's a seven-point gain from a survey the firm did in November. Some of that interest is no doubt fueled by anticipation of the new iPad's debut this Friday.

What's more, those buyers are increasingly shying away from tablets made by companies other than Apple. The interest in buying devices from every other tablet manufacturer, from Amazon to Samsung, declined from the November survey. So while buyers are increasingly looking to buy tablets, more often than not, they're only looking at picking up iPads.

The second most popular tablet-maker among corporate buyers is Samsung. ChangeWave found that 8 percent of respondents that are planning to buy tablets for employees intend to pick up a Samsung device, down from 10 percent in November.