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Microsoft tablet and iPad to duke it out at large companies

Windows 8 Pro tablets will be attractive to large corporate customers. But it won't be easy competing with the iPad, which is gaining traction at large businesses.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
Intel-based Windows 8 Pro Surface tablet.
Intel-based Windows 8 Pro Surface tablet. Microsoft

Windows 8 Pro tablets have a shot at slowing iPad adoption at large companies, said Deutsche Bank -- though an analyst tempered the assessment with reservations.

Microsoft's Surface tablet running Windows 8 Pro can "leverage" the large existing base of Windows customers, giving it a better chance at checking the "penetration" of Apple's iPad at large business accounts, Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore wrote in a research note on Monday.

We see the x86-based Pro as a corporate [laptop] replacement. This offering has more potential because the OS is backward compatible, has more robust security, leverages the existing installed base, and offers full Office support (and consistent file management). We expect the Pro (and its forthcoming ilk) will compete directly with touch enabled ultrabooks / corporate [laptops]. The Pro tablet has the potential to slow the rate of iPad penetration into enterprise accounts.

But Whitmore quickly qualified this as a "best case scenario" because Microsoft is "swimming upstream against the consumerization of IT," referring to employees who bring their own iPads to work.

The Intel-based Pro version will likely be priced in the range of $900 to more than $1,000. "Or roughly in line with similarly configured ultrabooks," he wrote.

That's roughly a 20 percent premium over the most expensive 64GB iPad with 4G, according to Whitmore. And Windows Pro Surface tablets must also contend with the iPad's superior battery life and the iPad's large number of third-party apps, he said.

RT tablets -- built around Windows RT and ARM silicon -- have even less chance against the iPad, Whitmore said.

We see Windows RT struggling because the platform has: 1) limited 3rd party apps 2) no backward compatibility with existing PCs 3) a price point that will likely be higher than iPad 4) unclear 4G/carrier support and 5) uncertainty which version of Office will be supported (reports suggest it will not be enterprise ready). To put it bluntly, if the Surface is not priced below the iPad we see few compelling reasons for consumers to choose RT over iPad. The iPad is in its third generation, has broad and deep App support, iTunes/iOS/iCloud lock in (content, pictures etc) and high customer satisfaction.

Below is a Deutsche Bank breakdown of iPad and Surface tablet pricing and configurations.

Deutsche Bank