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No, tablets won't replace PCs anytime soon

Bob Lewis | Aug. 30, 2012

Tablet shortcoming No. 6: Pivot tables.

I don't use pivot tables very much, but I know lots of people who do. If you perform or consume analytics at any level, this is a big deal. If you did better on your SAT verbals than math, you won't care.

Tablet shortcoming No. 7: Blogging.

Many blog technologies use the TinyMCE editing system. Many people blog, which means many people use TinyMCE -- though likely not on their iPads because several of the selection-based features of TinyMCE don't translate well to the platform. With Android, it's even worse. (To be fair, the situation is improving, but we're a long time into the tablet "revolution" for it to still be as bad as it is.)

Tablet shortcoming No. 8: Backup and restore.

I have an external hard drive I use to back up my laptop. Combined with Allway Sync (or whatever other backup software you happen to like), backing up a PC is straightforward, even if you don't have a centralized IT department to handle the task for you automatically.

With an iPad, you can back up to your PC (hint: this means you're using a PC), or you can rely on cloud-based storage that automagically keeps your tablet synchronized with online storage.

But autosync isn't the same as backup and restore, for a very simple reason: Autosync propagates your mistakes to the cloud, at which point you're sunc -- that is to say, sync sunk. Autosync protects you from device failures, but not from the dreaded oh-no second (the fraction of a second separating your pushing the wrong button from your realizing you did so).

Tablets vs. PCs: Augment, not replace
I got tired of adding "but you knew that" -- except there's nothing here you didn't know. There's also nothing here those touting tablets as complete PC replacements for "average users" don't know. But there's a difference between what people know and what they know right now, when we're talking about the subject, because the usual discussion is about what tablets can do, not what they can't do.

Bottom line: For many employees -- those with heads-down production responsibilities -- tablets are irrelevant. For the rest, tablets are more likely to be an add-on technology, not a replacement. That's annoying from a cost perspective -- and yet another good reason to encourage BYOD.

This is the opportunity that was Microsoft's for the taking. Given the disastrous advance reviews Windows 8 has been receiving, though, it looks like Microsoft won't be taking advantage of it -- which means, sadly enough, that we won't either.

 

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