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Why the Microsoft Surface is a tablet game changer

Think of one major iPad flaw – too heavy? Not really. Too pricey? Simplicity comes with a hefty price tag. Doesn’t allow memory expansion? There, maybe. But here’s a real deal breaker – it doesn’t allow multiple user profiles. Just like Android, iPad has been from the moment of its inception, a single user device.

The reasons why Apple had designed the device that way are still a puzzle for many. Some argue that the iPad is really designed for one user; some pointed-out that maybe Apple just wanted to have one iPad for each member of the family. Priced at around $500, does it convey true value to have the iPad to be used by one person only?

Should single user be an accepted limitation?

All households have computers and laptops – all of which can be partitioned to have different profiles for each member of the family. Keeping a personal profile is a feature brought by a stroke of genius. Through it, users will never have to sign-off their email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, close documents that they are working on, and be worried that private files can be browsed by other family members at will.

The tablet is almost as powerful as a laptop – after all it almost has all the features of our traditional computers fit in a slim frame. So why doesn’t it allow users to have separate profiles? After all, it is not a mobile device that should be exclusive to the user – a fatal flaw that Apple and Android architects didn’t anticipate. Early this year, an Apple Insider posted a reply to an anonymous Apple developer acknowledging that iPad’s exclusivity to a single user is a “known issue”. He said “after further investigation it has been determined that this is a known issue, which is currently being investigated by engineering”.

So there, Apple must have already started doing something about it, and might be including this feature in future versions of the iPad, but who knows? So far, Apple hasn’t announced that such a feature will be introduced. Though the capability to maintain separate profiles is possible through a jail-broken iPad, does it make sense to void the warranty for the sake of building a wall of privacy from your wife or kids? I don’t really think so!

Something’s brewing over Microsoft

The much anticipated release of Windows 8 late this year and the production launch of Surface (Microsoft’s first hardware product outside of accessories) created a lot of buzz all over the industry. Windows 8 features a multiple user account capability, allowing users to maintain their own separate profiles with personalised themes, applications and data – just like how we are used to.

Working in harmony with profile synchronisation technology enhanced by cloud computing, Windows 8 allows users to sync all its applications, data and other features from your tablet to your laptop and vice versa. In this way, you will never have to painlessly update your notes based from the meeting; or find which part of the document needs updating based from the comments of your boss. While this functionality is certainly possible through 3rd party applications, they require an account on their service which is outside of the existing ecosystem.

Windows 8 makes life more simple most especially for people who not only seek to just simply share their tablets to their family; but also to effortlessly merge a tablet (which is now primarily used for leisure and social networking), to the business landscape.

Powered with the familiar tools of business – Office Professional, SharePoint, instant messaging through Lync and now with the power of cloud computing, Windows 8 and Surface is really a product worthy of anticipation and the wait. Apple and Android might have to take the multiple user feature seriously as it could be a deal breaker once Windows 8 and Surface hit the market.

What do you think?

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Loryan Strant

Loryan Strant

Loryan Strant is a 16 year veteran of web and network technologies. His company <a href="http://www.paradyne.com.au/">Paradyne</a> focuses on helping organisations of all types and sizes get into the cloud and Office 365. Loryan regularly blogs and writes articles about the cloud and has recently published a book on <a>Office 365</a>. He's passionate about enabling people and organisations using technology the right way, enabling them to become more productive. Loryan is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional), an award created by Microsoft to recognize the best and brightest from technological communities around the world. You can follow Loryan’s <a href="http://www.thecloudmouth.com/">blog</a> as well as follow him on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/TheCloudMouth">@TheCloudMouth</a>.

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