Windows 8 tablets buying advice

Surface Pro

Surface Pro

It’s a confusing time to be buying a Windows 8 tablet. Should you go for a combinedlaptop and tablet – a so-called hybrid – or a ‘proper’ tablet? What about Windows RT? We answer these and more questions in our in-depth Windows 8 tablet buying advice, then review the best Windows 8 tablets.

Bill Gates recently gave an interview where he suggested that the millions of people who are buying iPads and Android tablets are frustrated because “they can’t type, they can’t create documents, they don’t have Microsoft Office”.

He then stated that Windows 8 and devices such as Microsoft’s own Surface Pro tablet were the solution to that problem, because “you’ve got the portability of a tablet, and the richness of a PC in terms of the keyboard and Microsoft Office”.

Of course, it’s nonsense to suggest that you can’t type or create documents on an iPad or Android tablet. Apple has its iWork suite of productivity apps for the iPad (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) which are compatible with MS Office file formats.

Plus, there are third-party apps, such as QuickOffice, which is available for both Apple and Android tablets which can read and save in Office formats.

Typing isn’t an issue either, as there are plenty of wired and wireless Bluetooth keyboards available for most types of tablet.

But Bill does have a point about Microsoft Office. QuickOffice may allow you to open and edit Microsoft Office documents, but you still have to learn how the new app works, and transferring files back and forth between your tablet and your main PC can be a fiddly process. There are many people – particularly business users – who might feel more comfortable with a tablet that can run the Microsoft Office that they’re already familiar with and give them instant access to their important work files.

However, the former CEO of Microsoft’s argument is undermined by the fact that the lack of Microsoft Office hasn’t prevented the iPad selling like hotcakes. That’s partly because most people primarily use their iPads and other tablets for entertainment – browsing the web, reading eBooks, or playing Angry Birds – rather than doing serious office work.

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