ManagementSpeak: There’s no need to argue the points.

Translation: I can’t defend mine, and you have no leverage.

Thanks go to a well-known business commentator who really should know better.

Among the critics who wrote in response to last week’s piece (“Windows 8 beats the iPad. Really.” Keep the Joint Running, 5/27/2013), some confused “I disagree” with “you’re wrong and your motivation is suspect too.”

There was also some confusion as to what tablets are for.

On the I-disagree side was correspondence suggesting the only possible reason for my favoring Windows 8 tablets over iPads, or for saying anything favorable about them at all for that matter, is my shiny new affiliation with Dell. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

On the what-tablets-are-for side, in response to my points about why Windows 8 tablets are superior to the iPad when it comes to doing real work I got several versions of, as the source of this week’s ManagementSpeak put it, “A tablet is not a PC, and a PC is not a tablet. People do not buy a tablet to do PC work.”

Which means that in addition to my lack of integrity, I’m also not a “people.”

Here’s a thought: There’s no such thing as “PC work.” There’s just work, and the tools that help us do it. (Speaking of tools, last week I omitted one of the most important that’s available in Windows 8 and also Android, but not the iPad: A file manager. Don’t get me started.)

Another thought: If “people” don’t buy tablets to do PC work, someone better clue in the folks at Google who bought QuickOffice, not to mention all the companies that sell add-on iPad keyboards.

And to the assertion that tablets aren’t PCs and PCs aren’t tablets, there’s a growing assortment of “laplets” on the market — convertible devices that can be used as either laptops or tablets, depending on the circumstance and what you want to do.

To cut through a lot of this, let’s look at what makes tablets interesting in the first place. The view from here:

Untethering: To use a PC you need a desk. To use a laptop you need a desk or (brilliant insight alert!) a lap. Most laptops also require an AC outlet if you’re going to use them for an extended period, for example, a day.

From this perspective, tablets have more in common with books and notepads than with PCs and laptops. They untether you. You can sit on a couch or easy chair, or use them while standing. This is intensely liberating.

Apps: Even inexpensive PC applications are expensive enough to get your attention. Most tablet apps range from free to under ten bucks. This encourages experimentation, which is a good thing.

Form Factor: In round numbers a tablet is about the same size as a notepad and smaller than a day planner. Businesspeople don’t think twice about carrying things this size around. The screen has enough real-estate to give app designers a lot more flexibility than a smartphone.

Also (rapidly-approaching-fogeyhood alert!), business meetings where everyone has a laptop open in front of them feel like everyone is hiding behind a small, personal fence, working on their own business while they just happen to be in the same room.

Because of tablets’ notepad-ness, tablet-ized business meetings feel more collaborative.

Control: Out of self-defense, most IT organizations long-ago locked down everyone’s PC. It’s a bad idea … until they were locked down, PCs drove an enormous amount of innovation … but what’s best for the whole business isn’t what happens in most businesses.

See, IT didn’t get credit for the innovation. But it did and does get the blame when something bad happens, like, for example, any form of intrusion.

Which is why PCs aren’t personal anymore. Tablets still are, and to the extent they come in through the BYOD phenomenon, IT’s ability to restrict them will continue to be limited.

(And, IT will continue to get the blame if something bad happens as a result. Prepare accordingly.)

Packability: To the extent a tablet can support “real” work along with browsing, email, and various entertainment uses, they let business travelers pack just one compact computing device. This is a big deal.

And in conclusion, ladies and gentlemen …

If you’re buying a tablet for entertainment, browsing, and email, with a smattering of other work activities thrown in, either the iPad or one of the many Android tablets is probably your best bet.

But nothing about tablets make them natively uninteresting for doing actual work. So if you want a tablet’s differentiators and plan to use it for work purposes, Windows 8 tablets deserve a serious look, even though, if you buy one, you too will no longer be a people.


(Posted using my Windows 8 tablet in a hotel room, far more easily than when I tried to post these things with my iPad.)