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  1. #1
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    Using Windows 10 as an iPad replacement




    BEST PRACTICES


    Using Windows 10 as an iPad replacement


    By Lincoln Spector

    Tablets are convenient, but their operating systems have significant limitations. So can a Win10 machine replace an Apple iPad with no compromises?

    After some research and experimentation, I can give a qualified yes and the qualifications are relatively small.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/using-windows-10-as-an-ipad-replacement/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    While my upgrade was from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, the ASUS Transformer Book t100ta has served me very well. Most of the observations in the article also apply to my own experiences.

    "Unlike Microsoft’s Surface, the T100 doesn’t automatically go into Tablet mode when you remove the keyboard — or back to Desktop mode when you reattach it. Annoyingly, you have to change modes manually." So true! Not sure whether the ASUS 2016 upgrade (the t100tah tablet, available at the Microsoft Store online for about what I paid for my t100tam tablet) has solved that issue -- or not. The ah version is less underpowered than the am version, but is otherwise mostly similar, it appears.

    Battery and Connected Charging issues do indeed plague the t100ta. I get very erratic percent charging when the charging quits and won't start up again. Battery life after a year is still running 6 to 7 hours on a full charge -- when I can get a full charge to complete. Battery wear is difficult to assess under incomplete recharging conditions, but it appears not to be excessive yet.

    Not sure why the author chose a bluetooth keyboard over the supplied keyboard-dock, but maybe this was to provide a full-size keyboard with a numeric keypad, something lacking in the smaller supplied keyboard.

    Being able to use the browser versions in place of the App versions for social media and other entertainment services can be good, or on some services, a mixed blessing at best. iPad wins on many purely entertainment Apps.

    I don't like DRM any better than the author. My solution is to use Linux, where DRM is not enforced unless international standards require it. Which is a lot less than in either Apple, Google or Microsoft OSes and their applications. My list of sites and apps for Linux is extensive, but let me just say here that Linux often works for me on content where Windows and Apple don't. Sometimes (less and less often) a Windows or Google Play app won't run under Linux. Then and only then I put up with Windows 10 versions, either as apps or in the browsers.

    Repairs and service weren't covered in the article.

    I messed up a built-in Windows Store App (Solitaire) before discovering from an online article that CCleaner can completely remove the built-in Windows Store Apps. My own efforts to restore the messed up Store App (it would not update, but kept trying to update) using Windows 10 Power Shell led to damages to the Windows 10 OS itself.

    The guys at the local retail Microsoft Store fixed the issue by doing a fresh install of Windows 10, and they gave me the Pro upgrade for free. (I suspect this is because that was the install media they had on hand at the time.) So I ended up with the Transformer Book with Windows 10 Pro, 32-bits, fully update to the 1511 version, and all I had to do was reinstall all my desktop applications and restore my personal data from backups. My online Microsoft Account had retained my settings and Store Apps just as they had been before the clean install. A few settings adjustments, mostly for privacy and default apps (and to disable the MS bitlocker-branded EFS), and I was back up and running. The total experience happened over a period of about three days, all told.I was not charged for the clean install, an analysis of a loose USB port on the keyboard dock, and the Pro upgrade. I also got a few hours of free WiFi to download my applications and settings inside the Microsoft Store.

    (Had I known the MS store had replaced the Home Edition -- my original free upgrade -- with the Pro Edition, I might have set up true Bitlocker Encryption on the Transformer Book, provided that can be done in the Win 10 Pro 32-bits edition. I was not told of the Pro upgrade, and found out about it only after setting up my personalizations.)

    Other than that incident, the tablet, while a bit sluggish at times, does perform well on the road and at home. I still prefer Linux for its speed and low maintenance for my productivity computing, but for fun or travel use, the Transformer Book has worked out very well.

    Would an iPad be easier to set up, populate with apps, and use? Probably yes. But would it have full compatibility with Windows files and cloud accounts? That is a bit more doubtful.

    For entertainment uses, the lack of Wireless Display on an iPad washes out with the iPad's superior display on the device and its larger screen size. In terms of costs, the ASUS product is the hands-down winner.

    In terms of service and repairs, the ASUS company was not so good on (Warranty) repairs. (The on/off switch went bad, and the whole main board was replaced under warranty. Technicians for ASUS were not the easiest people to deal with, although all I paid for was one-way shipping and insurance.) Definitely not as easy as Apple would have been.

    On the Transformer Book Windows 10 upgrade issue, I am lucky to have a local Microsoft retail Store to fall back on if my own efforts fail or even make an issue worse. Their regular price of $49.00 for a device reset or OS reinstall is reasonable by industry standards, but Apple users might get a better deal (on Apple devices) at the Apple Store. Data rescue is not included in the MS Store price.

    So I agree with the article, that some Windows 2-in-1s are indeed able to compete on a nearly level field with the iPad. Apple is better in some aspects, worse in others, and it's a wash for many comparison items.

    But let's recall that I also use Linux on my main laptop. Apple's native file systems on Macs and iPad and iPhone are not readable under Linux, whereas NTFS and FAT32 or FAT are readable under Linux (with the NTFS utility installed). Windows does not read Linux Ext file systems, and neither do Apple's Oses. Linux can run Windows Virtual Machines, whereas running anything Apple makes inside Windows or Linux is forbidden by Apple. So data compatibility is not good between my Linux and anything from Apple, whereas except for exFAT SD Cards, Windows data and Linux data can be shared in common media or on a common data partition (NTFS or FAT32 formatted). For me, this is a real watershed issue in deciding which mobile or 2-in-1 devices to use.

    For me, it's a question of "Can anything Apple makes ever substitute for my Windows 2-in-1?", not the other way around. So far, I am sticking with Windows (and Linux) across all devices, except if I ever get a Smart Phone (which would be Android). For Smart Phones, again the file system and data compatibility issues favor Android over Apple's iPhone. Although, security and privacy favor the iPhone.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    While I don't completely disagree with the thrust of this article, I still have to take issue with the primary assumption that the device is being used largely for productivity. In my experience, a lot of people use an iPad for some productivity but a lot of the use is for entertainment, and that issue is completely ignored by the article.

    One area where Windows tablets are significantly behind both iPad and Andriod is entertainment. Until such time as Windows catches up in this arena, it cannot be considered to be a truly viable replacement for an iPad.
    Graham Smith
    DataSmith, Delaware
    "For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.", Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008)

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    I always have to shake my head at people, especially expert IT writers, who think a large tablet can be a laptop (or PC) replacement. Ergonomically, it's dangerous on the face of it: extending beyond elbow distance is a direct step toward chronic shoulder problems. Now, I say this as someone who purchased an iPad Mini 2 last summer for a trip abroad and still use it quite a lot, now primarily with a stylus rather than the extra keyboard I added. But I don't expect it to be a desktop PC or even a full laptop (ASUS 11.6" ZenBook, 2.5 lbs, used much less now though fully adequate for mobile needs). While the article focuses on software, I think the choice is better focused on hardware and the human body - relative to need, of course.

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    When doing productivity work, both the author and I use full-sized keyboards and either keyboard shortcuts or a USB mouse.

    In my case, the built-in t100ta keyboard dock's USB3 port works nicely either for a USB3 hub or directly for a USB mouse. Still not good for prolonged use, and I do not recommend ditching the full-sized PC or laptop for a 2-in-1 for this and other reasons.

    (In fairness, the article is not about replacing a laptop with a Windows 2-in-1. It's about replacing an iPad with a Windows tablet or 2-in-1.)

    Also, a larger non-touch display can be used with a HDMI dongle and the built-in Intel WiDi (Microsoft Miracast) feature. This is good for at-home entertainment viewing as well. The dock or the tablet can be used as a remote.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2016-02-25 at 15:15.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    In all fairness, I bought a Surface Pro 3 last year and have been experimenting with it. As a laptop replacement, the screen and keyboard are a bit small, but adequate for some tasks. I can easily connect it to a small LCD TV and have a ton of screen space and a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse combo makes it nearly the equal of a desktop.

    Using Windows in Tablet mode is not as simple as you might think. The fundamental issue is that much of the software I/we use is designed to be used with a keyboard and mouse - IOW it's not all that touch friendly. Yes, there are the Metro/Modern/Universal/WX applications that are touch friendly, but they are also frequently dumbed down versions of regular software.

    It's software here that's the main issue vs the OS or the hardware. Apple has years and years worth of accumulated software for the iOS while MS has only a limited supply. And, as I said earlier, when it comes to entertainment, Apple wins hands down.
    Graham Smith
    DataSmith, Delaware
    "For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.", Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008)

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    Full circle

    Its not long since we had all the articles (in other publications, not this one) about replacing a Windows computer with an iPad.

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Humbug View Post
    Full circle

    Its not long since we had all the articles (in other publications, not this one) about replacing a Windows computer with an iPad.
    Ironic, isn't it!
    -- Bob Primak --

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    More than ironic, I would say it's startling!

    Ever since Apple came out with the iPad, the conventional wisdom was that Microsoft was far behind on the market segment of tablets generally, and support for touch specifically. Microsoft tried multiple times (anyone remember Pen Windows?) but never quite got the right combination of marketing, compelling applications, usage models and OS support.

    Now the growth of the iPad market is waning and there are (premature and entirely wrong) articles on now the tablet market is "dead". Yet Microsoft has stuck with the Surface product line and achieved, by all accounts, a successful product lineup. To the point that several reviewers are noting that it is possible and even reasonable to replace an Apple or Android tablet with a Windows convertible system.

    It's not for everyone of course. However Microsoft touch support, combined with Cortana, has finally matured into a viable solution. Something you can recommend to a certain group of users without apologizing or qualifying with "eventually it should work as intended."

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    Quote Originally Posted by BHarder View Post
    However Microsoft touch support, combined with Cortana, has finally matured into a viable solution. Something you can recommend to a certain group of users without apologizing or qualifying with "eventually it should work as intended."
    It's possible that may be true for a pure Windows 10 tablet (is there such a beast?), but perhaps not for a Windows hybrid tablet.

    Since I last posted on this I have tried repeatedly to use my Surface as a tablet vs a pc and it's the most frustrating damn thing. 95% of the apps I use are, at best, awkward to use without a mouse and keyboard. For example, with a touch screen, things like right click and keystroke combinations (Alt-Key, Ctrl-Key, Sh-Ctrl-Key) are difficult if not impossible. The iPad has the advantage that it and all of it's software were designed from the ground up to use a touch interface rather than a mouse.

    It's not impossible to do but it can take a lot of work and some careful selection of software. What's really needed are more (and more capable) Metro/Modern apps. There was a modern version of IE in early previews and many people thought that Edge(Spartan) was going to be a modern app, but it's not - but it's badly needed for tablet mode. Win10 seems to have traded some of the modern app functionality in Win8 when they fixed all the stuff Win8 had messed up, which is good for desktop users but not for tablet users.

    On thing that sets Win10 apart from iPad is the capability to run as a hybrid pc/tablet. But it's something like a car built by grafting the front end of a Corvette to the front end of a Sonic. With the latest offerings from Apple, do you really think it will be that long before they have a convertible/hybrid that can run OS X and iPad apps?
    Graham Smith
    DataSmith, Delaware
    "For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.", Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008)

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    Those are also called 2-in-1's.
    -- Bob Primak --

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