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How Samsung can save Windows 8 tablets

Armando Rodriguez | June 24, 2013
Samsung is the hero that Windows 8 tablets need but don't deserve.

Windows 8 tablets aren't in good shape: Microsoft's OS gets plenty of hate for its desktop functionality, and many people aren't willing to pay premium prices for the ability to run Office--and not much else--on what amounts to be keyboard-less PCs.

Indeed, with Windows 8 and Windows RT making up just 7.5 percent of the total tablet market, many manufacturers are fleeing what they perceive to be a sinking platform. It looks really bad, right? Not so fast. At Thursday's big Samsung event, the Korean tech giant might have just thrown Microsoft the life-preserver it needs to help keep Windows tablets in the game.

Here are three ways Samsung can lend Microsoft a helping hand.

Solving the software problem
After announcing another handful of Android smartphones (all with the name "Galaxy S4" and whatever noun Samsung decided to tack onto the end), the company surprised those in attendance by unveiling two new slates running Windows 8: the Ativ Q and the Ativ Tab 3. The Ativ Q is the more noteworthy of the two for its ability to seamlessly switch between Windows and Android, giving it access to a whole mess of software normally unavailable on Windows 8 devices.

One of the key problems with Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT (and Windows Phone 8 too, for that matter) is the lack of mobile-optimized software available for the platform. Windows 8 has the benefit of being able to run full-blown desktop applications like Photoshop and Steam, but these software heavyweights aren't all that useful if you're on the go and don't have a mouse and keyboard plugged into your tablet.

But by allowing the Ativ Q to dual-boot into both Windows and Android, users can enjoy apps made specifically for mobile while still having access to a full desktop environment. Granted, not all Android apps are winners, but at least Samsung is providing options for people who don't mind wading through a bit of junk to find a few gems. It's also possible that Samsung would create custom software for the Android side of the Ativ Q, something to help it further stand out from other Android and Windows slates.

Samsung's idea to combine Android and Windows 8 isn't exactly unique: Earlier this year Asus launched an AIO desktop that transforms into a giant 18-inch Android tablet when you undock the screen. The combination doesn't really make sense for a tablet that takes up most of your coffee table, but feels just right on Samsung's more portable device.

 

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