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How I Solved My Windows Tablet Question

Lockheed IT pro Doug Lampe explains why an unusual tablet has all but replaced his traditional laptop in the office -- and why Microsoft's Surface team should pay attention.

Microsoft Surface Tablet: 10 Coolest Features
Microsoft Surface Tablet: 10 Coolest Features
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IT pro Doug Lampe has had his tablet epiphany. After a few months of using one as his primary work device, he voluntarily turned in his company-issued laptop. Yet it wasn't Apple's iPad, an Android device, or even Windows 8 that ushered in Lampe's very own post-PC era. Rather, it was a Samsung 700T running a slightly modified version of his corporate Windows 7 image.

The Lockheed Martin IT manager is aware that makes him something of a minority in the tablet craze. "I am one of very few people working in a large corporation and using a Windows 7 tablet as a daily driver," Lampe said in an email to InformationWeek. Yet you'd be hard pressed to get him to trade in the Windows 7 device for a newer, trendier model. Lampe said it is outperforming his old laptop, for starters. He also finds certain aspects of the hardware and user experience to be superior to other tablet options, including Microsoft's Surface Pro.

Lampe likens himself to the John Hodgman PC character in the Apple ads, just without the glasses. He is in many ways Microsoft's traditional bread-and-butter customer. "I'm even wearing brown pants today," he said. And Lockheed Martin is very much embedded in the Microsoft universe, so much so that iOS and Android were essentially nonstarters on the tablet front.

"My team uses laptops running Microsoft OS and software to develop Microsoft .NET apps that get hosted on Microsoft Windows Server servers," Lampe said, describing the Fortune 100 firm's heavy reliance on Microsoft. Even its non-Microsoft tech is often underpinned by Microsoft products. "We use Microsoft software to make all the non-Microsoft stuff talk to each other and to make pretty reports from all of the data."

[ What does Windows' new Surface Pro operating system have to offer? Read Microsoft Surface Pro: A First Look. ]

Until recently, Windows-based tablets were virtually nonexistent. So while it would seem as though Lampe would have welcomed Windows 8 and the hardware it runs on with open arms, that's not actually the case. Lampe and his organization will likely stick with Windows 7, tablets included, for the foreseeable future. Moreover, Lampe thinks the Surface Pro, in particular, may miss its mark with IT and business users.

"I'm not sure the Surface Pro will ultimately be successful in the enterprise environment without some changes. Having to deal with the kickstand, keyboard, et cetera and then adding a third-party dock or network adapter just sounds like too much trouble, especially when I can install Windows 8 on my current device and possibly have a better overall experience even without the keyboard," Lampe said. "Add to that the long lead time for big companies to federate a burn for a new OS and the Surface isn't likely to be coming in our doors any time soon."

As to why he prefers his Samsung, Lampe added: "What I love about my tablet is that it is a tablet and not a laptop. When I have performance discussions with my personnel, I can review files on the tablet without the cold informality of sitting behind a laptop. When I'm in meetings, I can be productive during the inevitable down time. I understand that I could also do these things with the Surface in tablet mode, but what I really want when I get back to my desk is a PC and fortunately for me, that is what I already have."

Read on for a Q&A with Lampe on his tablet switchover, how he uses the device, how a Windows 7 tablet is received elsewhere in the business, his thoughts on Windows 8 in the enterprise and more.

InformationWeek: How did Lockheed Martin end up with this particular tablet and OS combination?

Lampe: A few years ago when the iPad exploded on the scene and user pressure seemed to be leading us to a BYOD tablet solution, our IT organization aggressively began searching for a competing Microsoft solution. Our strategy was simple: find a device that supported the tablet form factor but running Windows, and therefore meeting our stringent federated-image compliance standards. What we found was the Samsung Series 7 tablet running our standard Windows 7 image with a few minor touch enhancements.

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User Rank: Apprentice
3/18/2013 | 5:55:28 PM
re: How I Solved My Windows Tablet Question
This is nothing new or unusual. I've had Dell tablets and Dell All-in-Ones with Win7 touch screens for several years now. It's one of the reasons Win8 is having such a hard time in the business market. In fact I just ordered another tablet and laptop with Win7 from Dell. Remember Vista. MS still hasn't learned from its mistakes but the manufacturers have.
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