What better opportunity to try something new than at the start of a new year? I’ve written extensively on the iPad, praising its speed and battery life but criticising its dependency on mobile apps and lack of more robust, desktop-like multitasking. When 2022 rolled around, I decided it was time to stop looking for “computer replacements” in those two. I wrote on what iPadOS needs before the iPad can genuinely replace a PC, and I shared my experience with the competition – the Samsung Galaxy Tab and its DeX mode. Because Android and iPadOS tablets are simply that: tablets with mobile operating systems that run virtually the same apps as phones.
Is it possible to replace my iPad with a Windows 11 tablet? Surprisingly enough
So I bought the Surface Go 2 (I considered the newer one but I’m told it has weaker battery life), and upgraded it from Windows 10 to the fresh, tablet-friendly from the get-go Windows 11. After an insane number of software updates and some initial update errors, a process that took about half a day to transpire, I was finally ready to use my new Windows 11 tablet. But let’s just say – I can see why the iPad dominates – everything is simple, straightforward and “just works” over there. But when it comes to Microsoft – most of us know not to expect perfection. We’ve all used Skype, I assume? There are always potential bumps on the road.
While the iPad continues to dominate the tablet market, Microsoft has quietly been releasing more and more Windows 10 (and now Windows 11) tablet computers, like the affordable Surface Go series. So instead of continuing to baselessly hope iPadOS will eventually get closer to a desktop-like operating system, why not just buy what Microsoft is already offering – a tablet running Windows? And I did. Here’s how that went.
In any case, after my rocky start with my new Windows tablet, what followed was pretty much a dream come true, and I’m not exaggerating. I expected everything to run slowly, since we’re dealing with only 8GB of RAM and a low-end Intel Pentium Gold processor on the Surface Go 2, but Windows 11 is actually a pretty good performer.
While Windows 11 doesn’t have a dedicated tablet mode like its predecessor did, its interface is designed with touch in mind – the revamped, centered taskbar has nice, large icons you can easily tap, resizing and snapping multiple windows to screen corners works perfectly well, and navigating websites is exactly as you would expect it to be on other tablets. Except you get the full, real, actual, legit Chrome browser that loads websites in desktop mode perfectly, zero compromises! You have your bookmarks bar, you have your addons, you have everything you may want.
Sure, websites and apps don’t exactly load as snappy as they do on even the cheapest iPad, but for a full-blown desktop operating system – everything happens reasonably quick. Stop looking for “PC replacements” and just get a Windows 11 tablet! Windows 11 is quite touch-friendly, and you can always make the elements larger if you wish to – Can a Windows 11 tablet replace my iPad? Well, surprisingl. Windows 11 is quite touch-friendly, and you can always make the elements larger if you wish to
While Chrome on Android still lacks a bookmarks bar, loads the mobile versions of websites by default even on huge tablets, which looks ridiculous, and lacks support for extensions (a.k.a. addons). On the iPad, I’ve praised Safari in the past for offering desktop web browsing by default, but even there I would occasionally, albeit rarely, stumble upon a website that doesn’t quite load correctly, or exactly as intended. But on a Surface tablet it will, as we’re running the big boy desktop Chrome browser on that one.
For basic tasks, and especially for students, which seem to be a main Surface Go target audience, even that budget tablet can handle itself. Like I said, Windows 11 in general, as well as Chrome, VLC, and other apps I use regularly run perfectly well on Surface tablets with 8GB of RAM or higher. Older PC games run too, as well as games off the Microsoft store, most of which are mobile ports.
You tap a text field – a touch keyboard pops up just like on other tablets, and of course, you can get an attachable keyboard accessory with a trackpad if you need it. Except Microsoft’s first-party keyboard is cheaper than Apple’s Smart Folio for iPad, as expected. And much, much cheaper than the iPad Magic Keyboard with a trackpad. You’re entering a more affordable ecosystem in general. When you need to type, you get a fairly traditional touch keyboard – Can a Windows 11 tablet replace my iPad? Well, surprisingl. When you need to type, you get a fairly traditional touch keyboard. There’s a caveat, though – if you’re looking to run heavy apps on a Windows tablet, you may want to look towards the more expensive options Microsoft has to offer, with the better specs, like the Surface Pro 8. The more affordable Surface Go 2 handles the heavy apps that I use, such as FL Studio (music production), but it may lag on your pro app of choice.
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