Which operating system do Windows tablets use

The right operating system for your tablet

Michael Rupp

The strength of a tablet PC largely depends on the operating system used. With iOS from Apple and Android from Google, two heavyweights for mobile use are vying for supremacy.

EnlargeHow to find the right operating system for your tablet.
© istockphoto.com/franckreporter

The selection of the operating system for tablet use has a significant impact on the operation, connectivity, software availability and usage options of the devices. Most of the fascination and look-and-feel of a tablet can also be traced back to the operating system. The user does not have a free choice of operating system, but rather, by purchasing a tablet PC, he also decides on the tablet OS installed on it.

Apple, Google and a little bit Microsoft
Apple is the top dog in the tablet market - making iOS the most successful tablet operating system to date. Slowly but surely, more and more interesting alternatives to Apple's iPad range are coming onto the market that prefer Google Android. Technically, Android tablets have caught up. Above all, the Google Nexus tablet and the new tablets from Samsung show that Android also forms a solid basis as an operating system platform for tablets. Accordingly, the market share of Android for tablet PCs has increased significantly in the last few months. Outsider Microsoft would like to take off with Windows 8 on tablets as well. In addition, Windows 8 RT should compete with Apple and Google.

Larger device selection for Android tablets
With iOS, you have little choice in terms of tablets and are limited to the few iPad models offered by Apple.

EnlargeWith Android you have the choice between many tablet models and the decision can also be based on your wallet.

If you choose Android, you have a lot more choice of devices. With Asus, Acer, Google, Medion, Motorola, Samsung and Sony, a host of hardware manufacturers are bringing out tablets with the Android operating system. Depending on your personal requirements in terms of screen size, processor, memory, housing shape, cameras and connections, the optimal device can be selected. The fact that competition is stimulating business can also be seen in the price: Many Android tablets can be obtained much cheaper shortly after they were released. In addition, so-called white label manufacturers offer less well-equipped non-name tablets based on Android for less than two hundred euros.

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Closed or open system architecture
Android and iOS follow two fundamentally different approaches on the tablet, as is the case with Windows and Mac OS X. On the one hand there is iOS as a closed system in which Apple retains complete control over hardware, software, services and thus the user experience. Access to the file system level is generally not possible with iOS. As with the iPhone, the hardware of the iPad, together with iOS, Apple ID, app and media shop, iTunes control center and iCloud online storage, form a self-contained Apple cosmos with strict rules.

On the other hand, Android is an open system that dozens of hardware manufacturers can use for their tablets and optimize to their taste. There is also freedom when it comes to data synchronization: all you need is a USB cable to move videos, music and pictures from the PC to the tablet - or vice versa. File manager apps make it easy to organize files and folders even without a PC. In iOS there is currently no avoiding data exchange with iTunes. Android is also open with the supported file formats and plays videos with the common endings AVI or MKV without special apps. With iOS, the corresponding video data must first be converted - or you can use third-party media player apps.

Overview The main tablet operating systems

Android

iOS

Windows 8 RT

+ Customizable user interface

+ Functional user interface

+ Innovative user interface

+ Free marketplace, large range of apps

+ Protected marketplace, large range of tablet apps

+ Particularly easy to use

- Danger from malware

- Closed system

- Protected marketplace, few apps available

- Only useful with Google services

- Little choice of devices

- Closed system