School system adopts Windows 7 tablets over iPad

Charlottesville City Schools says iPad has durability, security issues

A U.S. school district on Thursday said it was handing students 2,000 Fujitsu tablets with the Windows 7 OS, and selected it over the iPad because of durability and security concerns.

Charlottesville City Schools is deploying Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 tablets, which have 10-inch screens and Intel's Atom chip code-named Oak Trail. The tablets will be provided to students from grade six to 12 as a learning tool.

The integrity of iPad's glass was an issue, and Fujitsu's tablet can withstand shock resulting from drops and also can operate in demanding environments, said Dean Jadlowski, director of technology for the Charlottesville City Schools, in a statement. The Q550 can last longer in backpacks and reduce repairs, which could reduce maintenance costs.

Other hardware such as Android devices and thin clients were also evaluated, but Windows OS was also another reason the Q550 was selected, Jadlowski said. The enterprise tools make it easy for IT managers to remotely manage tablets, Jadlowski said.

Other advantages mentioned by Jadlowski include stylus input and a battery life of eight hours.

Fujitsu started shipping the Q550 in May. The tablet has a clock speed of 1.5GHz and has accelerators for 1080p high-definition video playback. The tablet is priced starting at US$729.

The school district's decision depends on the usage model, but Windows 7 is not optimized for tablets, said David Daoud, research director at IDC.

"If ultimately you are going to have those devices for content consumption, typically the current version of Windows is not configured for touch, or for tablet functionality the way we're seeing with Android [devices] and the iPads."

Windows 8 is going to be completely the opposite, and will be fully optimized for tablets, Daoud said.

Windows 7 is also not optimized for content delivery compared to Apple's iPad or Amazon's Kindle Fire. The iPad and Fire have stores set up to constantly deliver content, and also have strong cloud and e-reading options.

"If the content is on the cloud, and if you are a school district with money or budget issues, where would you go?" Daoud said.

Apple has been putting a lot of emphasis on the education market and has a following among teachers and students, but in the end it comes down to the school, Daoud said. In this case, the technical people won and the Q550 will likely end as being more of a PC substitute than a tablet, Daoud said.

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