Being able to run Windows applications is a selling point for Hewlett-Packard’s ElitePad 900 tablet.
What better way of testing how well the ElitePad 900 works with business software than trying it with Office 365?
If you already own an Office 365 licence, installing it on a Windows 8 tablet is simple. Use the browser to find the Microsoft Office 365 account page, click the button, log-in to your Microsoft account and the software will download.
Installing Office 365 is straightforward and fast – you can work with Microsoft Word within two or three minutes. Not only is the software there in a couple of minutes, if you have a SkyDrive account all your documents are immediately ready at the same time.
Compare this with the old-school method of installing Office from discs and connecting with document folders.
Word, Excel, OneNote excellent
All the core Office 365 apps work fine on the ElitePad 900.
While the Intel Atom processor is no heavyweight by modern standards it delivers more than enough power to run Word. In practice word processing is just as fast and as smooth as on any desktop computer.
Likewise there’s enough grunt for everyday Excel work. I threw my biggest, most complex spreadsheets at the Elitepad and the tablet coped fine. There may well be a slowdown with huge spreadsheets that use elaborate macros, but for my work I noticed no problems.
Microsoft OneNote also performs well on the ElitePad 900. There’s no notable difference from using it on an Intel i7 desktop. With PowerPoint, I ran through a presentation. Again there were no performance issues. Although the ElitePad is not the best tool for creating a stunning set of PowerPoint slides, it is ideal for giving presentations. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if inflicting any PowerPoint on the world is a good thing or not.
Overall my experience suggests unless you need lots of power for content creation or for running heavy-duty processing, the ElitePad 900 is all the computer most people need for everyday work. For many people and tasks, it is a suitable replacement for a desktop or laptop.
What about Microsoft Web Apps?
Microsoft Office 365 costs $165 a year for a licence covering five devices. That’s a good price. Microsoft also offers free Office Web Apps. While the Web Apps don’t do as much as the paid-for software, they have everything I need for my day-to-day work and there’s a good chance they will meet all your needs too.
Putting their functional limitations aside for one moment, the Web Apps work almost as well on the ElitePad as the standard Office 365 apps. Most of the time word processing is just as smooth and Excel spreadsheets seem to crunch numbers as fast as when using the native apps.
Because most of my work is simply writing text, there’s little noticeable difference between the Web Apps and the Office 365 versions. Things change when you do more complex tasks – try cutting and pasting an image into a web-based Word document and you may wait for a second or two for the task to complete. That doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re doing these tasks all day, it’ll quickly become frustrating.
Old-school Windows 8 dialogues
Microsoft hasn’t updated the Windows 8 Control Panel and system management software to the new-style Metro user interface. This will happen later this year when the Windows Blue update arrives.
This means you see familiar old-school Windows dialogues. While this is comforting at first, making huge sausage fingertips click close window boxes is awkward.