Apple Inc. (AAPL) Gaining On Windows Professional Sales

The world of desktop computing has changed–as evident by Forrester Research’s second annual Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, which found just 32 percent of people who use computers professionally at least one hour per day prefer Windows over Apple Inc.

(NASDAQ:AAPL) or Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android for their next work tablet. For decades, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows was the undisputed king of professional computing. But as global PC sales remain flat at about 90 million per quarter, Apple’s overall personal computing sales are now approaching 90 percent of the sales of Windows. And although Forrester predicts 200 million workers plan on upgrading to a Windows tablet, such as the Surface Pro, another 26 percent now prefer an iPad.

“With more than 120 million iPads sold, it’s clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and every day they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs,” Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a press release introducing the new 128GB iPad. “With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs.”

Late Apple-cofounder Steve Jobs forecast a “Post-PC” era in 2011 when the iPad 2 was unveiled. Jobs’ prediction appears to have come to fruition as iPads and other tablets have been embraced by the population. Still, even the 128GB iPad has its limitations when compared to Windows PCs and Macs. They lack popular features such as multi-tasking and multiuser access. Microsoft (MSFT), however, has attempted to offer the best of both worlds with its Surface Pro and Windows 8. Although Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook has described the Surface as a “fairly compromised, confusing product,” other experts, such as ZDNet’s Ed Bott praised the hybrid.

“This is a great product for anyone who’s already committed to a Microsoft-centric work environment,” Bott wrote. “It isn’t likely to inspire many iPad owners to switch, unless those Apple (AAPL) tablets are in the hands of someone who has been eagerly awaiting an excuse to execute the iTunes ecosystem.”

And former Apple (AAPL) executive Jean Louis Gassee—a venture capitalist and founder of Be Inc.—says if Apple (AAPL) wants to make a bigger dent in the business market it should also create a “pro” version of the iPad, combining the capabilities of the Mac OS and Apple’s mobile iOS—which typically offers single-purpose apps. Gassee believes Apple may need to expand the iPad into an “authentically Pro territory.”

“The more complex the task, the more our beloved 30-year-old personal computer is up to it,” he wrote. “But here is now room above the enforced simplicity that made the iPad’s success for UI changes allowing a modicum of real-world ‘Pro’ workflow on iPads.”

Gassee explained the difficulty of multi-tasking using an iPad:

“Once I start writing, I want to look through the research material I’ve compiled. On a Mac, I simply open an Evernote window, side-by-side with my Pages document: select, drag, drop. I take some partial screenshots, annotate graphs (such as the iPad Pro prices above), convert images to the .png format used to put the Monday Note on the Web….On the iPad, these tasks are complicated and cumbersome,” he wrote.

“For starters—and to belabor the obvious—I can’t open multiple windows. iOS uses the ‘one thing at a time’ model. I can’t select/drag/drop, I have to switch from Pages to Evernote or Safari, select and copy a quote, and then switch back to the document and paste….Adding a hyperlink is even more tortuous and, at times, confusing….and things get worse for graphics.”