As Microsoft fights the iPad with its next version of Windows, one of its biggest edges should be its strength in big companies' IT departments.
But Windows tablets running on ARM processors will lack a critical feature that Microsoft's most loyal business customers want: these tablets will not be able to connect to an Active Directory domain.
Active Directory is a Microsoft technology that companies use to manage employee log-ins to a corporate network, and control things like which applications a user can install on their Windows PC. It's a standard part of any big Windows shop.
But in a blog post announcing all the upcoming versions of Windows, Microsoft revealed that Windows RT, the special variant of Windows for ARM-based tablets will not be able to connect to a domain. Only Windows 8 Pro will.
In other words, Windows RT tablets are really meant for consumers -- not businesses.
There will also be full Windows 8 tablets, but those tablets will run Intel-style processors, and probably won't offer as much battery life as the ARM-based tablets (although Intel is suggesting 9 hours of battery life as a goal). That's why Apple and other tablet makers almost exclusively use ARM chips today.
For IT departments that hoped Microsoft would offer an ARM-based alternative to the iPad that was easier to use in Windows shops -- too bad. It's not happening this time.