Apple’s iPad 3 is gearing to be unveiled n March 7, with a possible release soon after. Since the first iPad went on sale in 2010, no other tablet had what it takes to go up against it. Hence, iPad has grown to become the single most popular tablet in the world. Android tablets are there, but despite having the backing of Google, and a host of hardware manufacturers, none have come close in having the kind of success the iPad is experiencing. However, another tablet platform has now reared its head, one that could possess the best chances of competing head-to-head with the iPad. It’s called Windows 8.

Windows 8 is being built with tablet computers in mind. By the design Microsoft chose to go with, it would seem Windows 8 is a tablet OS first, and a desktop OS second. The Metro UI, which first debuted on the Windows Phone 7 platform, is aiming to be the selling point of Windows 8, and if Microsoft gets it right, Apple could be in for some serious competition in the tablet arena for the first time.

There is one big difference between both platforms. Windows 8 is a full blown OS on a tablet, while the iPad 3 is likely going to bear a version of iOS 5, an OS for mobile devices that cannot stack up to a full OS. In the future, Apple will surely get the full version of OS X down to run on tablets, but until then, the iPad 3 will have to do with its rumored high resolution display and other features to compete with Windows 8, which is more advanced in features and technology.

If anything else, the iPad 3 stands strong with the huge amount of applications available for it. Windows 8 is launching backward compatibility support for applications on Windows 7 and Vista, but those are desktop applications and will only work on x86 hardware.

Windows 8 will also compete with the iPad 3 in the application department with Metro apps, but at the moment, they are few. Good news though, Metro apps are required to be developed in HTML5, and this should garner a huge amount of developers’ interest. So in no time, the Windows Store should be overflowing with applications.

Windows 8 also comes packed with some cool preinstalled apps. The built-in SkyDrive application for Metro tablet version of Windows 8 is slick, and even works better than iCloud in some instances. The touch gestures are also a welcome feature, it makes navigating the OS a breeze. However, it is a learning curve so it may take some time to get used to.

With all the things mentioned about Windows 8, the iPad 3 is no doubt in for its greatest challenge yet. Apple won’t lose its crown in the tablet space overnight, but we are willing to bet everything we have that Windows 8 in a couple years will become the number one tablet platform, followed by Apple and Android respectively in second and third.

(Reported by Vamien McKalin, edited by Wendy Li)

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