The following post first appeared in Mobile Enterprise, and is excerpted here with permission.

When the infamous shark from the original Jaws first made its appearance, the town in which the shark appeared was unable to comprehend what exactly the town was up against. A massive killer with amazing resilience is certainly an apt description – and one that Intel no doubt hopes will become an apt description as well for its new Ultrabook concept.

When it comes down to information technology hardware tools the enterprise world, at least as far as its collective workforce is concerned, has never had it so good. From an enormous range of BYOD smartphones to the iPad (and a collection of other much less deployed tablets), the enterprise workforce has had lots of smart mobile device choice become the norm for ways to drive a more mobile and more nimble way of working. The laptop, for the most part the one de facto and ubiquitous piece of enterprise-supplied hardware hasn’t, however, truly participated in this mobile-driven explosion of choices – and could conceivably become obsolete over time.

Laptops, for the most part, remain cumbersome devices – too big, too heavy, too difficult to lug around. And yet most of us have no choice but to do so if we function in roles that require heavy duty – or for that matter even moderate – use of spreadsheets, word processors, or other important enterprise software where a keyboard and more precise handling of pointing devices (i.e. the mouse) is a necessary part of the work day.

It’s true of course that Apple’s Macbook Air did much to suggest that the enterprise world doesn’t have to operate this way, but the machine is pricey, and hardly suitable for mass workforce consumption. Further, as nice as the Macbook Air is, it isn’t an out of the box Windows machine – and the enterprise, as much as Apple would like to change it, is a Windows world. That said, Apple’s ongoing assault on what has been the static nature of the last 20 years of enterprise hardware (that is, Intel and Microsoft driven laptops) has finally started to bear non-trivial results – enough so that both Micrsoft and Intel have figured out that the enterprise hardware world has to change, and that both companies need to change with it.

Click here to read the rest of this article at Mobile Enterprise.

More: Tablets and the Enterprise: The Windows/Android Debate.

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ABOUT Ian Stewart

Avatar photoIan is a veteran journalist who has covered sports for various news outlets. Previously, he was managing editor for an electronic-book publishing company and a public relations writer.