“While a classic thin architecture moves processing to the server, enabling cheaper clients, those clients still have a GUI, mouse and keyboard. In other words, the experience is largely the same as a fat client, minus the superior performance and responsiveness. Tablets, however, are orthogonal to PCs; they are inferior in some ways (performance, text entry), but superior in others (size, battery life, touch). They have a reason-to-own other than price.
Thinking about capabilities beyond processing casts Microsoft’s Windows 8 troubles in stark relief. Windows 8, with it’s mixture of touch and WIMP-interface is the ultimate fat client. But by combining so many capabilities, it necessarily compromises them as well.
Today’s thin clients, on the hand, specialize. A pure tablet is superior for touch-based applications; a pure PC is superior for keyboard-and-mouse ones. An e-ink reader is superior for reading, and a 13-inch iPad would be superior for (in my case) drawing and making music. And while many people now use two devices, I think that’s only the beginning (I’m personally at four and the 13″ iPad would be number five).”