Microsoft were actually one of the first companies to try and perfect tablet computing over 10 years ago – for many reasons it failed – but this doesn’t mean they have given up. With the imminent release of Windows 8 it looks as if the technology and software are finally in place for Microsoft to finally crack this lucrative emerging market.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ll know that Microsoft has now released the Consumer Preview of Windows 8, so you can check it out for yourself.
Microsoft’s plans for Windows 8 seem pretty much set in stone. By allowing users to use apps from their desktop on their tablets or vice a versa it means that their tablets will offer something no one has really offered before.
It’s a high-risk strategy throwing out a UI that’s been with us for over 10 years – many are already calling for Microsoft to include the old Window interface as well, so not to alienate their current users base – but would Apple do the same? No. It would force its users to embrace the new UI and this is what Microsoft will do as well.
This sort of joined up thinking has been missing at Microsoft for a while. But with Windows 8 they really seem to have thought of everything, making the Windows eco-system of devices including desktop PCs, tablets, phones and laptops all running off the same OS and UI will make a eco-system that works across all devices to the benefit of its users.
ARM is the future.
As well as more traditional AMD and Intel architecture, Windows 8 has been built from the ground up to work with ARM. For those of you who don’t know ARM, they’re the company behind the Android and iPad’s architecture. This means that in the future you’ll be able to have a dual-boot for your tablet, running both Android and Windows.
Metro The UI of the future
Microsoft is planning to bring all their Windows devices together within the same user interface: Metro. Those of you who have an Xbox or Windows phone will already be pretty comfortable with the UI. For those who haven’t experienced it Microsoft’s head of Windows Experience Julie Larson-Green said about the UI: “Fast, fluid and dynamic, the experience has been transformed while keeping the power, flexibility and connectivity of Windows intact.
“Although the new user interface is designed and optimised for touch, it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard. Our approach means no compromises – you get to use whatever kind of device you prefer, with peripherals you choose, to run the apps you love. This is sure to inspire a new generation of hardware and software development, improving the experience for PC users around the world.”
Say goodbye to Start Button
The only device the hasn’t seen Metro, is of course, Windows for PC. Microsoft want their whole eco-system singing from the same hymn sheet – this means ditching the old Windows layout and replacing it with Metro. Big M is facing a bit of a backlash as Windows 8 will lose the Start button. But if progress mean ditching the Start button, were all for it.
Manufacturers seem keen
A Samsung Windows 8 tablet was shown off at Microsoft’s Build conference on 13 September 2011, while it was only a test device it’s clear that manufacturers are excited about the imminent arrival of a tablet-friendly Windows. Former tablet maker HP has also said it will consider making a Windows 8 Tablet.
UK PC maker, Dell, has said that it’s excited by the possibilities of Windows 8 and that it will be launching tablets featuring the OS toward the end of 2012. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, CEO Michael Dell said: “We’re very encouraged by the touch capability we are seeing in the beta versions of Windows 8.
“We have a roadmap for tablets that we haven’t announced yet. You’ll see some announcements.. for the back half of the year,” he said. “We don’t think that this market is closed off in any way.”
Despite its current financial woes, Nokia might be planning a tablet too. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that the company was looking at the tablet market and is considering just how to take on the might of the iPad.
Windows 8 App Store
A Windows 8 app store is already in place and Microsoft believes that “app development will move the web” over the next couple of years. Windows 8 will come with a number of pre-installed Metro apps, which looks set to include things like a camera, messaging, mail, calendar, SkyDrive, people, photos, video and music. The apps will be in the Windows Phone Metro style and some, like messaging may incorporate mobile aspects like SMS support. Whether we’ll be seeing apps made for Window Phone on the store isn’t clear just yet – but from what we’ve been told and seen that’s the ultimate plan.
Price is everything
Windows 8 tablets are obviously going up against well-established competition including Apple’s iPad, Google’s Android and even Google OS notebooks, so price is a major factor to its success. The key here is that Windows 8 will work with ARM, which means manufacturers will be able to release Android tablets on the new OS without have to cater for any special requirements or hardware – this should mean that the tablets will be the same price as what you’d pay for an Android tablet, which is great news.