Coffeehouse Thread

38 posts

An idea for a tablet UI

Back to Forum: Coffeehouse
  • BitFlipper

    Much has been made about the iPad vs a tablet that uses a full-blown desktop OS like Windows 7. Seems people do want a simplified UI, yet many people still want a tablet that has an OS that can run non-tablet software. I was wondering, why not the best of both worlds...?

     

    Basically, what I am thinking is that MS should create a Silverlight+XNA front-end UI that will be the main UI for a tablet. It will ship with this UI enabled out of the box. This will act very much like the iPad does right now. Simple navigation, simple app install/remove, etc. Something non-computer savvy people would be comfortable with. Basically a pad-ified version of the WP7 UI. It should also be able to run all WP7 apps. This also has the great advantage that developers can use the toolset that is currently used for creating WP7 apps.

     

    Then, as a bonus, there is an "app" with the name "Windows 7" (or whatever). This minimizes the front-end UI and puts you back into Windows 7. Now you can run any and all of your traditional Windows apps, games, etc. There has to be a simple way to get back to the front-end UI again, maybe via a dedicated hardware button that switches between the two.

     

    The only thing is that they have to retain IMO is stylus functionality (in addition to having good multitouch functionality), because I think this is an advantage over an iPad. There are certain types of operations you can't do on an iPad, like drawing sketches of ideas, taking hand-written notes, etc. I do these things a lot on my current tablet.

     

    If some people don't care about having a full blown OS (or are intimidated by it), then they never have to switch to the Windows 7 UI at all.

     

    What do other people think about something like this?

  • W3bbo

    Why Silverlight+XNA? What inherent advantages does it have?

     

    Anyway, no, your strategy won't work: Windows 7 requires x86 hardware and there is no low-power x86 hardware out there, you can't build an x86 tablet with reasonable 3D performance that has more than a few hours' battery life and with a diminutive form-factor. The iPad can play 10 hours of video non-stop, you can't do that with x86, and you know the next iPad will be even thinner.

  • rhm

    W3bbo said:

    Why Silverlight+XNA? What inherent advantages does it have?

     

    Anyway, no, your strategy won't work: Windows 7 requires x86 hardware and there is no low-power x86 hardware out there, you can't build an x86 tablet with reasonable 3D performance that has more than a few hours' battery life and with a diminutive form-factor. The iPad can play 10 hours of video non-stop, you can't do that with x86, and you know the next iPad will be even thinner.

    What he said ^^.

     

    Once you've decided to run Windows on an ultramobile device, you've already failed.

  • AndyC

    Thing is, in order to make that work you'd need to restrict applications to managed code to keep CPU architecture out of it and, if you wanted things like the ability to transparently save data to the phone, additonal restrictions like forcing file access through Isolated Storage. You'd have to have an enormously ambitious and long term vision to bake those kind of things into a v1 product.

     

    Wouldn't you? Wink

  • BitFlipper

    W3bbo said:

    Why Silverlight+XNA? What inherent advantages does it have?

     

    Anyway, no, your strategy won't work: Windows 7 requires x86 hardware and there is no low-power x86 hardware out there, you can't build an x86 tablet with reasonable 3D performance that has more than a few hours' battery life and with a diminutive form-factor. The iPad can play 10 hours of video non-stop, you can't do that with x86, and you know the next iPad will be even thinner.

    Why SL + XNA? Because this is what is being used to create WP7 apps, the exact type of apps that people want on a tablet. Creating desktop apps to run on a tablet is just not what people want. In addition, if developers can easily target both WP7 as well as the tablet UI with the same code, it would mean that there will be a lot of apps on the tablet that work well on that form factor.

     

    I see your point about the hardware issue but this is something that can be addressed in the future.  BTW, are you saying there will be no tablets running Windows 7? Because they will run into the same issues you mention, right?

  • W3bbo

    BitFlipper said:
    W3bbo said:
    *snip*

    Why SL + XNA? Because this is what is being used to create WP7 apps, the exact type of apps that people want on a tablet. Creating desktop apps to run on a tablet is just not what people want. In addition, if developers can easily target both WP7 as well as the tablet UI with the same code, it would mean that there will be a lot of apps on the tablet that work well on that form factor.

     

    I see your point about the hardware issue but this is something that can be addressed in the future.  BTW, are you saying there will be no tablets running Windows 7? Because they will run into the same issues you mention, right?

    They'll exist, sure; but you won't see any of them becoming fashion icons or in any way become "desireable". Microsoft would be better served by supporting the netbook movement., at least that has a physical keyboard and x86 compatibility.

  • spivonious

    Doesn't HP do this with the Touchsmart?

  • BitFlipper

    W3bbo said:
    BitFlipper said:
    *snip*

    They'll exist, sure; but you won't see any of them becoming fashion icons or in any way become "desireable". Microsoft would be better served by supporting the netbook movement., at least that has a physical keyboard and x86 compatibility.

    Well, at least you are open-minded to new ideas...Wink

  • BitFlipper

    spivonious said:

    Doesn't HP do this with the Touchsmart?

    But can it take advantage of the new app store (and use slightly modified WP7 apps - easy for developers) with its ease of finding new apps and also providing app developers with an easy way to distibute and get paid for their apps?

  • BitFlipper

    AndyC said:

    Thing is, in order to make that work you'd need to restrict applications to managed code to keep CPU architecture out of it and, if you wanted things like the ability to transparently save data to the phone, additonal restrictions like forcing file access through Isolated Storage. You'd have to have an enormously ambitious and long term vision to bake those kind of things into a v1 product.

     

    Wouldn't you? Wink

    I really don't see what is so "enormously ambitious" about this. If you take the WP7 SL+XNA version and adapt it to run as a full-screen framework on Win7, why would implementing things like IsolatedStorage be so difficult? It could be essentially a sandbox where the only API the apps will have is what's in the WP7 version of SL+XNA. You can't P/Invoke in WP7, so why should this change when it is run on Win7? The storage related classes will work just like the ones on WP7.

     

    Anyway, I think people somewhat misunderstood my initial idea. I wasn't thinking about tablets that are as "lightweight" as the iPad, I was thinking about tablets that can already run Win7 as is. This is a way to make it more attractive for consumers by providing some of the simplicity of what people like about the iPad. Since W3bbo asked specifically what advantages SL+XNA had in this case, this is what I'm thinking:

    • With the recent interest in WP7 development (read this blog for instance), making it easy to bring those same apps to existing Win7 tablets (and newer tablets) would give them a user experience that seem to be popular outside of geek-minded consumers.
    • Have you seen the WP7 development tools...!? Compare to other development environments.
    • Compare how apps are installed/uninstalled in iPad/iPhone/WP7 to how it is done on Win7. People really don't want to go to Add/Remove programs and search through a long list of confusing products to uninstall something. They want to press and hold its icon and choose to uninstall it.
    • I always feel that I don't want to give up the ability to run some of my favorite older desktop apps or games on a tablet. You need just one such an app or game to make something like the iPad a no-go. So having the ability to still do that is important I think.
    • EDIT: Access to the Windows Marketplace, in a similar way as you will be able to do with WP7. Finding/seeing reviews and ratings/buying/installing/uninstalling tradional Windows applications is a PITA.

  • PaoloM

    W3bbo said:

    Why Silverlight+XNA? What inherent advantages does it have?

     

    Anyway, no, your strategy won't work: Windows 7 requires x86 hardware and there is no low-power x86 hardware out there, you can't build an x86 tablet with reasonable 3D performance that has more than a few hours' battery life and with a diminutive form-factor. The iPad can play 10 hours of video non-stop, you can't do that with x86, and you know the next iPad will be even thinner.

    The iPad can play 10 hours of video non-stop

    No, the iPad (at least mine) can't.

  • brian.​shapiro

    I think it would be nice if Microsoft's mobile OS and their desktop OS was based on the same modular API, so potentially you could have a version of Windows on a niche device that could easily switch between different types of UIs based on whatever was appropriate; what type of input device the user has available. So we don't have a mouse driven UI and a touch driven UI and a big wall between them

  • ryanb

    BitFlipper said:
    AndyC said:
    *snip*

    I really don't see what is so "enormously ambitious" about this. If you take the WP7 SL+XNA version and adapt it to run as a full-screen framework on Win7, why would implementing things like IsolatedStorage be so difficult? It could be essentially a sandbox where the only API the apps will have is what's in the WP7 version of SL+XNA. You can't P/Invoke in WP7, so why should this change when it is run on Win7? The storage related classes will work just like the ones on WP7.

     

    Anyway, I think people somewhat misunderstood my initial idea. I wasn't thinking about tablets that are as "lightweight" as the iPad, I was thinking about tablets that can already run Win7 as is. This is a way to make it more attractive for consumers by providing some of the simplicity of what people like about the iPad. Since W3bbo asked specifically what advantages SL+XNA had in this case, this is what I'm thinking:

    • With the recent interest in WP7 development (read this blog for instance), making it easy to bring those same apps to existing Win7 tablets (and newer tablets) would give them a user experience that seem to be popular outside of geek-minded consumers.
    • Have you seen the WP7 development tools...!? Compare to other development environments.
    • Compare how apps are installed/uninstalled in iPad/iPhone/WP7 to how it is done on Win7. People really don't want to go to Add/Remove programs and search through a long list of confusing products to uninstall something. They want to press and hold its icon and choose to uninstall it.
    • I always feel that I don't want to give up the ability to run some of my favorite older desktop apps or games on a tablet. You need just one such an app or game to make something like the iPad a no-go. So having the ability to still do that is important I think.
    • EDIT: Access to the Windows Marketplace, in a similar way as you will be able to do with WP7. Finding/seeing reviews and ratings/buying/installing/uninstalling tradional Windows applications is a PITA.

    "I wasn't thinking about tablets that are as "lightweight" as the iPad, I was thinking about tablets that can already run Win7 as is. This is a way to make it more attractive for consumers by providing some of the simplicity of what people like about the iPad."

     

    That may be the catch though.  The users who want the simplified interface tend to want the 'lightweight" hardware and feature set of the iPad.  The users who want the 'heavyweight' hardware capable of running the full OS don't have a lot of use to sometimes switch down to a simplified UI.  The biggest problem is in companies trying to find a single solution for these very different market segments.

     

    The more consistency between the APIs of these different devices the better.  If the UIs can be made to swap out, so much the better I guess, but I don't see many people doing it in the real world.

  • BitFlipper

    ryanb said:
    BitFlipper said:
    *snip*

    "I wasn't thinking about tablets that are as "lightweight" as the iPad, I was thinking about tablets that can already run Win7 as is. This is a way to make it more attractive for consumers by providing some of the simplicity of what people like about the iPad."

     

    That may be the catch though.  The users who want the simplified interface tend to want the 'lightweight" hardware and feature set of the iPad.  The users who want the 'heavyweight' hardware capable of running the full OS don't have a lot of use to sometimes switch down to a simplified UI.  The biggest problem is in companies trying to find a single solution for these very different market segments.

     

    The more consistency between the APIs of these different devices the better.  If the UIs can be made to swap out, so much the better I guess, but I don't see many people doing it in the real world.

    True, but I think there are a lot of consumers that are somewhat computer savvy that would still like the simplified UI, while still having the ability to switch to a more traditional OS.

     

    For argument sake, let's call the UI framework I'm talking about "Windows Tablet 7", or WT7. Then what you can buy is a tablet that runs "Windows 7 + WT7". On the other hand, there could be more light-weight tablets that contain the minimum software to run the framework, and in that case it is simply called "WT7", with no way to switch out of it.

  • PaoloM

    BitFlipper said:
    ryanb said:
    *snip*

    True, but I think there are a lot of consumers that are somewhat computer savvy that would still like the simplified UI, while still having the ability to switch to a more traditional OS.

     

    For argument sake, let's call the UI framework I'm talking about "Windows Tablet 7", or WT7. Then what you can buy is a tablet that runs "Windows 7 + WT7". On the other hand, there could be more light-weight tablets that contain the minimum software to run the framework, and in that case it is simply called "WT7", with no way to switch out of it.

    Speaking of that, what is the minimum level of support that you'd need/want for WT7?

     

    Assuming WT7 is based on Silverlight and XNA, .NET 4.0 and DX11 would be required, but what about everything else? Explorer? Services?

     

    What could be *cut out* of Windows 7 and still provide a decent platform for WT7?

  • W3bbo

    PaoloM said:
    BitFlipper said:
    *snip*

    Speaking of that, what is the minimum level of support that you'd need/want for WT7?

     

    Assuming WT7 is based on Silverlight and XNA, .NET 4.0 and DX11 would be required, but what about everything else? Explorer? Services?

     

    What could be *cut out* of Windows 7 and still provide a decent platform for WT7?

    Why base this on Windows 7?

     

    Why not use XP as a base? It has considerably lower system requirements and a near-complete implementation of Win32. Things like DirectX 11 can probably be backported without too much trouble.

  • BitFlipper

    W3bbo said:
    PaoloM said:
    *snip*

    Why base this on Windows 7?

     

    Why not use XP as a base? It has considerably lower system requirements and a near-complete implementation of Win32. Things like DirectX 11 can probably be backported without too much trouble.

    Because in addition to WT7, the user would also want Windows 7. That's the whole point of "best of both worlds". Providing an outdated OS for the other part doesn't make sense. What's the problem with Win7? It has proven to run very well on low-end hardware.

     

    @PaoloM

    What is the minimum requirement for WP7? What would be *cut out* of Windows 7? Nothing, since the whole point is to have a fully functional version of Windows 7 in addition to WT7. 

     

    I don't understand what the issue is. The idea is to run a full version of Windows 7. In that regard, it has all the same requirements as Windows 7. For the WT7 part, it has exactly the same requirements as WP7. Whatever is built into the current SL+XNA for WP7 is all that would be required.

  • dahat

    W3bbo said:
    PaoloM said:
    *snip*

    Why base this on Windows 7?

     

    Why not use XP as a base? It has considerably lower system requirements and a near-complete implementation of Win32. Things like DirectX 11 can probably be backported without too much trouble.

    Why stop there? Windows 2000 has even lower system requirements than XP and Win32 API-wise can do nearly everything XP can!  …this being said by a person who only gave up on XP around 2005.

     

    Biggest reason not to base such a thing on XP... a great deal of work has been done architecturally to Windows to make it more and more modular so that the building of new SKUs with specific feature sets is a heck of a lot easier now (Vista on up) than it was oh so long ago (XP and earlier).

Comments closed

Comments have been closed since this content was published more than 30 days ago, but if you'd like to continue the conversation, please create a new thread in our Forums, or Contact Us and let us know.