Coffeehouse Thread

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An idea for a tablet UI

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  • Minh

    If you were a hardware manufacturer, you have to ask yourself "What's in it for me?"

     

    They say that profits for Mfgs of Netbooks are really low. MS is the real winner providing the OS for netbooks.

     

    Mfgs can look at that and say they can do the same thing with Tablets as Netbooks... but they really can't. They can't compete with the iPad on any level. Most of all, the iPad HW Mfg (Apple) is getting continuous revenue from an iPad already sold via AT&T, and AppStore sales.

     

    So how does MS answer "What's in it for me?"

     

    I bet that you will never see a consumer-level Windows 7 tablet. But you will see one based on WP7... cuz there's an app store

  • BitFlipper

    Minh said:

    If you were a hardware manufacturer, you have to ask yourself "What's in it for me?"

     

    They say that profits for Mfgs of Netbooks are really low. MS is the real winner providing the OS for netbooks.

     

    Mfgs can look at that and say they can do the same thing with Tablets as Netbooks... but they really can't. They can't compete with the iPad on any level. Most of all, the iPad HW Mfg (Apple) is getting continuous revenue from an iPad already sold via AT&T, and AppStore sales.

     

    So how does MS answer "What's in it for me?"

     

    I bet that you will never see a consumer-level Windows 7 tablet. But you will see one based on WP7... cuz there's an app store

    Well, if they are already making a Windows 7 tablet, then there is nothing more to do for OEMs since this is just additional software that ships with Windows 7. What can they gain? Well, Windows 7 tablets could become more attractive since it offers an additional way for users to interact with the tablet that is proving to be popular.

  • Minh

    BitFlipper said:
    Minh said:
    *snip*

    Well, if they are already making a Windows 7 tablet, then there is nothing more to do for OEMs since this is just additional software that ships with Windows 7. What can they gain? Well, Windows 7 tablets could become more attractive since it offers an additional way for users to interact with the tablet that is proving to be popular.

    Why should manufacturers release a Win7 tablet if they can do an Android tablet? Many have switched already. I'm sure Google promised them a cut of the 30% Google makes on the AppStore sales. MS cannot make that promise until WP7 has established an AppStore.

     

    I mean a Win7 tablet might be nice for people, but not so nice for hardware Mfgrs.

     

    This only highlight what unique place Apple is in right now. Owning both hw and sw.

     

    oh, I forgot... why all the big boys are in this mobile game. Ad revenues will make app store sales & cell providers kickback look like chump change.

  • DCMonkey

    How about Windows 7 embedded with a custom shell and a custom app store based installation system for sandboxed 3rd party apps written with WPF?

  • BitFlipper

    Minh said:
    BitFlipper said:
    *snip*

    Why should manufacturers release a Win7 tablet if they can do an Android tablet? Many have switched already. I'm sure Google promised them a cut of the 30% Google makes on the AppStore sales. MS cannot make that promise until WP7 has established an AppStore.

     

    I mean a Win7 tablet might be nice for people, but not so nice for hardware Mfgrs.

     

    This only highlight what unique place Apple is in right now. Owning both hw and sw.

     

    oh, I forgot... why all the big boys are in this mobile game. Ad revenues will make app store sales & cell providers kickback look like chump change.

    @Minh

    Well that settles it then. MS should just give up.

     

     

    @DCMonkey

    That kinda defeats the whole point of having the ability to switch back to a full-blown version of Windows 7 that can run all sorts of existing applications and games. But I think you get my point about the sandboxed apps acquired from a centralized app store.

  • Minh

    BitFlipper said:
    Minh said:
    *snip*

    @Minh

    Well that settles it then. MS should just give up.

     

     

    @DCMonkey

    That kinda defeats the whole point of having the ability to switch back to a full-blown version of Windows 7 that can run all sorts of existing applications and games. But I think you get my point about the sandboxed apps acquired from a centralized app store.

    giving up on Win7 on a tablet? yes

     

    but there will be a Windows Phone tablet... probably

  • Bass

    Didn't Microsoft already try this?

  • BitFlipper

    Bass said:

    Didn't Microsoft already try this?

    Yes they did, but with hardware that was woefully overpriced. Every tablet (or I should say convertable) had at least a $500 premium over similarly spec'd laptops. I think that is the main reason why they didn't catch on. That and the fact that there just weren't enough compelling tablet-specific software to justify the $500 premium. Kinda a catch-22.

     

    With hardware now priced much more reasonably, and the new interest in developing WP7 apps, making those apps easily portable to a Windows tablet means both of those issues would be resolved.

  • wkempf

    "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."

     

    You can use a stylus with the iPad (and the iPhone/iPod Touch). Search Amazon and you'll find a lot of styluses for them. What's missing is hand writing recognition, which is a software thing that Apple could theoretically address with future updates. So, while I agree that Apple messed up with this one, especially for the iPad, it's not something that could really give you much of a competitive advantage.

     

    I'm not sure that I'd care if I could run Win32 applications on a tablet. If I had to start over with new software designed specifically for the device, that would be fine. I'd want the device to do things that the iPad currently doesn't do well, if at all (such as taking notes), though like I pointed out, that doesn't give you that much of a competitive advantage. I'd also like to be able to develop for it with a wider range of tools, and I think .NET covers that. Then, I'd like improvements in the hardware, specifically the display technology. Less battery consumption and issues with backlighting. For example, a Mirasol display, if they live up to the hype, would be ideal. Put OneNote on the thing, along with all of the multimedia stuff and eBook reading software, and I'll buy one tomorrow.

  • Harlequin

    Bass said:

    Didn't Microsoft already try this?

    I have Windows7 on my Tablet PC here, and I get 7hrs of life. What's all the hubbub about?

  • staceyw

    They should.  There is no reason w7 can't do this already.  All you need is a touch screen and you could prototype this app yourself with wpf or silverlight.  Media center is same concept.  Just an application that goes full screen.  Take the app down, and you have windows shell again.  No changes to w7 required (unless they want to remove some stuff for the footprint).  Tablet hw, another story and not sure where they are on that front.  In fact, even without a tablet proper, this kind of app could be usefull for normal PC users with a touch screen (older folks, kids, kiosks, fun, game center, etc).  Because it is just an application, this would seem to be low risk idea factory, maybe even make it a community project after v1.   

  • BitFlipper

    wkempf said:

    "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."

     

    You can use a stylus with the iPad (and the iPhone/iPod Touch). Search Amazon and you'll find a lot of styluses for them. What's missing is hand writing recognition, which is a software thing that Apple could theoretically address with future updates. So, while I agree that Apple messed up with this one, especially for the iPad, it's not something that could really give you much of a competitive advantage.

     

    I'm not sure that I'd care if I could run Win32 applications on a tablet. If I had to start over with new software designed specifically for the device, that would be fine. I'd want the device to do things that the iPad currently doesn't do well, if at all (such as taking notes), though like I pointed out, that doesn't give you that much of a competitive advantage. I'd also like to be able to develop for it with a wider range of tools, and I think .NET covers that. Then, I'd like improvements in the hardware, specifically the display technology. Less battery consumption and issues with backlighting. For example, a Mirasol display, if they live up to the hype, would be ideal. Put OneNote on the thing, along with all of the multimedia stuff and eBook reading software, and I'll buy one tomorrow.

    Although I can't imagine that that will be a good stylus experience on the iPad. The touch-screen is primarily designed for touching with the hand, and I am sure if you rest your hand on the screen while using that stylus (like you do when writing on a paper pad) that it would pick that up. The newer tablet touch screens can do both touch and stylus, and when it detects the stylus, it turns off the touch, meaning your hand resting on the screen won't interfere. And as you say it has no built-in handwriting recognition.

     

    Those are the kinds of things I'd like to keep doing on a tablet. I use OneNote a lot, and I have an endless number of sketches. From designing various things I build at home, to drawing out the frameworks for new software projects. I have drawings helping me to visualize complex software problems, to handwritten notes etc. UI designs.  I also use mind-mapping software, which work really well on a tablet. None of those will work well on an iPad type device.

     

    So my idea is basically, let's take Herlequin's Win 7 tablet (see above) and add a front-end that essentially can run the type of apps that WP7 will run, with all the advantages that it brings. I would love to have something like that on my Windows 7 tablet, and I think it would be great to develop apps for something like that (in addition to the WP7 version).

  • BitFlipper

    staceyw said:

    They should.  There is no reason w7 can't do this already.  All you need is a touch screen and you could prototype this app yourself with wpf or silverlight.  Media center is same concept.  Just an application that goes full screen.  Take the app down, and you have windows shell again.  No changes to w7 required (unless they want to remove some stuff for the footprint).  Tablet hw, another story and not sure where they are on that front.  In fact, even without a tablet proper, this kind of app could be usefull for normal PC users with a touch screen (older folks, kids, kiosks, fun, game center, etc).  Because it is just an application, this would seem to be low risk idea factory, maybe even make it a community project after v1.   

    Yea, that is what I was thinking. Something like this does not require any commitment from OEMs because as far as they are concerned, it is just another software component that ships with the default Windows 7 installation. Maybe the only thing they need to do is decide whether it will run as the default "UI" when the user powers it up the first time. And since it isn't an integral part of Windows 7, as you say it doesn't require any changes to Windows 7 either. It's just another "application".

     

    But to re-iterate my point again, I think what could make this work is if it is tightly coupled with the SL+XNA framework that ships with WP7, because then it can tie into the same app store and developers can, with only a small amount of effort, make their apps work on both WP7 and this framework. Basing it on WPF or anything else would take that advantage away.

     

    Are people really not seeing how well this works with iPhone/iPad? There is a very close relationship between iPhone and iPad. Anything less and we are back to square one. It is sad to say, but I believe MS needs to take (another) page out of Apple's playbook here. They have already copied Apple almost 100% with WP7, so why not go all the way?

     

    EDIT: As you mentioned, I was also thinking about how this could even work on the desktop where MS is pushing touch as well. You run this framework, and now you have access to the WP7 (+WT7) app store where you can download these apps. There aren't a lot of advantages that MS has over Apple in this regard, but this could be another (other advantages I see; better dev tools, more developers familiar with the platform, multiple hardware choices, multiple carriers, a better business case, ability to learn from Apple's mistakes (although they choose to make a few of the same - no initial C&P or multitasking), having a proper API out of the gate (where Apple had none initially, unless you count web-apps), etc.  

  • staceyw

    BitFlipper said:
    staceyw said:
    *snip*

    Yea, that is what I was thinking. Something like this does not require any commitment from OEMs because as far as they are concerned, it is just another software component that ships with the default Windows 7 installation. Maybe the only thing they need to do is decide whether it will run as the default "UI" when the user powers it up the first time. And since it isn't an integral part of Windows 7, as you say it doesn't require any changes to Windows 7 either. It's just another "application".

     

    But to re-iterate my point again, I think what could make this work is if it is tightly coupled with the SL+XNA framework that ships with WP7, because then it can tie into the same app store and developers can, with only a small amount of effort, make their apps work on both WP7 and this framework. Basing it on WPF or anything else would take that advantage away.

     

    Are people really not seeing how well this works with iPhone/iPad? There is a very close relationship between iPhone and iPad. Anything less and we are back to square one. It is sad to say, but I believe MS needs to take (another) page out of Apple's playbook here. They have already copied Apple almost 100% with WP7, so why not go all the way?

     

    EDIT: As you mentioned, I was also thinking about how this could even work on the desktop where MS is pushing touch as well. You run this framework, and now you have access to the WP7 (+WT7) app store where you can download these apps. There aren't a lot of advantages that MS has over Apple in this regard, but this could be another (other advantages I see; better dev tools, more developers familiar with the platform, multiple hardware choices, multiple carriers, a better business case, ability to learn from Apple's mistakes (although they choose to make a few of the same - no initial C&P or multitasking), having a proper API out of the gate (where Apple had none initially, unless you count web-apps), etc.  

    "But to re-iterate my point again, I think what could make this work is if it is tightly coupled with the SL+XNA framework that ships with WP7, because then it can tie into the same app store and developers can, with only a small amount of effort, make their apps work on both WP7 and this framework. Basing it on WPF or anything else would take that advantage away."

     

    @bitflipper.  Guess I am confused.  You have the sl+xna framework avail for W7 and VSExpress to develop W7 apps and the phone emulator.  So this all would work today AFAICT.  Not sure if phone emultor works outside of VS or not.  But that would be the only missing piece - a Wp7 emulator control for SL and wpf.  You could then do all that stuff inside your new application.  They don't need new OS skus and hope they reduce skus and not add more.

  • staceyw

    BitFlipper said:
    wkempf said:
    *snip*

    Although I can't imagine that that will be a good stylus experience on the iPad. The touch-screen is primarily designed for touching with the hand, and I am sure if you rest your hand on the screen while using that stylus (like you do when writing on a paper pad) that it would pick that up. The newer tablet touch screens can do both touch and stylus, and when it detects the stylus, it turns off the touch, meaning your hand resting on the screen won't interfere. And as you say it has no built-in handwriting recognition.

     

    Those are the kinds of things I'd like to keep doing on a tablet. I use OneNote a lot, and I have an endless number of sketches. From designing various things I build at home, to drawing out the frameworks for new software projects. I have drawings helping me to visualize complex software problems, to handwritten notes etc. UI designs.  I also use mind-mapping software, which work really well on a tablet. None of those will work well on an iPad type device.

     

    So my idea is basically, let's take Herlequin's Win 7 tablet (see above) and add a front-end that essentially can run the type of apps that WP7 will run, with all the advantages that it brings. I would love to have something like that on my Windows 7 tablet, and I think it would be great to develop apps for something like that (in addition to the WP7 version).

    "Although I can't imagine that that will be a good stylus experience on the iPad. The touch-screen is primarily designed for touching with the hand, and I am sure if you rest your hand on the screen while using that stylus (like you do when writing on a paper pad) that it would pick that up. The newer tablet touch screens can do both touch and stylus, and when it detects the stylus, it turns off the touch, meaning your hand resting on the screen won't interfere. And as you say it has no built-in handwriting recognition."

     

    Not sure about ipad, but AFAICT MS Ink already has those issues worked out for the most part.  It is largely application specific on what events you want to listen to and/or disable at proper points in your application and your UI design.

  • BitFlipper

    staceyw said:
    BitFlipper said:
    *snip*

    "But to re-iterate my point again, I think what could make this work is if it is tightly coupled with the SL+XNA framework that ships with WP7, because then it can tie into the same app store and developers can, with only a small amount of effort, make their apps work on both WP7 and this framework. Basing it on WPF or anything else would take that advantage away."

     

    @bitflipper.  Guess I am confused.  You have the sl+xna framework avail for W7 and VSExpress to develop W7 apps and the phone emulator.  So this all would work today AFAICT.  Not sure if phone emultor works outside of VS or not.  But that would be the only missing piece - a Wp7 emulator control for SL and wpf.  You could then do all that stuff inside your new application.  They don't need new OS skus and hope they reduce skus and not add more.

    Yes of course you can use the emulator (although it doesn't really emulate the hardware well in many cases I am finding). But this is not something you can tell consumers to do. The point is not to emulate the WP7 eUI, the point is to run WP7-like apps on a tablet (or any other PC that has a touch screen) in full-screen mode. Plus you don't want to sell a tablet and tell people that the WP7 emulator is going to be your primary UI. In addition, it could take advantage of the bigger screen, just like iPhone apps that were adapted to iPad can.

     

    @staceyw

    Not sure about ipad, but AFAICT MS Ink already has those issues worked out for the most part.  It is largely application specific on what events you want to listen to and/or disable at proper points in your application and your UI design.

     

    I think this is already handled at the harware/driver layer. If you bring the stylus close to the screen, the hardware/driver simply stops forwarding touch events, so software never need to worry about this. At least this is how I believe it works.

  • staceyw

    BitFlipper said:
    staceyw said:
    *snip*

    Yes of course you can use the emulator (although it doesn't really emulate the hardware well in many cases I am finding). But this is not something you can tell consumers to do. The point is not to emulate the WP7 eUI, the point is to run WP7-like apps on a tablet (or any other PC that has a touch screen) in full-screen mode. Plus you don't want to sell a tablet and tell people that the WP7 emulator is going to be your primary UI. In addition, it could take advantage of the bigger screen, just like iPhone apps that were adapted to iPad can.

     

    @staceyw

    Not sure about ipad, but AFAICT MS Ink already has those issues worked out for the most part.  It is largely application specific on what events you want to listen to and/or disable at proper points in your application and your UI design.

     

    I think this is already handled at the harware/driver layer. If you bring the stylus close to the screen, the hardware/driver simply stops forwarding touch events, so software never need to worry about this. At least this is how I believe it works.

    "Yes of course you can use the emulator (although it doesn't really emulate the hardware well in many cases I am finding). But this is not something you can tell consumers to do. The point is not to emulate the WP7 eUI, the point is to run WP7-like apps on a tablet (or any other PC that has a touch screen) in full-screen mode. Plus you don't want to sell a tablet and tell people that the WP7 emulator is going to be your primary UI. In addition, it could take advantage of the bigger screen, just like iPhone apps that were adapted to iPad can."

     

    @BitFlipper.  I was not suggesting the UI be Wp7 based.  The UI (i.e. your Shell) app would be WPF and/or SL out of browser.  But to run native WP7 apps on desktop, wouldn't you still need an emulator control to emulate at least the screen sizes and hw (i.e. buttons, usb, phone, etc).  Or are you saying any WP7 app should be able to run up-level on WPF?

     

    "I think this is already handled at the harware/driver layer. If you bring the stylus close to the screen, the hardware/driver simply stops forwarding touch events, so software never need to worry about this. At least this is how I believe it works."

     

    Last I looked at Ink apis, you could control these behaviors and handle various different events.  Depending on the app, you may want different behaviors in different contexts.  I could be wrong as it has been a while.

  • BitFlipper

    staceyw said:
    BitFlipper said:
    *snip*

    "Yes of course you can use the emulator (although it doesn't really emulate the hardware well in many cases I am finding). But this is not something you can tell consumers to do. The point is not to emulate the WP7 eUI, the point is to run WP7-like apps on a tablet (or any other PC that has a touch screen) in full-screen mode. Plus you don't want to sell a tablet and tell people that the WP7 emulator is going to be your primary UI. In addition, it could take advantage of the bigger screen, just like iPhone apps that were adapted to iPad can."

     

    @BitFlipper.  I was not suggesting the UI be Wp7 based.  The UI (i.e. your Shell) app would be WPF and/or SL out of browser.  But to run native WP7 apps on desktop, wouldn't you still need an emulator control to emulate at least the screen sizes and hw (i.e. buttons, usb, phone, etc).  Or are you saying any WP7 app should be able to run up-level on WPF?

     

    "I think this is already handled at the harware/driver layer. If you bring the stylus close to the screen, the hardware/driver simply stops forwarding touch events, so software never need to worry about this. At least this is how I believe it works."

     

    Last I looked at Ink apis, you could control these behaviors and handle various different events.  Depending on the app, you may want different behaviors in different contexts.  I could be wrong as it has been a while.

    Yes you touched on the idea I'm talking about. The "shell" would provide an alternative environment for WP7-like apps to run in. In this environment, the idea is not to emulate the phone, hence the typical phone buttons and fixed screen resolution are not required. Instead, these apps can take advantage of the larger screen size etc.

     

    So the idea is, someone is creating a WP7 app. Within VS, there is an option to also target this "WT7" framework. If the developer chooses this option, they then get two projects that basically use the same source code. The WP7 project is specifically running on the WP7 emulator or WP7 hardware. The "WT7" version runs as a fullscreen app that can take advantage of the higher resolution etc. Yet 99% of the source code is the same. There could be runtime or compile time flags that the developer can use to determine which platform it is actually running on at the time, in cases where different code paths are required, but other than handling different resolutions and availability of various hardware features (no GPS on "WT7" version, hardware keyboard on "WT7" version), the code will be mostly the same.

     

    From a consumer pov, the way it works is like this: They run the "WT7" shell, which is a fullscreen application. They don't see the same UI as WP7 (no tiles, no phone features etc). There will be icons for installed apps. There will also be a button to go to the app store. When they go to the app store, they can search and browse apps, just like you would be able to do from a WP7 phone. Except in this case, apps that are WP7-only will be filtered out. Apps that support both WP7 and WT7 (or only WT7) will be listed. The install/uninstall mechanism is the same as it is for WP7 - in other words - simple.

     

    An additional feature could be that WP7-only apps could also be allowed to run in this shell, but in that case the fixed resolution and hardware buttons will be emulated. But this is not the main idea behind this. This could be a nice way for 175 million Windows 7 users to try out WP7 apps though, even if they don't already have a WP7 device.

     

    Some of the big advantages of this is that, if WP7 is popular, and many apps are developed, this opens up these apps for Windows tablets to use as well (and any touch-enabled PC). In addition, you immediately create a much larger installed base of consumers that could buy apps from the app store, making it more attractive for developers. How many copies of Windows 7 were sold again? OK, only a small percentage of these have touch screens, but apps can be developed so that they can work with a "single touch" as well (mouse) or with the hardware keyboard.

     

    I don't know, to me it seems like something like this could be worth it.

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