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Microsoft: we won't do a tablet OS until its distinctive

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  • User profile image
    Ray7

    Pocket-Lint had a bit of a chat with Microsoft's UK top man, Ashley Highfield.

    Apparently, there is no plan to do a tablet OS until the company can come up with something to distinguish itself from the competition. That's fair enough, though I think it's better to aim for usable, rather than just 'different'.

     

     

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    Well Windows 7 is already 'usable' on a tablet, so they've already got that covered.

    Herbie

  • User profile image
    USArcher

    @Dr Herbie: Perhaps usable, but not optimized.  There are far too many OS screens/dialogs that have tightly packed miniature controls.  The default Windows display settings for 10" 1366x768 px display make tapping on something as basic as the Close button a challenge.  Frankly there is no need for a title bar, min/max buttons when working with screens of this size.  The on screen keyboard is horrid.  I have no doubt that Microsoft recognizes this and plan to address it in Windows 8 with a Metro influenced framework.

    Pen is a much better story in Windows today.  Its just that you can't find a 10" Slate PC with an active digitizer for $600.  This is the premium a college student might be willing to pay over a $350 Windows netbook.  At CES Lenovo showed off the IdeaPad Slate and indicated this may hit the market later this year at a suprisingly good price point.  So there is hope, as long as they are not the only Windows PC OEM doing so and these are sold/marketed through mainstream consumer sales channels.

     

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    , Ray7 wrote

    Pocket-Lint had a bit of a chat with Microsoft's UK top man, Ashley Highfield.

    Apparently, there is no plan to do a tablet OS until the company can come up with something to distinguish itself from the competition. That's fair enough, though I think it's better to aim for usable, rather than just 'different'.

    They already have a good[1] tablet OS: Windows Phone.

    Apple's iOS is the same on both iPad and iPhone, only the screen's bigger. What's stopping MS from deploying WP7 (suitably modified, of course) for 7-10" tablets?

     

    [1]In principle. Let's overlook the massive shortcomings of the platform.

  • User profile image
    wkempf

    @W3bbo: First, massive shortcomings? Second, there are changes that need to be made when you increase the screen size. So it's not "just deploying on 7-10" tablets". Just an example, I'd hope that on a 7-10" tablet I'd be given a grid of installed applications instead of just a single column list.

    That said, you do have a point. It wouldn't be that difficult to put the WP7 OS, slightly modified, onto a tablet. What I'm reading from the comment, though, is that Microsoft thinks they can do better, and don't want to rush that out. It sounds like Win8 is being designed to work in this space, and the comment is hinting that they think it will bring something to tablets that would differentiate them from the competition.

    I'm skeptical, though. Microsoft has to learn to be more nimble if they intend to compete. Waiting another year (roughly speaking) to compete in this area means that they'll really have ot differentiate somehow, and I'm not sure they can. That means an uphill battle against already established brands, like what is happening with WP7. I love my WP7, and I do believe it will eventually hold significant marketshare, but there's no denying that Microsoft is fighting an uphill battle there. Why would they want to get into another fight that difficult?

  • User profile image
    DeathBy​VisualStudio

    The danger if they do nothing now is that the relevance of other Microsoft apps like Office will deminish as the joy of having a tablet outways the pain of not having Office. People will find ways around not having Microsoft apps on tablets. Those people include businesses who also start migrating LOB apps to the tablet. Replace the PC with a tablet & dock with mouse & keyboard (for those who's job requires it) and you're off to the races. There will absolutly be a good chunk of people left on reguilar old PCs but more and more will find a way to jump ship just like they did moving from plain old cell phone or feature phones over to smartphones.

    If I were running the Office team I'd start thinking of following Bing's example and start writing versions for iOS and Android (or port to Silverlight for WP7 and Android).

    One other point -- with virtulization being more and more popular I suspect that the PC market will in part contract because people will no longer need a couple of PCs around the house or a dedicated PC at work. Instead they will RDP (or similar) to one PC in the house or a shared virtual PC at work when they need to use legacy Microsoft apps. I've seen some hackish demos of Evo's hooked up to a bluetooth mouse, keyboard, and monitor driving a PC through RDP. I look forward to the day when I can stop carrying my laptop around...

    If we all believed in unicorns and fairies the world would be a better place.
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  • User profile image
    Minh

    What a fluff piece... 2 quotes? And what is a "managing director"... and can he determine MS tablet strategy?

    Everyone knows future laptops must be touch-enabled... MS would be foolish if they're not 80% done w/ this already

     

  • User profile image
    contextfree`

    @Ray7: Android and Blackberry tablets seem to be popularly regarded as inferior iPad clones, at least so far.

     Does anyone actually have sales figures for Windows tablets? Are they much lower than sales of any other non-iPad tablets (or of Windows Phone 7 for that matter)?

    This Windows slate, for example, seems to have an average rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon (from 77 ratings). Yeah, I know, it's a self-selecting fanboy niche and all that, but aren't Android tablets (and WP7) the same way? 

     I'm still not convinced that it would make sense to release a tablet version of WP7 this year. Windows 7 tablets are a stopgap until Windows 8 is ready, but a tablet based on WP7 wouldn't be any less of a stopgap; at least full PC tablets are differentiated from the iPad.

    It's definitely risky though, since W8 won't be ready till mid '12, Microsoft is going to have a very rough next year-plus. The shareholders might not even let them go through with their plan before demanding drastic changes.

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    @DeathByVisualStudio: Funny you should mention it but that is exactly the environment I'm working in now. This is a financial software house that decided to bin all their Windows PCs and go to Linux. Once I got over the shock, I've actually found it ... okay. The OS (Ubuntu) is pretty solid and feels somehow 'lighter' than Windows. The problem I have with it are the applications: they still feel amateurish. Gimp is pretty diabolical. 

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    Win 8 on Arm will have a funky Tablet UI in the box or I will eat my hat.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    , Ian2 wrote

    Win 8 on Arm will have a funky Tablet UI in the box or I will eat my hat.

    But you don't have a hat.

  • User profile image
    Harlequin

    @Bass: Would it be irony to send him a Windows 7 hat? Smiley

  • User profile image
    magicalclick

    Personally I still want a bigger WinPh as tablet. Everything is there. I don't even care multi-virusing support.  WinPh already have tons of good apps on the market. Fantasia Painter is quite awsome for photo enhencement (HDR simulation), and it is so simple, which is what people want.

    And WinPh already have Office included, which is great. When it comes to tablet. People just want to surf the web and doing some simple tasks, like calender, to-do list, paint, simple games, social app, and etc. And most importantly, be able to explore app store and install "safe" apps with simple brainless one touch of the button. And removing them is not only easy, also "reliable". Installation + Safe + uninstallation + reliable = WinPh7, not Win7.

    It was horrible that I couldn't remove evil Google app on my friend's XP/Vista. And same with the Evil MSN browser which is dead and unable to remove.

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
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  • User profile image
    blowdart

    , Harlequin wrote

    @Bass: Would it be irony to send him a Windows 7 hat? Smiley

    I'll check the company store Wink

  • User profile image
    Dovella

    PDC

  • User profile image
    JoshRoss

    Microsoft already has a tablet OS, it's called Surface. If someone could figure out how to reduce the size and price by a factor of some large integer, then the game would be afoot.

    -Josh

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    This feels like deja vu. Wasn't there recent Win 8 related info that indicated that it would have an "immersive tablet UI" present? And this UI might ship even before the full version of Windows 8? This is possible since it is essentially a SilverLight+XNA "sandbox" environment which hosts completely managed applications that are portable between multiple hardware devices and architectures (x86, ARM,...)

    I find it interesting that this follows almost exactly the suggestion I made a long time ago about such a portable UI that is equally at home on a desktop, a tablet or a phone, and can either be an additional UI (on desktops and some more powerful tablets), or the one and only UI (on lower-powered devices).

    So to me this seems pretty clear what MS's plans are regarding this topic.

  • User profile image
    exoteric

    , Ray7 wrote

    Pocket-Lint had a bit of a chat with Microsoft's UK top man, Ashley Highfield.

    Apparently, there is no plan to do a tablet OS until the company can come up with something to distinguish itself from the competition. That's fair enough, though I think it's better to aim for usable, rather than just 'different'.

    "This just in: company refuses to shoot itself in its foot; and in related news: company plans to produce useable product!" Wink

    Let's just assume common-sense is at work here, shall we? Smiley

    Tablets require different UX's - hopefully noone thinks there's a one-size fits all. For that matter even mainstream operating systems could use new UI metaphors. We've been stuck with the same basic UI metaphors for ages, with only minor revisions. Surely there's room for improvement between here and Minority Report without too much ingenuity needed. Also, Android is doing some good things in the UX space (as is WP7), so I can't imagine the next version of Windows in a UX status quo. The new taskbar is nice, but still a minor revision on my oppinion.

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