Tag Archives: windows 8

Should Microsoft use the same OS on tablets as on PCs?

Jason Snell has a slightly pre-emptive pop at Windows 8 in his blog post ‘Why Windows 8 fails to learn the iPad’s lesson‘ over on Macworld. He writes:

The problem with the announcement is that Microsoft has failed to commit to the tablet as a unique type of device. The company that spent a decade trying to push Windows tablets on a market that just didn’t want them is still convinced that it’s a selling point that Windows 8 tablets will run Microsoft Excel for Windows and if you hook up a keyboard and mouse to them, you can get an arrow cursor and click to your heart’s content.

I’m a little confused. Isn’t Apple’s announcement at WWDC about bringing OSX and iOS closer together (something Jason comments on later in his piece)? Isn’t a single platform exactly what Jobs wants – one, big market for Apps (where the money will be, if it isn’t already?), one consistent experience for users? Also, as an aside, if you’ve read my post on iPad for commuting – if it is to be a knowledge workers’ machine, it does need a keyboard – which is why there’s a burgeoning market for those sorts of iPad accessories.

Secondly – Microsoft has a history of providing multiple (admittedly occasionally ill-considered) flavours of its OS – so I suspect there will be a Windows 8 – Slate Edition – with a few features stripped out, and a few other features brought to the fore.

Uniformity of experience across the different Microsoft platforms makes sense. Users will expect that a Windows Phone and a Windows slate and a Windows PC behave in broadly the same way. The most sensible way to do this – I would guess – is not through superficial similarities, but commonalities in the underlying platform.

The lesson from Apple, IMHO – and not just the iPad, but Apple everything – that Microsoft is beginning to learn (as is Google, as I’ve noted before) is that uniformity and consistency of the experience is a vital part of keeping consumers happy. The single chip / yearly refresh / totally consistent experience across iOS (and to a lesser extent, OSX) forms part of the premium appeal of the brand. This is what Microsoft has done with its hardware requirements for Windows Phone 7, and the controls on customising the platform. The problem for Microsoft is that it can’t take this lesson completely to heart in the desktop/slate market – that would prevent it from reaching the lower end of the market, who want to buy machines with cheaper processors, less RAM and everything else you can save on.

I’m not defending Microsoft or Windows 8 here – it’s far too early to tell if or how they’ll screw up this particular product/platform launch – but this specific lesson didn’t chime with me.

With Windows 8 and mobile computing, CPU manufacturers are interesting again

One of the bizarrely fascinating things about the next generation of computing hardware and software is the fact that microprocessor manufacturers suddenly have an interesting stake in the game. Over the last few years, the Intel/AMD speed race turned into a tediously uninteresting one-horse race, and the mobile processor guys just kept quietly plugging away in the background… and now; ARM and Qualcomm are suddenly a threat to Intel – which – other than its Atom line – hasn’t made significant inroads into the mobile computing market at all.

In a bizarre twist, Microsoft is trying to tie chip vendors to a single hardware manufacturer for Windows 8 (I have no idea how this would work). I suspect this is its ham-fisted attempt to get some consistency of experience established – so that one Windows tablet is very like another – but like the Acer CEO JT Wang, I’m extremely doubtful about the effectiveness of this scheme. The theory makes sense; Qualcomm chips are suited to different form factors to Intel chips (right now, anyway) so it’s not like the Intel/AMD battles of old – where one chip was interchangeable with another.

Still, it will be interesting to see if this new wave of competition will spark some interesting form factors. Perhaps a shoe-tablet

Windows 8 – designed to annoy CIOs?

OK, so the Windows 8 first look is out and – on the face of it – kind of cool. Finally, Microsoft has worked out what a touch screen interface should do differently! Although it does feel like a very early look – judging by the fact that when they showcase non-Windows 8 HTML5 apps – it looks exactly like Windows 7…

My comment about CIOs is not so much to do with the specifics of the platform – of which we’ve seen too little to say anything other than ‘oooh, shiny’ – but the speed of the refresh cycle. Thanks to the mediocrity of Windows Vista, most enterprises that run Windows (even smaller ones like the one I work for) skipped it, and are probably in the midst of a migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. That was the best part of a 10 year gap.

The migration – especially in smaller enterprises, although I know of larger ones doing this too – will let happen naturally with hardware refreshes.

Now: it’s partially my obsessive tendencies, but I’d really like a uniform OS estate across my company. It’d make management and training so much easier. Ditto rollout of new services. So every three years for a new OS? Too fast, if they’re going to change as much as it looks like they might in UI and usability. And even though hardware refreshes tend to take place every three years or so – they tend to happen in waves, especially in growing companies. Not everyone gets a new machine at the same time…

Also; touch in the enterprise? Wonderful for marketing and useful on tablets (or ‘slates’ as Microsoft bizarrely insists on calling them) – but really not useful for knowledge workers. Well, maybe on a Microsoft Surface machine – not on a desktop, for reasons I’ve gone into before – as long as we need to type, touch is a secondary interface for most people.

Regardless, will watch with interest. I’m afraid my home-life slide into Jobs-land is probably irreversible (for the moment) with any incremental upgrade but will watch with interest.