Microsoft's Windows 8 tablet strategy is based on their desktop OS and not phone OS. That's stupid.

Back when the iPad came out in April 2010, I showed mine to a friend who didn't like it. "This thing is nothing more than an iPod Touch with a bigger screen."

Back when the iPad came out in April 2010, I showed mine to a friend who didn't like it. "This thing is nothing more than an iPod Touch with a bigger screen."

"Yeah?" I thought, "that's why it's so brilliant!" The iPad is just a big iPod Touch. They didn't try to make it into a laptop. It's not your primary device. It's just like a phone with a really big screen. The same is true for Android tablets. Android is a phone OS. Android tablets are like Android phones with really big screens.

Contrast that with how Microsoft approaches the tablet. I got my first Windows tablet more than ten years ago. It ran Windows XP. It was a laptop, except I could touch the screen. (And I could fold the screen around backwards so I could use it standing up.)

Do you see the difference here? To Apple and Android, the tablet is a phone-like device with phone-like capabilities running a phone-like OS. To Microsoft, the tablet is a full on desktop computer that you can touch and use standing up.

So when I read all these stories about how Microsoft is planning to go after Apple and Android with their Windows 8 tablet plans, I have to step back and say, "Wait.. wha?? These are two totally different things. Apples & Oranges." And to be honest, if Microsoft thinks that a Windows 8 desktop OS running on a tablet can compete with an iPad or Android tablet, man… good luck with that.

But wait, isn't Microsoft getting serious about tablets with Windows 8?

Whenever people talk about what's new in Windows 8, the first two things that they mention are (1) There will be a multitouch-based UI option called "Metro," and (2) there will be versions of Windows 8 that will run on ARM-based microprocessors instead of only running on x86 chips like today. (ARM-based processors are what most smartphones and tablets use today, including the iPhone and iPad.)

So if Windows 8 has a multitouch UI and runs on ARM, it's easy to see how people would think it will compete with iPad and Android tablets. (And certainly Microsoft wants you to think this. Hell, they might even think that themselves!)

But think about it. Windows 8--even the ARM version--is a full desktop OS. It needs 16GB just to install! It has a registry. And DLLs. And user profiles. And a page file. And fifty million drivers for who knows what. And different file systems. And RAID. The Windows 8 desktop OS supports multiple displays and multitasking and up to 600 logical processors and 4TB of RAM. And you're telling me that this is the OS you want in your tablet?

Wrong!

Those are the characteristics of the OS that you want on your primary computing device. But how many IOPS and FLOPs does that thing need just to start up in the morning? When Microsoft says that they want to focus on the tablet with Windows 8, what are they talking about? Do they really think a $500 ARM tablet running a desktop OS can compete with the phone-derived OSes that run todays iPads and Andoird tablets?

Wouldn't Windows Phone 8 be the better tablet OS for Microsoft?

More importantly, why isn't Microsoft taking the same approach and going after the tablet space from the phone angle? Wouldn't a better Windows 8 tablet be one that was derived from the Windows Phone OS instead of the Windows desktop OS?

There's a reason that the iPad doesn't run desktop apps. There's a reason it doesn't have "real" multitasking. (And these are the same reasons that an iPad doesn't get viruses, runs super fast and cool, lasts ten hours per charge, and only costs 500 bucks.)

So Microsoft: What the hell? What are you thinking putting the Windows desktop OS against the iOS and Android tablets. Do you really think that the Windows application ecosystem is strong enough that people will want all their Windows apps. (I mean really, hasn't everyone already gotten iOS versions of all the apps they need anyway? Well, unless they use Microsoft Office. ;)

But really, a traditional Windows app running on a tablet doesn't have a good user interface anyway. So if developers have to rewrite their apps for Metro's touch-based interface and they have to recompile their apps for ARM, I mean at that point wouldn't it be just as easy to rewrite the app for a tablet-sized Windows Phone OS to have a better experience?

I have no idea what Microsoft is thinking. I know that a lot of people would buy a tablet that was "just a Windows phone with a big screen." There's the killer opportunity. But if moving the desktop OS to the tablet form factor didn't work in 2001, and if it isn't working today when tablets are all the rage, why does Microsoft think it's going to work in 2012?

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Maybe they couldn't give a rats ass about tablets with Windows8 and have slate PC's in mind (like the Samsung series 7)?


From my own usage... As much as I love iOS and Android I often find myself missing features of full OS X and Windows.


16GB disk space for win8? - win7e can install in less that 4? maybe they have something like that in mind here too.


Guess we will just have to wait and see what happens when its released and win8 tablets start coming out...


MS's biggest tablet issue for me is there on screen keyboard - they have never EVER come close to getting it right!


Other advantages of a full (if slightly cut down) OS too, peripheral support (printing, phones, media devices, etc etc etc) - all things that iOS and Android don't or don't make seamless at present.


I mean why can't I (in this day and age) plug in a usb drive into iOS for extra storage? These are major things that let current tablets down IMO.


But it all comes down to how the apps work I guess...


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Two things


1. It would be hard to compete with Apple, if all you do is building an iPad copycat.


2. Microsoft knows that an iPad copycat is not going to cut it.


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Christoph, Microsoft has other options besides "full PC OS on a tablet" and "iPad copycat." They could build a tablet with a lightweight, Windows Phone-esque OS that could run all the enterprise apps and offer all the enterprise management options that people expect from Microsoft. That would really set them apart. The fact that they're apparently not taking this route seems like a missed opportunity.


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I read that the ARM version of Windows 8 will not have access to a full desktop, only access to Metro which is basically HTML5 or Silverlight which should work on Windows Phone or big Windows.  Microsoft would just remove a lot of features like with WES 7 and you end up with a small image.


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Oh that's interesting. I saw some articles where they discussed that as a rumor, so we'll have to see how it plays out. I guess if Windows 8 ARM is Metro-only, now we're talking about an App Store, all new touch-based apps, nothing legacy.. so maybe that's the idea?


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Hopefully I'll find out more about what Windows 8 ARM tablets will look like next week at the Consumer Electronics Show.


If Windows 8 ARM tablets are in the "giant phone" iPad category, MS could compete with Apple—especially if it didn't release Office for iOS. The Win8 ARM tablet could be AD integrated and everything—it could be the de facto corporate tablet if MS does things correctly. And if not, then the we can still hope for iOS for Office [www.brianmadden.com/.../is-microsoft-really-building-an-ios-version-of-office-if-so-is-is-brilliant-or-suicide.aspx]


and all parties (except the tablet group at MS) could be happy.


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I love my iPad, and I love my desktop PC, both for different reasons.


My iPad fulfils 90% of my everyday IT requirements, and fulfils them well, but it lets me down and wildly frustrates me in many areas where it could do much better.


If a Windows 8 tablet allows me to access my device in 30 seconds at any time, do the 90% that I do now, in the same intuitive way that iOS allows, but also allows me to connect devices via USB for data exchange or additional storage, and print to whatever printer I darned well please, and also allows me to automomously exchange or manipulate data without the constraints of iTunes......then I don't give a monkeys whether it runs a desktop OS or a phone OS.


Mictrosoft's decision to use a desktop OS for their tablet offering will only prove to be stupid if the device becomes unusable after the typically bloated Windows OS is added.


Time, and market share, will tell.


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"Microsoft's Windows 8 tablet strategy is based on their desktop OS and not their phone OS."


Brian, you need to check out the Windows Phone 8 rumors to get your socks REALLY blown off. www.windows8update.com/.../speculation-and-rumors-regarding-andy-lees-demotion-continue


It's a very bold strategy, wrapping the entire world of devices in a Windows embrace, but if they can truly provide a unified experience (and development tools) across multiple platforms the benefits will be huge.


On the tablet topic in particular, it is pretty apparent that there will be different capabilities in different classes of device (i.e. x86 w/ Desktop, ARM w/ Desktop, ARM w/o Desktop)


techpinions.com/.../4401


It's time for Windows to grow from a device OS, to an ecosystem OS. Apple, Amazon and Google are driving MS in this direction, and over the long run it should be a very interesting race to watch.


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"But think about it. Windows 8--even the ARM version--is a full desktop OS."


No, it isn't. They said at the Build conference that the ARM version only has Metro, not the full desktop OS. On an x86 tablet or even a desktop PC, the traditional Windows desktop isn't loaded unless you use it. We'll have to wait and see how well Microsoft has executed this strategy, but there's the potential there. Windows 8 tablets really aren't like any previous Windows tablets - they have thought about and redesigned everything that sits above the kernel so there is no Win32, no registry, no user profiles, etc unless you are using the Windows Desktop. The APIs and user interface have are all based on existing APIs, but they have had parts removed and parts added specifically designed to work with tablets, even down to forcing people to use Asynchronous APIs for every API call that could take longer than 50ms to try to make sure that people can't write non-responsive apps.


I don't know if they got it right, but they don't have anything from legacy Windows stopping them from getting the tablet strategy right.


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This is just speculation on my part.  Not long ago ARM announced their new 64bit ARM architecture ARM v8.  I wonder sometime in the medium future there will be a traditional version of Windows client and server for ARM v8.


www.infoworld.com/.../arms-64-bit-ambitions-spell-more-trouble-intel-and-amd-177354


Is it just me or has Windows Embedded Compact 7 become a sort of red headed step child of Microsoft?  I have not seen any announcements of any sort of devices based on it especially thin clients.  CE is in many non consumer devices.  Weird to suddenly ignore a product like that.


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There are many questions that are interesting to ponder before Windows 8 launches, not the least of which is whether Microsoft and PC partners can compete effectively with low-end tablets now selling for $200 (Kindle Fire) and maybe $100 (rumored tablet from Google). The subsidy-based business models from Amazon and Google have no parallel with the low-margin PC makers. There’s also the question of how mainstream PC users will react to a touch-first user experience on their desktops and laptops. Will it work well and be desirable with a mouse and keyboard?


But the one area where the Microsoft bet has unique value is convertible/hybrid ultrabooks. The idea of a laptop with a screen that detaches to become a tablet could be very compelling. It would have to be Intel-based since the laptop would need to run today’s standard Windows apps and devices to be viable. But the tablet experience could load up on new Metro apps and the overall device could give the best of both worlds. The challenges will be in battery life with Intel processors (can they compete with ARM?) and how well Windows 8 on an Intel-based tablet can keep users out of the legacy desktop and application experience. Trying to run Chrome or iTunes or Photoshop or any of the millions of Windows apps on a tablet with no mouse/keyboard is guaranteed to be a dreadful experience. The ecosystem of Metro apps will need to be awesome to overcome this.


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I tried Android on S2 and galaxy Tab to edit my blog at blogspot. It can't be done. Of course I can post simple postings but the memory and power is not powerful enough to edit a blog. I expect Windows 8 tablet/phone will solve that.


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Brian , I don't know why you think  why MS needs a good or winning strategy... or why you are questioning what they are thinking.


Microsoft generally works like this.


Observe what works in the marketplace, then make adjustments to product to allow for maximum profit.


-repeat to infinity


This seems to have work for them reasonably well.


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