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Windows 8 and Tablets

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Jason Z

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[subheading]The Windows 8 Story[/subheading]
As I am sure you have all at least heard by now, Microsoft announced some details about Windows 8. Here are some of the videos and highlights for future reference:

The official corporate press announcement: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2011/jun11/06-01corporatenews.aspx

A semi-transcript from the All Things Digital site:

http://allthingsd.com/20110601/up-next-at-d9-microsoft-windows-president-steven-sinofsky-live-at-d9/

Jensen Harris, Director of PM in Windows User Experience, provides the first YouTube demo of Win8 in "Building Windows 8":



Finally, the BUILD conference has been announced and has a live public web site:

http://www.buildwindows.com/

The news in interesting, and the new interface looks pretty cool at the first impression. Of course, we haven't actually tried it out yet, but it seems interesting nonetheless. Many things have been written about Microsoft and their response to the iPad and the birth of a real tablet market over the past year or so, and I found Windows 8 to be a very interesting response to the iPad. So I figured I would write my comments here and see what you think about them too...

[subheading]The Tablet Market[/subheading]
I try to keep up on financial type of market predictions, and the intro of the iPad created a whole new type of 'expert' prediction. First they said that the iPad would be the destroyer of PC sales (which was an echo of the story with netbooks when they first came out) since most people would rather buy a tablet instead of a PC. Evidence to the contrary is beginning to surface now, with most people seeing that buying a tablet is an additional device - not a PC replacement.

Still, there are predictions that up to 100 million tablets will be sold per year over the next few years - some people are even predicting up to 400 million tablets per year 5 years from now (Tim Cook being one of them...). Personally I find this to be an outlandish prediction, since people still need to write documents, spreadsheets, and emails (and of course facebook/twitter updates) with a keyboard. Sure, you can do this with a iPad, but you can do it much faster and more efficiently with a normal computer.

Much of the criticism of Microsoft over the past year is that they don't have a tablet OS to counter the iPad. This (according to their predictions) will lead to cannibalized PC sales and ultimately a big market loss for Microsoft. So what do they do? They extend one of their biggest market products so that it works on standard PCs as well as tablets. Instead of trying to create a competitor in the tablet market, they are moving to absorb the tablet market into their own Windows market. It is a very bold plan, but in my opinion a genius one - everyone is familiar with Windows, and everyone will become familiar with their tablet interface when they upgrade to Windows 8. If you are going to buy a tablet, why not buy one that is compatible with all of your current software (I'm assuming x86 compatible tablets 1 year from now...) that you could dock and then use your keyboard and mouse with?

Instead of requiring developers to write a desktop version of the app followed by a tablet version, both are the same. People may not have digested it yet, but this move is trying to create a combined market between PCs and tablets. From their current position, this is the best possible thing that could happen - they dominate the PC market, so if they can pull tablets into that market, they have a big advantage... Even if they are late to the game, it is clearly a good strategy.

So what do you guys think about this? Do you see Windows 8 the same way I do, or is it something that you don't want to see? I am actually excited and looking forward to getting one device that can act as both a laptop and a tablet...

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I agree that this would put them in a strong position having a uniform way to develop for the desktop and tablet in one swoop is a great advantage and it is what gives Apple such and edge currently. Sadly I don't agree with the way they are changing the desktop however. Apple is doing the same thing trying to bring a mobile interface across to the desktop same thing with Linux/Gnome 3/Unity. These companies are trying to unify the interface people interact with and I give them a lot of justice for trying. The issue is on the desktop these mobile interfaces are very unintuitive, annoying, and counter productive. I can't wait to see more details maybe Microsoft will be the one that proves me wrong but the current state of these Desktop OS changes down right suck. The one thing I do like however is the concept of modal computing compared to the typical window if it is done right it can be a phenomenal way to work. If Microsoft can work a way to tile multiple applications onto one page it can be a huge productivity gain.
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