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back to article Windows 8: First contact with Microsoft Touch

Microsoft is facing up to the million-dollar question: how does it compete with Apple's iPad and Google's Android when Windows was designed for keyboard and mouse rather than touch control? Microsoft's answer has been to create a platform based on Metro, the design style in Windows Phone 7. Metro apps run full-screen without any …

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Anonymous Coward

Erm

"Microsoft is facing up to the million-dollar question: how does it compete with Apple's iPad and Google's Android when Windows was designed for keyboard and mouse rather than touch control?"

..and there I was thinking it was designed to crash!

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Anonymous Coward

You seem to have mistaken your joke for an operating system.

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Go

Windows 8 Tablets will pwn Android.

"...it will not be easy for Microsoft to establish it, given the dominance of iPad and the strength of Android in the tablet market"

Windows tablets will own, not because Windows on tablets better than Androind (I doubt it is), but because Microsoft will include enterprise tools and support that Google is unable to include in Android.

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Anonymous Coward

Thats right

Because the millions of consumers buying tablets have been screaming for enterprise tools - that and higher taxes.

I think Microsoft is fairly clueless on what consumers (not the techno nerds on this website) want in a tablet. Real people are not looking to drag their desktop computer around in a tablet. They want a simple, reasonable fast device that lets them play on the web, play games, play music/videos and check email, .....

Microsoft is stuck in the "Windows" rut and by god they are going to sell you a "Windows" computer no matter what you want.

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Enterprise tools...

...implies business use. That's where both Android and iOS fail.

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No, the original poster has a point

There are piles of people where I work that have tablets - and they get frustrated with shortcomings such as 'I can't access my documents' and 'where are my LOB apps' and 'why can't I open attachments to meeting invites' and 'why can't I book resources or see availability when I set up a meeting' - aqll shortcomings of a consumer device in a corporate world. These are issues that MS know about, and while they may not make such a dent in consumerland, corporates will be very keen indeed to deliver a seamless PC<->tablet experience for staff.

Whether it will 'own' is a different story, but they will have a compelling offering I think.

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Devil

Don't forget competitive licensing practices

The fact is that M$ have managed to get a number of android manufacturers to pay licenses to them. I can't see them not using this as a mechanism to leverage them back to a M$ OS.

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Happy

Spot On

Yep.. Remember the the day iPad was announced.. All the techno-nerds (fantastic word this is..) were expecting a OSX tablet and when it became clearer that it will be a big iPhone, they were literally crying..

Though the target market for this iteration may not be the common denomination user (my mum , grandma and all the related folks), I love the interface, dual touch - desktop combo and the pretty accurate pen based input.. Not an MS fan but a tablet fan.. Have not been this much excited after tc1100.. bring it on guys.. bring it on with light weight and a longer battery life.. I will buy two.. already starting to look at develping some cool apps for this...

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Anonymous Coward

I'm sorry

History and reality are against you. Many years ago the PC shoved mainframe terminals off the desktop. Users wanted it and IT was forced to make it happen.

If Microsoft continues to lose the consumer market the same thing is going to happen to the PC as Microsoft defines it.

1) Users are going to force IT to adopt to the new world ("I boxes" and droids). I work in one of the largest banks in the world and it is happening here. In a WEB driven world what does it matter what OS is driving the browser. (Lets see we went from Mainframe/ugly terminals to web Servers/Pretty screens. So much progress and so little change. {}:>)) )

2) The business market is way to small to sustain Microsoft desktop world. The money is selling stuff to consumers and Microsoft knows. ..

3) Microsoft is totally dependent on their partners to make the hardware. How long are the headset (and soon the desktop - see Compaq) makers going to spend so much money making so little (if any) profit..

Microsoft see every problem as a Windows solution waiting to happen. Someone needs to come in and say - I don't care what worked in the 90s today we are going to do what works for tomorrow.

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't answer the fundamental question

Quote: "Windows was designed for keyboard and mouse rather than touch control" [...] "the positive spin is that you get the best of both worlds: touch-friendly apps for tablet but full Windows when you need it"

There's still a paradox here. Windows 8 may be a hybrid, but it still doesn't change the fundamental problem that Windows programs aren't suited a touch interface. A touch interface will cripple Windows programs, but burdening a tablet with conventional peripherals and software destroys its raison d'etre (why not simply have a laptop?).

The idea that you can have a touch interface *and* regular Windows programs is a contradiction. You simply end up with an expensive device that isn't the best at anything (like all the other failed touch devices running Windows that have appeared over the last decade).

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Anonymous Coward

I think the idea is that new programs will be written/ported to the new touch UI, but that users still have the ability to connect a USB/Bluetooth keyboard and mouse if they need to use something that hasn't yet been converted.

Whether that actually pans out is a different matter though.

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Probably the right move

If MS had tried to create yet another OS to rival iOS and Android it would likely have tanked. If they can pull off this hybrid approach (and hopefully bring WP7 into the fold at some point) it could really pay off.

I have an iPad right now, but a Windows Tablet sounds like it would be inherently more capable- running fully fledged apps rather than locked down iOS alternatives, direct access to the file system, etc... of course, they could yet get it all wrong. But it's a very interesting start.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah sure

MS lost it... A me-too product with API bloat and no optimized apps What a plonker But they can't help it they don't see the big picture To a hammer every problem looks like a nail. Substitue Ballmer for hammer and sweatshop-produced code for nail

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Probably the right move

Yes you can see the application that can be made of a hybrid tablet, but that has always been Microsoft's problem. Like throwing out old clothes or furniture, the more difficult thing is recognizing what you don't need. Microsoft are keeping the house cluttered (just in case) but you rarely need the old and keeping it is just being weak willed. Another analogy. It's like cutting back old bushes. You need to be brutal and get rid of all the dead wood. Apple have been brutal in doing that already and now it's all healthy new growth. Microsoft don't want to see their bush be made smaller than their neighbors'. So they are keeping the old as well as the new. Compare the result and the one with the dead wood is still perhaps bigger (in feature list) but not as attractive.

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Silver badge

> Only Metro apps will be sold in the market place.

> Only apps from the market place will run on ARM

What happened to this amazing virtualization layer everyone was talking about that would allow all your old windows applications to run atop ARM? Did I dream it? Or was it only ever speculation?

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Holmes

Virtualisation is one thing ...

... usability another. You mix both. With a mouse one can relatively easily use an interface written for mouse use, and one can relatively easily access and click a zillion of buttons, links, drag, scroll and stuff. In short: very detailed structures are accessible. Try this with a finger! A mouse can access hundred different locations per one vertical line because its pointer arrow is very small. With a finger, and its diameter of easily half an inch, how many different locations can you distinguish vertically on a 10-inch screen? Not more than a dozen.

There is consequently no point to just run any application, if one needs an external mouse/keyboard as interface. So the interface paradigm of the tablet-based application needs to be fundamentally different. Look at the people left and right of you, when they 'thumb' through all those lists and screens, up and down and left and right. No user wants to learn two different interfaces for the same application.

Long story, short ending: no chance to run, like, MS-Office on a tablet, even if it runs.

It might even backfire, because the users will yell and scream if they can load the app, but not handle it.

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Headmaster

@Uwe Dippel RE "Virtualisation is one thing"

Microsoft are of course recompling Office to run on ARM and yes you will likely have to interact with it by means of keyboard and mouse. Tell me, are you seriously saying that you would wish, for example, to type a long Word document using a virtual keyboard? I personally think that for a lot of people being able to interact as they wish with the os (whether it is by "prodding" it, or keyboard/mouse combination or, yes, even taking notes with a stylus) dependent upon what they want to do may turn out to be a good solution. I certainly think that there are enough of our fellow earthlings who are capable of chewing gum and walking straight at the same time for them to be willing/happy "to learn two different interfaces for the same application." where they have reason to wish to interact with the app concerned in more than one way. It is also in the nature of the "form and function" equation that there will likely always be apps where the one or the other way of interacting with it will be better/more natural for the individual user.

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@ Uwe Dippel

You're kind of missing the point. I was hoping Windows 8 on ARM wouldn't just be limited to tablets.

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Thumb Down

Apps.....

DO you mean applications, or software or programmes ?

Please, stop using apps, or at least use the correct spelling app's'.

No, just use the full word. Make life easier.

P.

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Headmaster

I'm English & a bit of a pedant

but I think its unhelpful in the IT sphere to use words like "programmes" & "dialogue box", because most of the rest of the IT world spells them without the 'mes' & 'ue'.

It gives the false impression that there's a difference between a "computer programme" & a "computer program" when you mean the same thing. I immediately think of a TV programme about computers instead.

Outside of the IT world is another thing entirely.

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Windows

Yet to be convinced

My PC has a lot of real estate and while I want as much content on it as possible, I need all of my common tasks to be quickly available through a simple keyboard or mouse gesture.

My phone/tablet, on the other hand, do not have a lot of real estate and having tasks hidden until I make a clear gesture to find them is an acceptable productivity hit.

So, is Windows 8 really two OS's rolled in to one, or will the tablet interface be like Media Center, an application on top of Windows "Classic"?

Maybe I'm an exceptional case, but the convergence doesn't feel like a step forward to me...

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FAIL

Brave mostly equals stupid

Just what MS needs - another incompatible and incomplete programming interface. They haven't even finished burying Silverlight yet

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Interesting

From history I'm 95% sure that MS will allow Enterprises to deploy whatever they want to the ARM machines - just consumers that will be limited. Bit of a shame really but can see why.

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Anonymous Coward

First we abused your CPU horsepower, then we filled your bigger disk with crap, quickly followed by memory bloat to waste the money you shelled out on a RAM upgrade. Try the new Windows 8 where we will waste pixels with loads of unused space and mega icons.

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Metro?

"Metro". Really?

I guess they've never heard of Austin Rover's darkest hour.

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Meh

@ Flugal

I guess you've never been in a Metro 6R4...

Not exactly ideal for a trip to the shops, but fsck were they quick!

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FAIL

What will Metro Cost?

It sure won't be Free like the daily comic that I see sheeple reading on the train.

It might even be the same quality, viz dross (with a bit of luck)

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A lot of 'metro' sexuals out there like these tablet things to pose with while supping their fancy frapachino in Starbucks..

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Anonymous Coward

What ! don't you even like Nemi ?

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WTF?

More confusion from MS

Microsoft really need to get a consistent story here... why did they not make Silverlight the default XAML based environment for Windows 8 - this would have provided consistency between W8 and WP7 and also helped ease developer concerns about the future of the platform.

It would have meant building a .NET runtime capable of running Silverlight on ARM but this would have provided an easy path for existing developers to develop for Windows on tablets.

Yet another development environment, more fragmentation, disrespect for their developers - one almost misses the sweaty Ballmer monkey jumping around a stage screaming developers, developers, developers. Almost.

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Because...

...the default XAML environment for Windows is WPF. Silverlight is too much of a lightweight for tablets. It's the reverse of when everyone said Windows Phone should run on tablets. And only because iOS runs on tablets and phones.

The underlying architecture in Silverlight was never designed for rich client applications. When originally conceived, it was designed for rich Internet applications.

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FAIL

Em... Silverlight and WPF have been on a convergent path for ages. It was always Microsoft's plan to merge the two codebases.

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I can't say it looks that great from such a small picture, but its good that Microsoft are finally moving away from the tired Start button and program menu. Aside from a few cosmetics, Windows 7 is the same as Windows 95.

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Totally dude!

And aside from the penguin, Linux is no different to Xenix. When I grow up I want to be just like you.

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Is consistency a problem?

So Win7 looks similar to Win95/NT4. And they both look similar to RISCOS2 if you want to fire up the 1.21 jiggawatts. But (for the most part) the interface works. It's supposed to be a tool, not a fashion statement. After all, do car manufacturers go out of their way to hide all the controls every few years just to amke a fashion statement? Except Renault of course.

Hey, maybe the new interface will work well - I don't know. What I do know, though, is it'll piss me off trying to find the same old settings in their new hidey-holes...

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WTF?

Why is there a "desktop" in ARM?

If only Metro apps are allowed on ARM (and the app store is the only way to install something), what is the "traditional" Windows desktop for? Why is it even present in the ARM version?

I'm confused.

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Trollface

Just like consumers will be....

W7 will probably be the next "XP" (in the "death grip"/"cold,dead hands" sense)

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Bronze badge

Why?

Because there will be a server variant, and the Metro interface will cut zero ice with sys admins.

Secondly, you can bet that corporate desktops won't be running Metro. There will be a way to make the traditional desktop the default, bank on it.

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Thumb Up

looks awesome to me,

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Please god

Just ditch the ****ing ribbons

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The ribbon will make using the classic desktop with a finger easier in my opinion.

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Linux

Just great

So: Intel is hurt (and AMD perhaps even more) - Microsoft really is serious about breaking Intel and Windows on ARM. And by "serious", I mean determined to put Windows users into their own walled garden alongside all the other little controlled little gardens springing up everywhere. Oh crap - Linux never looked better than today. Hope that particular alternative won't be taken away too.

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Linux

Who knows?

Maybe 5 years hence, everyone's metaphorical granny will be using Debian...

I can dream.

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Facepalm

Why didn't you guys only ADD Metro ?

If I'd ever get myself a tablet I'd sure be looking into Windows 8. Not because I think its better than the competition, but because the demo's I've seen look good, I'd end up on an environment I'm already familiar with and it would easily blend in with my current environment.

But if I'd ever got myself a new PC (knowing that companies will eventually dump the latest and greatest on it pre-installed "because") I'd either insist on getting Win7 (professional) or "downgrade" myself. If this is the future of Windows then sorry but count me out!

Why, oh why did you guys /replace/ the start menu with that metro stuff (as finally mentioned in this article; all demo's so far have been very vague there) ? You could just have added it :(

Haven't you learned ANYTHING from the Vista disaster? Apparently not, shame on you!

Very simplified example as why I think Metro is going to s*ck big time:

Win7: I click start and /directly/ above are the 8 (my setup) most commonly used programs. I move my mouse up, click and /wham/. I'm there. Optionally I can hoover and wait for the jumplist to appear so that I can open a specific file directly.

Win8: I click start and then risk having to move my mouse all the way to the upper right corner of the screen because the program I want to start is located there as a tile. WTF?

Am I so smart to recognize a potential problem here or are these guys perhaps too obsessed with tables that they totally forget (and ignore) all the PC users out there?

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I bet (and hope) there will be a GPO to get rid of Metro for corporate use.

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In a way this feels similar to the Gnome/KDE/LXDE competition you have on Linux. What is wrong with Windows having two separate views (under the MVC ethos), one designed for tablets and one designed for mouse and keyboard?

People may disagree, but Microsoft when challenged can make excellent software. They wouldn't be where they were if they didn't. Windows 7 is evidence of that.

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Sounds familiar...

"the positive spin is that you get the best of both worlds: touch-friendly apps for tablet but full Windows when you need it."

Sounds like Lion. Which I'm not really enjoying to be perfectly honest.

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Windows

Just a few points currently:

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1.

"Tap this one, and presto, you are back in the familiar Windows user interface, though this is as frustrating as ever if you try to run apps using touch alone."

Why on earth would you? Since you would surely launch the traditional desktop if you *intended* to interact with the device with mouse and keyboard?

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"A critical factor is whether Metro apps will cover enough features so that tablet users will rarely need to venture into the desktop."

They will surely venture into the desktop when they wish to use the aforementioned keyboard and mouse for those tasks which are not suited to touch. For example, a usage scenario: I have my shiny new windows fondleslab sitting in a dock on a shelf in our TV bench connected to our TV via our receiver and I wish to post some more wisdom at El Reg from the comfort of my arm chair. Am I going to use the touch UI? Of course not, I will launch desktop and use my wireless keyboard and mouse just as I am doing right now as I type this.

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I note that several on the thread appear to have physic powers inasmuch as they already "know" that Win8 is going to be totally pants. I have a seriously radical suggestion. Why don't we wait until we have actually had some hands-on time with a Win8 build (at least a stable beta or better still the RC installed on a device with a touchscreen) *before* we form an opinion about how well its been implemented? You know, something so seriously cutting edge as *knowledge-based* criticism.

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Joke

"...I wish to post some more wisdom at El Reg from the comfort of my ARM chair"

Now there's a form factor no one seems to have considered...

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Thumb Up

@n4blue Yes my shiny's SoC has built in furniture.......

.................try getting that in a 7 inch form-factor!

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