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back to article Windows 8 fondleslabs: Microsoft tip-toes through PC-makers' disaster

2012 should be a landmark year for Microsoft. It will be the year 2011 should have been. The reason is simple: the company’s play to take on tablet computing should finally hit the road. Windows 8 will be delivered with an interface that liberates Microsoft’s operating system from the desktop prison of mouse and keyboard and …

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Gimp

Patch Tuesdays

Will those tablets have a "Patch Tuesday" every month?

I can really see the World+Dog looking forward to that.

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Stop

Choose Your Poison...

Do users look forward to Android bug fixes sold as new "confectionary".

Do users look forward to over-bloated multi-gig downloads for their OSX (Insert Feline Here) updates?

I suspect not.

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Anonymous Coward

Meh...

Everyone hates updates. I hate updating Linux, I hate updating Windows, I hate updating Macs and UNIXes etc. etc. At lest with Windows I know when the thing that I hate doing is going to arrive and can, if not plan for it, at least not be surprised by it.

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"At lest [sic] with Windows I know when the thing that I hate doing is going to arrive"

I suppose that's some consolation. But the constant, anticipated patch stream is not a sign of quality, is it?

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Anonymous Coward

@Adam

A bit like every other OS on the market then. It's just that with Windows I know when to expect updates, not to just expect them to turn up some time.

Hardly a week goes by without a large amount of updates for RHEL/Fedora/Ubuntu/Suse/etc sometimes it's one or two, other times it's thirty odd, all on different days. If you pay attention to the activity in unstable releases, you may get an idea of when they'll turn up, but it'd be a hell of a task. I'm also waiting for a fix to GCC to turn up that's going to make my Arduino dev environment work again, it's been nearly two months since the first fix was in the unstables.

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Anonymous Coward

Choose Your Psion

Well, that's how I read "Choose Your Poison" first time.

Frankly, I wish I still could.

Still, moving from Epoc to Windows didn't do Psion any harm did it.

Oh.

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Gold badge

Well the problem is they have two platforms, WP7 and Windows both that will soon support touch.

It's not a big job to scale up the facilities in WP7 to a tablet. But it is a astronomical job to scale down desktop Windows to a tablet.

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Maybe, maybe not. MS can play a long game.

XBox took a long time but it is starting to get there.

Windows 7 ticks a lot of boxes for a consumer OS. Possibly their best effort on current hardware at least.

I don't know how the mix of phones, tablets, IBM or Mac PCs running Linux, Windows, QNX, Android or Mac OS X will look like going forward. So I don't know how much growth in tablets, say, will come at the expense of desktop/ laptop sales. Will people convert, or end up with more than one type of device?

MS might have time to get Windows 8 or its bastard children right before it's too late. I'm not aware of any serious challenges to Windows on a desktop in the corporate space. I have some mad ideas about it, but then again I don't have to engineer it, test, sell it to upper management and try to get directors to agree to use it.

MS's WinPho is possibly going to gain traction if Nokia can sell their smartphones to upgrading users. I doubt they'll ever lead, but they'll outlast RIM.

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Four years late to deliver?

Apple were very late to the mobile phone party. Back when the first iphone launched Nokia still reigned supreme. The iphone, we were told, was missing 'killer features' like cut-and-paste. And it represented a significant architectural change from Apple's other products too.

And as regards the negative direction on the bottom line: Apple haven't always had it their own way either. The Gil Amelio era wasn't that long ago - remember the ipad's grandad? The Newton?

Being late doesn't *automatically* mean you'll fail. But it does mean you need a bloody good product, with broad appeal, that has something intangible that the others don't offer. I'm not holding my breath on this one but history has at least shown that it can be done.

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Anonymous Coward

Eh?

There are tens of thousands of apps for WP7, there are bazillions of apps for Windows 7, what makes you think that apps are going to be the problem? Possibly, specific ARM apps will be an issue, but only for ARM tablets, not x86 tablets.

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Facepalm

Abandoning .NET - Get real!

Sorry Eadon, but this is tosh... Microsoft are not abandoning .NET. C# 5 is in the pipeline as is VS2012 which will primarily be focused on .NET. Just because Microsoft have stopped pursuing the idea of having .NET clients (silverlight) deployed across the board does not equate to abandoning .NET. As a development platform .NET is used in all kinds of scenarios, much of which is server side development (asp.net, asp.net MVC, WCF to name a couple). Let's say you want to create a HTML 5 app using MS technologies, you would likely go for ASP.NET MVC as the server side of the equation.... So please stop repeating rubbish you read on some other forum.

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Bronze badge

Apps

The challenge Microsoft faces is two fold- "What can I do with it", and "What am I willing to pay for it. The basic functions of web browsing and e-mail must work flawlessly. Social networking must work flawlessly. There need to be entertainment, business, and content apps available. But what will really determine the uptake is price. If Microsoft prices their Tablets at or above Apple, they will fail, no matter what whiz bang hardware is present. Android and WebOS have already proven that few people are willing to pay for an iPad priced device. If they hit the sweet spot with a WiFi $399, they might have a chance, but if they make the same blunder that the Xoom and others made by starting with a 3G or 4G Tablet, they will fail. No one wants to pay for two data plans, in this global economy. So Microsoft needs to keep Balmer uninvolved in the decision and they might have some hope. Release date is key too, because everyone is waiting to see what Apple will do next. If Apple releases a 7" iPad at the $399 price point, everyone else is toast.

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FAIL

I want to pay for two data plans. A decade or more ago when Sun were advertising "the network is the computer" they got slated for it, but they were right - they were just a few years ahead of their time. A computing device without always-on connectivity - which means wifi when available, 3G/EDGE/GPRS the rest of the time - is not fit for purpose these days. I *really* regret being a cheapskate and buying the Wifi-only version of the iPad.

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Anonymous Coward

Then define your purpose.

I specifically choose items which do not have always-on connectivity. A life without dark has no light.

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Silver badge

I have a phone with a data plan, and I can use it as a personal wifi hotspot that lets my laptop, iPod touch and iPad connect when I am away from home. I also have a couple of battery powered chargers that deal with the large amount of power the wifi hotspot sucks out of the phone.

The only reason I went for the 3G kindle is because it doesn't have any ongoing costs to use the 3G network.

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FAIL

And you forgot

MSFT must convince users with the fugly Metro interface. Would you be caught using something that looks like a fisher-price toy, a bad copy of Android's widgets with half the functionality? I know I wouldn't.

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Happy

Well....

....they buy iOS devices, don't they?

GJC

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re: fisher-price toy

people used to say that about xp...

i believe it was nicknamed the 'telly-tubby' interface

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Happy

Indeed

"Windows for TellyTubbies" (after the style of "Windows for Workgroups") got quite a few laughs from my customers when it was first released.

GJC

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FAIL

WinRT does not require .NET

This post talks about WinRT more or less requiring Silverlight / WPF / .NET

The whole point of WinRT is that it doesn't, it opens up to many more developers. You can write Metro-themed HTML + Javascript apps, or C++ apps, and they'll be using the same WinRT layout engine.

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FAIL

No, it doesn't

On the contrary, it makes the point that developers are pretty pissed that their investments in .NET and Silverlight are looking bad right now because everything is moving to WinRT and an updated COM. Speaking as one such, why should I trust that WinRT will survive as a long term platform?

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Developers that are pissed that technology changes shouldn't be developing.

Just as assembly programmers resented C

C programmers to C++

Basic to VB

VB to .Net and thence c#

None of these technologies have died out, it's just that Markets have expanded and contracted to suit the needs of a market place.

If you expect to make a killer living doing one language your whole life then you are in for disappointment.

I personally love learning new languages and technologies, currently I make a living in the .Net space but more and more of my time is now spent with Javascript and HTML5. To not expect OS vendors to move with these times and provide platforms and tooling for newer technologies is a farce.

Personally, I would be more concerned if I were an Objective C dev at the moment, at least I have a decent sized server side install base to rely on for putting food on the table.

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Holmes

CPU monogamy

"Windows 8 also ends Microsoft’s decades-old history of x86 monogamy by going with ARM"

"Windows NT 3.1 was released for Intel x86 PC compatible, DEC Alpha, and ARC-compliant MIPS platforms. Windows NT 3.51 added support for the PowerPC processor in 1995, specifically PReP-compliant systems such as the IBM Power Series desktops/laptops and Motorola PowerStack series..." (Windows NT Wikipedia page)

Windows NT 4.0 ran on DEC Alpha as well as Intel.

Various people also ported NT to Sparc and Clipper though these weren't released.

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Boffin

and WinCE ran on ARM, MIPS, and the Hitachi SH-3.

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You forgot

You forgot the Itanic.

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Anonymous Coward

NT4 kept the PPC and MIPS too

and a beta of 2000 for the Alpha is kicking around somewhere if you look hard enough.

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Silver badge

Everyone else forgot or ignored the Itanic as well.

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x86 monogamy? Short memories

Microsoft has happily ported to non-x86 platforms when they felt it suited them - at one point Windows NT ran on Alpha, PowerPC and MIPS, if I recall.

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But by then

there will be shed loads of discounted goods with the same 'windows capabilities'* in the sales and the after sales and the easter sales....

'windows capabilities' - the lack of ability to run the office software you think you need - it wont be on your windows slab and it wont be on the just as capable but 1/.2 the price one either.

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Ummm... why won't office be on it? Its on my wifes WP7 (in a cut down but very useable format) and i've also got office capable apps on my Galaxy S2.

So, why do you think it won't be on Windows 8 tablets?

p.s. and I do use it on my phone, very handy actually when I'm not at my pc and I need to check asset registry's etc (Excel mainly) or reading attachments emailed to me (word docs).

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Happy

Another mobile MS adventure

They're hopeful to turn around a series of disasters in mobile persistent since 2003. It will be interesting to see if they can pull it off.

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Thumb Up

Want to make a killer tablet? Talk to my 8 year old son...

If MS produces a tablet that does everything Ipads, Kindles and Andoid slabs do now they could win ALL the marbles. And developers would flock to it.

In fact, just the other day, it was my 8 year son who wisely opined that a tablet which successfully combined both IPad and Kindle functionality would be REALLY COOL. Since he has already played with both products, I consider him as well (or even better) informed than many market "insiders". Based on his succint and unbiased advice, I have decided not to buy any new slab until the dust (and prices) settle a bit further and the technology is cooler.

This is why I think a decently connected, convergent tablet that runs Skype,Office and Angry Birds, gives me access to online books, cheap downloadable apps/games/music might be just the ticket (or tablet) in this increasingly crowded tabloid marketplace. And if competitively priced ..... why I'd even BUY one. I also believe Mr. Ballmer has figured this out too (and without throwing any furniture...). .

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Anonymous Coward

Good work there Captain Obvious. Not guaranteed it'll sell on tablets though... or Phones... oh because people don't associate those items with Microsoft. Just computers?

Anyhoo. People moan about new changes with MS stuff for a few reasons, every new interface is that slight bit more dumbed down than before. Which is why people don't like the new ones but defend one they previously didn't like. Don't worry though it's fairly apparent everyone's going down this borderline retarded route though, as everyone is too busy licking windows to learn how to use an actual computer and as such we get Lion, Ubuntu 11.04 and Metro.

Oh, and a unified OS for Tablets, Phones and PCs is retarded. Unified core is fine. Unified UI is not.

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Silver badge
FAIL

stfu Ballmer

Apple shipped what 40 million tablets this year. That's nearly as many total PS3 sold in five years. One only needs to look at Acer finances to see what tablets have done to the low end netbook/notebook market. Yep Micro$oft moves in to a new market and takes over like it did with Zune, Bing and the Kin or even wm7.

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Anonymous Coward

I hope there is never a world without Microsoft

Watching so many smart people (+Ballmer) fail repeatedly is strangely soothing.

Office may sell, but people that I see aren't using their tablets to prepare documents, it is email, media and games, of which there are many more of those in the App Store or Google Marketplace.

Will an MS tablet even have the catalogue of apps developed for WinPho7? These will not have been written using WinRT, so even if they are available, they will be a different class of app than 'native' apps.

At our company, we always aim to be first to market in a particular field. If we can't be first, we make damn sure we are second to market, and that our product is much better than the first to market. If we would be third to market, we don't bother - they never make much money, if at all.

I'm glad Ballmer is determined to prove this wrong. Fun and games.

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No, watching Microsoft's slow slide into irrelevance is good enough for me.

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Gimp

Hmmm... and who said sarcasm and irony were dying arts?

Nice handle, do you mind if I borrow it for my next post?

I will blame my missed point on the Register's blatant lack of an irony icon. Fanboi will have to do.

AC, I fail to see who is really proposing a unified OS here (Apple?). And a unified UI has worked fine for MS for many, many years. On the other hand, if this tablet thingy is to become anything more than a shiny (and developmentally challenged) boy-toy, it must do everything a PC does now and more. IMHO, the slab is already hitting a brick wall. No business buyers can take them seriously, at least not yet.

For all that to happen, the slab must run Office and those many other things that working people need. That means it must successfuly emulate well known OS, CPU architectures and instruction sets (virtualization anyone?). It means the company that successfully cracks that nut will WIN the tablet wars. Even a flatter laptop that comfortably emulated 95 % of a standard windows box would still appeal. That is because today, tablet-buyers must choose between multiple nichey environments and remain shackled to a couple of apps stores. Its like a 1980's déjà vu all over again. No one seriously considered running their businesses on gaming consoles back then either. And one subliminal point that keeps coming up in this discussion is that no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft (or not too often anyway).

Me, I'd like a slab that elegantly emulates my favorite OS(es) and still runs my funky screen based programs (and actually lets me do some work as well). The slip on keyboard remains a bit silly, but it helps make the slab act like a computer and is thus a necessary evil compromise.

The slab will either eat the desktop for breakfast one day or remain another failed and faddish attempt to break the mold and change the world. MS actually has the money to pull that one off, but I fear the marketing geeks that still run too many tech companies today will keep this from happening in our lifetimes. Much better to keep those consumers filling up the tablet trough with money until someone transforms it into a useful tool.

Let the flaming begin....

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Coat

Windows will no longer be out of touch?

Sorry, I'll get me coat

BTW what is a "flay-away iPad"? Some SM fondleslab?

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Anonymous Coward

You will excuse me...

...If I don't pay too much attention to all you comments analysts who I remember did so well prophesying the failure of the IPad. As we all know that bombed "SOOO" spectacularly just like you all said.

An awful lot of people have been waiting to see what else comes up in tablets since neither the apple nor the kindle fill their needs. Maybe this is it. Maybe it isn't. Wont know, will we, until there is something to actually look at and touch. Whatever happened to that old excitement at the prospects of something new and/or different in tech to fiddle with?

Personally a windows tablet appeals more to me than an iOS or an Android ever did. Bugger batter life (though isnt that more to do with the processors being used than anything else?), and weight and double bugger thinness; who cares? My tablet would never leave the couch or the bedroom and books will be read on a nice 6" eink reader. Course, that still doesn't mean I'll get one. I'm still unsure why I would actually need one in the first place.

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Unsure why you'd need one?

The stark truth is, you don't, I don't and nor does anyone else. I don't have a slab myself yet, but to gauge from those I know who do, this is purely about "want" and nothing to do with "need".

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WTF?

So

What you are telling us is that you are the exact sort of person who didn't buy all the crap Windows tablets that were made during the last 10 years.

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While your statement might well be true. . .

"The stark truth is, you don't, I don't and nor does anyone else. I don't have a slab myself yet, but to gauge from those I know who do, this is purely about "want" and nothing to do with "need"."

While your statement might well be true, whether people "need" to spend their money or merely "want" to spend their money is irrelevant. in the final analysis, only the quantity of money spent matters.

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@Andy Fletcher

You don't need a TV either but I bet you have one.

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Facepalm

What kind of a Microsoft propaganda piece is this el Reg?

I have been a loyal Windows user for 15 years now. I love Windows 7. However, for the first time Microsoft is making me want to abandon Windows altogether.

By sidelining the mainstream Windows user with this tablet fad (which hopefully will die off soon as the iPad Reality Distortion Field dies out), and forcing the ugly, inconsistent and pointless extra "Metro" user interface upon users and telling them that the desktop is merely "legacy", Microsoft has completely lost the plot. It's nothing other than Microsoft trying to use its dominant position in the PC market to bully its way into the phone market.

2012 and Windows 8 will be the notable milestone marking the start of the decline of the Windows dominance. The only question is which Linux distro to move to? I would like it as Windows 7-like as possible -- I assume that means that I should be going for something with KDE?

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@Paul

You do realize that you can use Windows 7 for at least 5 more years to come (EOL for Professional lies around 2018 - 2019) ? Although you could check up with Linux I'd suggest sitting it out for now. If you like using this environment why change when its still fully alive and supported?

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Windows

Having actually used the current release of Windows 8

(Yes, I know, very bad form to post based on actual experience rather than wishes and biases, but there you go....)

I should point out the Microsoft are covering all bases, giving Windows 8 both Metro and "classic" Windows 7-style interfaces, so you can use whichever one is most relevant to your needs.

I think this introduces some interesting new possibilities, with a common environment across desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone, but it's too early yet to know how it will play out.

One thing I have learnt over my thirty years in this industry, however - never write off Microsoft. They are past masters at playing the long game, and many times they have appeared to b terminally lagging behind the competition, only to come out with products that proved that whilst slow, they were also methodical and careful in their development.

GJC

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Anonymous Coward

One word to help it succeed.

Business.

Get Office / lync / Sharepoint and every other bit of clobber working well and you have opened up a world of millions of users.

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