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back to article Tiny pile of Windows 8 ARM slabs slated for October

It’s not the timing but the numbers that are really interesting when it comes to Windows 8’s planned delivery. Bloomberg reports Microsoft is planning to “finish work on Windows 8 this summer” with the client operating system going on sale “around” October. People of few words, it’s often said, are more direct: Bloomberg couldn’ …

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sounds plausible

Whatever the 'holiday seasnon' effect, good to remember iPad was launched in March, same with iPad 2 and 3 so I wouldn't be hasty like some to mark WOA October as a potential fail point for Microsoft.

In fact a deferred launch with a flagship WOA tablet or ten in March/April 2013 would make a lot of sense. By that time Tegra 4 based tablets vs. iPad 4 could be an interesting competition and WOA would avoid the 'catch up' aura of Android in the tablet space that might attach to an October launch.

Surely Microsoft will have finally decided on a brand name for WOA by Summer so vendors could do something for October, at least to target developers. Hard to see room for a hit product so early. Personally I'm not interested in WOA until theres a quad-core iPad competitor unless I need one for WOA dev. work and not holding breath on that.

As far as x86 Win8 tablets/convertables before Christmas, pricing and specs are still complete unknowns so dteailed speculation pretty fruitless. A product with thought out spec. and aggressive priicing for holiday season could be a game changer but given the Ultrabook debacle hard not to be sceptical whether PC vendors have learned yet what needs to be done to make a successful x86 tablet. Also, Intel need to bring 22nm into thespace before the Win8 tablet platform can really shine on x86, as with WOA a matter for 2013.

Next year should be interesting, not least because of heavy pressure on Apple to change the yearly update model that has worked so well and pushed stock into the stratosphere. .

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FAIL

Re: sounds plausible

>Also, Intel need to bring 22nm into thespace before the Win8 tablet platform can really shine on x86, as with WOA a matter for 2013.

Dream on considering even Ivy Bridge has already been delayed. Even with Intel's manufacturing might x86 won't sell in volume on tablets in 2013. Nobody wants a fan blowing hot air on their tablets and Atom will continue to be a POS (x86 architecture not energy efficient by nature) until at least 2014.

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FAIL

Re: sounds plausible

Maybe maybe (huge if based on vast prior history) Intel gets a viable ARM tablet competitor chip out (lol might join em instead and be an ARM derivative) in mid to late 2013 but it won't ship in volume until 2014 is what I mean to say.

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Re: sounds plausible

The Cedar Trail version of Atom @ 32nm is SoC and does not need a fan. I believe it runs at about 5 watts and has much improved, world class no, GPU performance.

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FAIL

Re: sounds plausible

LMAO 5 watts. Not quite an order of magnitude higher in energy usage (including gpu) but darn close. Might not need a fan but tripling size and or weight for battery is probably not ideal either.

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Paris Hilton

Quantity over quality?

"If Microsoft is putting less than five WOA tablets into the market – of which, let’s say one is a reader – for Christmas, then it will have fired a blank against Apple."

Why? Because they need dozens of tablets rather than just one good one? Apple tend to just have the one model (with minor variations), and it tends to dominate the market - so I'd say this is utterly wrong.

Unless of course it's unable to compete as a device, so it has to compete with diversity and price.

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Re: Quantity over quality?

"compete as a device"? Of course not. Taking on the iPad directly would be suicidal. Wrong badge on the outside for a start and there ain't much that'll make up for that in the minds of the great unwashed.

So the only weapons at their disposal are diversity and price. Diversity to tempt the techies who care about specific areas of functionality (or don't care about others for that matter) and price to tempt everyone into giving it a whirl.

Starting from scratch to eke out a market against a product as mature and well-entrenched as the iPad is going to be a bit of a miracle if they pull it off though.

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Re: the only weapons at their disposal are diversity and price

They also have the absolute firmware lock in designed into the WOA hardware spec.

MSFT probably think that's a compelling feature for potential clients like Amazon. Instead of playing whack-a-mole with exploits they could deploy a Win8 based Kindle and only have to fight Microsoft for control of users devices, not the users.

A 4-5 niche device launch could be aimed at getting incumbent suppliers to jump platform from Android to something more closed than directly influencing the public. It's a quicker way to mass deployments than fighting directly in the market and brings the chance of selling mutiple licences to each punter.

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I think it will slip

The consumer preview was pretty awful from a desktop experience point of view. I really don't see how they could go from that to RTM in the space of 4 or 5 months.

I could see them releasing the ARM tablet version first on the basis that Metro is pretty much working as intended and the tablets will have little need (and probably won't even get) the classic desktop where most of the mess still remains.

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Re: I think it will slip

"The consumer preview was pretty awful from a desktop experience point of view. "

Really? Working pretty damn well here as a desktop and a tablet.

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Re: I think it will slip

Well then you're using it in a superficial way or not paying attention. The metro gui is an incredibly clumsy replacement for the start menu.

A simple example would be to consider what metro looks like with 20-30 program groups installed compared to start. In start you get a compact alphabetically sorted list. In Metro you get a mess sprawling out horizontally. It must use 3x the mouse travel. Can you rearrange this list? Yes one selected at a time, not rubber banded. Can you shrink the launchers into something more manageable? Nope though there is an overview mode. If you have a multi screen set up do you always have two bottom corners to put the mouse into? No. If you miss the minute hot zone you can accidentally hit IE a lot of the time. Are the metro apps much use for desktop use? No they're primitive. Does metro make much concession to the large size of some monitors? No making it wasteful and tiring on the eyes. And so on.

It's just very clumsy. I don't care if they replace the Start Menu with something else but that something else must be functionally and productively equivalent, i.e. there needs to be an analog for everything a user might be expected to do and it must do it in equivalent or less times. The metro UI doesn't provide that by a long shot.

It would be adequate for tablets but it stinks for a desktop. If Microsoft release something resembling the preview then they're take a lot of heat. IMO they should delay or at least provide a fallback to a traditional start menu for those who want it.

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Re: I think it will slip

"Well then you're using it in a superficial way or not paying attention. The metro gui is an incredibly clumsy replacement for the start menu."

How can I be using it in a "superficial way" or "not paying attention" to something I use for 9 hours a day since consumer preview launch? Been using it every day in the office as a laptop and as a tablet at home. I'm in IT ..... so I guess I use it how I use it and as a tablet/pc hybrid it works perfectly for me (Well the Sammy S7S anyway).

Things people don't get is MS is aiming this at a touch screen market; yes, yes, heard all the arguments - almost all of which are "touchscreens are useless as a desktop" and "tired arms" etc .... no, they are not in my 2 year plus experience of dual Iiyama 21" touchscreen setup at home and a HP TX2 for work. - Don't think "REPLACE" mouse and keyboard, think COMPLEMENT. MS are trying to take the next generation of monitors and get them to include touchscreen, well why not? My two Iiyama's were not expensive and they are 24" capacitives, prices can only come down with economies of scale.

Mind you, most (not all! for example you have obviously used Win 8) of the people slagging it off are just "jumping on the bandwagon" of what they read others post about who obviously haven't used it either.

I honestly don't think MS have got the "How to use it" message across very well and I think THIS is the downfall at the moment. After all, it is only a preview and I have no doubt these things will be enhanced according to the "Feedback" options; you are using these, right?

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Re: I think it will slip

You said it yourself, they're aiming for the touchscreen market. That's why I think it will appear first on ARM tablets before having to worry about legacy devices. If you take out the classic desktop then the experience is probably fine. People want big chunky finger friendly buttons in a tablet / touch device. They'll have less apps to worry about and can flick the screen around easily. They also probably would drag icons around one at a time. The smaller screen means Metro won't be a gross waste of space either, or at least not as bad.

It's with a mouse and a large screen that it's a different story. I'm sure MS will overload the Windows key with shortcuts but that isn't much of an excuse for degrading the mouse experience and replacing something neat and compact with a sprawling painful-to-manage mess. I've seen some very reasonable critiques of Windows 8 and most of them centre on the fact that Metro is not providing the UI that best suits mouse use and is extremely unrefined.

If they launch to desktop without some substantial changes to the current experience or a "class" start menu for those who want it I think they'll be skinned alive by the press.

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Anonymous Coward

Well...

Judging by the amount of cables coming from that tablet they demoed the other day which locked up I think it's a good time to buy shares in 3rd party accessory companies that supply things like replacement cables...

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Re: Well...

None of which were compulsory.

Thats a Samsung Series 7, the same as the one I have on my desk right now. One was a USB connection, not sure what its connecting to, maybe storage? Another the power cable and the other HDMI. Not sure why they had the power cable, mine lasts 5 to 6 hours on charge and well obviously, they needed the HDMI to plug in to the projector/lcd.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well...

What are the odds that the tablet was just a front end, and the OS was running on a PC in the corner? :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well...

Can't imagine it's connecting to 'data' The iPad is the spawn of the devil and that doesn't have a SD card slot but the golden child of Balmer must be ran on devices with an SD slot....

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Re: Well...

"Can't imagine it's connecting to 'data' "

Why not? Mines got a 32gb USB fob in it right now.

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Mysterious disappearance

http://www.fixingwindows8.com/ referred to in the article has lost all its content - I wonder what happened there.

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FAIL

Windows on Life Support

Wow, they do seem to be running around like headless chickens. Suddenly all this fanfare about WOA seems to be a huge 'much ado'...

On the one hand they've completely retooled their OS to behave like a tablet OS, then rather than coming out strong on their change of direction they completely retreat into the old model of going with x86 and whilst punting a few WOA tablets on the side.

What's going to happen to WOA - it will be truly DOA as developers realise they don't need to port their x86 apps or develop for a new platform since MS are clearly not aiming for a huge market here - just an also-ran e-reader to compete against Kindle (which they've recently decided is where they want to place themselves).

I can see the Currys/Best Buy conversations now. "Well, yes, it's Windows but it's not like a full version of Windows... you won't be able to install your existing desktop apps on it - why don't you have a look at this rather more uglier and bulkier tablet running full Windows".

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WOA

I've got a WinPho and while I like Metro on it, its feature set has a long way to go before it catches up to Android or iOS. I suspect WinPho 7.5 was rushed to market with a minimal set of features. I expect these tablets will be the same.

That said, does anyone remember the original iPhone's feature set? No 'push'-email for 6 months, and it a took 18 months before copy-and-paste appeared.

These tablets may turn out to be $hyt3 but in the longer term, there is a possibility the MS juggernaut may just catch-up or even exceed the feature set of the competition.

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"If WOA does come in October, then Microsoft will have scored a symbolic victory"

Eh ? Of what ? Over whom ?

s/scored a symbolic victory/achieved something/

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Anonymous Coward

Dont' forget - MS doesn't make such devices, so you can simply forget them being successful in the ipad-way. On the other hand, If they come out generically as "windows 8 tablet" or similar, you will hear chirping crickets sales-wise. This is another android-webOS-blackberry-class OS taken by mfrs and installed on yet more black slabs. I *guarantee* these will flop, simply because they can't be quickly flooded into the market the way android can. Hence the ecosystem can never take root. If phones have flopped, forget tablets. Also, I suspect MS can't be terribly interested in ARM tabs as they run on lower cost (profit) software than full PCs (of which they are potentially competing with themselves).

There's a reason android tabs continue to flood the marketplace (despite appearing poorly sold, when viewed through ipad-goggles) - the massive ecosystem you get with it (and its free). An android based fondleslab doesn't have to be anywhere remotely ipad successful - its just another product to put out that will sell at least a certain # of units because its android.

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> MS doesn't make such devices

And that means that there will be two companies trying to take a profit. In the case of Microsoft it is likely that this will be a fixed 'tax' for WOA and OOA (Office On ARM) or a higher price for Windows 8 and Office on x86.

It seems to me that WOA tablets will be approx the same features as iPad2 or current top Android but priced higher than iPad3 while iPad2 has dropped in price. W8 (Weight, Windows ate my homework) tablets will be more expensive due to Intel CPU, bigger batteries, requirement for keyboard, mouse, docking station, etc and for W8 and full Office and virus software.

Any price cutting will be from the manufacturer's profit, except for Nokia where MS will give them a bung and piss off everyone else.

I suspect that HP may be one of those releasing a WOA tablet, a revised WebOS tablet. It seems to me that HP relies on the discounts and 'advertising partnerships' that it gets on MS products in order to make a profit. These depend on 'loyalty' where HP would ship Windows on devices that could run it. WebOS was on ARM and MS did not have a suitable OS at that time. But then WOA was announced. The options may have been 'drop WebOS and make WOA tablets' or 'lose discounts on all your PCs'.

This is a rerun of cheap Linux Netbooks where Vista simply could not run so XP was revived from the grave to drive Linux off the market.

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Coat

I can see the advertising now...

Apple had "I'm a Mac."

Microsoft followed that with "I'm a PC and Windows 7 was my idea."

HP (I think...?) went with "I'm [Name] and this is my PC."

The Arm-based tablets will have "WOA is me!"

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The El Reg Bubble

I sometimes wonder if El Reg has its own version of the "Reality Distortion Field™"...

"Just like a Kindle, where we know you won’t be able to install another operating system or third-party apps, we also know WOA won’t be available through retail."

Yes, just like a Kindle you won't be able to install another operating system. Oh...

And of course, as WOA won't be available through retail you won't be able to install it on anything else, just like you can't with Windows Phone 7

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WTF?

Re: The El Reg Bubble

...blink...

I'm sorry...? Did I miss something...?

Where did Mr. Clarke make either of those claims in the article that you're commenting on...?

...Or are you one of those random-word-generating spambots?

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Terminator

Re: The El Reg Bubble

*Unable to blink*

Pardon me but it appears your optical character recognition software seems to be malfunctioning. Article recall functions indicate the quoted section to be the 13th sentence/paragraph. Please report to your optical character recognition technician for a full diagnostic. Upgrades may be required.

...Or are you one of those random-word-generating meatbags?

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Meh

This is a test

I suspect MS can see the possibility of android & linux on quad-core mobile cpu's being joined by LibreOffice. Then there's the ipad with iLife, Pages, Numbers. There will be more quad-core ARM laptops disguised as tablets and MS cannot be so far behind that they just start to test windows on ARM at that point.

This is not just MS losing out on the phone ecosystem profits, this could easily be a challenge to their core market. Linux hasn't won the desktop and isn't likely to any time soon, but if tablets grow and people get used to not accessing their data via Windows, the desktop monopoly begins to fall apart. With LibreOffice, Facebook and Google available, Windows is only needed by gamers at home.

Then there is the business case. MS has a better chance of keeping things going here given that "workarounds" have a bottom-line impact. Still, if the VDI/Cloud things goes ahead and tablets are the interface, you may well end up with a *nix thin-client of some sort at some point. Then as ARM grunt increases there will be a push to put more on the desktop. First its just video playback, then someone does a NaCl app. Then LibreOffice does NaCl and cloud storage and small-biz starts to take notice.

WOA is a defensive move by MS. It sees opportunities with the lock-down, but its still a "have-to" rather than "we wanted to."

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