back to article Now Windows 8 goes into the ring to face Apple's iOS

Does Windows 8 mean Microsoft can finally close the technology and credibility gap with Apple, putting a touchable mass-market version of Windows on tablets? Less than 24 hours after Microsoft released an incomplete preview of Windows 8, some say "yes". Apple ushered in the post-PC era, but Windows 8 is the post-post PC era, …


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  1. dogged
    Big Brother

    It's all about who has control

    Business will buy Windows 8 tablets where tablets could be useful. In the NHS, for example, I can see a very real place for them.

    The thing to remember is, regardless of your administration policies and the skill of your security and admin teams (if any), as a business _you will never control iOS security or policies because Apple won't let you_.

    Microsoft will let you because that's their market.

  2. Doug 3

    must must must run on light battery powered devices or it's just another Windows

    does the iPad weight 2 lbs? is it running with the performance of an Intel Core i5 CPU? And how long will that Windows 8 tablet run on battery power?

    I've read nothing which shows this isn't just another version of Windows with the marketing people telling you it'll be a great tablet OS. Bill Gates had been saying that for years and every time it has been the same thing, expensive over burdened hardware to run a bloated OS. The results have been consistent for Microsoft. same old song and dance, same failure.

  3. dave 46

    Pricing hubris?

    I don't think so, it's just simply not that cheap to make these things and Apple has huge volume on it's side.

    If Dell could put a tablet out there for £100 they would have, it's not impossible to do it but slow 7" tablets with poor screens aren't what people want. They want a 10" tablet that looks great and is fast - like an iPad.

    Sadly they cost, well, as much as an iPad. Given the choice most people prefer the ubiquity of iTunes and Apples app store.

  4. Tom 38 Silver badge

    MS are between a rock and a hard place

    They like to think of themselves as at the cutting edge of technology, but when it comes to mobile devices and OS, they are really far behind Android and iOS.

    It's hard to see how they can recover in those sectors now - 3rd to market (HP/WebOS) has already failed hard, what chance 4th to market? - but at the same time, their vanity cannot see them not competing in these areas.

  5. Danny 14 Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    to be taken seriously in the workplace for BIG rollout numbers then it needs to be domain controllable. If you can GPO it then schools alone will use it, as will other vendors who are stuck with crappy CE-esk pads. That and being able to image the beasts.

    1. Tinker Tailor Soldier

      It NT.... why wouldn't it be?

      At least for some sku/combination, which I presume MS will continue to do. You might have to pay out a bit for that GPO capability.

    2. Matthew 3

      RE: MS are between a rock and a hard place

      I remember some of the comments when the iPhone was first announced, way back in 2007. The idea that Apple could make a phone that would be a serious contender was laughed at by many. Then those types added that the iPhone's missing 'killer features' would mean that nobody would buy one.

      And to add to their difficulties, we all also knew that Nokia had the mobile phone market well and truly sewn up.

      Funny how things can change, and how quickly. So, while I agree that Microsoft will need to do something amazingly special, if the desire for the product is there, it can be done.

      1. Adam T

        I'm inclined to agree with Matthew on this.

        There's nothing like a cornered, wounded animal to put up a good fight.

        And anyway, everyone knows Microsoft needed a good kick up the arse, they've had it too easy for too long. This'll show if they still have the goods.

    3. Synthmeister

      Businesses are taking control... with iPhones and iPads.

      Lowe's just equipped 42,000 employees with iPhones.

      United Continental just gave out 11,000 iPads to their Pilots (Along with American Airlines and Alaska Air)

      Qantas Airways Ltd.’s plans to offer Apple Inc.’s iPad media tablet to passengers on its Jetstar flights

      Mercedes-Benz Financial, which provides loans and leases, will equip 40 dealerships with an iPad, will expand to all dealerships eventually.

      86% of the Fortune 500 are now testing or deploying the iPad, up from 75% just three months ago. “In the 15 months since iPad was shipped, we’ve seen iPad used in the enterprise in ways we could have never imagined,” Oppenheimer said. “Companies like Boston Scientific, Xerox and are deploying thousands of iPads in revolutionizing how their sales teams engage with customers. iPad is being used inside the country’s top hospitals like HCA and Cedars-Sinai and in retail at Nordstrom and Estee Lauder’s Clinique counters. General Electric, SAP and Standard Chartered have developed internal apps for training, currency tracking and business-process management to help make employees even more productive.

      Security on the iPad is clearly not an issue.

      Businesses are buying iDevices. Period.

    4. AndyM
      Thumb Down


      Tad bit of FUD here, as you can do all that you say with an iPad, check out iPad Mobile Device Managment software looks like it will cater for what you are talking about.

      1. nyelvmark

        we’ve seen iPad used in the enterprise in ways we could have never imagined

        I still can't imagine them. Can anyone help? It can't be the thousands of apps that make fart noises, surely?

        The only person I know who has an iPad carried it around for 6 months, occasionally used it for looking something up on the internet when he was travelling (but not driving, obviously), but he mostly used it for playing Go. When I see him today, he isn't carrying it. I think he gave it to his kids.

        Stats I've seen (here and elsewhere) suggest that there isn't a market for tablets - there's a market for iPads, because iPads are the thing to be seen with. Despite 400,000 "apps" being available for download, the number of real applications seems to be somewhat limited, given the limited computing power of a battery-based machine with a slow internet connection.

        The philosophy seems to be that utility is irrelevant, and that fashion is everything. Look at Apple's sales and you'll find it hard to argue with that philosophy.

        Disposable cigarette lighter with built-in digital clock, anyone?

        1. Ru

          "Disposable cigarette lighter with built-in digital clock, anyone?"

          I was thinking more along the lines of the Wii. Sure, it's pretty cool, but the initial enthusiasm wears out and you don't have to go far down the line to find that most of the purchasers aren't interested anymore.

          Businesses with an actual use case for a tablet will no doubt be terribly happy. And much like Windows in the past, they'll tie themselves to the platform by using applications which can't be trivially ported. Consumers though? Fashion comes and goes.

        2. Giles Jones Gold badge


          Well perhaps you shouldn't buy things without devising a use case for them?

          There's plenty of applications being devised around them, especially in BI and reporting solutions. Not to mention replacing form filing.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I think that putting the workstation OS on the 'smaller' hardware, rather than a phone OS on 'bigger' hardware is the differentiator here. Time will tell if it's a good call or not, but it is certainly interesting.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Dave, that's completely right. Gavin has displayed a fundamental lack of understanding of how mass market device economics work. This is one of the most naive and uninformed articles I've read on The Register. Tablets have bespoke design. There is no common standard for motherboard, BIOS, display, casing etc. Apple have volume, nobody else does. plus Apple have a lock on the supply of 10" capacitative displays and flash memory. Samsung et al are selling with margins shaved to the bone, just in an attempt to keep a toe hold in the market. There is certainly no hubris about their pricing. It's necessity.

    7. dylan 4

      Actually, it's all about what works, especially in the NHS.

      In my direct experience, NHS trusts have been burned by attempted windows tablet computer deployments. They have tried them and they _weren't useful_.

      They were completely crippled by the windows UI, and locked-down security using the domain security paradigm was part of the problem. The IT department thought they were neat, but nobody on the ward bothered using them. The bulky, heavy, battery intensive form factor and Atom powered sluggishness didn't help either.

      The Metro interface looks like it goes some way to solving the UI issues, so long as the apps follow, which they probably will. But the tablet test platform based on Corei5 is a sad joke, and the duality of the full interface and Metro on the same machine bodes ill for use in a clinical setting.

      In stark contrast, a number of Australian hospitals (also in my direct experience) are using iPads, and liking them a great deal.

      Yes, if and when real tablets with comparable performance specs to iPads and the enterprise (including hospital enterprise) apps designed for a touch UI to match arrive, there will be pressure from network/domain admins to deploy them instead of iPads. But given the woeful history of windows tablets in places like the NHS, I expect support for this to be lukewarm even within IT, and downright hostile on the floor. "Lets replace something that works, is relatively cheap to buy and maintain, and is accepted by our end users, with something that was expensive to buy and maintain, and rejected by our end users the last two times we tried it" is not a proposal I would be advising our executive to support...

      1. dogged

        Thanks for an interesting response.

        However... while I don't doubt that some Trusts are using iPads, they are expensive and impossible to fully control or secure, and they don't play nice with the existing systems (beyond ssh).

        They are also (and let's not kid ourselves here) highly nickable toys used in places where all human life is found, albeit often ending.

        Business is going to want something that will ONLY connect to their network (if they tell it to) via their proxies so any web use is trackable, which can be remote wiped and refitted with a standard build - THEIR standard build - with a minimum of effort to deal with employee turnover, which won't let you install apps they feel are not valuable to the business, etc etc.

        In other words, the Apple lock-in is what they want, but not from Apple. From them.

    8. Herba

      Apple entreprise program

      Apple entreprise program gives IT full control on app deployment and security. Entreprise dont put there app on the app store and deploy with itunes...

  6. D@v3

    The big problem that I can see is not the OS itself is bad, but that the hardware either lets it down, or is lacking in the choice / range factor.

    One of the things that I think puts the iOS devices in their own camp, is that Apple (unlike many others in the market) control both the hardware and the software.

    Microsoft are going to have to rely on others to provide the hardware for these Win8 Tablets. If someone can get the right hardware, then it could do well, but it could equally end up in a similar position to Android tabs, where you have the 'high end' tablets (xoom, galaxy etc) but you also have the incredibly 'low end' <£100 jobs that you can pick up from just about anywhere. Give someone a <£100 Android tablet, and an iPad, and they will (most likely) tell you that Android is rubbish. Give someone one of the high ends, and they may feel differently.

    (and before anyone mentions it, I am aware that many of the 'low end' Androids have hugely out of date versions of of the OS, which lends to the poor user experiance', but so do the poor screens, slow / old processors etc..)

  7. Wang N Staines

    w8 tab

    At 89 quid ... come on down!

  8. Thomas 4


    I wouldn't describe HP's foray into the ring as being the equivalent of "cannon fodder".

    A more suitable metaphor might be a kamikazi pilot. The flight starts out normally enough, before taking a sharp nosedive with a gibbering madman at the helm before exploding in a spectacular fireball. The damage is fairly minimal and short lived, leaving you with bits of wreckage scattered all over the flight deck.

  9. Alex Gollner

    Not much mention of tablets so far by MS at Build

    Windows 8 seems to be for 'everything but tablets' for now.

    2012: Windows 8 vs. OSX (an 'automatic win' for Microsoft if they persuade 15% of the installed base to upgrade)

    Once there are enough Metro apps out there, MS will promote a Win8 for tablets that runs Metro apps only. So that'll probably be Easter 2013.

    Good news for those that think that Apple needs a bit more competition.

    1. DZ-Jay

      @Thomas 4

      Beautiful analogy!


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Not much mention of tablets...

      Trouble is they'll probably do with Metro what they did with CE. Tell you that you can get proper MS apps such as Word on it and it's the real MS version so it's better. When you come to use it you find that round tripping a doc through Docs to Go works better than round tripping through Word because actually Word on CE was a completely different beast to Word on full blown windows. Most of us here would have been suspicious of that from the start but I have a couple of non-technical colleagues who still smart from this and other MS delusions and hence have trotted off to Apple...

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      re: Wang N Staines, Come on down


      That will be for the Windows 8 Very Limited and virtually useless edition then...

      The Hardware to run it?

      Extra, lots Extra.

      Time for a beer methinks. All this laughing at the Windows 8 playmobile interface has driven me to drink.

    4. a_been

      Bit of a chicken and egg

      But who's gona write Metro apps to run on a PC? Developers will just stick with normal keyboard/mouse interface programs and be backward compatible with 100s of millions of win7 machines.

  10. ChilliKwok

    My Reaction to the Win8 Demo

    Can I turn off all that crap and make it look like XP please?

  11. Barry Tabrah

    Needs touch friendly MS Office

    It doesn't matter how it looks or how it runs, if people can't use Microsoft Office on it effectively then it's going to flop. Office is going to need some simplified interfaces for working on the go.

    Also, there's definitely going to be a market for Office add-ins such as a Survey designer so that tablet-wielding survey takers can tally up trends on the go. I've lost count of the number of tablets that are gathering dust because people couldn't use them this way.

    1. JC_

      Yeah, you can stick with XP and stop whining. You said exactly the same thing about Vista & Windows 7, right?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's really a great idea

      <thumbs up>

    3. Stu Wilson

      mine was *yawn*

      Win8 running on, basically a laptop without a keyboard, fan whizzing away, and the heat being generated is just mom-u-ment-ally silly.

      so it runs nice and fast, I'm sure it would look nice and fast, but unless they can get it to run, and run well, on commodity ARM (or god forbid Atom) hardware, then the Metro UI is gonna be wasted money on MS's part.

      Certainly who else is going to use it? Not those people with desktops, and those people with tablet/laptop abortions won't use it except for the first minutes to show their friends.

      Just for the record, I'm Apple all the way and I like what MS have done with Metro, it is actually starting to look good on a larger screen but I just know they are going to fuck it up.

    4. Steven Raith

      Can you make it look like XP?

      No, now get over it.

      1. nyelvmark

        @Steven Raith

        >Can you make it look like XP?

        >>(facepalm) No, now get over it.

        Can you make it perform like Windows 98SE? Remember? You double-clicked something and a window instantly opened and painted itself? There was no 5-30 seconds of thinking "did that work? Maybe I should it again?".

        Of course, Win98 was horribly insecure if connected to a network, so the solution was to craft a much better operating system which takes 1000 times as long to do something, despite runiing on hardware that purports to be 1000 times faster.

        Windows 98 was written in the horribly insecure C language. Modern versions of Windows are written in much better, more secure languages - more secure because the hackers now have to read lots of long contradictory articles about how these languages work, rather than simply buying a copy of K&R.

        Opinions, please - does making systems more complex increase or decrease their vulnerability to hackers?

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          > Windows 98 was written in the horribly insecure C language.

          > Modern versions of Windows are written in much better, more

          > secure languages

          Windows 98 was written in assembler.

          Windows NT was written in 'horribly insecure C'. XP, Vista and 7 are versions of NT.

          1. nyelvmark

            >> Windows 98 was written in assembler.

            Oh, right. The Windows API is entirely specified using C interfaces, but they didn't actually use C to write it. Instead, they wrote a billion lines of x86 assembler. Get real.

            And, for those who didn't understand, "the horribly insecure C language" was intended as irony. I program in C by preference. Like any good C programmer, I can descend to assembler if necessary, but the last time I remember it being necessary was more than 10 years ago. If I was writing an operating system, it would become necessary again, but only about 5% of the time, I think.

    5. turnip handler

      Slow down there!!! Can I make it look like Windows 3.1??

  12. Joe K

    Why don't they get it??

    A tablet is a couch-computer, nothing more.

    From your couch you want to do little more than web browse, facebook, twitter and the occasional simple game.

    If you cripple a couch computer with an OS requiring updates, virus-scanners, installations, menu's (where did my damn app go?) and all the other shit Windows has hiding behind the tiles, then its worse than an iPad.

    So it will fail, like all the rest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Why don't they get it??

      Can't agree that tablets are only couch-computers. We use iPads in our practice to pull up patient data and they are great for sitting down next to a patient and showing them their chart or x-rays or an educational video. Possible of course with a laptop but the tablet does seem to promote a closer interaction with the patient. Admittedly, some years ago we ditched Windows and went over completely to Apple so the integration is very smooth but there is no technical reason why other manufacturers could not have done something similar (weren't HP talking about WebOS for the PCs as well at one point?).

      Your point is well made though that all that shit windows has does ruin the user experience, but that applies to the desktop as well and all the crud that used to come with our Windows machines.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC 1944

        How do you keep an iPad sterile enough to use in a medical practice?

        1. dylan 4


          How do you keep a tablet sterile enough to use in a medical practice?

          Exactly the same way you keep the rest of your practice "sterile". Do you people think the door handles, armchairs, reception desks, magazines and children's toys in the corner get autoclaved between patients? How about that pen that you filled in the form with, was it brand new out of a sealed packet?

          Aside from use in a surgical theatre, with immunocompromised patients, or in a high infection risk setting such as a surgical ward, there is no problem using an iPad in a medical practice.

          FWIW, I've personally overseen trials of two different "medical grade" windows "tablet copmputers" in an NHS hospital. Both designs were much more difficult to clean _effectively_ than an iPad, what with recessed screens, textured and grooved housings, carry handles, wrist straps and stylus-on-a-string. But when the nurses (and junior medical officers) are eating their lunch at the nursing bay on the ward, and chewing their pens in between filling out charts, it makes the notion of sterile equipment somewhat academic.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Sterile @ AC 22:51

          Easy. You keep the iPad in a sterile bag, the capacitative screen still works fine even through the film.

          I put mine inside a thick gallon-sized Ziploc bag when using it in the kitchen to keep grease and dirty fingers away. It doesn't seem to affect the touch sensitivity in any way.

    2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      re: Why don't they get it??

      "A tablet is a couch-computer, nothing more."

      It may be, at this moment, but there is absolutely no reason why it need be. (Let's assume that the traditional and tiresome "It's not a real working tool if it doesn't have a physical keyboard," trope has been brought out and disposed of -- SOME jobs may require a physical keyboard; mine does not.)

      Tablets are really at the Ford Model A stage of development. The idea that the automobile -- as it existed in 1903 -- would evolve to replace the horse wagon for local freight delivery and bring the railroads to their knees (albeit, the airplane -- another "'...toy' that would never be of any use," helped with the latter) was considered laughable.

      One of the ways to make sure that the tablet STAYS "a couch-computer, nothing more" for most people will be to limit the functionality and usability of the OS. If Microsoft can put a usable version of Windows on a tablet, more power to them. Personally, I would rather s Apple porting OS X to a "Pro" version of a tablet and leave iOS as a "consumer" line, but maybe that's just me.

      The point is that assuming that a tablet-format computer IS and MUST ALWATS BE a "a couch-computer, nothing more" is just as foolishly short-sighted as the bank president who advised "The horse is here to stay, but the auto is only a novelty -- a fad," when asked about investing in Henry Ford's automobile company in 1903. (Hint: the questioner decided NOT to take the advice and parlayed his $5000 investment into a $12 million return within a few years.)

      (If only there were a "Fail-fail" icon...!)

    3. Gordon Fecyk

      This just in: iPads don't need updates <>, virus scanners <>, or other... stuff... hiding behind the tiles <>.

      That reality distortion field holding up for you?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      Couch Computing

      Tell that to enterprise.

      iOS might have a foothold in enterprise, but it's still not Apple's forte. If you had to buy a bunch of tablets for business use, would you rather take the shiny consumer toy from a bunch of California Gladwell-reading hipsters, or a tablet from the enterprise software company who makes a lot of the software already running your infrastructure?

      Enterprise isn't trendy and doesn't get covered by Web 2.0-blogs, but there's big money there. And once you flog them the tablets you can flog them more software to run said tablets.

      1. Archivist

        Don't spread FUD

        <> The current 3rd party virus scanners scan for Windows viruses.

        <> - undated, unconfirmed, unsubstantiated, probably untrue.

        <> This is what protects the device from malware. If you move out of the walled garden expect to be mugged, whatever system you're running.

        I really hope MS can make Windows 8 as secure as IOS, but past performance does not raise my optimism.

      2. fuego

        Did you even read the article (from April 2010) that you quoted?

        "Last night, we received an unconfirmed report from a user who appears to have the first iPad virus..."

        There are no updates on the article, so one might assume that if they haven't confirmed it in 18 months, it might actually be a load of BS.

        Never let the facts stand in the way of a good trolling oportunity though, hey?

        Speaking of reality distortion fields, yours seems to be working marvellously.

    5. Craigness


      Some tablets may be that, but the Asus Transformer shows what more they can be. A windows tablet, because it's windows, will be much more than just a tablet. With apple products you need a tablet and a proper computer, but with a windows tablet you already have a proper computer inside your tablet. Put it in a Transformer form factor and plug in a mouse, you've got a winner.

      If anyone's not yet seen how beautiful windows 8 is:

      It's even more beautiful than Android! Honeycomb UI wipes the floor with iOS but it looks complicated and unwelcoming when you play with it for a few minutes in the shop. When people see this and compare it with the stale grid of the ipad they will surely choose the windows product. Given that it's a proper computer (running excel etc) there's basically no decision to be made.

      1. Volker Hett


        but what you describe didn't take off in the past 10 years.

        Without the iPad we wouldn't be talking about Windows tablets.

  13. Shao


    Everything sounds good and seems to incorporate the best of both worlds. However, I'd say the main challenge to overcome would be that you've got a full blown OS as well as a slimmed down mobile OS to boot up.

    In practice, I'd like to see how that would use comparable resources to an iPad which simply has a glorified mobile OS.

    Resource drain and bootup times will most likely be issues.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tested and failed

    1: Installed/Booted Win8 in a VM

    2: Pushed the Big Blue IE thingy

    3: Looked for the address bar. It appeared at the bottom of the screen.

    4: Typed in my corporate web application site developed in .NET

    5: Waved the mouse and pushed a menu

    6: The address bar appeared at the bottom of the screen.

    7: Determined that IEx on Win8 is incompatible with a trivial .NET application

    There you go. MS incompatible with itself.

    No news here.



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