Two nits to pick...
I'm fairly certain that tablets aren't a new category at all... and, speaking of Apple, I find it odd that iOS isn't even in the running.
Microsoft might be "all in" on tablets (here and here), but it's Linux that will dominate this new category of device, according to latest research. ABI Research reckons Linux-powered non-smartphone mobile devices will comprise 62 per cent of operating systems by 2015. Google's Android and Chrome OS will lead the way, …
the main reason PC are more popular over macs is price. Why pay at least twice the price for something unless you like the kit had have the disposable income or need something specific. The only reason I have one mac is to build iphone software and test my java/web apps, if Apple allowed their OS to be run in a virtual machine I wouldn't even need that :-(
I think a typo? Presumably HP paid many megabucks for the Palm OS?
And the questions are, presumably, whether Microsoft will have the same influence on manufacturers that they had with Netbooks (which are, after all, still conventional PCs), and whether anyone can set up a Linux system that is as convenient and reliable as Windows. Not, one would have thought, a difficult target, but I had an Asus Eee, and a nice little machine, but as soon as I tried to even update it, let alone install new software, I was back in the situation I am sadly familiar with from previous explorations of Linux.
I wouldn't pin my hopes on Asus as a leading light in Linux deployment, they basically took one of the worst desktops, shoved it on an underpowered OLPC ripoff and called it good without much in the way of support, training or even information.
On the other hand at least Dell makes netbooks with a real distro.
I know there is a lot of PR crap doing the rounds about Dell selling Ubuntu (and it's 9.10 FFS!) but it simply isn't true. Dell do not sell any Ubuntu based systems. Well, they sell one shitty netbook that could be used as a coaster, but that's it.
No laptops, no desktops, no servers. How do I know? I have looked. You will see "Ubuntu" listed as an option, if you search (and you have to run a search, it is not mentioned anywhere on the main landing pages) you will get a but on units listed, select any one of them and *POW* it's Windows 7 or nothing.
MS will not permit an OEM to sell Linux, so once MS moves into the tablet market OEMs will be told "You have two choice: either do not sell Linux units, or make your Linux units so shit and under-powered than we can run PR pieces about the high return rates."
Until the EU step in an *force* OEMs to offer "no OS" as a mandatory option, MS will continue to dominate and abuse its position.
The same old shite about how Microsoft is strong-arming OEMs into producing Windows based Netbooks.
It's all bollox - there just aren't enough customers for Linux based netbooks to justify their manufacturer.
If you really want to get all conspiracy theory on this topic, why don't you tell us how many copies of Ununtu NBR are actually in active use (receiving regular updates from the repositories)?
The problem was the distribution used (Xandros - hardly well known), and the fact that they managed to screw up the UnionFS implementation somehow. Every time you wrote something to your home directory, it somehow managed to use space in the read-only UnionFS base image. When you deleted it, it remained. The result is that you ran out of space, which you could not fix without re-installing.
I used Ubuntu 8.04 on my 701 for ages, and with a little tweaking for the slightly odd Atheros wireless implementation, it worked well.
I've got 9.04 currently, and am using it to type this without problems.
Of course, the 4GB internal memory is a squeeze for a full distro, you have to be careful to clean up past kernels and the apt cache, and the processor is a bit slow for Flash video from some sites, but I can work around all of these issues. It's still a useful addition to my available systems.
Mine runs xubuntu just fine - always has done (from not long after it was first openned)
Never had an issue upgrading, or using. It starts in ~15-20 seconds, and runs everything I need it to. Even run full screen video from the SD card when I need it...
Now the battery life has degraded somewhat but it's no longer a new machine...
So the only linux distros considered are the 4 newcomers? We havn't seen a single working meego or chrome device, but we aleady know they will beat slack ,debian, suse, hed rat, 'buntu, & 'driva?
I'm all for the idea of shunning gates, but there is a lot of the made-up-in-a-wine-bar-by-some-fashoin-victim-using-buzzword-scrabble about all this.
I'll go on record now, without having seen even a demo of the 4 new distros, as saying they'll surely beat Slackware for the 97% of the population that isn't geeky enough.
For 99% pure geeks*, of course, nothing beats Slackware.
* 100% pure geeks, of course, have written their own OS from scratch which they will claim up-and-down beats anything by anyone ever -- even if it does currently have that little bug that means it only even starts up on alternate Thursdays when the relative humidity is below 23.7%.
The Jukebox in my local pub, here in Northumberland uses Slackware. It's not a jukebox, as such, of course, but a sort of coin-operated Spotify terminal with a touch-sensitive screen, but I was still a little surprised to see the Slackware shield and the word 'Hack the Slack' pop up, when it was started up, the other day.
Odd choice, but I suppose the ability to micromanage your hardware appeals to engineers, in some circumstances. (Why didn't they change the boot screen, though, if that was the motivation?)
Yeah I was going to suggest that Slackware probably won't find it's way to any tablets straight from the manufacturer any time soon. Not that I won't be tempted to install it if the hardware presents itself.
For all the 'features' that it may lack, Slackware is viciously fast, which is handy on those light-weight devices with tiny processors.
That said, I'm personally rooting for Meego, as I've been a Maemo user for years, and it just feels like it could work right.
Then you can expect a really tough time at their next AGM.
Shareholders will really want to question the logic of their Palm purchase.
Well I will for one. As an ex DEC/Compaq/HP employee.... I have a vested interest in HP (Shares & pension).
The only way I'd be quiet about this was if Microsoft paid HP the same amount as HP spent on the Palm buy.
IF they did we would never get to hear about it though.
If they did then we would know that HP bought Palm just to silence a competitor and that ain't right at all but it is par for the course many times in Microsoft's history.
Tux rules anyway....
for Linux to beat M$ in the market of mobile is to unite. But that is not likely to happen. The end user wants an OS that looks and feels the same, regardless of the brand or model or version and that is easy to use, even if it means an expensive device with only half the functionality it should have (sorry iPad, bit it is true, you should do so much more).
So create the United Stated of Tux, come up with a common frontend and beat both M$ and Apple on the tablet market.
While I'm not entirely convinced if the consumer won't return to Windows Tables sooner or later, I'm not entirely sure if the analogy is real.
Since with netbooks, there only was Asus as pusher of Linux on the Netbook, while the other major vendors heavily pushed windows. Now it seems to be more non-Windows all around. (maybe because also Intel is pushing it?)
But then they had still popular (XP), and probably cheaper options that are not available now.
I think the word you are looking for is Android. Or Meego, or Chrome... Yes..There is choices still..The horror.
Sorry.. But if the only way to sell a category of product is with a unified single software eco system, then how do you explain smart phones? RIM, Android, Apple, Nokia.. To name a few.. All have different OSs, yet they all still sell.
If you want to find the best.. Tough. There is none.
If you want to find the right one for you, great. Read a few articles, play with a few devices.
If you want one development platform.. I suggest you hit your head and dream about an alternate universe.
And please.. skip the " If Linux wants to take over" nonsense. Linux is a lose collaboration between several different groups, and the modular design that encourages this is the same one that allows it to be chopped up and put on everything from a router to a supercomputer.
Because Linux isn't an operating system, despite the rubbish from Torvalds on the subject. It's a kernel, it does kernely things. that's it, nothing more.
It's the entire stack of things, the entire FDO stack, the entire POSIX compliant user land. All of it. And that aint Linux, that's something else no one quite has a word for. Someone once called it "The industry" which I thought was apt.
"While I'm not entirely convinced if the consumer won't return to Windows Tables sooner or later"
Since when did consumers embrace Windows tablets in the first place? They've been pushing them for a decade and they have been a total and epic fail.
There will be no "returning" to Windows tablets because nobody went there in the first place.
Tablets are coming and with it we will witness the slow and agonizing death of the Windows / Office hegemony.
There can be no doubt that a significant portion of people will purchase a tablet in the next decade. At first it will be as an adjunct to their "traditional" PC and not as a replacement.
However, as their traditional PC's get older and the tablets get better more than a few non tech people will actively consider making a decision to buy just one or the other. Increasingly they will choose to forgo on the traditional PC in favour of some form of small form factor touchscreen alternative, probably with a bluetooth, keyboard + mouse equipped dock for using it on a desk.
Microsoft on the other hand have lost any clue they may have once had. The only thing they have is their bullying relationship with their OEM "Partners", their various user lock in technologies and the existing Windows + Office monopoly.
Before we go any further we must remember Microsoft's Rule #1.
Rule#1 is to protect the Windows + Office monopoly. Everything else is secondary.
To do that Microsoft cannot afford to introduce products that will tempt their customers away from their overpriced and under performing flagship bloatware, therefore any "Tablet OS" will be either a poor second cousin to the desktop products or else they will continue to be what they are today, which is basically the same laptop/desktop OS crowbarred onto an overweight, over heating "touchscreen laptop" sporting the same old fashioned point and click UI that they have been pushing for decades.
This has failed for them for the last decade, there is no reason to believe that it will be any less of a fail in the future.
So, assuming that Ballmer has less success at bullying his OEM's into killing the tablet market like he did for netbooks that will leave most people choosing between various tablets sporting iOS or some form of Linux.
This is a huge problem for Microsoft. The main thing that keeps them in their position of dominance is the Windows monoculture. Most non techy people simply believe that if you want to type a letter you need Office and if you want to use the internet you click on the "Blue E". Various lockin "features" (docx files, .NET, Silverlight) help to reinforce this behaviour and serve to make developers lazy. Why develop open products that can be used cross platform when 95% of users will run IE6 with Active X on Windows" was the status quo for half a decade until Firefox came along. Eventually, the growing numbers of people who were NOT using IE6 on XP reached a tipping point where developers were forced to wake up and stop actively reinforcing Redmonds iron grip on the Industry. The internet is a better place for it now.
So it will be for tablets. Apple has already shown the way. Microsoft will totally fail to keep up as it continues to try and protect its existing monopoly while the Linux upstarts will take up the remainder of the market.
Eventually we will reach another tipping point as developers are forced by the market to wean themselves away from their Visual Studio plus .Net addiction and Joe Public comes to understand that the Microsoft way is not, in fact, the only way and they can write letters to their grandkids perfectly well without the need for a bloated, over featured and expensive PC that requires constant attention, vigilance and third party security products just to keep it functioning.
I fully expect that within 5 years Microsoft will be relegated to corporate desks, and even there their dominance will be waning.
I've been working on LTE chipsets since June 2007. They won't be mass market until next year. Without people having an idea of what's possible five years from now in the mobile sector, this sort of technology can't be developed.
To my mind, it's best to look at what's driving the lowest power chips. For all of them, bar intel, they're running on ARM cores. Samsung (the silicon provider on the A4), Qualcom, Texas Instruments, Renesas, Infineon all use ARM. This is not Microsoft's natural environment, it's the home of *nix.
On the other hand, the x86 world of Intel is now tied to Meego with Nokia. The next generation of low powered Atom processors will be pushed by Intel with Meego on board.
The laptop makers have yet to demonstrate that they can compete in the mobile sphere, tablets will be where the laptop and mobile makers will meet. For those tablets that more resemble scaled up mobile phones, such as the Apple iPad, then Microsoft haven't a hope.
On the other hand, for those scaled down laptops, that HP have been pumping out for years, Microsoft are already the dominant player. It will be very interesting to see whether or not they can maintain that lead. If Chrome and Meego make a decent fist of it on netbooks, then they're in serious trouble in this sector.
...that Microsoft ousted Linux on the netbook front was because Microsoft pumped money in to subsidising them. You couldn't BUY a netbook with Linux on it in the end. There simply wasn't that option, so the sales figures were completely skewed. Microsoft bought the market. They seem to have bought Toshiba; when the NB100 came out, there were Linux versions.
The replacement NB200 was Windows only and Toshiba claimed to me that Linux was dropped because they lacked feedback from the Linux community. Well, with plenty of Toshiba users on the Ubuntu forums I was all up for working to getting Toshiba the feedback that they wanted ... but when it came to the crunch, Toshiba wouldn't give me an e-mail address for Linux users to feed back on.
The fact that the moment I got mine, it was loaded with Ubuntu Netbook Remix and works wonderfully, thank you very much, tells the whole story.
I doff my cap to Microsoft for lowering the purchase price of my netbook and thank Redmond very much.
Tablets didn't take off, in my humble opinion, because they ran Windows. Tablets need speed, ease of use and response, which was an experience that Windows didn't deliver on that platform. They failed then and if they're going to attempt to bodge Windows to run on it like they did before, then they're going to fail again. It needs a completely redesigned GUI to make any sense on a tablet.
We have a small number of, "tablets," ergo laptops with touch screens that twist in to a tablet format; so these machines weren't without a reasonable amount of processor power and resource ... it was the user experience that put the nail in the coffin from my perspective.
Performance only became an issue on Microsoft Windows mobile phones. Office is such a large, bloated system that the cut down version that they put on the phones were useless as they couldn't handle all the, "features." That rendered the phone useless as a productivity device.
As tablets and mobile phones start to creep up to a level that may have run Office 2000, we have Office 2010 and .docx formats which are driving me insane on desktops; I'm going nowhere NEAR that level of Microsoft pain on mobile machines, thank you very much.
Build a great non M$ product, get it already for the market. It'll be great.
Then at the last moment they'll kill it and bring out a Windows one.
When you are the world's largest PC manufacture you do what Redmond tells you. If they say jump, you don't ask about landing rights... you ain't got none.
Just look back through HP's product history at all the dead bodies that could have been competitive with anything brought out by M$.
Linux will dominate any new platform now. Everything is open, so portable. People complain about the different architecture of ARMs, but it just doesn't matter. We have the source, so recompile. Better still, we have repositories, so it can be compiled by someone centrally and everyone else just downloads that.
Windows problem is that it's not a open platform. You can't just recompile. Each software company must decide what is worth porting. The closed nature means legacy support is a must. There is no repositories, the users are trained to find and download executables from the web. If what they download doesn't work they won't understand why. They are wedded to Win32 and x86 until death do they part, .NET won't save them, just makes them even fatter and slower.
Apple have much of the advantages of Linux, due to the Unix heritage, but they compromise it with closeness added over the top. They don't have the source to the apps in the app store. They can't change the architecture without backwards compatibility.
Open will win out because it can move quicker. Linux will probably remain the kernel most used in the open ecosystem, but it's the openness that is really winning.
Actually, I think you'll find that Apple has quite a long history of changing the architecture and not maintaining backwards compatibility. They only do this as a last resort, as it tends to alienate their customers, but they will do it if it's the more elegant solution.
Migration from Motorola 68000 series to PowerPC processors
Firewire in the iPod Dock Connector (this is why some old accessories don't work with new iPods and iPhones)
Migration from PowerPC to Intel (although they did build Rosetta to allow new machines to run old software and brought in the concept of a universal binary so that a software package had 2 different compiled versions of the same app within it, one for PPC the other for Intel)
AppStore - new versions of iPhoneOS / iOS sometimes require apps to be compiled with the latest SDK, this has to be done by the developer and is why a lot of apps crashed on start when iOS4 came out, but of course most apps got updated (where necessary) very quickly by most developers, it's why the SDK comes out before the OS does.
The reason Apple has the advantage with iOS is that Apple controls the development tools, compilers, standards and distribution mechanism, as well as the devices themselves. If they want to change CPU, they make the dev tools compile a universal binary that contains binaries for the old architecture and the new one, it's as easy as that. It's not as easy with open devices, because while there is a lot of consistency, there's also a lot of inconsistency.
Open devices and software may in the end become more prolific, but they will be less profitable, as their perceived value will be less - they are less iconic and have less clear differentiation from other products, the fact they are open means they are easy to copy, if a feature in one device is much lauded it will end up on all the competitors devices very quickly, watering down the value of the first device to implement it.
All that requires the person/company that originally made the software to think it's worth updating. Every time Apple jump platform, or even sdk, they will leave things behind. Things some users will like. In open systems, the software can survive the transition as someone can pick it up and update it. To take the edge off, Apple have Rosetta and universal binaries, but those are exactly the kind of legacy clutches I was talking about. With open systems there is no need for this as the source can just be updated and recompiled. With repositories, all this happens in the background and the user doesn't even need to know what architecture they are on or what the packages on the repository are compiled for. When it's not as easy as that, the developers in question have the source, so they have the option to make it so and normally do. (Update/backport to the libs versions the rest of the repository uses.)
The reason the tablets didn't take off and the iPad is is not just marketing, it's simply technological advance. I have used tablet PCs before (usually laptops with a bastardised screen hinge) and they were not usable, because - OK, big insight, ready for it? - they were FAR too cumbersome and heavy. And call me silly, but I rather like to have the screen write where I put down the pen, something I never managed to achieve even after repeated calibration.
The technology to make a usable screen has arrived in bits and pieces. Apple (I think) pioneered the multi finger interface, and at the same time the screen themselves got better, and battery technology improved to a point where you could actually make a tablet PC that WAS indeed a tablet in the physical instead of the biblical sense, i.e. not the weight of a large stone.
However - all of that is hardware. Once you have a decent platform to work on, only then software becomes important, and I have yet to see anyone taking advantage of a decent working tablet I/O. First off, the Apple stuff is operated by fingers which doesn't make for large precision (thus avoiding calibration issues), but does enable multiple ways to provide input..
With a tablet you typically use a pen for input, and that requires some precision. It also requires good recognition, and if I look at the handwriting of most doctors I know where the challenge lies..
But before you go near this, answer question one: what would I want it for? The clever stuff about the iPad marketing was that is gave some possible end user uses. Without having a decent use there is no market, without the market there will be no investment.
Personally, I see tablets and book readers combine, at which point this market WILL get interesting. But I still cannot see any difference between MS, Apple or Linux on the device other than as a factor that determines cost, compatibility and comfort.
From personal experience I think using MS will mean it's going to look good in the brochure and be cheap to buy and you'll bleed forever after (as MS has stopped selling anything but badly finished beta software since W2K).
From Apple it will look fantastic, will probably be quite usable but expensive, and only on one type of Apple made hardware (which is why it will work as long as it doesn't need an antenna, which is clearly not their expertise).
With Linux it will work, but you'll have to choose from 20 distros and it will never quite work completely or support *all* your hardware, and any effort to find support or help is met with the comment that you can find it all on the Internet. Which is true, after long searching you'll find a HOWTO that for the average end user might as well have been written in Swahili and involves using a command line and editing text files with vi.
Let's get some hardware before we start looking at software. Apple has produced the first usable version (although I think it's too think and it MUST have a battery you can replace), and I think the first "open" platform will be found in the electronic book sphere. From then on the fun will start.
MS are lazy and slow, they only imitate and almost never innovate. They have two great strengths: The weakness and incompetence of their competitors and their desktop monopoly.
In the past they have been able to survive may strategic cock-ups because their competitor wasn't smart/strong enough and seriously underestimated the power of the monopoly and MS dirty tricks,e.g. Netscape, Real Audio, Stax, WordPerfect and so on.
MS missed the boat on the worldwide web but were still able to obliterate Netscape and as a result held the web back for nearly a decade. They missed the boat on netbooks but were easily able to buy the market back, in less than a year. Vista and Zune are two more failures but they have bough their way out of the Vista debacle with Windows 7, not sure about Zune.
It's true to say that they have not responded well to Linux, Apple or Google, even though they have spent a fortune. However Linux/Google and Apple haven't eaten into the Microsoft monopoly as many predicted.
If tables become a success then Microsoft will want a slice of the cake and even though I think their technology is pants, their desktop monopoly and dirty tricks are powerful weapons. The key question is how strong are the competition? In the past only the very strongest have gone up against Microsoft and survived.
An organised and well funded non-Microsoft tablet ecosystem could win, Google is top search dog and Apple is doing very well with Ipods and iphones but these are the exceptions, I fear the hardware firms will let MS buy them off and tables will turn into bloated toys running a half backed version of Windows 7 - at which point they will fail to displace netbooks and laptops as they don't do anything useful or different. If MS can be kept out of the tablet space then it's possible the format may do something useful.
I trialled several different windows tablet PCs in an NHS acute trust setting in 2008, and the limitations with handwriting recognition were as much about multi-user medical dictionary support as software actually recognising the handwriting, and hardware knowing where to put the cursor, and knowing whether to accept the stylus input or the touch input.
The custom dictionary needed to be installed individually for each user. The most likely users (in a ward setting, for clinical rounds etc) are junior medical staff (interns & rmo) who rotate through different wards on about a 10-12 week basis. Any one ward might have 15-20 staff at any time that might use the tablet. What you're looking at is every time a new user logs on to the device, a whole bunch of configuration has to be downloaded and installed...meanwhile half the ward round is over...
As far as broad applicability in hospitals (i.e. beyond just specific implementations where historically an embedded system has been used):
The hardware isn't ready.
The applications aren't ready (biggest problem IMO)
The networks aren't ready (changing quickly)
The users aren't ready (woeful lack of basic IT savvy across buth nursing and medical staff)
And I don't agree with it. But Android has a freer ecosystem then iPhone.
I never claimed Linux was the only UNIX flavour, but at the moment, it is the one at the heart of the open platform. There are other free UNIX platforms, all the parts can be swapped for alternatives, even the kernel, but the Linux kernel is the one that has gained the most traction. But as I said, the key is openness, not so much the kernel, the kernel is what it is because of the openness (due to the GPL).
I'm not a blind Linux evangelists, Linux isn't a perfect UNIX for me, it doesn't stick to "everything is a file" quite enough for me, but due to other factors, like openness, speed, reliability, it's the best fit for now. Sorry you find me irritating, but please debate rather then emote.
Microsoft was strong when computers had keyboard and mouse because users had got used to their logic. Tablets need to have totally different logic so ditching the MS now is really easy for end-users.
Every aspect of tablets is simpler:
- Main use and core functions: Reading blogs or books, surfing web, watching videos and photos instead if Word etc.
- Programs: If you really need something else than core functions you use single purpose apps
- UI: No more desktop, see new Meego. Chrome OS and of course iPad
- Settings: Who need, everything should work out of the box
- Controls: You can use one, two, three, four or five fingers
Learning curve for new OS is shorter. There is less reasons for user to pick Windows-tablet.
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