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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  1. Mike Bell
    Gimp

    Patch Tuesdays

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

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

    1. Phoenix50
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Adam Nealis

        "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?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  3. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  4. Gil Grissum

    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.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Happy

      Well....

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

      GJC

    2. Giles Jones 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.

    3. David Cantrell
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Then define your purpose.

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

      2. jonathanb 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.

    4. Adam Nealis

      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.

    5. Glen 1 Bronze badge

      re: fisher-price toy

      people used to say that about xp...

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

      1. Geoff Campbell
        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

    6. Matthew 3

      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.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    8. Leather
      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.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  5. Alex Norcliffe
    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.

  6. Neil 44
    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.

    1. Ocular Sinister
      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?

      1. bobbles31

        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.

    2. David Cantrell
      Boffin

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

    3. fishman

      You forgot

      You forgot the Itanic.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Everyone else forgot or ignored the Itanic as well.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  7. jotheberlock

    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.

  8. Tom 7 Silver badge

    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.

    1. Monty Burns

      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).

  9. Mikel
    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.

  10. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward
      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...). .

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward
        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....

    3. asdf 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.

    4. Dana W

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

    5. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    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?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Andy Fletcher

      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".

      1. Turtle

        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.

      2. magnetik

        @Andy Fletcher

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

    2. Goat Jam
      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.

  13. Paul 135
    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @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?

    2. Geoff Campbell
      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

  14. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Question

    How often will it crash?

  16. IGnatius T Foobar
    FAIL

    just another windows

    windows is windows is windows ... same old warmed-over crap microsoft has always been peddling. They'll claim they won the market when they outsell Apple and Google but only because they'll be counting every laptop and desktop as a customer "won" against Apple and Google.

    Android slabs are here, and the inexpensive ones are coming soon. Android's app market dwarfs Microsoft's, and that's what matters.

    Microsoft will continue to be an also-ran in mobile.

  17. The Axe

    @dogged

    Yes, this is Microsoft. Microsoft who already ship millions of Windows products. However they are for the PC, not the mobile. The platform is too different for them to just say follow us. Office on a mobile device - you got to be joking. Viewers yes, full Office no way.

    The mobile market is already set up and running with Apple and Google. Microsoft are late to the party. As to whether they can join the party time will tell. I suspect that they are too late and like previous tablet and phone attempts will flounder. They will need a USP different from Apple (cool) and Google (cheap).

    Companies always get big. They then get sluggish and think that they can control the market via sheer size and force. Then along comes some sneaky new company who whips the carpet from under the large company's feet before they know what's happening (Apple). And with the door open, other companies attempt to stick their foot in the door (Google). Because Microsoft are big it takes them time to react, like a oil tanker changing direction.

    1. dogged

      it's not that it's Microsoft. That's unimportant, just as it was unimportant when Macromedia Flash became Adobe Flash. What's important is that it's a Windows version. As such, it'll sell. By the ocean-load. Regardless of quality.

      I notice my OP has been yanked "by a moderator". I can only assume there's a moderator who has wet dreams about MS going broke.

  18. mark l 2 Silver badge

    If they manufacturers release their Win8 tablets and try to price them to compete with iPads they will fail. They have tried this with their Android tablets and it didn't work. If people want to buy premium they will buy an ipad not an Ipad wannabe for the same price.

    I'm still not sure why anyone buys any tablets to be honest, i want something with a proper keyboard not a touch screen

  19. Ron Christian
    Thumb Down

    not interested

    I own a Windows 7 fondleslab. It's ok as a netbook (if a bit slow) when you attach a keyboard and mouse. But as a tablet, it blows. In so many ways, Microsoft has proven with Windows 7 Tablet Edition that they have a fundamental misunderstanding of how to design a touch gui.

    Nothing I've seen so far has made me think Windows 8 will be enough better to bother with. If I could load Android on the device, I would, but for now it's just a rather inconvenient web appliance.

    1. Steven Roper
      Unhappy

      I've had a Windows 7 tablet for over a year

      and it's become indispensable. I've found that Windows 7 works beautifully as a Touch GUI.

      Perhaps you'd care to explain -exactly- what you think is wrong with Windows 7 as a touch GUI. Because I've been using it as such for over a year with no problems whatsoever. Is it because you can't "swipe" or do all that stupidly complex "finger gesture" crap that Android et al requires?

      To me, I like how it simply interprets a tap on the screen as a mouse click and dragging your finger across the screen functions perfectly as a click-drag. I also have an Android phone and I've already come to loathe having to "swipe" my finger across the screen (sometimes several times) to answer a bloody phone call. Why can't I just "tap" like in Windows 7.

      Sometimes it seems to me like the whole world has gone stark raving mad over this finger-twisting touch-tablet business and I'm the only sane one left!

  20. Wombling_Free
    Headmaster

    "Microsoft’s decades-old history of x86 monogamy by going with ARM"

    Um, er, eh?

    Except for all those PocketPc devices of the early noughties which ran WindowsCE / Mobile on ARM processors.

    I had a Toshiba e570 and a Dell Axim X51v. They were fun at the time, but PalmOS was a better system (I also had a Palm IIIe and a T2 which was the best of them). I think I still have all of those, in boxes, waiting for them to become highly sought-after collectors items.

    Funny how things change, eh? Palm who?

  21. The Original Steve

    One word....

    Enterprise

    Companies - particularly SME's - are CRYING out for a decent tablet that's suitable for enterprise use. What I mean by that is you can manage it using existing infrastructure.

    Having Windows based devices in more form-factors will be a boom for the network admins. Tweak the odd GPO here and there and volia - let's buy 50 of them.

    iPads and Android are not enterprise ready without 3rd party software. Microsoft already have the management infrastructure in place as well as a shit load of admins to look after them.

    Once again a little late to the party - but we'd only be complaining if they released a new version every 12 months to "keep up". 3 year cycle, built-in management (for SME level anyway) and demand from consumers.

    I'd rather have an ARM one at home to compliment my (currently) Win7 media PC that powers my TV (Media Centre). Got my Xbox sitting next to that and a Nokia Lumia 800 WP7.5 handset in my pocket.

    Nailed.

    1. dylan 4

      Except it won't be "existing" infrastructure

      Yes, companies are crying out for a tablet they can manage (i.e. cripple by pushing out bloated and inappropriate policy), but don't pretend it will use existing infrastructure.

      It will be a whole new batch of management tools each running on their own instance of Windows server, with expensive licensing based on how many processors, how many clients, whether it's over intranet only or managing devices on cellular connections yada yada. You'll also need to upgrade all your existing infrastructure to the minimum OS/license version MS require you to have to connect this suite of management tools.

      You know it's true, it's where MS make their profits.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Windows

        @Dylan

        That's not what the past has shown us.

        For example; Windows 7 is a whole different beast than XP but both can be managed using MMC (Management console). 7 is a lot more extensive on that part, but they've simply added to their already existing management options.

        And apart from that they expanded. When looking at Vista/Win7 we now also have stuff like powershell available.

        Guess what? Both of which will also most likely be available on Win8.

        You don't need new stuff; you simply need to know how it works.

    2. Volker Hett

      Those SMEs which jumped on Vista and Windows 7?

      Those who switched to IE7 as soon as possible and can't await IE10 so they can get rid of all those Silverlight Apps which replaced VB and ActiveX?

      Hey, they bought enormous amounts of Acer Iconia W500 to replace the Asus T101 they had before.

  22. Shane Sturrock
    Facepalm

    Windows in name only

    If these tablets are to compete with the iPad they will need to be based on ARM, not Intel in which case they will have no apps since Windows on ARM can't run Intel binaries. You also only get the Metro interface. Intel based tablets may as well just be a laptop and likely will but with a touch screen bolted on. Battery life will be lousy and so you'll end up tied to a wall socket. So you lose one of the main benefits of Windows (applications) to get competitive battery life, or you lose the battery life and endp with a compromised tablet which will likely cost a bomb. Apple succeeded because the iPhone already had an app base that the iPad could run. MA better get the devs on board quickly with Metro or they're screwed.

  23. Doug 3

    after all, they are doing so well with their phone efforts

    without being able to link to the desktop, how are they ever going to get anywhere with the tablets? Doesn't the phone segment show how a lack of leverage with the desktop relates to failure for Microsoft?

    I just don't see them doing much more than spending billions in advertising and exclusive product deals( think Nokia ) and the result will be the same as their phone efforts.

  24. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Given how crappy DVDs look on my Win7 lappy compared with my XP dinosaur I won't expect much.

    Besides, won't iPad be on its 8th generation by then, and using some sort of almost telepathic stare-E-oscopic eyeball motion sensing interface by then?

  25. bandor

    lest we forget

    they killed courier for this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Email anyone?

      Yes, but the Courier didn't do email. Up against the iPad it would have crashed and burned somewhat.

      P.S. I'm no fanboi, I own a Nokia N8 instead of an iPhone. I suppose that makes me a MS boy (Mamboi?) these days.

    2. Volker Hett

      Don't remind me

      I'd trade my soul for a courier, love it!

  26. Jay 2
    Meh

    Not entirely convinced

    The Metro UI looks like it will finally bring Windows (in some form) to a portable device without trying to shoehorn the traditional Windows look and feel in. This is definately a good thing, moreso if you've had the misfortune to use Win CE (or whatever it was renamed to).

    However MS' insistance of having Windows 8 on PC, slab and phone may come a bit of a cropper. In short the Metro UI on a PC desktop is a complete disaster. You can turn it off with a bit of messing about, but how many average bods are going to do that? It's the same argument that many use againt Ubuntu's takeup of Unity and GNOME 3's direction.

    Another slight problem is that no matter what it looks like, you can be sure that MS will ensure that it will have to do Windows things. This is what stopped previous Win tablets dead, as they were just normal Win stuffed onto a keyboardless laptop with some estra blurb for touchscreen/stylus.

    With the move to ARM for the slab, then it's WinPho7 time again for the apps. As the film says if you build it (well them), they will come. But will there be enough apps? Will existing devs who code for iOS, Android and whatever BlackBerries run this week branch out to Win8?

    Like some other comments here, I agree that MS seem to be going in the right direction, but it may be too little too late, with a huge swadge of "look we have a tablet too!".

  27. veti Silver badge

    Shipping beta code?

    There's an interesting sleight-of-keyboard in the article, where we go from discussing a BETA release in Jan/Feb and an RTM release in June, and define the period between the two as "the time between final code completion and that code being shipped".

    In most companies - certainly in Apple, to take an example not at all at random - a beta release *isn't* assumed to be "final code completion". The fact that Microsoft, or at least the author of this article, seem to regard the two as synonymous might tell us a lot about what Windows 8 will be like.

    I'm glad MS has gone back to numbering its releases. From now on, it looks like the rule is "avoid even-numbered Windows versions".

  28. Cyfaill
    Linux

    Just Imagine... Its not so hard to do...

    A world with out Windows.

    I know that there are a lot of people who believe they will make it.

    And I know that I am a Linux junkie... but in spite of all of the gnashing of teeth and effort on the Microsoft camp. It is too late. The PC is in decline.

    Microsoft is sucking as much royalties from Android via litigation as the can now before the courts come crashing down on them. but it is too late.

    Don't ask me how I know but this is what I believe. Microsoft spends all of its money on trying to stop Android / Linux and nowhere near enough on decent R&D that yields any real quality. Late to market, poor actual quality, few features of difference. and they have made a lot of genuine corporate enemy’s who will attack at the first sign of weakness.

    In two years or less the fade will be obvious to even their most ardent of supporters. I won't be cheering the sinking... Although they deserve it.

    It will leave a lot of people, the majority in fact with hopelessly few actual computer skills to adapt to a very different computing landscape.

    Did I say it is the beginning of the end for the common PC... yes perhaps the Linux PC as well... Oh I almost forgot android is a somewhat young variation of the future Linux rising. And it is early to its future market.

    1. Volker Hett

      I'm a unix/linux junie, too. And I see a shift away from PCs as you do. Not in Offices and not with us geeks, but the average guy or girl who just want to check mail, skype, IM and update Twitter or Facebook and watch movies or play a casual game. Probably 2/3rd of the consumer market is interested in tablets.

      Soon a PC will be "work" to a lot of people and they'll want something else for the rest of the day.

  29. HelenaHandcart

    If it interfaces well with MS software (Exchange, Office) then businesses will buy it. The iPad just about manages to work with those products but smoother and more secure integration and the ability to run versions of MS Office that don't mess up your formatting are what drove the Windows laptop market and will do the same for Windows tablets. Business IT buyers want products that are easy to support and which work well with the products and systems that the company/institution already runs.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're not including the desktop or x86 emulation

    Windows 8 on ARM is as deserving of being called "Windows" as Windows CE is. Lovely, another platform to get in a f*cking mess.

  31. Wombling_Free
    Windows

    WinRT - is that like WinFS?

    Focussing on tablets... um, what?

    My DESKTOP in front of me running Autodesk software across two 27" monitors is NOT going to run on an ARM tablet.

    All the focus of Windows 8 on tablets just screams "FAD!" - a tablet-based UI on a desktop is going to be utterly pants.

    The other thing that puts me heavily off a Win-Tab is the thorny issue of Flash - I don't want it, I don't even want the possibility that some critical app will want to install it.

    <rant>Think of how many applications install shiteware that is apparently critical - 3rd-party installations should be capable of being locked out by policy on basic home PCs, not just AD domains - this should be enabled by DEFAULT, and if you try to turn it off you should get major flashing warnings about the crap you will expose your system to should you disable it. Sure, call it DRM or restriction a'la Apple's App Store, but if you want to jailbreak make it reasonably simple, but warn people about the deluge of stinky malware they can expect if they do</rant>

    For all those people saying 'MS sells more than S.Jobs ever dreamed of.' - yes, you're right looking at things from a historical point of view - but such a view does not provide proof of future viability. One major bad move and the MS hegemony could vanish overnight. Consider that in 1999 who would have thought Nokia could end up nearly bankrupt? In the early 00's people laughed at the idea that Apple could capture a major segment of the mobile phone market, and look to be threatening Nintendo & Sony's portable markets - yet they are.

    Hi, I'm a PC user, and have been for the past 25 years... but I am happy to be wooed by anything that works better!

  32. Wibble
    Headmaster

    No innovation required

    At least Microsoft will be on home ground here; just copy Apple et al and let their size and marketing budget do the rest. Or at least that's probably what Monkey Boy is thinking.

    Anything that avoids taking the lead in innovation.

    Seems like Microsoft's biggest challenge is their so-called executive leaders.

  33. Homer 1 Silver badge
    Coat

    Am I the only one who noticed...

    ...that this isn't actually Windows?

    No but seriously, it's not Windows, it's just "Phone 8", a phone/tablet OS that's completely incompatible with all existing Windows software.

    Desktop Windows users would be just as well using an iPad or Android tablet, for all the compatibility this thing is going to have with their existing apps. It certainly won't "liberate Microsoft’s operating system from the desktop", any more than "Phone 7" did.

    I'm going to stick my neck out and predict "Windows" 8/ARM will be just as successful as "Phone 7", or in other words it'll struggle to hit even a single percent of the market.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think Microsoft should do well

    The real winner will be Amazon though. They're selling the Fire at a price point where punters will buy both a Fire and one of the more expensive tablets. Microsoft should do well though. Metro is more than just a sad attempt at pissing off Apple by copying them and with Nokia on board, they potentially have some compelling devices on the way. The relative failure of Android to do do well in the tablet space is Microsoft's chance to get into the game, both with phones and tablets.

  35. Richard Plinston Silver badge

    There is no 'Tablet Market'.

    There is an 'iMarket' which is all things Apple and excludes other brands.

    There is an 'eBook market' which includes Nook and Kindle and which Android tablets can join if they are cheap enough.

    There is also a non-Apple tablet market where people will buy a tablet that matches their existing phone. In general this would be be Android phone users who would never buy Apple. The recent anti-competitive court actions against Samsung have reinforced this. People in this market will not buy iPads instead but will wit until they can get Samsungs.

    Windows 8 tablets will not be Apple so are excluded from the first. They will not be cheap enough for the second and are not Android so will not be part of the third.

    They may well have their own market segment and be bought by some WinPhone 7 users, but Windows 8 is not quite the same. They may be bought by Windows 7 users who will expect to run existing software and will fail. Windows 8 tablets will not have the apps, nor the backlog of Windows programs, nor the diversity of prices and features.

    The reason that OEMs (HP, Dell, etc) will make them is to retain their discounts on desktop Windows installs. They may lose millions on making them, but the alternative is losing more millions when their discounts are slashed by Microsoft for not being 'partners'.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    While MS will have Windows 8 ready for ARM in a year or so there is yet another player already shipping.

    The NOVO7 $99 Android 4.0 tablet uses a MIPS chip and claims 7 hour battery life for web browsing or video.

    This could give the Windows OEMs another opportunity to avoid MS lockin. When netbooks arrived they lacked the ability to run Windows Vista so they could be sold with Linux and not risk losing the 'partnership discount' that would cost the company millions.

    MS revived XP especially for netbooks and upgraded machines could run this so control over what the OEMs were allowed to make and sell reverted back to MS.

    OEMs then made ARM based machines. No Windows could run on it so MS could not control these. Now Windows 8 will run on ARM (eventually) so MS will force OEMs back to Windows on all ARM based machines (or OEMs will have to pay retail for desktop Windows installs and lose millions).

    The NOVO7 is not ARM, it is MIPS. If HP, Dell, etc start building tablets and all-in-ones with MIPS these won't be controlled by MS, at least not this year or next.

  37. Lord Midas
    Thumb Up

    I'll have a go

    On the bog, on the train, at a cafe... achievements for my Xbox gamertag. Love it.

  38. Eduard Coli
    Gimp

    Who cares?

    Who cares about ARM support?

    M$ used to support RiSC, Alpha and after killing that off more recently killed Itanic (Itanium) support if you wanted to call it that.

    M$ always makes the Intel alternative or in the case of Itanic the non-mainstream processor alternative second class in os maintenance.

  39. BernieC

    Hmmm

    What worries me is, are we old fashioned mouse and keyboard desktop users going to be force fed the Metro type interface which I don't think looks too good on a full sized 24" monitor?

    In fact I didn't like it on the HTC Mozart mobile so I dumped it but that's another story.

  40. aabelro

    Dell is not backing off from Android

    http://www.theverge.com/2011/12/5/2612610/dell-were-not-backing-away-from-android

  41. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Are they committed?

    You bet.

    The problem is not with them but the likes of Dell/HP and the rest.

    Those two have probably already had their arm twisted very hard. (stop this android silliness or you windows per sku cost will jump by a factor of 10...).

    The 'mid tier' manufacturers will be harder to 'persuade'. They can see some profitability in android NOW, not this time next year. They need to survive to next month and no way can they afford to hang on for a year without going belly up.

    Would I be buying one?

    Nope. There is no USP that will make me move beyond Win7 (my one and only remaining Windows system)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That was then. Things *are* different now.

      Historically, this is true. However....

      Historically, it was the RISC chip vendors (the members of the Advanced RISC Computing consortium) who wanted NT on their chips and systems, to increase the size of their market.

      Historically, there was little motivation for MS to actually do this, it was lots more work for little extra revenue, and in due course, having briefly fooled the likes of GQ Bob at DEC ("hey Bob, you can be my friend or you can be Larry's friend"), MS gave up on the project.

      Now look at the current situation.

      ARM aren't asking MS for Windows on their chips.

      ARM licencees aren't asking MS for Windows on their chips.

      ARM-based system manufacturers aren't asking MS for Windows on their chips.

      These folks (and indeed their many customers) are all quite happy with the success that ARM-based kit is currently having without Windows.

      The difference this time?

      It's MS, not the chip/system people, that want Windows on something other than x86.

      MS know that ARM-based kit is way ahead of x86 in the consumer electronics marketplace, and that if MS don't get on the ARM bandwagon, that MS will always be an insignificant player in the consumer electronics marketplace (which is not the same as the desktop and server marketplace). The consumer electronics marketplace is not populated with certified Microsoft-dependent people. The consumer electronics marketplace is not so amenable to the kind of Wintel-volume-pricing-and-support blackmail that keeps Dell, HP, etc out of the volume ARM business (while remaining almost legal).

      In summary: RISC (and ACE/ARC) was then. Things have changed in the marketplace.

  42. Volker Hett

    this is 2011, isn't it?

    Balmer talked about tablets on the CES 2010 and introduced the HP Slate, didn't he?

  43. Bram

    HTML5

    It was my understanding that metro apps will be using HTML5 and JavaScript and not XMAL and other Silver light throwbacks, If you want to build non Metro apps you can use any .Net5 and silver et al.

    This is the biggest pull towards the platform opensource developers can build apps straight away for the platform or convert exiting ones with little ease (they still would have to pay MS market subscription fee and submit it to the market place to distribute though). This seems like major pluses to do Windows8 app dev on the side or as projects

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Monogamy?

    "decades-old history of x86 monogamy ..."

    s/b

    "decades-old history of x86 monopoly ..."

    There, fixed that for ya...

  45. Wunderbar1

    Why will the OEMs go for Win 8?

    Here is my question. Lets say you are HP (or Dell or Lenovo, doesn't matter). You are trying to distance yourself from Microsoft PCs because there is no money in it for anyone other than Microsoft and, to a lesser extent, Intel. Microsoft now comes to you with Win 8 tablets. The best case scenario is that MAYBE you can gain traction against Apple and Android in a very cluttered market. If this happens, you will have a lower revenue version of the PC business you are trying to get away from right now.... Why would any of the OEMs want to be part of this business model? Even if they somehow figure out a way to beat Apple, they still lose to Microsoft and make 5% margins.

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