Why Windows RT needs to survive and Why you need one as your next tablet or laptop

Posted: July 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Microsoft Window RT is more than just a version of Windows for tablets running ARM processors, RT is a platform rich in user experience, simplicity and highly functional platform.

First let’s look at some of the reasons why ARM tablets and laptops running operating systems from Google and Apple are so popular. When you purchase these products, they work out of the box, they are light to hold and carry, they can operate about twice as long between charges as laptops built upon the Intel/AMD x64 architecture, but that’s not the “killer feature” of these devices, it’s that they are nearly maintenance free.

Maintenance Free

Three words, System on Chip, or SoC. You see, unlike desktop computers based around ALL Intel or AMD computers, ARM based products are built around a single chip that has everything you need to build a computer. A SoC includes the CPU, video chip, the I/O and nearly everything needed to build a light and efficient computer, networking etc. Designs from Intel and AMD (more on AMD later) currently rely on many chips to build one computer or tablet and since every computer is designed slightly different or very different with thousands of possible configurations, you are always playing a game of updating each component and inevitably, updating one component will break another component and will not only require another update, but likely will cause the user a lot of grief until they figure out what is making their system operate wonky.

A system based around the ARM architecture is built around one design, one chip with all the basics as well as many advanced features. No more driver updates from multiple vendors, because now EVERY driver and update is designed and certified by the Tablet and computer manufacture.

IPad popularity

I don’t think Apple’s iPads are popular because they are thin and light although I do think that is the initial attraction, but the reason why people love their iPad and why they recommend them to others is because unlike a Windows PC, which many people already own, there are no complicated drivers, or updates. Nothing breaks down and every app works as expected.

Does the iPad have a USB port? Expandable storage? Or can it print to your existing printer or scan in a photo or document from a scanner? No, you can’t connect your digital camera to your ipad to upload yor photos, you can’t connect an external hard drive or USB thumb drive to back up, restore or transfer files. Do people want these features? Yes, they do and many people turn to the many cheap and bountiful Android tablets so they can have these features.

Android isn’t an iPad

Android on the other hand does give users the ability to attach external hard drives and thumb drives and there are many choices to choose from. Small and light, big and powerful and everything in-between.

The problem is that with such broad proliferation of devices and newer models arriving every 4 to 6 months, vendors tend not to support the models beyond their ship state – the Android tablet you purchase on 2012 or 2013 will never be upgraded to newer versions of Android, no security fixes will be released to protect your investment or your data.

There is another aspect of Android tablets which is different from iPads, it’s that every Android tablet manufacture can and usually does add their own propriety features and user interface, making each product different from every other one. This may seem to be a benefit, but when every time you switch between operating system to Android app from the Play Store has a different look, different feel and more often than not they cannot share information between each other, you start to see how this open and “free” platform isn’t all its promised to be.

Windows RT and Surface RT

Windows RT takes the very best of Apple’s iPad and adds in the very best of Windows for an easy to use platform, feature rich, standards and best of all, most printers and scanners you already own can be used directly without downloading drivers. Connect a printer or scanner to your full sized USB port or connect directly via your wifi connection, print and scan just as you would with a laptop from Apple or Hewlett Packard, Acer, etc.

Traveling and want to back up your photos from your camera or smartphone? No problem, Windows RT will make this transfer of data easy and even help you to organize and upload these images to Facebook, Twitter or other social network, just like a PC.

Again, like Apple and like Windows, you have one user interface across all Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets. Unlike Apple’s iPad, your tablet PC also operates just like your desktop PC running Windows 8. One interface to learn, settings on your RT device will be automatically be carried over to you desktop PC. Traveling and need to install another language on your computer or need additional keyboard layouts? Install these or other Windows features on your RT tablet an for consistency they install on your home PC.

With the release of RT 8.1 and Windows 8,1, there are many more features that are synchronized between devices and all your settings can be changed all without ever going to the Desktop or Control Panel. Of course there are many options which allow these changes to be carried over to your other Windows 8.1 or be saved locally.

It’s all about the apps

But what about apps? Exactly, its all about the apps and the apps on Windows RT are for the most part top notch and follow a consistent and predictable design philosophy. These are good things because it means that you can jump from app to app or operating system to app and never feel jarred and disconnected. As a matter of fact, the new interface brought to Windows 8 brings all programs together and operate cosistantly and just as users the world over have adapted from a disconnected PC experience to a more connected online experience where we are encouraged to share our thoughts and opinions in short sound bites, Windows 8 makes this easy to do with a Share Charm accessible to every Windows 8 app.

I’m using Windows RT 8.1 Preview on my Surface RT and can tell you that not only has Microsoft expanded on the functionality of their new Charms Bar and the fast and easy access to sharing, printing, scanning, streaming video to your smart television, ect, but it now is available to more devices and has been refined to easier for the newbie as well as advanced user.

Running multiple apps at a time

Windows RT and Windows 8 allow users to split their screens in two so that they may run one app in a large window pane and a second app on the side. While this does make it easier to use one app and monitor a 2nd, it really didn’t enhance the user experience.

What might be the “killer feature” of Windows 8.1 is its ability to dynamically share the screen between apps and logically and intuitively divide the screen into sections side by side by side. For example. You are reading an email and it has photo, pdf or document attachment or web link. Once you choose to open it, the email app snaps to the left 50% of the screen and the app which you have set to open these file types opens instantly in the right 50% of your screen. The actual app opens, not a viewer as other platforms use, but real apps so for example, you open a photo in an email and once open, you can save, edit, print, share or tag it as you would any other photo you have stored on your computer.

Microsoft’s laser focus

For all of Microsoft’s faults, both perceived, fabricated and deserved, one thing Microsoft knows how to do better than any other company in the world is their ability to support many thousands of developers and hardware original equipment manufacturers, third party hardware vendors etc with consistent and well architected standards for all to follow.

This laser focus on design and third party support is the sole reason why the computer industry has grown so rapidly and why we have so many choices of printer, scanners, monitors, video cards, network cards, keyboards, etc to choose from. The very reason why so many developers develop their apps for the Windows platform.

You can design for Windows and know that what you have developed will for years if not decades to come. This is also why so many people choose to use Microsoft Windows and Microsoft products at home as well as in their offices. You can safely invest in costly software and hardware peripherals and know you can use them for years to come – even if you purchase a new computer running a version on Windows developed 10 years after you made that costly investment and know with confidence that it will “just work.”

This is the same expertise Microsoft is bringing to Windows RT and to Windows 8. A platform designed for the future; a platform that will continue to grow and develop for years to come, a platform that brings along with it much of Windows compatibility with hardware peripherals out of the box and a platform to build upon.

Googles lack of focus

Google does not appear to have ever developed a short or long term goal for their Android platform. The Android kernel isn’t optimized to work with any one, two or three ARM SoC products, their user interface for Android changes every four to six months, they continuously develop for future products without taking the time, effort or desire to support the millions of products released into the free market.

Every time Google releases a new version of Android, it almost always necessitates app developers to rewrite their apps to work on or support the newest revision. Each time an Android vendor releases a new device with a new SoC from a new vendor, a new screen size, resolution or combination of the two not only is that version of Android highly customized to support the new device, but apps need to be changed and updated.

Customizing Android for each and every tablet is not an easy task and consumes a lot of corporate resources, for both the hardware, but also the drivers and everything that allows Android to work on the device.

Once a company has released a product the design team is onto developing and customizing Android for their next product.

So when Google releases a newer improved version of Android that adds features or fixes problems, they do not have the manpower or resources to bring that new version of Android with all the advancements to their existing products.

That leaves Android users with a tablet that is stuck in time and will not advance or improve over time.

Apple’s iPad platform

Apple has complete control over their iPads and such and unlike Google, they do want the users of their iPads to gain new features as they are released and they have designed their iOS operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad for developers to develop apps that work on all of their products. Sure, some newer features are only available on the newest products, but from a user standpoint, their apps still work, their operating systems is secure from most malicious threats and their investment in their iPad is trouble free for the life of the product.

Windows RT gains more than it loses

For these reasons Windows RT will not only succeed, but will thrive and the more people who switch to a tablet running Windows RT the more people will hear about how wonderful their experience is and how they don’t lose features found on desktop and laptop computers, but they will tell people of all the things they have gained too.

In fact, AMD is about to release an x64 based SoC and I hope that Microsoft chooses to release a Windows RT PC using this chip and not a Window 8.1 PC, because I love how my Surface RT “just works” and is trouble and hassle free.

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