Archive for January, 2014

Laptop to a Tablet Fight

Posted: January 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

It was June 18th when Microsoft surprised the world with what it deemed, their new Surface tablets; the problem is, tablet sales are skyrocketing and no one was looking for a tablet that did more.

What Microsoft introduced was not a tablet, but a new device soon to be called a “2 in 1” or in other words, Microsoft released two laptops with removable keyboards.

It’s clear that Microsoft spent a lot of time working on these two new computing devices and even when announced, still required another 6 months of backing before they would be ready to ship.

Do Microsoft’s Surface “tablets” do more than tablets from Apple, Samsung and others? Yes, they do, they have keyboards and operate in a more “PC like” horizontal, widescreen fashion. Tablets from other vendors are held in a portrait fashion and are squarer than widescreen.

Holding any Microsoft Surface in this portrait fashion is not only gives pages a “too tall feeling” but the all of the Surface devices are too heavy to hold in this upright fashion.

Again, the Surface is a laptop and not suitable as a dedicated tablet.

So while other vendors were working with Google to design tablets that users were craving, Microsoft was working internally as well as with their OEM partners to develop the “non-tablet” or what we now call a “2 in 1” device. A laptop with a removable keyboard.

Anyone who has ever tried holding a Surface in front of them for more than a few minutes knows that the designers never intended the Surface, either of the Surfaces to ever be used as a mobile tablet. It was clearly designed as a laptop where it’s weight would anchor it to a table and provide a firm location for their flexible keyboards.

Windows 8 was designed for Tablets (and works great with the Surface too)

So it’s surprising to see all the things Microsoft’s Operating Systems design team got right, when their top secret hardware group got so much wrong.

Microsoft Windows 8 and 8.1 are great touch oriented operating systems as well as solid platforms for developers and has all the 21st century features a developer could want. Windows 8.x has open APIs for 3rd party devices, solid programing languages, solid user interface cues and design metaphors that are clean, efficient and a pleasure to use.

Google’s Android OS which is found on most all smartphones and tablets in the world doesn’t share these strengths and has developers, OEMs and users all clamoring for some consistent rules to follow, design ques that don’t change and require developers to re-wright their apps every six months.

OEMs can’t upgrade their current and previous device models at a fast enough pace, nor can they or do they upgrade their devices because the cost to update their designs is too costly.

By the same token, Google doesn’t have the maturity required to develop standards which continue from current generation devices to the next and the next after that.

Windows Phone 7 led to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 and now today we have Windows 8.1. With very few exceptions, all apps written for Windows Phone as far back as 4 years ago all could still exist or co-exist with today’s more matured operating systems.

Another strength Microsoft has is again in its software. I can turn on my Surface RT or Surface 2 and out of the box, can print to my Epson or HP all in one devices that were released and end of life long before Microsoft announced Windows 8. In Windows 8 RT I could scan from my scanner too via the Windows Control Panel and today with Windows 8.1 I can use a Modern App to Scan photos or documents directly to my SkyDrive, Email or Fresh Paint.

Google’s Android and Chrome can print, but must to the “cloud first” which means you must have a) a network connection and b) an internet connection, but Google does let you use your devices camera to “scan” in documents and photos.

Apple invites vendors into its walled garden with licensing its AirPrint API, but only for customers who are big enough to afford the steep prices for these APIs. I for one, don’t like that I am paying money to Apple for their AirPrint license when I buy a new printer.

Will the Real Tablet Please Stand Up?

So, while Microsoft is still busy confusing the market with their “2 in 1” Surface devices, which I love, I am still waiting for Microsoft to release their first true tablet.

They don’t have to look too far for examples of great Windows 8/8.1 tablets, there are a multitude of new 8 inch tablets with quad-core Intel parts, and crisp IPS LED displays. They even come in 10 and 11 inch models too.

So when will Microsoft release their first tablet? I’m guessing they will release their new tablet(s) in the first half of 2014 and it will be thin, light and have a 16×10 more squarer display like the tablets running Android and iOS.

These tablets will run a version of Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8, but it won’t really matter which, because neither of them has enough market penetration for it to matter.

But what will matter is that now Microsoft will have brought a tablet to a tablet fight and with the support of Windows Modern Design language these new tablets will now have both the hardware and the software to take over the consumer market – a market that wants stability.

One last prediction: When these new lighter tablets are released, they will be compatible with Microsoft’s Surface keyboards, but the difference will be that the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will now include the keyboard in its base price.

Tablet Distraction

So the question is, was Microsoft’s Surface enough of a “tablet distraction” for consumers and analysts while Microsoft developed their first tablet?