The tablet wars are going to get very interesting now that Microsoft has pushed out Windows 8 and their “design point” device the Surface RT. Already this morning there are multiple articles about this new OS and hardware from both sides of the argument. It is interesting to see the comments that range across Facebook and other social networking sites about the new OS, and more importantly about Microsoft’s Surface RT. This last product has created its own subset of fans and haters outside the general argument about Windows 8. So the big question is, where does Windows 8 and Surface RT stand in the market on the day of the launch, and where do they really fit in?
Since the rebirth of Apple in 1997 the PC market has had to listen to the constant drone of analysts foretelling the “post PC” world is upon us. It is a common statement made by Analysts that really do not even know what a “PC” is anymore. Well to help some of them do their jobs a little better let’s go back and define some of this for them and then take a look at where the market is and why claims of a post PC era are quite simply a falsehood.
Google (and ARM as a whole) is finding out the hard way that building an OS is not that easy and without proper and full support you are going to have problems across your entire platform. Today and Google I/O 12 Google announced and showed off Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Now this sounds great but there are still a ton of devices that are waiting for ICS (Android 4.0) that was announced last year.
Well the world is abuzz with the news that *gasp* the Microsoft Surface tablet only comes with WiFi. For some reason this appears to be a big deal to many news sites that also have articles that list reasons why you should wait for the iPhone 5 and a few others. What I find interesting is that very few appear to remember that both Windows 8 and Windows RT will have the ability to utilize peripherals attached Via the included USB port.
As we have continued to work with Windows 8 in all of its x86/64 forms (we have it on desktop, virtual and tablet hardware) we have found one item that is both amazing and annoying all at the same time. No this is not the MetroUI, we are still not happy with that piece. No what has frustrated us at the same time we are very impressed with it is the fast boot time. On our Asus EEE Slate EP-121 the normal boot time is something like 5-6 seconds from off, to sign in screen. This is an amazing feat from Microsoft considering how long it can take to boot up older versions of Windows.
There will be some rejoicing as AMD managed to grab a tiny amount of the x86 market share from Intel last quarter. According to Mercury research AMD’s combined x86 market share rose from 18.2 percent to 19.1. This .9 percent rise was attributed to AMD’s strong offering in the mobile market although some reports seemed to suggest otherwise.
We have had quite a bit on Microsoft’s next operating system here on the site including gaming performance, Internet Explorer 10 and the Metro UI (which we still do not particularly like). After tinkering around with Windows 8 and seeing the potential underneath we do get that even if Windows 8 is not a blockbuster it will change the way that the tablet market works forever.
If there is one constant in the world or IT (in indeed the world) it is change. I remember learning that back in physics class many, many years ago. Change is not stoppable it is not something that you can run from and it is a law that seems to be the driving force behind so much. Where am I going with all of this? Well I talking about the way the consumer electronic markets and the PC markets are moving. When I first started tinkering around with hardware resolutions were laughable compared to what your average smartphone can pull off. I am talking about 192 x 160 with 8-bit color and this was considered cutting edge!
Microsoft is doing the hard sell on Windows 8 features and in particular they have made a valiant effort to push past some of the bad press (and consumer grumbling) about Metro UI and the way many of the apps are locked down. We have talked a little about this and even touched on it during some of our gaming coverage. Although you can launch “desktop” applications from the Start Screen (The Metro UI interface) you are not actually running them there. The only apps that will run in Metro UI Mode are ones that are downloaded from the Microsoft Store. This limits the functionality of the OS in many ways. Sure you can get some applications to interact with each other, but even then there are limitations.
Yesterday a round of happy articles from members of the press that are getting tired of Apple’s dominance in the tablet market hit the internet. Their primary focus was something that we have talked about since the original iPad hit the market; productivity. Although many companies try to use the iPad and Android based tablets they are often web-only options or rely on virtualization applications like Citrix’s Xen or VMWare’s View. These products are expensive to own and operate (in addition to the money for the tablets) and are usually not justifiable by the bean counters.