Published in Editorials

Will Windows 8 on ARM be able to interest Android users?

by on14 February 2012 1249 times

untitledYesterday 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.

Both Apple and Android have productivity applications but there are certain issues with using them. If you are a Mac owner then using the productions suite from Apple poses very few issues. There are still some things that the mobile version of numbers does not pick up from the full desktop version and pages,… well it can be interesting to use on the iPad. Where things get dicey is when you are a PC user and you are trying to move between the desktop and an iPad or Android Tablet.

Unfortunately the level of app here is just not that good. We have tinkered with documents to go, Polaris, and many others and have yet to find one that will really do the job. On their own they are solid pieces of software, it is just when you start moving back and forth between the two platforms that things get ugly.

As we previously told you Microsoft (having listened to at least part of this consumer demand) has decided to drop in Office 15 into their Windows 8 on ARM. This means that when you buy a tablet that has Windows 8 pre-installed you are going to get a basic version of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook). These applications, according to Microsoft, will work exactly like the desktop versions.  This is going to be a great thing for anyone looking for a light portable system to use when they are away from their desktop. Microsoft has also said they are working hard to maintain the feel of the Windows Desktop when using the file explorer, calendar, and some other key applications inside the new platform.

Sounds great right? Well… you might not be so happy after you hear the rest of the story. Windows 8 on ARM will be very locked down. Microsoft is borrowing a page from Apple’s book here and will only allow applications from the Windows Store to be installed onto their new OS for the ARM SoC. The move was made to maximize on profits, but also to help control piracy. Both are good goals to have and are not outside what we have seen from Microsoft in the past. The problem will come when you take the Android users into account. Many of them like the flexibility that the OS offers. It is one of the driving reasons to choose Android over Apple (or Windows Phone). Locking down the UI and forcing people to use only the Windows store could seem far too much like Apple for many Android users.

While a full version of Office on an ARM tablet is compelling, we have a feeling that the restrictions that Microsoft are putting on both developers and consumers could be too much to make Windows 8 a viable competitor to iOS or Android. This is a shame really because if Microsoft opened up the platform a little more they could truly have something that would change the market. Instead we have a feeling that the x86 SoC’s from Intel (and possibly AMD) will be the dominate Windows 8 market while iOS and Android continue to clean up in the ARM tablet space.

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Last modified on 14 February 2012
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