Windows 8 -- All or Nothing
With the launch of the iPad, Apple has done a few things to evolve the public perception of a tablet
- Invented the paradigm of a tablet being a scaled up smartphone. From what I can tell, this is mostly because they wanted to group the touch interfaces together.
- Made a tablet adopt a pricing scheme of around 500 dollars. This was done to not inflict with any of their other products potential sales and further inflict the scaled up iPhone perception.
- Made tablets popular.
With the launch of Windows 8 and by extension, the Surface tablets, Microsoft is trying to change that perception
- They would like to return to grouping tablets with full scale computers, because of screen size.
- They want to increase tablets to around 1000 dollars to compete with ultrabooks. I say this because of the two tablets they release tonight, one (the ARM) is aimed at the iPad, while the other (the Pro) is meant to be a full scale ultrabook. It is painfully obvious which one they would like to succeed the most, the one with full Windows that can do everything a Windows computer can do.
- They want to make 'Desktop Tablets' popular (the x86 ones that can run full Windows).
This means that Microsoft will need to incur a full time paradigm shift for what makes up a tablet. This ain't easy. Apple got the upperhand on this because they were the first to make a usable tablet, and got years to normalize the paradigm. And this is even harder because Microsoft is unable to undercut the competition on prices. They will need a massive scale marketing campaign emphasizing that the Surface Pro is a full desktop OS doing full desktop OS things. They should sell the keyboard with the Pro, and make sure people know it's there. Most importantly, they will need to make it blend as an ultrabook while maintaining a distinctive profile.
I think to differentiate the Pro from iOS and Android tablets, they need to come up with a new catchphrase to encompass the high end tablet genre. Something like 'Desktop Tablet' or 'Windows Experience Tablet' or 'Premium Tablet.' Hopefully not 'Ultrapad' (it sounds bad).
Onto another subject entirely.
Today I installed Windows 8 onto my desktop. It has backwards compatibility and works okay. But there is a huge distinction between the Touch/Metro themed parts and the old desktop type areas. With an OS trying to tie together two competitive form factors, it can't have a Jack of all Trades feel. It has to be actively on top of them both. All desktop programs are coupled into one 'desktop' app, making multitasking within the desktop and multitasking within the OS a kind of tiered system, which would be very confusing to people buying a Windows 8 laptop thinking it would be a Windows 7 experience. For this, they need a non-intrusive but complete hands-on tutorial for the normal user to understand.
With this distinction between tablet apps and desktop apps, it has made it hard for tablet apps to be controlled fluidly by a mouse or desktop apps to be controlled through touch. I am realizing that the more I play around with the Metro apps, the more I like them, but they still feel different. The best way I can see to play around that one would be to make really good, multitouch based trackpads the standard, and also make it standard to have tablets with keyboard docks.
The hardest issue I see going forward with Microsoft is the large scale corporate adaption. Large corporations are slow to adapt (my school district downgrades every computer to XP). And if they don't see functionality written all over 8, they'll either wait out for 9 or, given enough time, jump ship entirely. Even worse for Microsoft is that Windows 8 is a step in a completely different direction, practically to a whole new dimension in the computer market, and once 8 is released, they can't look back. That said, if they can't improve by Windows 9, I can see a full scale Unix takeover about to happen. Apple may not be the most corporate friendly company, but Canonical sure as hell is. Ubuntu Unity is a whole hell of a lot more like 7 in the UI department than Metro is.
I don't see a way to really totally evade this issue. Metro has a very 'media device' feel to it and doesn't seem welcome to business professionals. Android looks more business oriented than Metro does.
*Edit: Photos. If you want me to post photos of specific applications, just ask