Friday, January 18, 2013

The Problem With Windows 8

This is my first blog post but I'm definitely not going to keep it to a minimum.

Firstly, I think the concept of Windows 8 in a mobile user space was brilliant and was what the tablet world really needs to progress from their current fairy limited use of strictly media consumption and not creation. The reason this is currently a problem is because Apple's iPad proved to be the first successful tablet in the market, other companies only saw it as wise to at least partly copy the iPad's function. And while the iPad isn't terrible, I believe it is severely underpowered and held back by Apple's 'walled-garden'. Imagine using OSX on an iPad. I've always believed slapping a phone OS onto a tablet was not the way to go but unfortunately, the biggest players in the tablet market, both iOS and Android, have this view to an extend. Then along came Windows 8.

I currently own an original Asus Transformer running a custom 4.2.1 rom. I use it predominantly for viewing media and fairly regularly for browsing, but on the productivity side of things, I use it to view PDFs related to my Maths work occasionally and I have also written a couple of documents on it. But that's all.

Windows 8 is, in my opinion, the platform that will bring true productivity to tablets. Productivity has been traditionally done in a desktop environment purely because desktop PCs were designed for that purpose. The Apple iPad on the other hand was designed strictly for media consumption and so this has influenced all modern tablets. Tablets however are definitely part of the future and so this needs to change. You might say, 'Put a desktop OS on a tablet. Problem solved' but you'd be wrong. This has already been done to no-avail. This is because the GUI of traditional desktop operating systems have been specifically optimised for mouse and keyboard input. It's much too hard to press small buttons on windows with your fat finger. Therefore, the solution is to create a GUI that combines the functionality of a desktop with the touch optimisation features of tablet OS. Essentially, that's what Microsoft attempted to do with Windows 8 and that's why I believed it could really change things. Yes, 'Metro' or whatever their calling it now has gotten a lot of hate but I honestly believed that was a viable solution to the problem outlined above and one that could completely eradicate traditional laptops-heavy, impractical portability devices with downright embarrasing battery life.

Unfortunately however, Microsoft made several critical errors in its execution of Windows 8 that severely inhibits the OS's ability to progress and become popular.

Firstly, Microsoft decided it would be an intelligent move to release Windows 8 on desktops as well as tablets. Bad move. Using touch input on a mouse optimised GUI has been a failure so why would the opposite be any better. Answer: It wouldn't be. Hence the Windows 8 experience with a mouse and keyboard is downright disastrous and I do not recommend anyone install it on desktop or laptop systems. This critical mistake by Microsoft has given tech reviewers a good reason to bash Windows 8, hence it simply now will never take off in my opinion as it takes a lot to convince the average-joe who thinks a Tegra 3 CPU is better than a Samsung Exynos 5250 CPU because it has more cores, that their initial thoughts on a new product may not be correct. Thanks to Microsoft it will be many years before we are granted with a tablet market focused on productivity.

Then, there's Windows RT. Without getting into details, this is essentially Windows 8 minus anything that made you ever wish you had Windows on your tablet. Therefore it's useless and I'm keeping well clear of its imminent crash-and burn. Microsoft released Windows RT most likely to try to compete with the iPad because the audience for the complete Windows experience on a tablet is not CURRENTLY comparable to the audience for iPads and Android tablets. What Microsoft didn't realise was that to sway consumers, instead of providing them with different variants of the same product, you provide them with entirely new products. There's just no way Windows RT will ever take off simply because it's too far behind in the game. Perhaps it would have a slightly higher-than-0 chance if it was not priced on-par with the iPad. There would not be one average consumer in the world who decides they want a Microsoft Surface over an iPad. I'm again talking about someone who thinks putting more RAM in a computer will always equate to faster performance. The reason for this is the iPad's reputation as a popular entertainment device compared to Windows RT having basically no apps, Microsoft having failed thus far in the mobile market, and the fact that  it is most likely that none of the consumers' friends have even heard of the Surface. Now, had Microsoft priced the Surface CHEAPER than the iPad and perhaps the Surface Pro on-par with the iPad instead of more expensive then they may have set themselves up for a better fight. But no. Only Apple gets away with huge profit margins, Microsoft. Microsoft has for sure lost the ARM tablet battle but they haven't yet lost the tablet war although at this rate they surely will.

Windows RT is similar to Windows 8 on a desktop in that it's simply a poor idea that will bring negative consequences to where the real party is: Windows 8 on tablets. Because the Surface is laughably underpowered, any consumer that would actually bother to try out 'Windows 8' as they know it will suffer lag and general under-performance resulting in them writing Windows 8 off as a failed OS and never looking back, being completely oblivious to the fact that they actually tested Windows RT, not Windows 8. Thanks Microsoft for confusing consumers.

So what's left for Windows 8? Microsoft's Surface Pro, the device that should have been released in place of Windows RT, not several months after it. The Surface Pro shares the Surface's same impressive exterior design but replaces poor specs such as a slow Tegra 3 processor and low resolution screen, with laptop components-we're talking Core i5 CPUs. *Drool*
The bad news? Because of the disasters that were Windows 8 on desktops and Windows RT, The Surface Pro has little chance of taking off. Plus it will be much too expensive to warrant buying over a regular laptop

But who knows, Microsoft still has a chance and the Surface Pro is due for release in the next few weeks so time will tell.

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