Windows 8 tablets and the security update nightmare

Summary:When I think of Windows 8 running on tablets the more problems I see, especially when I think about the regular updates that come with Windows. I don't think that will work with tablets.

One Windows to rule them all. That is the message coming loud and clear from Microsoft about Windows 8. The company intends to have the next version of Windows running on all types of devices, from desktops to tablets. Many who watch Windows are already questioning how well that might work, and I am firmly in that camp. When I think of Windows 8 running on tablets, the full Windows according to Microsoft, the more problems I see, especially when I think about security problems that come with Windows, and the regular updates those require. I don't think that will work with devices designed for auxiliary usage like tablets.

I understand that the need for constant updating to protect Windows users from the bad guys is not Microsoft's fault. It never has been. The platform has been a target to the malware makers because it is so big. Unfortunately, while not Microsoft's fault it is still an ingrained part of the Windows ecosystem. If you run Windows you must plan on regular updates to keep it safe. Windows 8 is going to be the same as every previous version of Windows. Therein lies the rub with devices like tablets.

Tablets are not primary systems that owners will always be using. They are auxiliary systems, picked up occasionally to do something online or to deal with some content. Pick the tablet up, do what you need and then set it back down again. The usage scenario has no place for frequent security updates. The first time you pick up a Windows 8 tablet to do something quickly, only to find that an update needs to be applied, or is downloading in the background, you are going to get frustrated that you can't do what you need to do. They can set it up so that you can postpone the update, but that leaves you vulnerable at best and needing to plan for some time to get the updates applied at worst. Maintenance will be a constant part of Windows 8 ownership, and tablet owners are not going to like that.

Windows Update currently can be configured to apply in the middle of the night you say, minimizing the impact to using tablets in the future. The problem is tablets don't fit that scenario; owners of tablets will tell you they don't necessarily plug them in every night due to long battery life. Or if they do, and a security update comes in while the tablet is sitting charging away, that can bring other problems. The first morning you grab your Windows 8 tablet off the charger to do something and discover the device has rebooted during the night to complete an update, you are going to be frustrated. Especially because like most tablet owners you left several apps running while in standby and maybe your work wasn't saved for the update. Losing work in progress is a very bad thing, having to recreate a work session is also no fun.

Tablets are used differently from other computers, and having the full Windows 8 onboard, with all of the overhead of maintenance that will bring, will not be competitive. Tablets running mobile OSes don't have that overhead, and that is a big draw to owners. They are always on, always ready to pick up where the owner left off, because the OS has no regular maintenance requirements. Windows 8 will never be free of the need for security, and that will be a negative impact on owners.

Image credit: WinRumors

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Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Mobility, Operating Systems, Security, Software, Tablets, Windows

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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