If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

Summary: According to a new survey, users seem very interested in Microsoft Winpad tablets, but what are their options for the next year or so?

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A Boston Consulting Group survey out this week notes that 42 percent of U.S. consumers would be interested in buying a tablet that runs Windows -- significantly more than those who'd prefer a tablet running iOS or Android.

You can get a tablet running Windows today from a variety of PC makers. However, like AllThingsD, which reported on the new survey, I don't really think this is what those surveyed had in mind when they voted for a Winpad.

True touch-centric, more battery-conserving, more portable Windows tablets are coming next year (late summer/early fall seems to be the general consensus, though still not confirmed by Microsoft) with Windows 8. But Microsoft isn't going to stop hawking Windows 7 machines until Windows 8 is ready.

In fact, just this week, Microsoft made available for download its "Get Started" guide for "Using Windows 7 Professional on a Slate PC." (I feel as though Microsoft's choice of "slate" over "tablet" here is somewhat odd, given that the devices in question aren't "just" consumption devices.) The guide features all the usual suggestions -- ones about which I've blogged before -- for making Windows 7 better suited for use on a touch-first slate/tablet, including pinning sites using IE 9, setting up Jump Lists, pinning the Tablet PC Input Panel to the Taskbar, using Snap to compare windows, etc.

The new guide points to Product Scout to help users find applications suited for slate PCs. It also provides a link to the Office-411.com site which includes a video of a Windows 7 touch slate/tablet in action.

Is that it, then? Users who want Windows tablets sooner than next fall have to go with Windows 7?

The answer seems to be yes. But there is one ray of hope. Windows8update.com' s Onoura Amobi posted a tantalizing rumor (with the emphasis on the word "rumor") on his Windows8update.com blog recently. Amobi said that Microsoft may be considering allowing one or possibly more hardware partners distribute the coming Windows 8 beta preloaded on new tablets. He said there's talk that the OEM(s) would sell (at a steep discount) tablets preloaded with the Windows 8 beta, with the caveat that they'd be optionally upgradable to Windows 8 final upon final launch. Microsoft isn't commenting at all on this, as Amobi noted.

I haven't heard anything about this myself, but his post made me remember that leaked Dell roadmap from earlier last year that showed a Windows 8 tablet codenamed "Peju" due out around January 2012. Many are expecting Microsoft to deliver the one and only Windows 8 beta in January around the time of the Consumer Electronics Show. Definitely something that made me go hmmmmmm....

Update: Talk about synchronicity: Engadget posted some possible Peju pictures on October 6. (Peju is expected to be a Windows 7 tablet, but it still could be upgradable/usable as a Windows 8 one.)

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

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

    If Microsoft updated Windows 7 to work as well as Windows 8 desktop mode, that would be enough for me. The desktop IE browser in Windows 8 is way better in terms of how it responds to touch. I was using win7 on a tablet everyday until I got my device at BUILD, but what I've noticed is that touch works a lot better in Windows 8 desktop mode than in Win7.
    rwalrond
    • Tablets are an overrated market

      Not worth this much effort to build a touch friendly system and then force it upon the desktop OS. Who in their right mind would be interested in touching a desktop screen really? Win8 is focusing on the wrong thing.
      LBiege
      • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

        @LBiege I'm adding "Who in their right mind would be interested in touching a desktop screen" to the same list as "640k is all you will ever need"...
        WarmBody
      • Asking the wrong question

        @WarmBody

        640K is still plenty of RAM for a CLI machine running Wordperfect 5.1. At the time, there was no concept of a GUI being mainstream (Lisa was barely more than a concept machine at the time), and doing any kind of creative editing on computer would have gotten you laughed out of any video or photo editing studio. Heck, the original Applewriter laser printers that jump started desktop publishing with PostScript had more CPU power than the computers they were connected to.

        Equating "who would use a tablet?" with "640K of RAM..." are two entirely different questions. One is technical, the other is societal. What does a tablet do that a desktop cannot? not much, except be portable. What does a machine with 4GBytes of RAM do that one with 640K cannot? run pretty much every application i've got open right now.

        Joey
        voyager529
      • RE: Asking the wrong question

        @Voyager529

        I think you missed WarmBody's point. Both comments are based on current perspective rather than future perspective. At the time, the societal understanding of computing need was met and exceeded by 640K or RAM. LBiege's comment is a societal comment based on his current perspective of computing need for slate / tablet based computing. Both are equivalent in terms of perspective on current computing needs, and the comment was that much as the 640K comment was short sided, so may be the Windows 8 comment related to its focus on touch computing.
        selliott80919
      • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

        @LBiege
        Well i can name u many places or jobs who need or use a touch desktop.
        -Cashier.
        -Graphic designers.
        -Salesman.
        -Civil architect.
        -Vendor machines.
        -Inboard computers (in airplane,cars,...)
        And many more.

        Probably for home use a touch desktop doenst seem as usefull as it seem, but the Touch in Windows8 is not limited to a touch screen, it can be :
        -a touch keyboard
        -a touch trackpad
        -a touch surface

        So yes i think Windows 8 MetroUI will be just awesome, we just need to wait for the proper Input output devices hardwares to be available.
        SylvainT
      • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

        @LBiege What does is matter if it's a desktop screen or not? If I can touch it I want it to work. I don't care if it's a desktop App or Metro or iPad App, I just want it to work. My point was simple, Microsoft is also improving touch on the desktop side for the times you may need to quickly do something.
        Win8 is focused on the future, It would seem there will always be someone complaining no matter what MS does. If they push ahead first then they're wrong, if they wait for some else to do it and then copy, then they're copycats and not innovators.
        BTW, I've been touching a desktop screen everyday for almost 12 months, so I guess I'm not in my right mind. :)
        rwalrond
      • @selliot

        future perspective won't change human anatomy. Having to constantly move your arm over a 27" display, horizontal or vertical is an exercise in pain and discomfort, and only geek engineers totally disconnected from reality would think it's a cool idea.
        baggins_z
      • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

        @SylvainT

        ???

        -Cashier. = OK
        -Graphic designers. = uhm No. I just imagine a graphic designer using a real ruler to get a line straight? :D

        -Salesman. = OK

        -Civil architect. = uhm the T-SQUARE? used on top a a Microsoft Surface would be better
        -Vendor machines. = OK

        -Inboard computers (in airplane,cars,...)
        ^ ...

        ...

        Well just messin' with ya.. I got bored suddenly :D because I think I can't live without a Mouse. ^_^
        TheFilipinoFlash
      • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

        @LBiege
        Touch screen is next big thing. It's how we point something to do something. Before we move the cursor using arrow in keyboard and press enter. Later me move our mouse and click. Now move our finger and tap.
        Win8 is trying to go there.
        Voltus
      • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

        @LBiege It's not just about touch, that's a misnomer.

        Read the blogs from Building Windows 8: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/10/03/evolving-the-start-menu.aspx
        Skippy99
  • ARM

    Microsoft needs to test Windows 8 on the ARM architecture at a large scale. I would guess that the rumor is true, that Microsoft is trying to get hardware partners to launch Windows 8 beta tablets (running ARM SoC designed for Windows 8) around the time of the CES.
    reidar76
    • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

      @reidar76 [url=http://www.thesanjoseplumbers.com]San Jose Plumbing[/url]
      baconman84
  • Maybe they haven't got the right OS for a tablet.

    I don't see Windows 8 changing that, it will even put some people off. Microsoft needs to develop a brand new, purpose built tablet OS with very tight and expert coding. They DO have the financial wherewithal to do it. They haven't so far had the guts to see that this would have been the right thing to do, so have lost a lot of time. As a gamble I'd say that if tablets are likely to be with us for any significant period of time (which in some form they must be!) then it isn't too late, and Microsoft still needs to get on and write a new OS.
    peter_erskine
    • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

      @peter_erskine@... based on the study she linked to, 42% of consumers do not agree with you. In fact the most common comment I've heard is "I want one so I can run X on a tablet".

      Most of the time "X" is World of Warcraft. I was surprised at first but after some thought this actually makes a lot of sense.
      WarmBody
    • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

      @peter_erskine@...
      Please tell it to 42% of people who actually wanted Windows Tablet to play games. It seems they didn't understand the logic you understood.
      Ram U
    • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

      @peter_erskine@...

      "Microsoft needs to develop a brand new, purpose built tablet OS with very tight and expert coding."

      They have. It's called Windows 8. Well, the name isn't official yet, but what we're calling Windows 8 will be it.

      No, it's not 100% new, but I imagine it won't be running Win32 - it'll be running WinRT.

      What exactly do you mean by a "new OS" anyways? An OS these days is made up of thousands of components, and Microsoft has rewritten nearly everything going from XP to Windows 8. I can't think of anything other than the kernel itself that hasn't been rewritten.

      And the kernel itself was engineered from the ground up to be solid and portable. It ran on the following architectures: IA-32, x86-64, Alpha, MIPS, PowerPC, Itanium, and now the ARM. I think it's plenty capable of running on whatever they want it to run on.

      I think you misjudge the architecture of Windows, and I think you misjudge what Microsoft can do.
      CobraA1
    • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

      @peter_erskine@... <br>If they decided to do that they already have the OS. It's called Windows Phone 7.5

      But Windows 8 will get the job done, I'm very confident of that.
      mikroland2.0
  • What's the real reason for wanting Windows

    I'm not sure that Windows necessarily offers much more utility than iOS or Android for things like taking and posting photos, browsing the Web, etc. My guess is that at least a lot of those people want to run Office on their tablet. But will Office be ported to the ARM OS? Will it run on a tablet with 16GB of memory and a low-power CPU? If not, it could take away a major reason to opt for a Windows tablet over the others.
    degrootp
    • RE: If you want a Microsoft Winpad, this is what you get (until next year)

      @Al S Cook

      Some people need more than a toy to post photos, browse the web, listening to music, playing games, and checking email. Think beyond the personal users and think more industry, business and education. Some of these need to be mobile just as much as the next guy and need access to specialized applications and functions a lightweight OS cannot deliver in it's current form.
      bobiroc