ASUS covering all Windows 8 bases: Predict confused market

ASUS covering all Windows 8 bases: Predict confused market

Summary: ASUS is showing a range of devices at Computex this week designed to handle every form factor for Windows 8. Hopefully that "one-size-fits-all" approach won't confuse the buyer.

TOPICS: Tablets

PC maker ASUS is in Computex this week unveiling a whole line of tablets, laptops, and hybrids running Windows 8. Microsoft is counting on Windows 8 to handle all types of PCs, and ASUS is looking to offer them all. While the early look at these mobile computers is interesting, consumers may be overwhelmed when it comes time to figure out what they need to buy.

The Transformer book system that ASUS is showing looks like a fantastic implementation of Windows 8. It is based on the popular Transformer Prime Android hybrid system consisting of a tablet that detaches from a laptop dock.

The Transformer Prime impressed me as the best Android tablet solution I have tried, with its great tablet that becomes a full laptop replacement when needed. Apparently ASUS listened when I explained why I wanted one of these systems running Windows RT, and the company is showing off one at Computex.

Windows 8 will come in two versions for mobile devices, Windows RT for ARM-based systems such as the Tranformer, and Windows 8 for Intel x86-based systems. ASUS intends to cover them both and is also showing an 11-inch tablet running the Intel Atom processor, also with a detachable laptop dock. This will be able to run legacy Windows apps due to the ability of Windows 8 (and not Windows RT) to handle such apps. The traditional Windows crowd will likely prefer this device running "full-blown" Windows.

ASUS is also showing two innovative hybrid systems at Computex, called the Taichi, that have two displays. One is exposed in a conventional laptop configuration running Windows which makes it a typical Ultrabook type of device. However when the lid is closed the second display takes over, turning the hybrid into a touch tablet. There will be two screen sizes, 11-inch and 13-inch. The intention is to offer the best of both worlds, a tablet and an Ultrabook.

These two devices will likely be expensive due to the double screen configuration, so we'll have to see how the market reacts to them once they are released late this year. The weight penalty of the attached keyboard will not be an advantage while using them in tablet mode, so that's a hurdle that ASUS will have to jump. They will also have Intel processors onboard, so they will run Windows 8 and not Windows RT.

These devices from ASUS are just the beginning for Windows 8 devices we will see announced over the next few months. No mention of pricing is being given by ASUS for any of them, and that detail is huge in the tablet market. The two different processor architectures being used, along with the two vastly different versions of Windows, will also be a big factor in how the market receives them.

The deal recently announced by ASUS to include the ability to run Android apps on its Windows PCs is looking pretty savvy.

That market may end up being very confused at the choices that have to be made at purchase time. Should the buyer go Windows 8 or Windows RT? Tablet only or tablet/ laptop configuration? Detachable screen or single device? One display or two?

Don't misunderstand me, I firmly believe choice is a good thing. The more choices to make, the better. But most mainstream consumers looking for a tablet are going to want one like the iPad. That means one running Windows RT with the full Metro app experience. Unfortunately they aren't going to know that, and they will end up buying whatever Windows tablet the sales rep recommends. That could very well be one with an Intel processor running regular Windows 8, if that's what the rep prefers. The end result will be an unhappy buyer.

While ASUS is obviously trying to cover all the form factors that Windows 8 will handle, it turns the consumer decision at buying time into a daunting one. Hopefully the message given to the market will clear things up for the buyer before they head to the store.

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Topic: Tablets

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  • Transformer will likely be very popular,

    but I'm curious about the Taichi. The ultra-touch dual screen hybrid can really be useful for my needs during collaborative e-board meetings at a coffee shop. People next to me can view my screen, while people infront of me would view the back-screen. I think Asus should go one step further and make the Taichi into a Transformer by making the screen detachable!!! :) or vice versa.
    • +1.

      Ram U
    • Maybe one screen at a time only

      The demos show only one screen is active at a time. I don't know if both can be manually turned on at once.
      • Go Back and look at the Demo's

        You might want to go back and look at the demo's. Both screens can be on at the same time. Looks like you can Mirror and Extend just like a second monitor.
      • According to a report on PC Mag ...

        The two screens are totally independent of one another ' allowing two people to work independently at the same time ... '
    • Touchscreen Battleship

      That would be interesting, but any use (including that and the one you mention) does not seem to be something the mass market would go for. So I'm a bit confused by this one. I would think a twisting screen would be much cheaper to produce than two screens on a clam shell.
      Michael Kelly
      • So?

        [i]any use (including that and the one you mention) does not seem to be something the mass market would go for[/i]

        If I understand your concern correctly, no product should ever be made unless the mass market will purchase it?
      • Yes.

        "f I understand your concern correctly, no product should ever be made unless the mass market will purchase it? "

        Well... if they don't purchase it the company loses money and possibly ceases to exist, so yes, a concern of selling any product is whether enough people will buy it to produce an acceptable rate of profit.
      • So nothing in between?

        [i]Well... if they don't purchase it the company loses money[/i]

        So there is nothing in between no one buying a product and everyone buying a product?
      • @toddbottom3

        There is something between no one buying and everyone buying, but consider this market. Margins are razor thin, so the only way you can make money is if you sell a lot.

        Or you can make the margins fatter. But consumers expect cheap hardware these days, especially SMBs and home users. And given the choice between an expensive device that is perfect and a cheap device that is good enough, most will choose the cheap device.

        There are markets for hardware that is built to specific niche purposes, but as a trade off is more costly, and these do succeed. But is this one of them? I don't see it, again because SMBs and home user want cheap.
        Michael Kelly
      • Thank you Michael

        [i]There are markets for hardware that is built to specific niche purposes ... But is this one of them? I don't see it[/i]

        That is something else entirely. I just see a lot of people who claim that if something doesn't "kill" the iPad, it is a failure. That simply isn't true. Something is a failure if it doesn't make money but plenty of devices that don't sell to the mass market make money. The Mac Pro is just one. Very expensive, sells in very small numbers, the mass market has rejected it totally, but I'm sure it still makes Apple a profit so it is a "success".

        [i]Margins are razor thin[/i]

        You have to be careful when you write this because while this is certainly true on budget hardware, it isn't often true on more expensive models. Dell is "famous" for razor thin margins because people think $300 computer when they think Dell. Dell makes much bigger margins on their more expensive hardware.

        [i]given the choice between an expensive device that is perfect and a cheap device that is good enough, most will choose the cheap device.[/i]

        Clearly this isn't true or people wouldn't buy any of Apple's products.
      • Killing the iPad

        @ toddbottom3

        Actually, no product need to kill the iPad in order to become success for its vendor. It only needs to be purchased by enough customers to turn profit. Starting a holy war against an product like the iPad is an sure recipe for failure.

        The Macbook Pro is not a niche product. It is just one of the products Apple has in their "personal computer" offering. As you know, Apple controls their entire ecosystem -- from both hardware designs, to software, to services. They also have a policy to make (serious) profit from each and every device.
        So if Apple still produces and sells the Macbook Pro, it is not niche.
        (I am sure you will think of this as fanboy ramblings, but just think again)

        The problem with (say) ASUS making such an boutique product is that they do not control the ecosystem in which they sell at all. Someone else makes the software that runs on their hardware. Yet someone else offers the services that make those hardware/software things useful. If any of those other parties goof, ASUS loses. And, if you consider, that Microsoft has finite resources, and they have to make choice which boutique system to support.. you get the picture. No ASUS product is ever going to have as polished experience and tuning of Windows as the Macbook Pro has, unless there is some huge fan of that particular product (only) at Microsoft who pushes for this support.
      • @toddbottom...

        Jeez, chill out and take your meds already, will you?

        Save your aggression for those who aren't devotees of Microsoft.
    • Asus is the stone cold nuts

      That leaves one other transformer Asus needs to make!
      The transformer phone: a win8 phone that can dock into a tablet dock which can then dock into the lapdock. They can also make a double DIN cardock screen for this transformer phone so we can have a proper carputer as well. We are getting there.....

      Asus: we make whatever you want
      Apple: you want whatever we make
  • The deal recently announced by ASUS to include the ability to run Android a

    When I saw that my first thought was "What an abomination!" Why would you want, when undock, to suddenly be thrown into Android when you have Windows 8 ready to use (and were using a moment ago)?
    • Android is an established tablet OS

      with established apps. Perhaps a year or more from now once Windows 8 has had time to mature, this will seem a bit odd. But at the moment it's the best option for such a hybrid.

      Though personally I would wait that extra year to see how well Windows catches on.
      Michael Kelly
  • I don't totally buy it

    Who is going to be confused? The sales folks? Most people will fall into one of two categories, those that understand the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT and those that do not...and yes, it will likely be lopsided in favor of people that don't understand. So the one question the salesperson needs to be qualified to ask is, "Do you plan on installing any programs from discs or downloads you have previously purchased?" If that's a yes, inform the customer that the safer option is Windows 8 because Windows RT only lets programs install from an app store, similar to how smartphones work.

    Those that think they are savvy, but aren't (that gray-area group) will risk buying the wrong one... That's just like the person that burns through a tank of gas because they can't admit they are lost. They'll quietly make it work or pay the additional money to right so they do not look stupid. Chances are with the changes made in Windows 8, people will be more willing to ask questions though.

    The one weird app that I don't know if we have clarification on is something like Steam. If there is a Steam app in the store, can you install the games via Steam that you previously purchased? Chances are though, people interested in Steam will either hold off on upgrading until that's clarified or want Windows 8 anyway. Personally, I don't see a reason to have Windows 8 on a tablet since the legacy apps wouldn't be optimized for touch. The same reason people are complaining that metro sucks on a desktop, old programs will suck on a tablet (hence a big reason why so few Windows XP/Windows 7 tablets sell).

    So...I agree that people will be confused, but one questions settles things. I think you're making a mountain out of a mole hill here. I think it would be harder to sell someone an x64 version of something for an old "HP" for example. I mean, since we all know that every (insert OEM here) ever uses the same parts in every computer. People generally understand what you mean when you ask if they will be installing any programs that already own.
  • The mainstream consumer wants a Windows Laptop.

    "But most mainstream consumers looking for a tablet are going to want one like the iPad. That means one running Windows RT with the full Metro app experience."

    Lets not forget laptops vastly outsell iPads. The mainstream consumer wants a laptop running Windows, and will be very happy to get one with some tabletiness thrown in. Windows 8 laptops with touch screens will vastly outsell WinRT tablets, and likely iPads also.
    • Laptop with tabletiness not well done

      What MS missed while designing this tablet interface and combining it with the classic desktop is interaction between the desktop and Metro UI.

      What would have been great is having the laptop always in desktop mode when used as a laptop and automatically switching to Metro when flipping or undocking the keyboard and new application designed for Windows 8 would have both Metro and desktop versions and when switching between the two modes the content of the opened app on one side (desktop or Metro) would automatically swap into the other version (Metro or desktop) so you can keep working on the same stuff after the laptop/tablet flip.

      But by restricting Metro app to the store and having a clear cut between desktop and Metro it will not happen.
      • the Win7 desktop is being deprecated.

        Thats because the high precision desktop environment is being deprecated. Everyone knows games where you do not have to aim very well are more fun. Same for desktop use. If Microsoft did not make the move people would still move to the "more fun" enviroment, it would just be to Apple's products.