The looming perception problem with Windows tablets

The looming perception problem with Windows tablets

Summary: With a number of Windows tablets being prepared for launch, it is clear that Microsoft will have to deal with a perception problem about slates that is looming in the wings.


With a number of Windows tablets being prepared for launch, it is clear that Microsoft will have to deal with a perception problem looming in the wings. Most of these tablets will be simple touch tablets like the iPad or the TEGA v2, but consumers are already confused thinking they will handle pen input. There will be a lot of tablets returned when buyers discover they cannot write on the screen, and OEMs will look to Microsoft to get the correct message to consumers.

The Windows Tablet PC never reached mainstream acceptance, but most folks are aware of these laptops that have pens. While sales of Tablet PCs were largely restricted to niche markets, most folks have been exposed to the laptops that work with a pen. A lot of folks I talk to have never tried using a Tablet PC, but have a curiosity about the ability to write on the screen with the special pen. The more I correspond with readers about the touch tablets hitting the market, the more apparent it is that many potential buyers think that any device running Windows will handle pen input. That's not the case and a lot of folks are going to be disappointed when they find out the truth.

Some early Tablet PCs had the ability to handle both touch and pen input, through special digitizers that worked with both types of technologies. These digitizers were not cheap, and resulted in devices that cost more than those that handled only one input method or the other. It is only natural that those unfamiliar with how this works will end up confused about which devices can do both and which ones can't.

To complicate the situation the HP Slate 500 that was released late last year has the ability to work with both touch and pen, even though it has the same form as touch only slates. This is part of the reason it is expensive when compared to the iPad with touch only. Other Windows tablets hitting the market only have touch digitizers, but literature about them never mentions pen capability one way or the other.

Microsoft and OEMs making Windows tablets need to work together to make sure that every device coming to market is plainly labeled in a way that makes it clear to buyers what they are getting. This may require a branding program for tablets with and without pen control, or a logo program of some kind. Tablet makers and Microsoft are going to have a hard enough time competing with Apple and Google Android without creating a confusing message.

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

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  • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets

    Before I will worry about pen functionality. I will worry about performance. Who many minutes it will take to start a Win7 tablet?
    • But still the most important point is why there are Windows tablets at all?

      @eboraks: there is no way to properly run any "serious" applications with low memory, speed and UI which is designed for 24-30" screens, and for lighter applications Windows and that tablet hardware is total overkill.<br><br><b>Windows tablets are pointless devices</b> except for few unique cases. Lighter tablets (like iPad 2) will do much better with much less size, weight, better battery life and yet quicker operation.

      It is not "perception" problem, it is Windows tablets problem.
      • Define &quot;lighter application&quot;

        Try office, it is never a overkill application.
      • Try iWorks for iPad -- it does every major thing an office does

        @FADS_z: 3D charts, formulas, calculations, outlining, formatting (and AirPrint).
      • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets

        [i]Try iWorks for iPad -- it does every major thing an office does[/i]
        Yes, but not quite. I bought the pieces of iWorks for my iPad and tried using it for real work

        It does BUT only if I stick to simple things. It has a very annoying habit of reformatting my documents, not handling more complex spreadsheet data (links and custom formulas) and loves to make havoc of presentations that are more than simple.

        I frequently end up spending as much time fixing as I did trying to use. now I just view and make notes; on a pad of paper.....

        iWorks for iPad.
        It's a start.
        It does have a long way to go....

      • agreed

        Windows programs are too slow and resource hungry to survive well outside of proper desktops. Hence the failure of netbooks that function smoothly and fast with other OSes.
        Regards from
        Tom :)
      • Well while you're at it

        Throw in AutoCAD and Adobe Premier. Turn it into a 5lb. brick with 2 hours of battery time. That will make the windoze fanbuis happy.
      • The HP Slate 500 Windows 7 tablet is not limited

        @denisrs You are correct that most serious windows applications need a large screen and that the Slate 500, in particular has less of a battery life than an iPad. However the Slate 500 does have 2gb of memory as well as 64gb SSD which is enough for almost any windows program to run well. Additionally the dock for the Slate has 2 additional USB2 ports, audio port, charger connection as well as a video HDMI port if you want to connect your 30" screen to the 1.5lb Slate!
    • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets

      @eboraks starting from fully shutdown takes 27 seconds (0.5 minutes), but I don't usually shut it down. Hibernate takes 20 seconds to come back from, but Sleep only takes 2 seconds.
    • Slate 500 boot time

      @eboraks The HP Slate 500 starts in a couple of seconds from it's normal sleep mode. From a cold start the boot time is around 30 seconds. This is pretty much the same as any iPad. One of the strongest features is it is fully Windows 7, important for those users which have software which is not available on the apple platform. It's cost is $100 more than the 64gb iPad 2 but it does have USB2 and SD card slots.
  • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets

    What perception problems? Everyone knows of Microsoft Windows and how good it is. Sounds like you are trying to shift the blame from the OEMs to Microsoft for pen input. If the OEMs are claiming that then its their responsibility to answer to the consumers. Microsoft just provided them with the platform, they can build onto it if they wish with pen support.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets

      @Loverock Davidson

      They have a perception problem. Everyone knows Windows and what a POS it is.

      It's a known fact that few who go away from Windows ever go back. The problem is letting them know there are viable options other than Windows.

      People associate MS with Junk.
      • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets

        @itguy08 <br>It is?<br>I tried Mac, found myself spending most of my time in Win7....<br>So I went back to Win7; on a Win7 notebook.<br>IMHO - Win7 is way better then OSX - it just works.<br><br><img border="0" src="" alt="happy">
      • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets


        Is part of working that html tag you embedded?
    • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets

      @Loverock Davidson And that's why iPad sold more in the short time it was out last year than EVERY WINDOWS TABLET EVER SOLD..

      Got that Loverock? EVERY WINDOWS TABLET EVER SOLD.

      More than XP + Vista + 7 COMBINED...IN LESS THAN A YEAR.

      Got any more comments for the peanut gallery?

      Thought not.
      Brick Tamland
      • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets

        @Brick Tamland

        So Windows is a POS and "everyone" knows it? That's what passes as argument from the fringe? Over 90% of the world use Windows in preference to a free, but simple OS Linux or the lipstick on a pig style Unix that is OS/X.

        As to sales figures Brick (appropriate name for an iPad fanboi) look up pet rocks, they also sold a lot. Remember there's one born every minute ;-)
      • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets

        @Brick Tamland
        In its first year of sale windows 7 capture more desktop market shares than all apple desktop users in existence. See how you can use statistics to say whatever you want?

        Oh by the way, they sold 14 million ipads....It takes about 2 weeks to sell that many PCs.

        And as for practical, browse through the job sites and compare the number of apple jobs vs PC jobs. And then compare the salaries too. Thats why people stick with windows.
  • How does it actually behave?

    The average Windows app doesn't know touch from Shinola, so there must be some layer of software in Windows-for-tablets that acts as a shim between various kinds of touches and the mouse input that the app is expecting.

    How well does this work? How long does it take to get proficient at operating apps with fingers instead of mice? How accurate is the placement of the mouse pointer... with a real mouse you can get down to the pixel, but hamfisted me would have a tough time doing that with my finger. How does the device deal with that?
    Robert Hahn
  • Capacitive stylus

    Those wanting pen input can buy a capacitive stylus, so I see little point in this story.
    • RE: The pending perception problem with Windows tablets THANK YOU! I was just about to post the same thing. If the tablet ships with a Capacitive Stylus (which is made of a material that basically conducts the electricity of your hand), then it's all good. Sure, there will be a few morons or kids who lose the stylus and try using a ballpoint pen but... who cares. lol