Windows Tablet Makers: If You Build it They Won't Necessarily Come

Windows Tablet Makers: If You Build it They Won't Necessarily Come

Summary: I followed the CES coverage last week carefully, looking for that rare Windows tablet that nailed both the form factor and the user interface. It was pretty much a waste of time.


My position on whether Windows tablets will succeed in the market is pretty clear. A solid user experience is essential in the touch tablet segment, and so far I haven't seen anyone succeed in producing one running Windows. I followed the CES coverage last week carefully, looking for that rare Windows tablet that nailed both the form factor and the user interface. It was pretty much a waste of time.

To show you what I mean, take a look at the three-minute video my friends at Netbook News shot in the Microsoft booth at the CES. There was an entire wall of Windows tablets on display, supposedly to convince attendees that the future in the tablet segment was Windows.

Did you watch the video? If so, you saw tablet after tablet with roughly the same form factor (thin, 10-inch), all sporting the familiar face of Windows 7. That's a big failure in my book, as Windows 7 simply can't provide a solid user experience on touch tablets.

Outside of the Microsoft booth at the CES there were a few tablets that showed real promise, but not one of them are running Windows. I am a long-time user of Windows Tablet PCs and I am thoroughly frustrated at Microsoft's failure to address the consumer touch tablet market. Heck, the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet looks really promising, with a brand-new interface that appears to be quite good for touch operation. Can't Microsoft do something like this? I would be embarrassed if I worked at Microsoft in the group(s) working on tablets.

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

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  • Too bad none of the tablets looked promising

    Windows or Android, it doesn't matter not a one of them will be any big seller or market leader.
    John Zern
  • RE: Windows Tablet Makers: If You Build it They Won't Necessarily Come

    "Tablet Makers: If You Build it They Won?t Necessarily Come"

    There, fixed the title for you. This isn't a Microsoft Windows issue, its a form factor issue. The only people promoting tablets are the bloggers are ZDNet. The rest of the world couldn't care about them as they are not a practical device.

    [i]That?s a big failure in my book, as Windows 7 simply can?t provide a solid user experience on touch tablets.[/i]

    And why not? If you are going to make such a statement back it up with reasons. I want to hear what lame excuses you come up with. I'm betting the first will be "because its not an iPad!"
    Loverock Davidson
    • "Wont".. I guess you mean "Won't"?

      @Loverock Davidson.. if you're going to be a grammar Nazi.. you better make sure you post is clear of grammatical and spelling mistakes yourself.. or you come off as looking very petty AND foolish..
      • RE: Windows Tablet Makers: If You Build it They Won't Necessarily Come

        Do not worry he is already petty and foolish. He believes he can do no wrong, he is know to lie.
    • Did you read his previous article?

      @Loverock Davidson
      He makes the point that Windows Mobile/Phone 7 would be a better choice for OS on that form factor.
      Roger Ramjet
    • try using an application on windows 7 on a 10 inch touch device..

      @Loverock Davidson.. i have through VNC on an iPad.. and it sucks.. common things like clicking menu item, a checkbox, a radio button even a toolbar button are impossible without zooming in.. it's fine to do something to do a crap load of zoom and scroll in order to get something done that would require you drive across town, walk to another location in home or work.. but to work like that on a day to day, hour to hour basis would be hell..

      if microsoft is going to put a touch GUI layer on top of Windows 8.. especially if it could translate current GUI's into a touch one they might have something.. but just taking the current metphore and plopping it on a touch device is completely and utterly idiotic..

      the other thing is that devices like the iPad and android tablets are appliances.. they require little to no maintenance.. you just use them.. people are tire of all the BS they currently go through with traditional OS.. and sure traditional desktop OS are more powerful and flexible but most people don't need most of that power and flexibility.. android tabs and iPads have 90-100% of what they need.. plop it in a dock or connect to a bluetooth keyboard if you want to type something longer etc.. what people like you are realizing is that traditional OS are in and of themselves the problem that iPad and android tablets fix.. the fix is ditching them for something simpler, more streamlined and aligned with what people actually need..

      i think we are looking at a future where every individual will have a tablet and/or mobile device (i call tablets portable devices) and families will have one more powerful device at home for more intensive things
      • Don't blame Microsoft for your sausage fingers!


        I use RDP on an iPad all the time, and while the screen doesn't work for touch with small icons, you don't have to use direct touch input. I prefer using standard mouse movement, where the entire screen is just one big trackpad for the cursor. That works extremely well. What doesn't, is the fact that the keyboard takes up half the screen. Also, pen input is entirely more precise than touch - ask any artist. I find that the biggest problem is that probably the main reason why people use a computer - to access the Internet - is still frustrating on small screen devices (even the iPad's heavy 10" screen). You still have to pinch and scroll around to find stuff on a page, and text links are horrible in anything smaller than a 12pt font. Also, the iPads autocorrect gets in the way far too often on web forms, and the dictionary won't learn new words.

        Oh, and it appears that you've never heard of embedded operating systems, which Microsoft has been doing for years before the iPad was even one of Apples brainfarts.
      • RE: Windows Tablet Makers: If You Build it They Won't Necessarily Come

        @Joe_Raby..<br><br>so then why on earth do this on an iPad? why not just use a laptop... why would you buy an iPad only to turn it into a laptop? does that make sense?

        i like the directness and flexibility of using touch.. if you build you app properly for touch then a stylus is just not necessary.. if you require a stylus that's an automatic fail.. with the exception of drawing a stylus is just not necessary on a touch device if you've designed your app properly..
      • You just don't get it


        I bought my iPad for the same reasons most IT people are recommending them to companies:

        1. It's a tablet machine, so it's easy to carry (easier than a laptop mind you, but the iPad is still 2 lbs too heavy - I can walk and work with a tablet....not so with a laptop)
        2. It's cheap for a tablet
        3. After doing A LOT of research, I found that it will do most of what I need a portable computer to do. I have many desktops around me that I manage, and to have one less "computer" to manage saves a bit of time. My job is managing systems. My clients use them. Different tools for different computer usage is not the same as my clients.
        4. RDP is used a lot on it - not for apps, but for customer service and just for ease of access to a system to do something fast instead of going over to it (I could do the same on a laptop, but see point 1)

        Also, marking up documents is easier with handwriting. You've obviously never used OneNote. I wish OneNote was ported to the iPad, but then the almighty Steve would probably balk at it because a key role for it is to store handwritten notes.

        Finally, typing on the iPad is far more difficult when you're standing than holding a tablet on one arm and writing with a stylus on the screen. Think about using a clipboard, and if you say that's difficult, you must have some kind of impairment. Thumb-typing on the iPad is a UX nightmare by comparison. Plus, you look like a complete tool while thumb-typing on an iPad.
    • No you didn't...

      [i]"There, fixed the title for you."[/i]

      You spelled "won't" wrong.

      [i]"And why not? If you are going to make such a statement back it up with reasons."[/i]

      The reasons would be obvious. If you have have an API that's expecting a mouse click for function and the precision of a mouse-like device to operate said function, it does not work with fingers.

      A desktop operating system is not ideal for a tablet device. The reason Windows tablets never really took off is because Windows, from the perspective of the tablet form factor, is not a good operating system.

      Take your cues from the success of the iPod. It isn't that that Apple was the first to the market, it's that Apple developed a system and GUI designed specifically for taking advantage of the the limited screen real estate of an MP3 player. Likewise with the iPad.
    • RE: Windows Tablet Makers: If You Build it They Won't Necessarily Come

      @Loverock Davidson If your comparing Linux, Mac, and Windows as desktop OS, few would argue that Windows is the market leader and has been for the past 20 years. If you look at Linux and Unix, it has been the leader in appliance OS for that same amount of time. You use Linux, not Windows, in your routers, firewalls, DVD players, MP3 players, phones, and other devices. This means in a device that runs like a computer that both companies are on equal ground. That said, Microsoft is generally hated by many, not trusted by most, and not delivering product at a rate consumers expect. Linux on the other hand has stayed under the radar, has no problem re-branding itself to ease consumer confidence, and has steadily improved. Windows 7 can't provide a solid experience on touch tablets because it was designed to be a quick access phone OS, tablets need be different than phones. If anything it should more closely resemble the XBOX interface. But that's another issue. MS TV and tablet sales may actually compete with desktop and XBOX. Android, UBUNTU, and other Linux distros have no such conflicts.
  • RE: Windows Tablet Makers: If You Build it They Won't Necessarily Come

    <p>If you want an Android tablet, <b><u>BUY IT</u>!!!</b></p><p>If you want a Windows 7 tablet, <b><u>BUY IT</u>!!!</b></p><p>If you want iPad, <b><u>BUY IT</u>!!!</b></p><p>There. I <i>said</i> it. <b><u>HAPPY</u></b>?</p><p>Sorry, I don't mean to attack you with my statements, but to each his or her own.</p>
    Grayson Peddie
  • Windows Tablets have a purpose

    There are some of us who are predominantly business users that require Internet Explorer for a cloud based business applications and who also use programs built exclusively for Windows. We want the convenience of a tablet for portability AND we like a touch screen for our non business apps. Sounds like a Windows based tablet with a nice docking station is the perfect solution.
  • When was the last touch pc you used

    don't tell me you bought that five years ago.
  • RE: Windows Tablet Makers: If You Build it They Won't Necessarily Come

    I have to disagree. I own a touch screen monitor for my desktop and have no problem with using touch. The real issue is that there aren't many programs for Windows that are designed to be used with touch. Windows is my preferred OS to use for many reasons and I do plan to buy a tablet sometime this year. <br><br>And I have to ask, what is wrong with the current Windows tablets? You say they're all the same form factor. But that means nothing to the end user. They will pick the one they want. But you have to remember that many people use what is familiar to them and it is that reason alone that I don't see Windows tablets failing.
    • Exactly


      I use my window tablet watching movies (hundreds of them in hard disk), writing applications, editing documentation, even doing database work.

      Just wonder what these bloggers were doing in their tablet.
  • There is a huge market for Windows tablets

    Ask any IT purchaser what apps they're going to use on an iPad and in the majority of the top 4 apps is some kind of remote desktop solution (RDP or VNC).
  • Who wants to make a wager?...

    ...on how long it takes for the homebrew crew to hack an iPad to run Windows 8?
    • RE: Windows Tablet Makers: If You Build it They Won't Necessarily Come

      Maybe next year.
  • That holds true for Android tablets, as well

    as there really have not been any real excitement around Android tablets, many being scoffed at as being not up to par with the iPad.
    Tim Cook