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Microsoft saw its partners were needy, unwilling and unable to push the envelope in the tablet space

As the picture surrounding Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT"Surface" tablet fleshes out via interviews and leaks, one thing is for sure -- Microsoft would love to see its third-party partners succeed with their Windows 8 tablet designs, despite the fact that it's now competing with them.  But the decision to compete is also a big vote of no confidence in these third-parties' ability to compete with Apple, Inc. (AAPL).

According to a new report in The New York Times, which uses a former Microsoft executive as a source, Microsoft's decision is deeply rooted in a fallout with Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) regarding the Slate tablet and subsequent disappointments from other OEMs.

I. Microsoft Predicted Tablet Market Early, Had High Hopes

In 2007 Apple shook up the market when it released the iPhone, the first multi-touch smartphone.  To be fair, the market was already trending towards touch-screens, but suddenly the trend was summarized with a singular iconic device.  Microsoft, which had played with touch technology in its labs and mobile products for years, took note of the increasing convergence between mobile devices and the personal computer (PC).

It baked basic touch capabilities into Windows 7, which launch in late 2009.  To Microsoft's disappointment, partners expressed little interest in taking advantage of these capabilities.  Initially Microsoft played with idea of a dual-screen tablet called Courier.  But internal disputes and hesitance to become a first-party PC maker caused Microsoft to shelve the plans.

Then rumors of an Apple tablet picked up, and suddenly the touch-plans went from an expansion effort, to an essential effort.  Microsoft was determined to not let Apple gain a monopoly in this market, which it had long recognized the merit of -- perhaps even before Apple.  It contacted HP, the world's largest maker of personal computers, and what Microsoft considered a trusted partner.

And HP delivered at first.  Prototypes of the Slate 500, like the one presented by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES 2010, were relatively attractive.

Ballmer Slate
A prototype of the Slate tablet, demoed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES 2010, looked attractive. [Image Source: Bloomberg]

II. Slate Design is "Completely Ruined", Subsequently Flops

But both the former Microsoft executive and a former HP executive comment that the Slate 500 was "completely ruined" when it was handed over to HP's manufacturing organization.  The tablet ballooned in size.  To make matters worse, HP poorly integrated the touch screen with Windows 7.  Users would touch the screen and face a lag before the tablet would respond.  Describes the former HP executive, "It would be like driving a car, and the car not turning when you turn the wheel."

Three weeks later late Apple CEO Steven P. Jobs showed off his slick iPad, which had none of the awkward lag of the HP Slate.  While the original Slate prototype was relatively good looking, it was outshone by the iPad, which featured a slick aluminum case.

Steve Jobs iPad
Steve Jobs's iPad was a hit, while the Slate flopped. [Image Source: Reuters]

The case was no small feat.  Apple had to procure a large amount of high quality aluminum to make it, so it entered a large bulk purchase agreement with a mine in Australia.  The former executive recalls shock at Microsoft meetings regarding just how deep Apple would dip into global supply chains to produce Mr. Jobs' "perfect" device.

And if the early Slate prototype was a bid homely compared to the original iPad, the final bloated design was downright unsightly.  Microsoft was frustrated.

And it didn't help that HP blamed Microsoft. HP saw its tablet shortcomings as primarily in the software department.  It complained how Microsoft's small icon size made icons hard to click and it was not a fan of Microsoft's Windows 7 touch keyboard.  HP felt that the licensing fees it paid Microsoft for Windows should have been applied towards making better OS software/firmware support.

Seeing that the Slate was destined to flop in sales (and it did, after almost being cancelled), Microsoft tried to reach out to other partners.  But it faced disagreements regarding price and features.  "Faith had been lost," the former Microsoft executive recalls.

III. Microsoft Focuses on Surface and Windows 8

Ultimately, Microsoft decided not to devote significant resources to cultivating a Windows 7 tablet from any of its partners.  Instead it focused on perfect Windows 8 for touch devices.  But this time around it knew better than to trust third-parties.  It was sick of their failure to compete with Apple in the tablet space, and it was sick of taking the blame for that failure.

Evidence of just how much Microsoft has learned was on display at the Surface announcement.  Much like Apple bragged of its iPad's unique aluminum case, Microsoft's belated counter was built on a material it went to great lengths to secure bulk purchase agreements on -- magnesium.  It argues that magnesium offers many advantages over Apple's aluminum, including superior scratch resistance.  Comments Windows President Steven Sinofsky, "The case is one-of-a-kind."

Notably, nary a partner delivered that kind of dedication to their supply chain and innovative case design at Computex 2012.  They instead relied on their Chinese partners to build more standard designs, although they expect to price them at similar points to the iPad and Surface.  This lack of ambition is all too familiar to Microsoft and a validation of why it made a smart move with Surface.

With "Surface" Microsoft controls its own fate. [Image Source: Microsoft]

Microsoft may say its decision to make Surface was not a slight to its third-party partners.  Comments Steven Guggenheimer, a Microsoft corporate vice president, "Microsoft has tremendous respect for our hardware partners and the innovation they bring to the Windows ecosystem.  We are looking forward to the incredible range of new devices they are bringing out for Windows 8."

But no matter what words it chooses, Microsoft can not hide the unspoken message -- it is dead-determined to beat Apple -- with or without its partners.

Source: The New York Times



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x86
By Red Storm on 6/25/12, Rating: 0
RE: x86
By JasonMick (blog) on 6/25/2012 1:46:27 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Microsoft needs the x86 version in the RT's body. Cooling fans in a tablet is a big no no. And the RT just isn't compelling enough compared to either Android or iOS
I disagree. If the price is right, the x86 will sell great -- perhaps better than the slimmer RT

Even at 13.5 mm/903 g it's still looks very slick with the magnesium case and keyboard/cover. The iPad 3 is 9.4 mm and 660 g, so it's true its ~40 percent thicker/heavier.

But remember -- the first generation iPad was 13 mm thick and everyone thought that was just peachy at the time.

And also you're comparing an Apple to an Orange -- the Ivy Bridge chip will be vastly more powerful than the 1 GHz A5X, allowing for much more ambitious apps. And that's not to mention that being able to use legacy x86 software, access to full-fledged Office, etc. opens a world of possibilities.

You can't pack a laptop CPU into a tablet without some sacrifices of form factor. But for many, those sacrifices would be worth it.

You can't run Photoshop on an iPad, you CAN on a Surface x86 tablet.


RE: x86
By Spuke on 6/25/2012 1:56:17 PM , Rating: 2
I might just pick one of x86 versions up to replace the wifes computer. But still waiting on an external Thunderbolt video card.


RE: x86
By tayb on 6/25/2012 2:09:35 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Even at 13.5 mm/903 g it's still looks very slick with the magnesium case and keyboard/cover. The iPad 3 is 9.4 mm and 660 g, so it's true its ~40 percent thicker/heavier. But remember -- the first generation iPad was 13 mm thick and everyone thought that was just peachy at the time.


The size is no issue. It has almost the exact same depth/weight as the original iPad and I used that for almost a year with absolutely no complaints.

quote:
And also you're comparing an Apple to an Orange -- the Ivy Bridge chip will be vastly more powerful than the 1 GHz A5X, allowing for much more ambitious apps. And that's not to mention that being able to use legacy x86 software, access to full-fledged Office, etc. opens a world of possibilities.


The Ivy Bridge chip will be more powerful but it will also have quite a bit more overhead. The biggest benefit is all of the applications available. QuickOffice is neat but it is not Microsoft Office. You could do real work on a Surface tablet. My iPad 2 is relegated to web surfing, subway surfing, and Netflix.


RE: x86
By kleinma on 6/25/2012 2:57:45 PM , Rating: 4
With an ivy bridge i5 and solid state drive, this thing will be plenty fast. Sure photoshop might take 5-10 seconds to load on it, but on most people's desktops today it probably takes 5-10 seconds before they even see the splash screen come up.

Every MAJOR app will come to Windows 8 that you might want to stick with iOS or Android for. It will really become just as lucrative a market as those platforms, but maybe more so since it will cross all form factors (desktop, laptop, tablet, and soon to be phone).

So then some company who has to write an app for OSX, iOS, Google ChromeOS, Android, and Windows 8.

Now who has the fewer ports to be done in that scenario?


RE: x86
By Samus on 6/25/2012 6:48:56 PM , Rating: 2
I don't get why a cooling fan in a tablet is a big no-no? Have you felt how hot the new iPad gets? 10 minutes into watching HD Video and it's uncomfortably warm.

Cooling fans are fine, as long as it hits the advertised 6-8 hours battery life.


RE: x86
By retrospooty on 6/25/2012 2:10:13 PM , Rating: 4
"I disagree. If the price is right, the x86 will sell great -- perhaps better than the slimmer RT"

Exactly... If nothing else, in the business environment, being able to run your office apps (and I don't just mean MS Office) is a huge plus. This is why no tablet has made any significant inroads into enterprise. Now we have the ability to do that and it may be huge. On top of that, there is the same factor for home use. I am not big on tablets, becasue I cant run my X86 apps on them. I need my Photoshop, Acrobat Pro, etc etc. Now with that, a tablet is an option. This turns a tablet from a "toy" into a useable "tool".


RE: x86
By amanojaku on 6/25/2012 6:52:52 PM , Rating: 5
Surface sounds like the closest thing to the tablet most of us have been waiting for. DisplayPort. HDMI. USB. SDXC. x86 OS.

I wish Steve Jobs was still alive. The look on his face when this thing was announced would have been priceless, as would the look on his face when the inevitable lawsuit got tossed.


RE: x86
By Reclaimer77 on 6/25/12, Rating: 0
RE: x86
By Mint on 6/25/2012 7:14:38 PM , Rating: 2
Precisely.

iOS and Android tablets will soon be squeezed into a very tight niche. Smartphones can do everything they can and are far more portable. x86 tablets will soon have negligible power consumption difference (we all know Clover Trail and Brazos will find its way into x86 tablets, and there's no reason for them to cost more than the netbooks of last year) and Win8 x86 will make them far more capable than these tablets.

I too never bought into the tablet craze, and I never will until it can truly replace a notebook. If you can carry a tablet, then you can carry an ultrabook/netbook, so I just don't get why you'd want to sacrifice functionality for it. I even find the clamshell design of a notebook more comfortable when lounging or laying down.


RE: x86
By MrBlastman on 6/25/2012 2:23:26 PM , Rating: 4
The Surface is basically everything I've been wanting in a tablet since the whole iPad/Android junk has been around. I've not once considered buying one due to the the software hurdle and closed platforms but now... this changes things. This promises to be a tablet that is useful, not just something fancy looking to keep on the coffee table and talk about.

Why spend money on something to look cool and just collect dust, anyways? The Surface looks like it might actually be useful. I'm not sure if I'll take the plunge on tablets just yet, but this iteration builds a compelling case to do so. My wife has that aging Macbook... Who's battery never lasts more than a year and a half... hmmm...


RE: x86
By WalksTheWalk on 6/25/12, Rating: -1
RE: x86
By MrBlastman on 6/25/2012 3:38:26 PM , Rating: 5
What are you talking about? Surface has a 10.6 inch screen plus 16:9 format. What? 16:9? The iPad has 4:3! Yet, 16:9 is appealing to me because there will be no letterboxing for video...


RE: x86
By Belard on 6/26/2012 6:40:42 AM , Rating: 1
For many people, the 16:9 screen... well, sucks.

Hence, I've not had much interests in the Android tablets. I don't use my iPad as a video player... if I did, the 16:9 would make more sense.


RE: x86
By WalksTheWalk on 6/26/2012 8:43:02 AM , Rating: 1
Yes, I was mistaken. Given that it's a 10.x inch tablet, this sounds much better. I still think Microsoft has classic branding problems with their tablets in that their are two variants and MS has done a poor job of consumer mindshare: x86 and ARM, and customers are going to be confused. The non-tech people I know don't even know Microsoft (or their partners) have tablets coming out.

Microsoft now also has channel conflicts now. I'm betting the channel is going to let MS take on the burden of proving ARM tablets in the market before they jump onboard.


RE: x86
By Janooo on 6/25/12, Rating: 0
RE: x86
By amandahugnkiss on 6/25/2012 4:03:52 PM , Rating: 3
From his post:
"You can't run Photoshop on an iPad, you CAN on a Surface x86 tablet."

He never said anything about it running on both versions.


RE: x86
By fic2 on 6/25/2012 4:51:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Microsoft needs the x86 version in the RT's body. Cooling fans in a tablet is a big no no. And the RT just isn't compelling enough compared to either Android or iOS
I think this has been part of the whole "compete against Apple" thing - not necessarily just with Win tablets but also with Android. Look what Moto did with their first tablet - a premium price over the iPad with specs that just barely met the iPads. All the tablet and notebook manufacturers have done this with their Mac Pro/Air wannabes, too.


RE: x86
By NobleKain on 6/25/2012 6:16:31 PM , Rating: 2
There's 1 thing that could solidify a HUGE score in M$ corner, and one that could crush this whole dream:

FTW: If they release this piece with an actual competitive, true-HTML5 capable browser, even the RT version will be compelling (x86 should in theory be able to use Chrome is M$ fails to deliver a suitable IE)

FTL: If they wait so long to come-to-market, the hardware may very well be to dated for anyone to care about this any longer. That's ultimately what killed any chances for Win Phone 7. When it was first demo'd it was compelling, but by the time they got it in the stores, all of the devices were crippled by dated (and required) hardware. I worry M$ will do the same here. A Jan. launch date, as some are suggesting, will likely make even the x86 version undesirable.


RE: x86
By safcman84 on 6/26/2012 4:20:45 AM , Rating: 3
The x86 tablet is the one that interests me the most, especially if it can connect to an external monitor for "desk" work (document reviews, editing etc). In fact, it it the 1st tablet which I can see replacing my old fashioned laptop.

I never saw the point of the tablet for work purposes, because I could not be bothered lugging around an additional device (no mater how small) as it could not replace the functionality of the traditional laptop.

Windows 8 could make a killing in the corporate world. The company I work for (multi-national Pharma company) dipped its toes into the I-pad world but now is discussing abandoning the I-pad and going with WIn 8 devices due to I-pads lack of power and flexibility. If MS play their cards right, they will take over from Blackberry as the key business provider.


RE: x86
By bupkus on 6/26/2012 10:00:36 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If MS play their cards right, they will take over from Blackberry as the key business provider.
Good point.


RE: x86
By Avatar28 on 6/25/2012 1:59:35 PM , Rating: 3
Don't tell Microsoft, tell Intel. Intel focused on pure performance for so long that it is taking them awhile to adjust. Surface will be using the newest gen Core CPUs (which I believe is why it won't be out until Jan or so) to get the best performance/watt. True, they probably could have used an Atom processor but it would have a hard time keeping the performance at a desirable level. A lot of people want a tablet with a full version of Windows but find that an Atom CPU just won't cut it performance-wise. These are the people MS is targeting with the Intel Surface.

IMHO, Microsoft is clearly angling for the corporate market with the Intel Surface. iPads are not well liked by most IT departments but users want that cool tablet form factor. Current Windows tablets are lackluster enough that they don't even have a prayer.

Perhaps future versions of it (assuming there are future versions) will be able to dispense with the fans as Intel shrinks their CPU processes or MS will make a middle of the road tablet that uses an Atom CPU.


RE: x86
By kleinma on 6/25/2012 2:59:29 PM , Rating: 3
The other problem with Atom is even the ones with onboard GPU suck when it comes to graphics. Not that the i5 Ivy Bridge will smoke a radeon or nVidia card, but it is MUCH better than the Atom offerings.


RE: x86
By zephyrprime on 6/26/2012 10:26:29 AM , Rating: 2
It's intel's own fault for neglecting their atom line so much.


RE: x86
By Roffles on 6/25/2012 4:39:29 PM , Rating: 2
"Big no no"???

You do realize this article is about an x86 tablet/pc/ultrabook wrapped up into a neat package with docking keyboards utilizing Intel's latest and greatest Ivy Bridge CPU/IGP. It will probably also come equipped with the latest and greatest bridges/interconnects, ram, SSD, dual band wireless, and external ports. That should be more than enough to do real work with. It should also be more than enough to make it an HTPC/entertainment device of sorts and a travel companion.

Maybe your quip against cooling fans stems from some strange preference towards useless consumer fodder ARM tablets that are not yet powerful enough or useful enough to require active cooling? At the very least, you are uninformed about what the Surface Pro really is (or rather what it has the potential to be pending reviews and final specs). On the Surface Pro, said fans will be cooling proper hardware and software. I've written enough for you to connect the dots.


RE: x86
By Tony Swash on 6/25/12, Rating: -1
RE: x86
By marsovac on 6/26/2012 4:17:14 AM , Rating: 2
You are lying or are uninformed on three statements.


RE: x86
By Tony Swash on 6/26/12, Rating: -1
RE: x86
By Calin on 6/26/2012 4:53:36 AM , Rating: 2
The price doesn't have to beat the iPad - this will sell more as a laptop with physical keyboard and a touch screen (running Windows 8) than as a tablet. So, I think this would compete against the Sleekbooks/ultraportables/netbooks out there, not against the iPads (it might take market share away from the iPads, but this Surface demo is primarily a laptop, not a tablet).


RE: x86
By Tony Swash on 6/26/12, Rating: -1
RE: x86
By Helbore on 6/26/2012 7:48:06 AM , Rating: 3
The Apple zealots are running scared.


RE: x86
By Tony Swash on 6/26/12, Rating: -1
RE: x86
By ritualm on 6/26/2012 2:29:55 PM , Rating: 2
Tony Swash is scared that his Apple stocks will go into freefall now that Microsoft has taken its gloves off.

What Microsoft did was no different than what Apple did after Motorola's disastrous ROKR E1. The OEMs are incompetent. The OEMs don't take risks. The OEMs care more about copying the competition than exercising their ingenuity. Steve Ballmer had enough of OEMs screwing up on every opportunity, and simply decided to go into the hardware business itself, the only way to guarantee a certain level of quality.

Your anal buddy won't have your iPhones if Steve Jobs continued to have Motorola make phones for him. Shush.


RE: x86
By Tony Swash on 6/26/2012 6:54:31 PM , Rating: 2
Let the games begin!

I have to say watching the Surface initiative unfold over the next year promises to be stupendously amusing.

quote:
What Microsoft did was no different than what Apple did after Motorola's disastrous ROKR E1. The OEMs are incompetent.


I think it's utterly different because unlike Apple the Windows ecosystem has been founded on a diversity of OEMs for over two decades. Until the Surface launch the party line was that Apple's 'closed' integrated approach would founder before the awesome power of the multitude of OEMs unleashed by Android because apparently 'open' always beat 'closed'. The common view (hope) was that the Android Apple saga would be a rerun of the Windows Apple saga (it was actually the MSDos saga but that's another story).

In fact Android is going nowhere as a business. Other than Samsung no Android hand set maker can make a profit, the poor saps. Even Google can only stack up loses on Android. Meanwhile the gold standard of 'open' beats 'closed, the Windows ecosystem, has been quietly bleeding for quite a while as Apple eviscerated the OEM's already razor thin profit margins and with the App revolution has started to pull the rug from under Microsofts high price and high profits software model. Does anybody think Microsoft can ever charge $50 or more for an OS license on a tablet let alone a phone? Or a $100 for Office on a tablet? Microsoft's move to betray it's OEMs is a typical gutsy and ruthless move to grab the last remaining reservoir of value in the Windows food chain.

By the way the homophobia in your comment was really classy.


RE: x86
By ritualm on 6/27/2012 3:51:29 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
In fact Android is going nowhere as a business. Other than Samsung no Android hand set maker can make a profit

Yeah, because profit alone determines the success and failure of a product. Microsoft ran XBox at a loss for years simply because it could. Likewise, it's running Bing at a loss simply because it can. Apple wouldn't dare keep making 17" MBPs because it only moved 50,000 of 'em in the latest report, and subsequently axed that model.
quote:
I think it's utterly different because unlike Apple the Windows ecosystem has been founded on a diversity of OEMs for over two decades.

Pray tell what part of OEMs screwing up is utterly different? Apple going into the smartphone business instead of letting Motorola try to correct its mistake and you hail it as the best thing since forks were invented. Microsoft going into the tablet business itself because OEMs were too busy sucking each other off and you claim MS made a colossal mistake.

The egg really does come before the goose, doesn't it, Tony?
quote:
Does anybody think Microsoft can ever charge $50 or more for an OS license on a tablet

Until you can install OS X outside a Mac, shut your mouth kthx.
quote:
Or a $100 for Office on a tablet?

When MS Office is the standard for a massive majority of business documents worldwide, yes they can. Even Mac fanboys like you use them for compatibility sake.
quote:
By the way the homophobia in your comment was really classy.

Why you mad bro?

If Tim Cook stops by your house unannounced and creampies in your cute ass, you would lick his tool clean and thank him for the surprise buttsecks. Your deluded comments are proof of that.

Why don't you go and spread your cheeks open for him right now.


Microsoft deserves more than half the blame.
By tayb on 6/25/2012 2:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft shifting the blame to OEMs is a real hoot in my opinion. They have been toying with tablets for almost a decade starting with Windows XP yet the unreleased Windows 8 is the FIRST operating system that is truly touch friendly. Windows (all versions) sucks at touch. The UI has ALWAYS been designed for a mouse and keyboard, touch enhancement packs are garbage.

Windows 7 tablets have poor battery life, poor performance, they can't possibly match the form factor of iPad-like tablets, and the overall experience is awful because, again, Windows hasn't been designed for touch. Why would HP, or anyone for that matter, waste time, resources, and money developing a tablet that the market doesn't want? The same OEMs that apparently "failed Microsoft" have some pretty cool Windows RT tablets coming down the pipe.

Microsoft is to blame here, not the OEMs. There were iPad rumors for years prior to the release of the original iPad. Microsoft had to have known something was coming. They scoffed at it and didn't believe it would be successful. They completely underestimated the tablet market, were completely wrong in guessing the usage scenarios for those tablets, and have been incredibly slow to put together a reasonable competing offering.

Just the simple fact that Samsung and Asus are releasing really great Android tablets makes this stance from Microsoft laughable. These guys were BEGGING for something to compete with the iPad and Android was the first thing they got. They STILL don't have anything to come to market with Windows yet over TWO years later.




By aGreenAgent on 6/25/2012 2:24:05 PM , Rating: 2
That's not necessarily true. It's like a chicken and egg problem. If Microsoft wanted to go all in on the touch (which they did for Win8), the OEMs would be hesitant to invest a lot without proof of results yet (and reasonably so). If, prior to this, an OEM wanted to go heavily into touch, they would've been hampered by MS, a company they can't control.

It's Nash's Equilibrium. One company needed more control over the final product in order to do this. So anyway, from each party's perspective, it was the fault of the other party.


RE: Microsoft deserves more than half the blame.
By tayb on 6/25/12, Rating: 0
By ritualm on 6/26/2012 2:44:21 PM , Rating: 2
That's why Microsoft went into the tablet business itself - the OEMs are only interested in competing against the iPad but selling their wares for less. Make a blatant clone of something very popular, stuff it with low-quality parts, then sell the result for less in an attempt to undercut the market leader... that is not innovation, that is incompetence at its best.

After the first year of Ultrabooks, the only OEMs worth a damn anymore were ASUS and Samsung. Everyone else could drive off a cliff and nobody would shed a tear over their absence.


By EnzoFX on 6/25/2012 2:28:55 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. It's one thing to say the hardware wasn't quite there, but the software is severely lacking. Sure you can touch buttons on Win7, but that was basically it. Of course this means third party support too, but MS had no real competition to fluid multitasking apps that worked well in the form factor. Not until the upcoming Win8 really.


RE: Microsoft deserves more than half the blame.
By Visual on 6/25/2012 2:46:20 PM , Rating: 3
Regarding touch, there is not and can not be a way to make it work in all old apps that were never intended to be used with it. Won't work well in Windows 8 either. On the other hand, new apps could always be made to work great for it, there are several OS shells that work with it even on windows XP, so Win 8 technically brings nothing new to the table... just organizing and centralizing the efforts and making it easier for clueless developers to finally get a clue on how to build a touch UI.

Besides all that, screw touch. The UI works perfectly with a pen... I've used it fine long before the iPad. It's been the definition of "tablet" until Apple came about and with their magic marketing somehow convinced the world a tablet is something they invented.

Anyone that has ever tried an active digitizer would be spoiled for life by it and never go back.


By tayb on 6/25/2012 3:29:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
just organizing and centralizing the efforts and making it easier for clueless developers to finally get a clue on how to build a touch UI.


There has never been a reason to develop a touch-friendly UI on Windows and in all honesty there still isn't a compelling reason as the vast majority of users will continue to interact with a mouse and keyboard. Most developers won't see the ROI from investing in a UI overhaul or spending time maintaining two UIs.

quote:
Besides all that, screw touch. The UI works perfectly with a pen... I've used it fine long before the iPad. It's been the definition of "tablet" until Apple came about and with their magic marketing somehow convinced the world a tablet is something they invented.


Pen is good for one thing and that is writing. That's all. I owned a Fujitsu T4220 in college and the only time I ever used the pen input was taking notes in a math or engineer class. After the first year I re-discovered the mighty pen and paper and ditched my overpriced laptop. Using Windows XP with a pen was an exercise and patience. Sure, you can click those tiny boxes relatively easy with a pen but navigate the interface was cumbersome at best.

I loved the active digitizer but the usefulness stopped and ended at taking notes. For just about everything else from navigation to typing touch is vastly superior.


What partners failed?
By Visual on 6/25/2012 2:17:31 PM , Rating: 2
Partners failed? LOL... more like, never even tried. At least not for real.

I've been waiting for the right windows tablet so long, and there were only a handful of attempts with flows so obvious and so simple to correct that if anyone ever actually wanted to compete in the field they could have hit the mark blindfolded. But for whatever reason, it seemed that noone really cared to compete at all.

All Atom offerings were automatically ignored by anyone with a clue, so the HP does not even count. I had that level of performance in a Gigabyte M912X tablet/netbook convertible three years earlier, and while it was nice for its time, I've long come to expect better before I give my money.

The Asus ep121 failed by not getting a sandy bridge cpu when it launched more or less at the perfect time for that. The Samsung Series 7 Slate corrected that but was too late to the party, when we were all already waiting on Ivy Bridge. The Acer W500 and MSI 110w cut corners on an active digitizer and so were a no-go as well. And the worst thing of all, it seems that even a lot of the upcoming Win8 tablets are going to repeat that last mistake... thankfully, there are reports that the Surface will have an active digitizer at least as an option.




RE: What partners failed?
By Doctorweir on 6/26/2012 9:44:25 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the Samsung Series 7 slate is out for over 8 months now and runs Win8 great for me since the developer preview.
BNz the time Ivz bridge stuff comes out (Surface x86) it will be another 8 months. I.e. I had Win8 tablet fun for far over a year then. And the form factor is already the same btw...900grams, and even 11.6", nice aluminum casing...ok, no VaporMg ;-)
Only downside with Sandy is the battery life of course...real world is 4hrs, which is still pretty ok. So I hope, Surface x86 can do 7-8 with Ivy and all the latest tweaks.


RE: What partners failed?
By Visual on 6/27/2012 10:56:39 AM , Rating: 2
Back when the S7S launched, I was really thinking (hoping?) that the IVB launch was going to be sooner and that made me not want to buy it. In retrospect today I can see how wrong I was on that point.

But even if I knew how long the wait was really going to be, I still would not have bought it, even if just as a 'punishment' to Samsung for waiting so long after the SB launch until it got a reasonable product out.

Still I admit my previous post was not fair, and the S7S could be considered a good attempt in the field, probably the only one worth mentioning. It doesn't lack downsides too, i.e. its price tag, but that is somewhat understandable in a field with no competition. There turned out to be very common build quality issues with it too, thankfully that's why RMA procedures exist.


LOL! Funny Stuff Microsoft!!
By Belard on 6/26/2012 7:18:56 AM , Rating: 1
Awww... poor Microsoft. Blaming everyone else.

2001, released tablet XP... these sold for years for $1500~3000.
2009, Windows7 - excellent Desktop OS... *IS* not a mobile OS.

Microsoft is CONFUSED why none of their partners did well? WTF... really, WTF?! What did Microsoft give them to go against the iPad?

A bloated (well made) desktop OS! So the "slates" had to sell for $1000+ because of the huge SSDs or HD required to run the OS. When MS introduced WP7 - they SHOULD have made it "WindowsMobile 7" and made a *shhhh* tablet version of the same OS. DUH DUH DUH!

HP? They quickly went WebOS and totally murdered Palm and made a crappy product. Oops, I mean another crappy product. The HP Touchpad had a good screen and WebOS is actually good (but buggy)... but the $500 device felt like CHEAP garbage compared to the $500 ipad. Not a good sign.

So for the past 2+ years, $1000 Samsung/ASUS Slates have been on the market... and SOMEHOW, (A) anyone is shocked they don't sell well (B) Supposed to compete with $300~500 Android/iPad tablets (C) Make a profit? (D) And yet Windows 8 is going to make people pee in their pants and rush out and BUY these $1000 tablets?!

Is there a voting system on the net we can use that'll allow us to VOTE what WE THINK will happen?

While Win8 is a touch-based OS... even on the tablet, I think it'll be a bit of a pain. To get back to the Start Screen (Metro) you have to hit your finger on the tiny slab of a hidden Start button on the Desktop screen (if its a hidden button, its STILL a FRAGIN button) or press a physical button on the tablet itself (if it has one).

This is why I think Apple would be stupid to get rid of the HOME button on their devices... its one button. But its ONE physical button that'll take you HOME, no matter what is on the screen.

Here is what is going to happen... one of two things:
A) Windows8 is loved by all, people will rush out and buy Windows8 tablets and phones to match their desktop systems. (because No Windows user ever buys iPhones, iPods or iPads)

B) Windows8 is hated by most people. They run away from Win8 tablets and Win8 Phones... MS craps all over themselves... their partners get Angry and cry in their pillows (Its vista but 3x worse). Perhaps they can continue to sell Win7 PCs or look at Linux.

I understand WHY Microsoft wants/needs to do this... I think it can work, *IF* done correctly. The only reason to buy or own a WindowsPC TODAY is to run OLD software or MSOffice. Games? Nope, MS killed PC Gaming. Proof: show me those AAA XBOX360 games, especially those published by MS for Windows.

The #1 APP/program that people use is the BROWSER. With the browser, you can do anything... play games, talk to people, do business... and not touch the Windows OS.

Until recently, my plans were to buy a Nokia Lumia 900 (I want the 800, its smaller) phone... but waiting for the WP8 version with HI-RES display. Think I'll stick with Android, and put my WP7 Launcher on it and leave it at that.

If most tech people HATE Windows8, then most novice users are going to HATE Windows8... and anything to do with it.

We'll know in 6 months where all this is going.




RE: LOL! Funny Stuff Microsoft!!
By torpor on 6/26/2012 2:05:14 PM , Rating: 2
TouchWiz.

MOTOBlur.

Optimus UI.

OEMs have shown, time and again with Android, that if they really want to they can make their own UI enhancements/changes.

The problem that has plagued Windows tablets is that, instead of starting fresh like they did with Mobile, the same people in the OEM companies who are responsible for the vanilla, cost-minimized, adware-laden PCs were given the task of making tablets.

And so, with their "prestigous MBA" and management checklist in hand, they began making tablets just like they made PCs. After all, there was a checkbox to fill!

Windows Tablet: [check|blank]

If you want profit sharing and stock options, you'd better have that set to Check. And so they did.

But no one ever really thought about what they could do with it. Until Microsoft did it itself.

And, Samsung/ASUS have not made Slates. No one has yet - except Microsoft. So tone it down a couple of notches, Mr. FUD.


RE: LOL! Funny Stuff Microsoft!!
By Belard on 6/27/2012 1:45:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
And, Samsung/ASUS have not made Slates. No one has yet - except Microsoft. So tone it down a couple of notches, Mr. FUD.


1 - http://www.asus.com/Eee/Eee_Pad/Eee_Slate_EP121 = $1250~1600, depending on its i5 configuration.

2 - http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/tablet-pcs/XE70... = $1099 ~ $1500, depending on the config.

3 - HP Slate 2, with its 8.9" dinky screen running an Atom CPU, it starts at $700.

Maybe you learned something today?


Holding the tablet
By johnsmith9875 on 6/26/2012 4:39:56 PM , Rating: 2
Steve Jobs held his vertically like it was a treasured photograph, Ballmer holds his horizontally and to his stomach like he's a TeleTubby.

Does Windows 8 allow you to swivel to portrait mode?




RE: Holding the tablet
By Doctorweir on 6/26/2012 9:57:19 PM , Rating: 2
Of course. And that's where the 16:9/10 comes in handy.
You have your office document on top in 4:3 and the touch keyboard underneath...great :-)


What about viruses?
By ShaolinSoccer on 6/25/2012 7:57:44 PM , Rating: 1
It's probably a stupid question but wouldn't the x86 versions of these tablets be susceptible to past viruses/malware/trojans/rootkits? I realize that most people who get these viruses are people who download stuff like cracks and visit lots of porn sites but just because it's a tablet doesn't mean it's 100% safe, right? It's just a question so try not to downrate me too much lol...




RE: What about viruses?
By Fritzr on 6/26/2012 8:18:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it is quite probable that Windows will be vulnerable to malware targeting Windows ... the underlying hardware won't change the OS in use.

It may be possible to port OSX to an x86 surface. It would then be immune to Windows malware, but would be vulnerable to OSX malware.

Same story with Linux.

iOS is vulnerable to iOS malware...
Android is vulnerable to Android malware...

The malware targets the OS, so putting the Windows OS on the device makes it vulnerable to attacks on the Windows OS.


No such thing as an aluminium mine
By BernardP on 6/26/2012 10:39:21 AM , Rating: 3
"Apple had to procure a large amount of high quality aluminum to make it, so it entered a large bulk purchase agreement with a mine in Australia."

Aluminium is produced by the electrolysis of aluminium oxyde (alumina) which is itself refined from beauxite, the actual mineral. Mines are far removed from the finished product.

Aluminium is not a rare metal. The minute quantity in all iPads of the world has no significant impact on overall demand.

Apple might have an arrangement with suppliers of finished aluminium products, but certainly not with a mine.




Dailtech :/
By Silver2k7 on 6/30/2012 4:08:02 AM , Rating: 2
Dailytech don't go for the Apple marketing BS of them inventing everything since the wheel was invented :(

"In 2007 Apple shook up the market when it released the iPhone, the first multi-touch smartphone."

Neonode was IIRC the first *multi touch* telephone even if they never marketed it with that name.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neonode




Tablet patents.
By Stephen! on 6/25/2012 1:45:11 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
But no matter what words it chooses, Microsoft can not hide the unspoken message -- it is dead-determined to beat Apple -- with or without its partners.


I wonder how many patents this thing infringes. It always seems to be something, whatever device it is ...




Classic Outcome When a Businessman is in Charge
By Cypherdude1 on 6/25/12, Rating: -1
By amandahugnkiss on 6/25/2012 2:17:15 PM , Rating: 3
I think using the USB port with a 3G/4G card is more than acceptable. many people already have them for use with their current laptops and netbooks, and it doesn't require yet another data plan, which I think is a plus, I don't really want to pay for a seperate data plan for every mobile device I have. There's also the option of tethering, so again, I think the lack of built in 4G isn't going to matter, especially to most professionals who already have the capability in one form or another.


By leviathan05 on 6/25/2012 2:23:40 PM , Rating: 3
Useless without 3g/4g? Are you serious?

I spend 90%+ of my work week in areas with wifi and the other 10% I can either use a dongle or use my phone as a hotspot. Even if I couldn't, the device would still be capable of running without network connectivity and I would still be able to be productive.


By nolisi on 6/25/2012 2:42:00 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Jobs wanted a fully mobile tablet. He delivered with 4G. Microsoft hesitated because the Surface only has Wi-Fi. Without 4G, the Surface is useless to a professional.


Not really. At this point most professionals have 4g enabled handsets. Smart professionals have 4g enabled handsets that offer tethering that require no additional charge from the carrier and allow you to consume the data however you want without an additional service fee.

Besides cost savings on a service account, it is well documented that the 4g modem drains an iPad's battery life vs wifi. Why have two devices sucking up money and battery life on 4g connectivity when you only need one?

My iPad 2 connected to my T-Mobile g2 works beautifully. I plan on buying a Surface Pro to configure it the same way, the difference is I'm guessing the Surface pro comes with a beefier battery to support USB 3.0 at which point my phone can be charged/used as a modem utilizing this connectivity method- at which point my iPad2 will likely be relegated to home service...


By ritualm on 6/25/2012 3:36:00 PM , Rating: 1
Not sure if stupid

or blindingly stupid


By davea0511 on 6/25/2012 3:55:29 PM , Rating: 2
4G is only available in what ... less than 25% of the cities in the US? 4G is not required for mobile computing, all you need is just a fast OS, fast device, and fast apps that are written to perform well given low bandwidth.


By zephyrprime on 6/26/2012 10:46:44 AM , Rating: 2
According to the idc, 70% of ipads sold in 2011 were the wifi only version. I do agree that MS compromised by not having a 4g version though. 4g radios are off the shelf parts so I don't see why they didn't add it.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57392917-37/the-...


Such a stupid business decision.
By Articuno on 6/25/12, Rating: -1
RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By Avatar28 on 6/25/2012 1:34:27 PM , Rating: 4
Except that tablets are eating into that business. Even more so, tablets are eating into their Windows business which makes them a lot of money. If Microsoft wants to stay alive, they have to stay relevant. The tablet market is part of that. Also look at it from the perspective of their three screens vision. Xbox, tablets/PCs, and phones all tie in together.


RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By Articuno on 6/25/12, Rating: 0
RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By tayb on 6/25/2012 2:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
How can an unreleased product be a failure? Much less a product that is receiving praise from all parties minus the same fanboys who bitched and moaned about the Office ribbon? Spend a week with Windows 8 as your only OS, I dare you.


RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By Articuno on 6/25/12, Rating: -1
By ritualm on 6/25/2012 3:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
Spend a week? I spent 5 years on Vista and there is nothing that speaks gloom and doom like you said. Kindly shut your mouth kthx.


RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By Varun on 6/25/2012 4:43:53 PM , Rating: 3
Vista sold 180 Million licenses in 18 months. Hardly a failure by your standard (Sales).

There is nothing wrong with Vista. Is 7 better? Absolutely, but Vista works fine.


RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By Mitch101 on 6/25/2012 1:56:14 PM , Rating: 3
Im a little worried for Microsoft's ARM tablet because of the Android Tablet supposedly coming in July for $200.00 to compete with the Kindle and Im sure its easy enough for them to make a slightly higher cost 10 inch version. But with 100,000 apps and if they work on the ARM tablet then Microsoft just needs to make it cost effective and hope to make money on the back end through selling apps.

Now on the Microsoft Intel based tablet I see that as a winner - Its a $799 (Rumored Starting Price) Ultrabook with Smaller Screen but has an HDMI output so you can connect it to a large screen in the office and a tablet PC when your on the go. It will have Touch based versions of popular apps as well as being a full blown notebook. I even ponder running the Android/iPad emulators software and having access to all those tablet apps. Could be all tablets in one. It has a memory slot and USB port which every tablet should have.


RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By Ammohunt on 6/25/2012 2:12:18 PM , Rating: 2
$799 doesn't compete with the ipad wi-fi only model. I would sooner buy the cheaper wi-fi only ipad.


By Mitch101 on 6/25/2012 2:21:05 PM , Rating: 3
No it absolutely destroys it and makes a mockery of the Macbook Air's price tag in a single device.


By leviathan05 on 6/25/2012 2:29:16 PM , Rating: 3
If you want to read books, play angry birds, and watch a streaming video, the iPad is a great device. If you want to be productive in a business environment, not so much.


RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By ritualm on 6/25/2012 3:27:58 PM , Rating: 2
You are forced to deal with Windows, whether you like it or not, and Apple doesn't have any formidable answers at $799.

The WiFi-only iPad is a clumsy piece of work that cannot properly interface with any non-iOS systems on the market, and it s not completely free until you jailbreak the damn thing. You lose.

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.


By Ammohunt on 6/26/2012 2:34:55 PM , Rating: 2
Just never considered a tablet a device to do any serious work on.


RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By AmbroseAthan on 6/25/2012 1:39:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Microsoft needs to stick to its strengths: Office, the corporate world and consumers who actually need to do work.


That seems to be EXACTLY what Microsoft is doing with these tablets. iPads and Android tablets do not play well with most enterprise systems as they currently stand. Sure, people can use them, but most just have them for email and their calendar (at least in my company which is 200,000+ people).

The Pro tablets in particular seem to have their cross-hairs dead set on the corporate working business which is already using Microsoft at an enterprise level. The RT tablets will not as have much functionality, but I can bet you they will already be better at launch then any competing tablet for work productivity (business world wise).

Microsoft is about to make it much easier for Surface to become the defacto corporate standard for tablets and mobility: a tablet I can do work on using full programs, VDI to my desktop, synced into Exchange easily, etc etc, without custom apps for everything.


By Chadder007 on 6/25/2012 2:09:42 PM , Rating: 1
Yep, something that doesn't require connecting to another system just to run a Windows based app would be a big push.


RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By Belard on 6/26/2012 6:44:30 AM , Rating: 1
Microsoft *IS* nervous... (good). 80% of their profit is Windows & Office. And since the world runs off the WEB and Office 365 (web based 2010) runs on ANYTHING with a browser... and MS killed PC gaming. WHO needs Windows?

Really? For the basic consumer who does email / facebook / browsing... any device can do that.

Windows 8 will either unite 3 markets into a strong platform (which I think *IS* a good idea) or collapse Windows market share, since Microsoft can't actually grow. The usage of Win8 is bad, I would have done it better (IMHO) by having a Metro launcher that someone can run on the desktop, rather than kind-of-like the other way around.


By Doctorweir on 6/26/2012 10:02:26 PM , Rating: 2
Try office 365 on an iPad...it's pathetic cos it cannot run the full feature version. Even with 3rd party browsers emulating desktops it cannot display anything properly.
iPad is a nice toy, but not for productivity. Period.


RE: Such a stupid business decision.
By Belard on 6/26/2012 6:44:41 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft *IS* nervous... (good). 80% of their profit is Windows & Office. And since the world runs off the WEB and Office 365 (web based 2010) runs on ANYTHING with a browser... and MS killed PC gaming. WHO needs Windows?

Really? For the basic consumer who does email / facebook / browsing... any device can do that.

Windows 8 will either unite 3 markets into a strong platform (which I think *IS* a good idea) or collapse Windows market share, since Microsoft can't actually grow. The usage of Win8 is bad, I would have done it better (IMHO) by having a Metro launcher that someone can run on the desktop, rather than kind-of-like the other way around.


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein














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