Windows 8 tablet UI – the real danger for Microsoft.

June 30, 2011

I have nothing against Microsoft or Windows, I just try and evaluate the technology based on things I have seen or experienced. Having said that, I have been pretty amused at some of the rabid excitement about the Windows 8 tablet user interface. I have heard quite a few fans refer to the new UI as an “Ipad killer” and express hope that Microsoft will be able (finally) to give them a competitive tablet device. There is something that Microsoft said that has gotten lost in the hubbub about Windows 8. Julie Larson-Green, corporate Vice President, Windows Experience for Microsoft touched on it here. She said:

Windows 8 apps use the power of HTML5, tapping into the native capabilities of Windows using standard JavaScript and HTML to deliver new kinds of experiences. These new Windows 8 apps are full-screen and touch-optimized, and they easily integrate with the capabilities of the new Windows user interface. There’s much more to the platform, capabilities and tools than we showed today.
Now to be fair she didnt say “only HTML 5 and Javascript” as pointed out. She simply indicated that developers would have those choices as well. Now the furor over this has been huge because Windows developers are freaking out that XAML, .NET and Silverlight will be history. Microsoft are yet to clarify exactly what development platforms will be supported in Windows 8 but I expect that they will in (or before) September during the BUILD conference. That in my opinion is small potatoes. To me, the real issue is this..

If Windows 8 apps are primarily developed in HTML 5 and Javascript, why would I buy a Windows 8 tablet to run them? I could simply run them on my Ipad or Ipad 2 or Ipad 3.

My wife and I own Ipad 2’s. We love them for many reasons (Facetime, UI etc) and I started thinking about use cases for buying a Windows 8 tablet. There would have to be something about a Windows 8 tablet that was exciting that I couldnt do with an Ipad and a keyboard. [caption id="attachment_4616" align="alignnone" width="590"]Ipad, dock and a keyboard Ipad, dock and a keyboard[/caption] If I am able to use and access the Microsoft Office suite online (Cloud 365 ) and I am able to run new Microsoft apps on an Ipad, there would really not be a compelling reason to buy a Windows 8 tablet device unless it was substantially cheaper than an Ipad. Let’s be clear about this – Apple Tablets provide a superior user experience compared to ANYTHING else on the market today. This is beyond dispute. The only reason to buy something else with an inferior user experience would be because it offered some other feature that you absolutely could not live without. Ironically, it almost seems like Microsoft would have been better off doubling down on Silverlight and .NET as exclusive development tools for their tablets. I have written before about how Windows 8 tablets need to be a loss leader for Microsoft  and the more I think about it, this probably must be the case. Apple on the other hand will probably come out with cheaper tablet devices once the Ipad 3 is released (in addition to the hundreds of thousand of discarded Ipad 1’s and 2’s). So where does that leave Microsoft once the Windows 8 tablets are released? Best case – a slick OS that they will have to take a bath on (price wise) in order to barely compete with Apple. Worst case – a slick OS that offers absolutely no exclusive reason for consumers or businesses to buy them over Ipads. The battle for consumers in the tablet space will ultimately be won by providing preceived value and a quality user experience. The Mac/PC software divide vanishes once apps are written in HTML 5 and Javascript. Software manufacturers are building tablet apps that abstract users from PC centric functions and making their apps as user friendly as possible. Apple will probably have 3 generations of the Ipad behind them by the time Microsoft release their tablet OS. I fear that this may be too late for Microsoft to impress the consumers or corporations that matter. I’m interested to know what you guys think. Use the comments below to let me know…]]>

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Mike Johnson is a writer for The Redmond Cloud - the most comprehensive source of news and information about Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft Cloud. He enjoys writing about Azure Security, IOT and the Blockchain.

All Comments

  • Couldnt agree more, Microsoft are dreaming if they think they can match or crush the Ipad.

    Sam Rhieheart June 30, 2011 12:08 pm Reply
    • This isn’t about anyone crushing about anyone. The idea that any one company will dominate this even with the head start the iPad has. Other companies will enter the fray in time with compelling products. At some point google will have an OEM make one with software that isn’t clunky and MS’ will have OEMs producing units around the middle of next year. And everyone will have some success. A tablet made by MS will be more flexible than the iPad. That is a given because it will be windows and every program written in .NET, will run on the ARM version that is being made for tablets based on those cpus, on the intel tablets will run everything that runs on windows. This is a massive advantage because these are real applications.
      Android, iOS and Windows will all exist and there will not be another monopoly like the bad old 90s which were bad for everyone especially MS if you look at their current stock price. What other company can make 30billion and lose on stock price. I love the competition we have right now and hate when people like you celebrate the idea of technological monopoly. Believe me, If apple became the dominating tech corp in mobile or what have you everyone would hate them in 2025 and because they would have stop innovating.

      Bburke33609 June 30, 2011 4:59 pm Reply
      • “This is a massive advantage because these are real applications.”Real applications or not, they will have to be written for the tablet ie. written for touch. Hard to see a software maker ignoring the Apple market to write software exclusively for Windows 8 tablets going forward. Maybe it’s just me but with an established, mature and affluent Ipad market out there, it would make no business sense to ignore it.

        Onuora Amobi June 30, 2011 5:41 pm Reply
        • It would make even less sense to ignore the huge marketshare that Windows gets if your a dev or throw out all that you know of Windows and its programs if your a small business. Also, the millions of legacy programs for a tablet user (your average consumer) is just gravy…the real kicker is the limitless nature that Windows brings once compared to a tablet like the iPad. Being able to play every and any file format you throw at it, as well as play every web plug-in with hardware acceleration is HUGE. Being able to wirelessly print from a Windows 8 tablet is HUGE. Having hardware diversity with different screen sizes and resolutions and universal ports and (some) slide out keyboards is HUGE. Its this variety that will keep it cozy with the IT and business crowd but the openness of Windows files and formats will make sure the consumer is happy.

          timotim July 3, 2011 12:15 am Reply
  • We’ll see at BUILD. The whole thing with the tablet UI is just vaporware right now…

    Phillip Fasan June 30, 2011 12:08 pm Reply
  • I think you are completely missing the fact that silverlight, .net, WPF, html 5, and javascript are all being used for development for windows 8 with html 5 largely being being for interface elements. Plus these html 5 apps supposedly run with more direct access to the hardware than you would get running them within a browser and there is no way to tell if these wouldn’t in some way be locked down to only be executed within windows 8.
    Plus having a tablet be a true member of a domain is really important for corporate IT. MS owns the enterprise and their tablets will also be the preferred business tablet simply because of security concerns,
    Then you have all of the tie ins with xbox and all of the services they are rolling out for christmas time which will go across all of MS line of systems. Plus windows 8 is for alot of form factors not just tablets. Once you get use to using your xbox which will look just like Windows 8 by this christmas and on the desktop both of which will have kinect support, it will feel very natural to use a win8 tablet. MS is really innovating and evolving at a breakneck pace.
    These are devices which will get replaced every couple of years and consumers gauge the next purchase at that time. I know plenty of people who have gone from iPhone to android and vice versa shen they renew contracts. Apple has alot of brand loyalty but this is still not gauranteeing that users don’t stray. It’s a buyers market. Since Apple has no real competition at this point, it is real easy to think they are unstoppable but the reality is that once someone makes an android tablet which is not complete crap or more expensive than an iPad or newer ms tablets come out then this market might take the shape of other markets with competing products and we can see really where all of the chips fall.

    Bburke33609 June 30, 2011 12:18 pm Reply
    • @98636acdd03005920708d3d997c15085:disqus 
      “..there is no way to tell if these wouldn’t in some way be locked down to only be executed within windows 8”. – I agree we dont know…
      “MS owns the enterprise and their tablets will also be the preferred business tablet simply because of security concerns” –  More companies are supporting Ipads now than you would think…
      “Once you get use to using your xbox which will look just like Windows 8 by this christmas and on the desktop both of which will have kinect support, it will feel very natural to use a win8 tablet.” – assuming I have an Xbox or a Kinect…not a Wii or PS 3 or…
      Good feedback though…

      Onuora Amobi June 30, 2011 12:33 pm Reply
      • Well they’ve sold 30 million in the US. Seeing how they’re are only 300 million americans that is pretty good coverage if they sold half that.

        Bburke33609 June 30, 2011 5:13 pm Reply
    • The IT point is insightful. Very good review.  

      Cjjacoby64 June 30, 2011 2:08 pm Reply
  • My wife is the I-Pad user, but as an experienced consumer product developer, I believe your observation on the Microsoft product is spot on.  Microsoft’s problem is they can’t just leave this market to Apple.  Not only must the first Microsoft pad offer something unbelevable that will turn heads, it must be a first class product in every respect.  That means it must work flawlessly right out of the box!  If I were in their shoes, I would be certain it delivers something to the user that is a WOW factor – meaning I need this now.  Unfortunately, I don’t get this feeling from the adds, although it could be something tied to Skype, which people love. 

    Cjjacoby64 June 30, 2011 2:03 pm Reply
  • I am affraid things are moving a bit fast for me nowadays, I find it hard to understand all this Cloud & apps business & I also do not use Facebook or Twitter, so my reply will be of no use to you sorry.  I mainly use my PC for research on the web & for multi media use.  I do find the newsletter interesting & informative & I am trying to learn & keep up, as i do love computers & techi stuff so I will keep reading it.
    Thanks Peter

    Pjdudley June 30, 2011 2:44 pm Reply
  • I have to agree with pjdudley.  Things are moving too fast.  Hell, I’m still finding out things about XP that I didn’t know before!  My biggest concern with Windows 8 is that it will primarily focus on the “working class” people … people who are out and about and who need to stay connected with colleagues, bosses, friends, etc. through the use of mobile devices.  I fear that Microsoft is forgetting about us baby boomers who are content to limit our computer usage to the ol’ PC sitting next to the aging CD player in a spare room in the house.  Let’s be honest.  Think of the last time you were in a supermarket, mall, doctor’s waiting room, etc.  How many 60+ people did you see texting away on their iPad or Blackberry? It’s been estimated that the first of 78 million of us will be retiring in 2011.  Does Microsoft really want to lose us as potential customers by concentrating on a touchy-feely OS?  Just a thought.

    Ben June 30, 2011 3:46 pm Reply
  • The whole idea of a Microsoft tablet is simply Microsoft’s marketing strategy. Like most large companies today, what is important is market share and not the quality of what is being marketed. As long as comsumers are stupid enough to fall for these ploys, what will happen in this case is the appearance of yet another incomplete Microsoft product that will make some money for Microsoft – I don’t see them as being as philanthropic as you suggest in your article Onoura, since they are in business to make a profit.
    With persuasive marketing enough consumers will buy it to warrant half-baked “fixes” for 2-3 years until there is yet another “quantum leap” to “make life easier” for the users who by then would have become accustomed to working round Microsoft’s software shortcomings.
    What computer users really need – and should demand through their buying power – are slender O/Ss, well-programmed and robust, that would enable us to do what we need to do with less – and not more and more resources – so we can exploit the existing technology to its full potential.
    “New” in the case of Microsoft, is seldom “better”, Win7 excepted/ But win& should have been Vista, or else Vista should never have been released!
    Mina Inzulu

    Inzulumina June 30, 2011 9:23 pm Reply
  • The world has many addicts PC and Microsoft and I think that there is still no dangerfor him. It can only harm significantly better (faster, simpler and smaller) program.

    Vlado July 3, 2011 4:03 pm Reply
  • I’m with Pj on this.  I am still grappling with the technical attributes of Windows 7: that is, getting it to do what I want, instead of what it wants, particularly in the troubleshooting department.
    Thanks  for your continuing advice and assistance Onuora.

    Dj July 4, 2011 6:07 am Reply
  • Microsoft was making tablets years before Microsoft released the iPad. Just because applications can be developed with HTML5 and JavaScript doesn’t mean that they’re run as well on a Macintosh. The operating system itself plays a huge role. You can write apps in C for both systems today. So what?

    Spangalang August 28, 2011 6:39 pm Reply
  • I think of microsoft as a really huge company, and i dont want to be rude, but apple is not as big, it is just as rich as microsoft. 
    Microsoft doesn’t have the need to fight apple, it only has to put something besides apple, and it will work. I love Windows and Mac OS too,,, 
    I use windows for my personal stuff and gamming in my house, I use Mac OS at work, I have a windows phone and an iPad… but, if I were to upgrade my tablet, I would definetely prefer a windows 8 tablet because of the desktop interfece capability. I love my iPad, but I like the idead of having an iPad like interface along side the windows desktop interface. If apple were to develop an iOS with a desktop MacOS UI, i would think about that…
    BUT, MacoOS is so heavy and resource consiming  that i doubt they could adapt an alternative…
    (Mac pc’s are really good and expensive, that is why MacOS seems to be fast…)

    Antony Emanuelle February 12, 2012 8:09 pm Reply
  • <div>Windows 7 tidlig vedtagelse beats Vista’s 2 til 1</div>
    <div>I fem måneder siden dens udgivelse, har Windows 7 erobrede to gange de forbrug andel som  levis 501
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     operativsystemer i levis commuter jeans 
     brug online for måned til sidste søndag. Til sammenligning havde Windows Vista 4,5% andel fem måneder efter dens  levis 501 jeans
    sene-januar 2007 frigivelse til detail.Microsoft Corp. leveret Windows 7 22. oktober, 2009.Windows 7’s bane har været hurtigere end Vista’s nogensinde siden dens udgivelse; den nyere operativsystem ramt 4% mærket flere måneder tidligere end Vista gjorde. Ved udgangen af januar var Windows 7 forbrug andel 7,5%, også dobbelt på 3,75%, Vista nydt ved udgangen af den fjerde måned”.Ser man på tendenserne, [Windows 7] væksten synes at være stærk og konsekvent, med ingen synlige nedgang,”sagde Vince Vizzaccaro, executive vice president på NetApplications.Vizzaccaro bemærkede også, at forskellen i Windows 7 weekend og ugedag scores har været stigende, et tegn på, at”personlige forbrug vokser hurtigere end virksomhedens forbrug, som passer til forventningerne,”sagde han. Tidligere har Vizzaccaro forklaret, at forbrug andelen af nyere versioner af Windows klatrer i weekenden, når en større procentdel af computere online er hjem maskiner. Virksomheder halter traditionelt bagefter hjemmebrugere i udbredelse af nye versioner af Windows.Microsoft’s operativsystemer tegnede sig for en kombineret 92% af alle operativsystemer kraftoverførsel computere, gik online sidste måned. Windows XP udgjorde hovedparten af, med en markedsandel på 66.3%, mens Vista kørte på 17,4% af maskinerne i NetApplications undersøgelse. Apple Inc.’s Mac OS X havde en andel på blot 5,1%.Hvis tendenserne i de sidste tre måneder fortsætter, Windows 7 vil overhale Vista som den anden-de fleste-populære operativsystem, bag No. 1 XP, ved June.NetApplications foranstaltninger operating system forbrug ved at spore maskiner at besøger 40.000 overvåger for klienter, som resulterer i en pulje af ca. 160 millioner unikke besøgende pr. måned.   Windows 7 forbrug andel er dobbelt Windows Vista’s gennem hver edition’s første fem måneder. Gregg Keizer dækker Microsoft, sikkerhedsproblemer, Apple, Web-browsere og generelle teknologi bryde nyheder til Computerworld. Følg Gregg på kvidre ved @ gkeizer, sende en e-mail til eller abonnere Gregg’s RSS feed.</div>

    xiaoying May 31, 2012 3:00 am Reply

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