We’ve seen a lot of companies demonstrate tablet-style devices running Windows 7 over the last few months. While there are still few of these keyboardless wonders available for purchase in the US, they seem to be all the rag among no-name companies in China. But if you’ve been a bit underwhelmed by many of the slates we’ve seen to date there may be a good reason: As a general rule, they don’t follow Microsoft’s suggestions for building a successful Windows 7 Slate.

Windows For Devices have republished a white paper from Microsoft explaining how best to manufacturer a slate PC for Windows 7. Among the company’s suggestsions:

  • Use a solid state disk to lower power consumption and improve reliability
  • Battery life should exceed 4 hours and you should get 72 hours or more of standby time
  • Provide 2GB of RAM on devices with less powerful CPUs or graphics processors
  • Make sure the regions where you grip the tablet with your hands aren’t near the heat dispersion and venting points

Microsoft also points out that you’ll have a better touch experience if you have an active digitizer which makes handwriting recognition and other precise actions easier. The company recommends using a biometric scanner to make it easier to login without using an on-screen keyboard.

If you’re interested in knowing what Microsoft recommends for slate PC hardware, you should check out the complete white paper. It’s also worth taking a look if you just want a quick refresher on exactly what touch-friendly features Windows 7 includes, since there’s a handy chart in the first section.

via UMPC Portal

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9 replies on “Microsoft’s tips for building Windows 7 Slate PCs: Turns out few are doing it right”

  1. “Make sure the regions where you grip the tablet with your hands aren’t near the heat dispersion and venting points”
    … or metallic parts of an aerial

  2. If one wants a Win tablet, it would be best to follow the recommendations. For me, I would rather have a tablet that had an OS made for surfing the web and doing multimedia. A free would help keep the price down; making it more affordable for what I would use it for. 🙂

  3. This is actually the form factor I’m most interested in at the moment, due to them being the same size as the notebooks I normally write on plus I’m very used to having Win7-to-Win7 interactions – OneNote is what I’m after. 4 hours is what I’m getting out of my current netbook, so if I can find a slate like the kind MS recommends, I’ll jump all over it.
    I’m sure I’m in the minority, given how many slate-sized machines are using non-Intel or non-Windows, but it’s good that there is at least a set of guidelines for the machine I’m after.

  4. I still only see Windows7 tablets/slates in vertical markets. When done “right” they will be expensive with relatively short battery life (unless you make them heavy). In order for slates to become widely popular they need to be fairly cheap and last around 8 hours or better. Wintel is just not very good in this area.

    1. Uh… your statement is based on what? Low-voltage Intel processors are perfectly capable of extended battery life (as defined in this white paper).But then, this seems to be part of the problem. OEMs are starting with price and building systems around that. I understand why they’d do that – but in the process, they often build an end product no one would actually want. Microsoft shoulders the blame because the perception is the OS is failing. Whatever the weaknesses of the OS, if the OEMs aren’t building capable hardware, there’s not a whole heck of a lot they can do.It’s a challenge. You’d like Microsoft (or Google, or whomever) to lean on the OEMs to get them to do it right. And furthermore, OS vendors tend to shoulder a disproportionate share of the blame. (I.e., “this is slow. This doesn’t do what I expect. My battery is dead. Must be the OS.”) But the OEMs are the customers for the OS license, not the other way around, and they’re naturally going to do what they think makes sense for getting into the channel. Result: stalemate.

      So, I guess you can … uh, write white papers.

      1. Part of the problem though is that you have to ADD IN all sorts of fun stuff, like 2GB of memory, and a processor so fast that it pretty much mandates active cooling, and an active digitizer,to get the Windows 7 experince ‘right’.

        By the time you’re done with that bill of materials, the only thing you’ve lopped off a standard notebook is the… keyboard, and you’ve actually added some fairly expensive add-ons like a capacitive touch screen and digitizer. All so you can have the ‘proper’ experience on an OS which has touch friendly features, instead of being optimized for touch.

        Compare that to the iPad. I don’t particularly like the iPad. That said, it provides a pretty decent computing experience with SIGNIFICANTLY less powerful hardware. A large reason for that is that it has an OS which doesn’t add a lot of overhead to running an app.

        I’d love to be able to run some Windows Apps on lighter hardware, but I just don’t see that happening until Microsoft throws some resources at creating a very stripped down lean Windows OS, which gets rid of the unnecessary baggage you need for running a full blown desktop client while still letting you run Windows 7 apps… And that probably means getting rid of things like super fetch, and finding ways to do some of the accelleration things they’re used to doing to fill up the gigs and gigs of memory they’re used to having at an OS’s disposal, so it can run with half a gig or so of memory.

        And then developers will need to optimize the GUI’s on their apps for touch…

        And at that point you’re not talking about Windows compatability any more. You’re talking about really a whole new OS which can run MOST windows apps to some extent. And by the time MS has put forth the effort required to do that, and developers have ported over their apps for it, I’m not sure that it even makes sense any more.

        So that’s why I don’t see Windows doing particularly well in the tablet space. It’s not like most applications are just fine if you magically get rid of the mouse and keyboard and allow the user to ‘click’ with their fingers and pop up an on screen keyboard. The few apps I’ve used using Windows 7’s and it’s touch ‘features’ which weren’t designed by MS for touch, left me longing for my keyboard especially back, since I lost half the screen to type. The experience just doesn’t translate well between the two input methods.

        The most damning thing about the whole thing to me is that Microsoft has to know this is an issue if they want to sell in the tablet space, but I haven’t really seen anything out of them which makes me think they’re trying to seriously tackle the problem. The courier was about it… Does anyone know if they’re pulling out a big project team to optimize for touch like they’re doing for live action capture with Natal? I think they’d need to at least come out with Visual Studio plug in’s to make it easy to develop for touch and keyboard mouse in parallel with automatic GUI switching based on device keys in the registry. That would be the minimum I would expect to see to indicate that they’re really interested in doing it right. Will it be in VS11? Because I have 10, and expression 4, and I see things I could use to do parts of this, but not others.

        So has anyone heard about anything like that? Amy I just missing something?

        And if I’m right, and they’re not making the push to move into this space, why would I want one of these devices even if it did adhere to the whitepapers?

        I’m personally inclined to think the whitepaper is Steve Balmer’s way of saying ‘hey don’t blame me, blame the manufacturers’. Microsoft’s share holders have to be asking the rather obvious question: What MS is doing to move into markets that Apple is currently in the processes of PROVING there is a demand in? After all Microsoft has been promising for over 10 years since Bill was in charge that this was the next big thing. They’ve thrown literally tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in research money into projects that have utterly failed to bring a single successful collaborated project to market. In that Microsoft has moved from XP to Vista, and then to Windows 7, Apple has gone from being nearly extinct, to having all but locked up the dedicated MP3 player market, developed a successful smart phone device OS, and ported it into tablet computers, and seen 6 major updates to OS X. I’m not an Apple Fan boy. I’m just pointing out that at this point the share holders SHOULD be asking some fairly serious questions like, if you’re not going to bring world class, world beating products to market, why are you spending research money on them, and what are you doing to make sure that our investment in your company is relevant to the computing marketplace of the future. When looked at that way, this whitepaper is really aimed at a completely different audience.

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