Microsoft plans to release its next-generation Windows operating system to the public later this year, and the company is working with PC makers on tablets, notebooks, and other computers that will run Windows 8.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga

So when websites start running stories about Dell or Lenovo executives claiming that they’ll be the first companies to launch Windows 8 tablets, I think it’s important to note the missing word: “among.”

Dell and Lenovo will be “among” the first companies to launch Windows 8 tablets.

I suspect that on Windows 8 launch day, nearly every personal computer maker will have a Windows 8 tablet ready to go — and possibly some companies that we don’t even think of as PC makers, such as phone giant Nokia.

Just because other companies haven’t announced plans to release products the same day doesn’t mean they’re not in the works.

I doubt we’ll stop seeing headlines with bold claims about the “first” Windows 8 devices anytime soon, but I’m already tired of reading them — and Windows 8 probably won’t be ready to go until this fall.

Here’s what we do know: Windows 8 features a new tablet-friendly user interface with big finger-friendly icons and gestures for navigation and new full-screen applications including a version of Internet Explorer 10 that’s actually as easy to use on a tablet as the Safari web browser on an iPad.

Windows 8 will be able to run on devices with x86 chips or ARM-based processors. While you might expect the ARM-based models to offer better battery life at a lower cost, Intel has made a lot of progress in power consumption recently. If you pair one of the latest Intel Atom processors with a decent battery, it’s not unreasonably to expect an x86 tablet to get up to 10 hours of battery life.

Both ARM and x86 tablets will be able to run new Metro style full-screen apps downloaded from the Windows Store. But if you want to run some of the millions of apps designed for Windows 7 and earlier, you may need an x86 tablet. They won’t run on ARM-based systems unless developers update the apps and submit them to the Windows Store.

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24 replies on “Prediction: Most PC makers will have Windows 8 tablets on day one”

  1. I have high hopes for windows 8 tablets.  I have held off buying a second ipad until I can give windows 8 a try. Yes ,I know I still have a long wait, but I am still willing to see if a windows 8 tablet can do what my now dead Motion m1400 did, allow me to ink my notes.  If I can ink my notes without having to hold my hand in some un-natural way, some Windows OEM will get my money.  If I can’t ink in a natural manor,  I’m getting another iPad and I will deal with the inking quirks the iPad provides.

  2. Anybody who has actually used a Windows Phone 7.5 device (as opposed to just slagging off on them, having never used one) will know that Microsoft can *definitely* make this work if they get a bit more mind-share. The software and user experience is great. It crashes less than Android and IOS in my experience. The $150 refurbished LG C900 shits all over any other phone I have ever had.

    Windows 8 for ARM will probably just be a slightly changed Windows Phone 8 type OS (as we know WP8 will use the NT kernel). For once, I am actually betting for Microsoft instead of against, as they’ve done a great job on Windows 7 and especially WP7.

    Full disclosure: The only Windows device I have is my phone, the rest run Linux.

  3. I would love to have  windows 8 tablet.  Most people love to bash Microsoft, but heavily rely on it.  Students, not so much, but business users, hell yes!  So if windows 8 for tablets does not catch on with youngsters, business people will love the fact that they have a tablet that does all of Microsoft Office, etc.  Ipads and android for the most part are still, very much a consumption tablet and I really think that Windows 8 is going to separate themselves from iPads and Android by being an OS mimics the functionality of it’s desktop counterpart.  The ability to create content.

    I know for sure I’ll be owning one despite everyone’s complaints of the start menu.  I used to be a nitpicker and even refused to let go of my MS-DOS to run Windows, but now, as I get older, I appreciate the things I can do over the “nice to haves”.

  4. Windows 8 is the new Vista. Microsoft need to stick with Windows 7 for laptops and a new Windows 9 for tablets.

  5. I’m looking forward to seeing the Windows 8 tablets.  I’m not impressed by Windows 8 on the desktop.  I really can’t imagine them thinking that the dual OS UI is a good thing.  So far I’d rather use Windows 7.  However, Windows 8 on a tablet interests me since the Metro interface works well on tablets and it has the Aero interface for backward compatability on x86 tablets.

    I don’t think Microsoft can afford to stumble or Windows 8 will turn into the next Windows Me/Vista like many think it will.  Lots of things can relegate Windows 8 to the has runs:

    * ARM tablets won’t be able to run legacy apps.  Microsoft needs to handle this so that consumers don’t feel tricked.
    * The tablets need to be nice.  Less than .5in thin, less than 1.5 lbs, battery lasting longer than 8 hours, made of quality materials
    * Windows 8 must feel snappy on tablets.  At least the Metro portion.
    * Must be cheaper than the iPad by at least $100 (depending on specs). 
    * Must be heavily marketed
    * Must not have any major flaws (like frequent crashes, slowdown)
    * Development for it must be easy in order to get devs onboard.  

    One thing I wonder about is if people will be confused with the software. iOS and Android went from the phone to tablet and people expect their phone software to work on their tablets.  Windows is going from the desktop to the tablet.  Will people balk at that difference?  Windows Phone 7 won’t work on Windows 8 and there hasn’t been much news on if that will change with Windows Phone 8, though speculation is that it will eventually all converge… but we are looking at a multi-year timeframe on that.

    I am hoping Microsoft saw the troubles Android tablets had when they first came out and are doing everything they can to avoid them.  In any case I suspect any success of Windows 8 will be at the expense of Android rather than iOS.

    Microsoft and Windows has always had a record of releasing software that is too demanding for current hardware… having to wait a year or two before hardware catches up to run their OS smoothly.  I hope this is not true for Windows 8.  I’m hopeful since Windows 7 worked well out of the gate and Windows Phone 7 runs well on low powered hardware.

    If Microsoft does things right Windows 8 could be a great success.  Imagine in the future being able to use the same app on your phone/tablet/desktop/xbox and have the data for those apps sync in the cloud.  Microsoft’s Dev tools and it’s devs are a strong asset and devs would love it if they could write an app once and with little or no changes have that app run everywhere.  Microsoft would do well to remember that software is important and a strong developer base is important.

    I guess we will see later this year…

  6. I agree with the above pessimism about Win8 tablets.  Also agree with Clive that Win8 on desktops and laptops, their dominant market, will be a disaster.  I think worse than Vista, more like Windows ME, where the majority of people went to Win98SE or Win2000.

    I guess MS is happy releasing a pathetic OS every 4-5 years and having to scramble to fix it and make people happy.  Difference is the competition is much stronger this time.  It’s a real shame, I love the inking experience and think Win7 is a great OS (even XP is still good).

    1. The problem with Microsoft is that they simply have no taste or vision. They don’t anticipate market changes or trends. They merely follow and try to use their dominance to push everyone into their corral, and their offering is usually far less than elegant. Well, it just won’t work anymore. Windows 8 is nothing more than Windows 7 with a few enhancements, and the addition of the ugly Metro UI that didn’t go over well on the Windows Phone 7, either. What a disaster! Apple knows better than to push iOS UI on the Mac. It simply doesn’t work. It also knows that OS X won’t work on low powered tablets. They got it right, plain and simple.

      1. I fundamentally agree with you, which is odd because when I first started reading your comment I was planning on rebutting it.  MS definitely has Vision in Windows 8.  The problem is that they seem perfectly willing to cram that vision down their users throats regardless of whether it works for the intended task or market, which is bad design.

        It’s frustrating because it really is like they’re trying to dictate to me how to do things rather than figuring out how to make their OS fit my needs.

        I understand the need to reshape user workflows to meet a new paradigm.  The problem is they’re pushing a paradigm into places it shouldn’t go, and then papering that over by telling me to adapt.  Specifically this is my experience with the consumer preview on the desktop with multiple monitors…  It just doesn’t work and is actively irritating.

        Oh well, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.  If developers don’t go in big for Metro, and if MS doesn’t clean up how Metro apps work on computers that don’t have touch input, Win8 is going to have issues.

        1.  It should be remembered it’s still only a preview and we’ve yet to see even a release candidate. So things like customization options may be much more adequate by the time they’re done since it was one of the check list of things MS intended from the beginning for Windows 8.  Along with things like performance as they the preview version still has a lot of developers code that won’t be there in the final version and things like drivers still need to be perfected.

          It’s just a question of whether they can manage to provide enough customization to satisfy everyone or not that remains to be seen.  Re-designing Windows to be easily used in both traditional and mobile systems is something never attempted before and is not something they’re going to perfect over night.

          However, they still got close to 6 months left and a lot of things still left to change.  Along with how MS responds to feedback along the way.  Since one of the reasons to release previews and even release candidates is to get potential consumer feedback and to make changes if they decide it’s really needed.

      2. “Windows 8 is nothing more than Windows 7 with a few enhancements” 

        Keep telling yourself that.

        ” the addition of the ugly Metro UI that didn’t go over well on the Windows Phone 7″

        Sales of windows phone 7 are slow, but ever increasing.  Also, not a SINGLE bad review about that OS can be found.  Every single one that ends up using it thinks it’s amazing.  The reason for slow adoption is because most people think wp7 is actually windows mobiles – which off course is completely incorrect.  The bad sales are a result of bad reputation and have NOTHING to do with the actual phone OS.  Go ahead… try and find a bad review of Nokia Lumia’s line for example.

        “Apple knows better than to push iOS UI on the Mac”

        Apple is only interested in selling people loads and loads and loads of devices.  Apple wants you to buy a desktop, a laptop, a tablet and a phone.  Because that’s how they make money, by selling devices.

        With windows 8, all you’ll need is a (dockable) tablet and a phone.  The tablet will BE your desktop, laptop and tablet.
        The ONLY reason why apple will never take that route is because they WANT people to buy desktops, laptops AND tablets.  Making one OS to rule them all would be a bad business move for apple.  Not because the OS wouldn’t work… but simply because they want you to buy more then one device.

        “It also knows that OS X won’t work on low powered tablets”

        That’s because they write crappy software 🙂
        No, seriously, that has NOTHING to do with it.  The ONLY reason why they keep these OS’s seperate is because they want to sell you MORE then just one device.

        Look at Mountain Lion for example… Ow, it’s only 30 bucks! Look how great that is!  Right, but do people realise you can’t install it on macs older then 4 years?  Do you really actually believe that hardware from 2007 is not able to run that update???  Windows 8 works on pc’s from 2002 for crying out loud…

        It’s not that Apple can’t support those older macs… It’s just that THEY DON’T WANT TO!
        It’s an entirely arbitrary restriction to get you to buy a new mac.  So no, that OS doesn’t cost “just” 30 bucks.  It costs a lot more, and it’s paid for with additional mac sales.

        Why are you people happy with a company that who’s entire strategy is just about getting you to dig deep in your wallet?  It’s a disgusting strategy and everyone who actually believes that hardware sales is not what lies behind Apple’s decision, should get their head examined.

        Having said that, windows 8 (along with metro and everything else about it) was allready planned and under development long before the first ipad was even introduced.

  7. Wait, wasn’t there _just_ an article reporting that Microsoft said they weren’t building/releasing an ARM-based Windows 8 version??

    1. One of the key features of Windows 8 is that it will support ARM-based devices as well as x86 architecture.

      But Microsoft will only make the software available to OEMs. You won’t be able to walk into a store (or click on a website) and buy Windows on ARM and install it on your own ARM-based computer. 

      Instead you’ll be able to buy a Windows on ARM tablet, notebook, or other device much the same way you can now buy an iPad or Android tablet. 

      1. To re-iterate MS wants to make sure the boot loader is locked on WoA, so no retail version.

  8. Here’s my bet.  There will be lots of Win8 tablets on day one.  Most of them wont’ be worth buying and every one of them will have one tragic flaw that makes it just this side of useless.  The only exceptions will be so hideously priced that they aren’t considered viable purchases.

    The initial experience will be so bad that at least 33% of the tablets are returned, although none of the manufacturers will admit this, and it will only come out after their earnings calls.

    1.  I agree.  Despite the advances claimed by the Windows camp, you only need look at the existing Win 7 tablets to see the awful truth:  Windows is way too bloated to shrink.  Tablets based on Atom CPUs are pathetic:  too hot, too slow, too short a battery life.  Windows will be too big to run decently on ARM.

      The Android and iPad camps will release video benchmarks that show just how pathetic Windows 8 will be, whether on ARM or x86 tablets (except for Intel Core i5-2xxx Sandy Bridge or i5-3xxx Ivy Bridge versions with SSDs).

      Couple that with the rumored Google Tablet, to be released by Asus in May, and the advances made by ARM licensees and Apple, and I expect Microsoft to be an also-ran in the tablet market by yearend 2012.

      Additionally, I expect Windows 8′ s reception to be so bad, that manufacturers will offer the no-cost option to DOWNGRADE Win 8 x86 to Windows 7, like what hapened to the early days of Win 7.  This will happen especially on desktops and laptops, which are 90% of the Windows installed base.

      The good news for consumers is that there will be a lot of cheap x86 tablets which you can install Win 7 on, and a lot of cheap ARM tablets you can install either Android or Linux on.

      1. Except that the Bootloader will be secured in UEFI and won’t be user accessable.  They’re working hard to make the whole system locked.  The nominal reason is to prevent root kits from modifying the system.  But without a valid cert to boot from, in order to sell a WoA device the Bios will need to detect a signed OS, which by default will only be WoA.

        I’m sure there will be a hack to get around it, but that’s MS’s publicly stated plan if you like reading the Windows 8 blogs.

        1.  It should be considered that the business model for ARM devices is not the same as traditional PC’s.

          Many ARM devices are intended for rapid end of life and optimized for specific usages.  Locked boot loaders and making it hard to root is also nothing new to ARM devices.

          It’s just not what people are used to for traditional PC’s.

          While ARM is also just getting to the point they can properly run a desktop OS.  However, this also means it’s more important than it is for a traditional PC for the system to be properly optimized and only running what it should to not impede performance to the level that the system feels crippled, sluggish, laggy, etc. Not to mention dealing with the normal hardware fragmentation of ARM in general.  Though that is partly taken care of by the minimal system requirements MS is imposing.

          Then there is also the trust level for ARM.  Since one of the reasons for locked boot loaders is because many still don’t trust the level of security available on ARM.  So those concerned for things like DRM prefer a little extra security, even if it may seem a bit like overkill and for the average user it is but piracy and such has made the industry rather paranoid and it’s not like it isn’t possible to get around most security measures on ARM devices as rooting and jailbreaking shows.

          Examples like the Netflix HD app require the locked boot loader for HD streaming.  Otherwise it defaults to SD.

          Along with other concerns like for Enterprise like environments and usage scenarios.

          Though of course, limiting competition is another reason but the point is it’s not the only reason and the ARM market makes it easy for them to sell systems with multiple but specialized configurations.

          1. There is no security concerns for the ARM architecture – the reason they want to lock everything down is because the ARM/Embedded ecosystem *lets them*. It’s a completely different culture to PC/x86 land.

          2. No, from the viewpoint of those providing content there are security concerns. 

            Apps like the Netflix HD app require a locked boot loader and certification to allow HD streaming instead of SD for example to satisfy DRM concerns and the rampant piracy market gives them good reason to worry when software only solutions are often not enough.


            So it’s not just about what “let’s them” but also what they want because they are worried that the regular security measure are too ineffective to prevent piracy and other concerns.

            While of all device makers right now, only RIM presently has a Enterprise level security.

            There is virtually no level of security that can be considered fool proof and the debate is really over what’s good enough and for everyone that can vary.

      2. Also, I actually have faith that Win8 will scale down and that in and of itself it won’t be COMPLETELY horrible.

        The problem is that on devices designed to compete with the iPad, it won’t be able to run legacy apps, and that will PISS PEOPLE OFF.  Especially since Metro isn’t as intuitive as either Android or iOS, which already have wide install bases with enthusiastic supporters.

        On larger more powerful devices, or even ATOM based tablets, I’m not sure the desktop experience and legacy apps are a bonus from a UX standpoint, although it’s at least something that other devices won’t do.  So there’s that.

        In the end, from a corporate stand point, yeah, this is Vista 2.0.  I can’t see my company moving to it.  We’re JUST NOW completing the transition to Win 7, and half the company is still on XP because our primary line of business app is still at least 4 months from being upgraded to 7.  The addition of Metro is a HUGE roadblock to moving to 8, especially since there are really no real compelling features to compel the move.  On the server side, yeah we’re probably moving to Server 2012 in the next year or two.  It’s too early to tell on the consumer front, but my gut is telling me you’re right, on that front.

        Overall, this is my expectation:  The device manufacturers themselves are going to hose things up like they did with most of the initial Android tablets.  Everyone will announce a product, but few will make it to market in sufficient numbers for a day 0 launch.  The first products to market will all tout themselves as an iPad killers, but be priced too high, or will be comically underpowerd and poorly spec’d.  That will be followed up by a round of serviceable tablets that have cut some essential corner somewhere to come in under $400…  Of those that MIGHT be compelling, I expect the manufactuers will smack claims that Win8 itself can’t deliver on, like application backward compatibility on ARM, and basically the whole thing will be a disaster for anyone who isn’t an enthusiast who tries to buy one of these in the first six months.

        After that I actually expect things to stabilize and become better.  I also fully anticipate the competition to move faster than MS can react, and out innovate Redmond…

        I’m basing most of this off the phone market, and the initial Android tablets, btw.  Marrying a lack of strategic vision to the manufacturer’s apparent need to release checkbox products that don’t work very well seems like a bad combo.

        1.  The lack of legacy on WoA may or may not be a serious issue.  Many on mobile devices wouldn’t be using many of those legacy apps anyway, since they aren’t designed to run well on mobile devices without keyboards and mouse and the Metro friendly apps will likely be more dominant for those mobile devices.

          While solutions like VM and remote services can easily be used, just like they have been for existing mobile devices but with a desktop OS those features may run better and offer better compatibility.  While many of those services have also gotten better over the years.

          The problem is also running legacy apps posses a problem towards both compatibility but also power efficiency and performance. 

          Desktop programs aren’t designed to run as efficiently as mobile apps and running them in VM could easily prove to be a huge power drain on the system and make them run too slow to be useful, at least the newer and more powerful programs that need more resources and performance to run well.

          Though MS stand on this may change in the future as ARM starts to provide more performance overhead and whether the new VM capabilities being introduced with Cortex A15 prove to be efficient enough to allow it without a big hit on run time.

          I have to agree though that I’m a little pessimistic on how the initial release may go but I’d give it till the inevitable SP release to decide whether it has a chance or not of being successful.

      3.  One of the reasons they are completely re-working the OS is to make it less bloated. 

        Really, Windows 7 is definitely less bloated than Vista was and it just remains to be seen whether Windows 8 will be equal or even lighter than Windows 7.  So saying they can’t reduce the bloat is at best premature and at worst just being erroneously pessimistic.

        While up to this point ARM was incapable of running a desktop OS.  So prior comparisons to Intel ATOM should include the fact they have up till now served very different markets.

        A lot of the reasons ARM is good for mobile devices is because ARM has been intended from the beginning to provide low performance and thus use low power.  Along with being easier to simplify designs and optimize for maximum efficiency than traditional x86 hardware has ever been intended.

        So ARM is started out good for mobile devices with more limited usage ranges than more powerful computing devices and as long as coupled with software that is similarly optimized they have proven to be very useful for their intended role.

        ARM development for tablets mainly came about because of the development of mobile OS that didn’t require traditional PC performance in order to run well.

        iOS and Android are mobile OS that are by design limited but that makes
        them easy to run and the apps they use are similarly light weight.  The sacrifice being not having the range of features and capabilities as you would on a more traditional PC but being mobile has always been a compromise and there are things you don’t need to have while on the go.

        Many tablets in fact give up features that are only needed for laptops
        and desktops.  Like supporting more than one of every type of I/O port. 

        However, now ARM development has gotten to the point they are finally rivaling the performance of Intel ATOM’s and that means they can start running desktop OS and start competing in the traditional PC market and not just the mobile and embedded markets.

        This in turn means Intel has to evolve the ATOM or concede the low end PC market to ARM but the process of them doing so has already begun. 

        Intel Medfield may not beat the top of the line ARM solutions but it holds its own against many existing products and that shows Intel is already making progress on improving power efficiency and reducing cost without sacrificing too much on performance.

        While the next gen 22nm Silvermont ATOM line coming out next year will completely re-work the ATOM and by all accounts stands to force a rethink of what the ATOM is good for and whether it can be used to successfully compete in both the traditional markets it has been used for and the growing mobile market.

        On Intel’s side is the fact that ARM is still a 32bit architecture.  While features like 64bit memory controllers are starting to appear but they are still years away from fully 64bit devices are even offered as samples and perhaps even a decade before ARM fully converts as x86 has already done. 

        Also Intel is heavily pushing their advantage on the FAB side with a more rapid rate of advancement that may just be enough to make up for the remaining power efficiency and cost difference that would have otherwise still been ARM’s advantage.

        Meanwhile, what people expect from both mobile and traditional devices is increasing.  Even if ARM hadn’t started to compete on the low end Intel would still have had to start to finally advance the ATOM to provide the growing demand for performance.

        Similarly people want to do more and more on the go and that means mobile devices will have to start providing more than they traditionally have to meet that growing demand.

        All of which means the time could well be ripe for a desktop OS to finally meet the needs of both mobile and traditional PC usage and that’s likely something what a lot of tablet makers will be banking on Windows 8 providing…

      4. “you only need look at the existing Win 7 tablets to see the awful truth: Windows is way too bloated to shrink”

        Windows 7 is not optimised for tablets.  Recent polls showed that about 50% of tablet users want to see a windows on there.

        Having said that, microsoft is thightening it’s grip on OEM’s to remove all the crapware and bloat that these third parties install on windows before they sell it to you.  So no, windows 8 devices will not see those problems.

        “Windows will be too big to run decently on ARM”

        When in metro, the desktop code is not even loaded into memory.  The ARM desktop is also optimised for battery life. 
        Also, there’s no win32 on WoA.

        “Couple that with the rumored Google Tablet, to be released by Asus in May”

        Right, because Google Chrome laptops were such a success…

        “The good news for consumers is that there will be a lot of cheap x86 tablets which you can install Win 7”

        You’ld have to be a total moron to remove a touch optimised OS and replace it with a non-touch optimised OS on a tablet.

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