Windows

Should there be separate tablet and desktop editions of Windows 8?

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, Greg Shultz examines arguments for and against separate editions of Windows 8 for tablets and desktops. We'd like your input.

Some friends were discussing Microsoft Windows 8 last week when I stopped by to listen to the conversation. As we nodded our greetings, my buddies kept talking about the pros and cons of the new Windows 8 interface that they had seen demoed on two videos: One from the D9 conference, which featured Windows President Steven Sinofsky and Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg and the other from the 2011 Computex conference in Taipei, Taiwan, which featured Michael Angiulo, Corporate Vice President, Windows Planning, Hardware & PC Ecosystem.

One of my friends was extolling the virtues of the new Windows 8 touch interface and saying that this will finally allow Windows users to walk around with tablet PCs that will rival Apple's iPad. The other fellow was griping about having to deal with the touch interface on a desktop PC. He was saying that that there should be two versions of Windows 8 - one with the touch based interface for tablets and another version for traditional mouse and keyboard laptops and desktops. He went on to say that he didn't believe that Microsoft was going to be successful trying to be all things to all people i.e. one operating system for the whole spectrum of computer types - tablets, notebooks, and desktops. Of course, the debate went on for a while before I interjected with my thoughts on the topic.

Essentially, I said that having the touch-based user interface in Windows 8 is very similar to having the Windows Media Center user interface in Windows Vista/7. It is basically an alternate GUI that rides on top of the standard Windows user interface and provides extra functionality. If you don't want to use it, you don't have to.

If you have a touch screen device, you can use Windows 8's touch-based interface. If you have a desktop with a keyboard and a mouse, you can use just switch over to the standard Windows interface.

While both generally agreed that with Windows 8, Microsoft was making a terrific advance toward a touch screen, tablet-based PC paradigm, the one fellow was adamant in his stance that Microsoft should develop separate versions of Windows 8. No matter what I said about having one version of the OS for both platforms and the ability switch to whichever user interface that you want, he stood his ground.

Then, he suggested that I take my thoughts about one version of Windows 8 for all platforms to TechRepublic readers and see what they have to say on the topic. In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll do just that.

The so-called separate editions of Windows XP

The first part of my argument against two editions of Windows started out with the sentence:

  • Microsoft has been there and done that and it didn't work then and it won't work now.

As you may remember, soon after Windows XP hit the streets, Microsoft followed up with separate versions of the operating system for the pertinent platforms of the time - Windows XP Media Center Edition and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.

Windows XP Media Center Edition was never available as a stand-alone product that you could purchase in a retail setting. It was only sold on computers that were marketed as Media Center PCs or through OEM channels. The same was true for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition - it mainly came preinstalled on notebook/laptop computers called tablet PCs.

The first time that I got to use a Windows XP Media Center PC, I was impressed with the user interface and the ability to use a TV-like remote to navigate. However, once you shut down the Media Center interface you encountered a standard Windows Desktop. The first time that I got my hands on a Tablet PC running Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, I was disappointed when the standard Windows XP user interface appeared and I discovered that the tablet features were more of a side show than the main event.

In both cases, at the end of the day these special editions of Windows XP were just standard Windows XP with extra features.

Windows XP Tablet PC Edition essentially went by the wayside when its features were integrated in Service Pack 2 for Windows XP and made available as a free upgrade. While Windows XP Media Center Edition never broke free of the separate designation in the Windows XP timeframe, it really lost steam after the Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition, which came out in October 2005.

So within a relatively short time frame, the separate platform-oriented versions of Windows XP faded out of the limelight. Of course, there were other factors at work in their demise, but they were essentially gone and Microsoft seemed to be backing away from having separate platform-oriented editions of Windows.

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The all-in-one aspect of Windows Vista/Windows 7

The second part of my argument against having two editions of Windows 8 started out with the sentence:

  • Microsoft has already been successful with the all-in-one operating system approach.

When Windows Vista came out, and subsequently Windows 7, there were multiple editions, but they weren't marketed as platform-oriented versions. The main retail editions - Home Premium and Ultimate - are essentially all-in-one operating systems in that they include both the Media Center features and Tablet PC/touch screen features, as well as the standard desktop.

If you want to take advantage of the Media Center features, you just select the Media Center icon and the desktop disappears and is replaced by the Windows Media Center interface, as shown in Figure A. You can then view movies and pictures, watch TV or listen to music. Shut down the Windows Media Center interface and you are right back at the standard Windows desktop interface.

Figure A

The Windows Media Center interface is built into the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista/Windows 7.
If you want to to take advantage of the tablet PC features, you just select the Tablet PC Input Panel, Shown in Figure B, and use the Writing Pad or the Touch Keyboard. Shut down the Tablet PC Input Panel and you are right back at the standard Windows desktop interface.

Figure B

The Tablet PC Input Panel is built into the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista/Windows 7.

Windows 8 is designed for both

The third part of my argument against having two editions of Windows 8 started out with the sentence:

  • From the looks of the demo, it appears that Microsoft has really done a lot of work to make the new touch based user interface work equally well with a keyboard and a mouse. Furthermore, clicking a tile on the Windows 8 Start screen immediately provides access to the standard Windows desktop interface.

This touch screen and keyboard/mouse duality is really apparent in the 2011 Computex video. For example, in the video you will see that on the Start screen, you use touch to move the screen to the left or right, but if you have a keyboard attached, that same scrolling to the left or right can be accomplished via the Page Up and Page Down keys.

On the Start screen, in addition to the new touch based Apps, standard Windows applications appear as tiles rather than icons. Just select the Word tile, for example, and up pops the same Microsoft application that you are used to using. Employing Windows Snap, you can have the touch-based apps and standard applications running side-by-side. I know the Computex video is 32 minutes long, but watch at least the first 20 minutes and you'll really get a feel for Windows 8 and the touch screen and keyboard/mouse duality

What's your take?

Of course, lots of things may change between now and when Windows 8 actually launches, but at this point in time, I'd say that it looks like Microsoft is well on their way to making Windows 8 all things to all people i.e. one operating system for the whole spectrum of computer types - tablets, notebooks, and desktops. What do you think about Windows 8's new touch-based user interface and it ability to easily morph into the standard windows desktop? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

Also read

Videos

2011 Computex:

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

54 comments
bezerkus
bezerkus

One OS, the environment will demand it with so many different users needs but all wanting mobile. The hardware practically there already for the masses with the powerful quad core nvidia chips and will be overly ready with the Win 8 Release. I am already considering a Tablet setup workstation to allow mobility of salesmen in a new store and then have them bring it back to the sit down workstation. Might have to invest in an Android interim setup as MS will take a while with this OS and my users apps are already cloud based.

Softedge
Softedge

I have a standard PC with no touch screen or a multitouch sensitive device. All of the user interface that deals with multitouch will have absolutely no use for me, or anyone in the same situation (a significant percentage of the PC market). What this means to us is bloat. If you have functionality within an application or operating system that cannot be used, there is no other concept for it. The inclusion of this funtionality places more demand on the hardware on which the operating system resides or at least requires addtional space on the storage media. If Microsoft is to do anything, they should have a core operating system that can use multiple interfaces. If you are using a PC, the operating system should give you the option to load the standard interface and not multitouch, and vice versa. If you want both, the option should be there to load and install both. But oops, this sounds a lot like Linux, guess that won't happen. In one presentation the question was asked as to why Microsoft has not converted their office applications to the new interface. Their answer was (not verbatim) 'We shouldn't expect our users to have to change from the way they are used to doing things'. Well this change to a new interface, and the biggest pet peave of all, the ribbon interface in office, flys in the face of that comment. In this roll out of Windows, as they should have done with office, they should actually do what they say, not force their users to change the way they interact with the software. Microsoft, in both cases, should have the core functionality separate from the user interface and allow the user to decide how they want to interact with that functionality. Thats my rant. Softedge

richcobrien
richcobrien

Yes they should be different. For once would Microsoft please ditch the mouse cursors on tablets. It's the single largest issue when working with the Windows tablets in the past (not to mention the POS touchdisplays ) and is a complete and utter failure. You'd think somebody over the last what 15 years could figure this out by now. But no . . . someone there likes the cursor, pointer, and hand. Time to move on with "NEW" interfaces, Microsoft.

john
john

1. What MS really wants is to be Apple w/o actually telling consumers they have to buy into a closed environment. Instead they do this by trying to manipulate their flagship product, the OS. 2. The Linux market is moving in the correct direction; problem, no real money behind them. 3. A Windows Kernal should be the center to the MS universe. Everything else should be a "choice". Just like installing Server or even MS Office, have default choices Laptop/tablet/workstation/server etc. Each of these choices could also have their own list of options incl. interface, devices, services, apps etc. You should also be able to add or remove these services from the control panel at any time. 4. If you're going to allow people to program and customize, allow them to. Don't pretend to on one hand while tying to keep people married to you on the other. If you produce a better product, you'll keep the customers without the tricks. ~~Just my thoughts!

srr
srr

One OS is a good idea. AND Spitfire_Sysop has a good idea by using a control panel. I would further suggest the setup Option be based on a default. Most of us are not true "geeks" and just want "the thing to work." The choices could be fine tuned later as the OS is learned. Besides, it is much easier to learn only one set of commands, but I use Office 2003!!

random2010
random2010

When I am using a PC for productivity I do not want pointless bloat slowing down my work. I want a fast, sleek OS. Having two UIs seems a lot like bloat to me when I an working with mouse and keyboard. I guess it depends how they implement it, but if they install all this stuff by default it will not impress me.

320vu50
320vu50

Kudos to Tech Republic for doing this and Microsoft for paying attention to the customers. My biggest gripe with Microsoft is that they tend to embed many of the shared features of several programs inthe least favored of the bunch and then prevent disabling or deleting the program. My current gripe is Messenger. I do not want it on my computer and I have to repeatedly shut it off as it tries to log me on. We had the same thing with an Internet Explorer program years ago (and we know what a mess that was) plus there was a rush to deploy a system (anyone remember ME) which was rushed out to be the scaled down version of Windows 2000, the big one size fits all. Just try telling a woman that. Well, it looked like MS learned how to get it right when they came out with XP and a big mac of beef XP Pro. Neither faltered out the gate but neither worked exactly the same on the same functions either. I rather think Windows 7 was much better in that scenario as I have heard nothing tothe contrary. Now there is a huge rush to foist a new IE on us and it is being dissed by many. I for one, because it doesn't work with my printer. So, unil I get a driver for it, it can wait. What do I think should be done. Two words; Back off. Then an explanation; and look things over. I agree it is best for MS if they can have a single OS that is core for everything. So do it. Make one killer of a core. One that can handle a single MS DOS word processer like Word Pad to the most complex functions that can perform with the hugest multicore processer there is. From there begin to add things that the customer or manufacturer will want. On an assembly line (in some auto plants) they get on-time specialized parts delivery to the working station for customizationof a single car, or a fleet of thousands. But, each car gets what is supposed to be on it. So be it for the next generation of windows operating system. Let the market and customers decide what should be there. If it is there, let me get rid of it. Put things that are used for more than one add on function into a shared folder and let it be plucked from there on demand. If that don't work then put copies in each module. One size for Laptop, one for Pad, one for Phone, Server, Big desktop and little desktop. It will work if everyone pulls together like they did on XP. That was one of Microsoft's best of the bunch. Look at two great cars for guidance Rolls Royce for workmanship and Volkswagen for customer satisfaction theory. In the early years VW made their cars so the core products of the power train were backward compatible for the previous five years. It was a win for them as well as the customer. I had an assignment to put together a communications installation for 14 ATC facilities. I adopted a motto, "Nothing that is, has to be, only because it was." The 'we always done that way', guys were totally ticked at it. I designed it with the customer in mind, then the technician, then made it so we could put it together. The facilities are still using it. I don't see why Microsoft can't do the same thing. It will be easier to upgrade and jet propel and work finer than a Rolex watch. Just my humble view from a guy that got his first Tandy model 1 and has been through almost every MS version since Radio Shack computers converted to 95. Thanks for the opportunity.

jazzy5
jazzy5

I saw the video of Windows 8 from 2011 Computex. Windows 8 is the OS to beat. Period. It's one OS not two. It runs on Inter, AMD or ARM. It runs on a touch screen or not. It adjust to the screen size, it prefer a 16.9 screen, but it would adapt to any screen size and pixes. It runs traditional software, be that Excel, Power Point, Word, Access or any software that runs now on Windows 7, plus any new apps. You can use keyboad, mouse or finger. It takes USB flash, portable storage, printers in any form factor. Be a laptop, tablet or desktop including netbook. If you do not feel excited for this then you are a Windows hater, because you know that the IPad should be something like this, not a different OS and the same goes for Android.

jgsilva
jgsilva

First let me say I really hate the Media Center interface! Anyway the both GUis available when Windows is starting (this is when most people get coffee or go to the bathroom) if no touch sensitive hardware is detected the load the normal GUI. Both GUIs can make the same calls to the base OS to get stuff done. Finally I find Windows 7 a set backward from Vista. All the W7 enhancements to Vista are minor details. W7 doesn't do anything Vista can't do with more cycles maybe. Work for a company with 40-50,000 desktops/laptops still running XP IE6 with Firefox to fill the holes where EI6 no longer works. Comments were made at a large meeting that Windows 8 will be out before we see Windows 7 on a company PC. Don't see W8 as being a big deal for PCs without touch support.

sparent
sparent

Let's see... Who benefits from a single OS? That would be the developers: single code base, familiarity, ... Who benefits from separate OSes? That would be the consumer/end user: better experience, fewer resource requirements, ... Can you bridge the two? Possibly. But you have to keep your primary audience in mind. Microsoft's primary audience has always been the developers. Well... sysadmins too.

DudeMacs
DudeMacs

ALL hardwares are getting faster and the phones will soon pass the 1Ghz range as the "norm." Which means if Win8 is like Win7 and they could streamline it to be speedy on a slow system, like Win7 in a Netbook, then Win8 should be able to run on Phones by the time it comes out in a year or two. AS I have stated to everyone I know, Tablets will be the ONLY FORM FACTOR in some time. Just look at the way phones are working, they are all a SINGLE SCREEN. The people that say they hate tablets will soon be dead or close to it and the people that have taken the "Smart" Phone and use the HELL out of it will be the one taking the Tablets / Slates form factor and driving the market with it. Plus, hardware is getting faster and batteries are getting longer, it won't be long before we can run full desktop Windows on a handheld phone-sized PC. Have fun with that. Here's a cool link of what life will HOPEFULLY be like in about 10-20 years. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cf7IL_eZ38

wwgorman
wwgorman

The point of having a Windows tablet is that it easily integrates with your home or office computer network. And, the best thing about Windows 7 Professional is the XP mode which should be included in Windows 8. Microsoft has never understood that after years of updates and service packs, XP is one of the best operating systems ever. And, they want to "cook the Golden Goose."

codylynx
codylynx

anyone that says windows 7 doens't work/too cumbersome on a tablet... hasn't used it on a tablet. the real problem has been.. untill now.. no one had a touch screen tablet that could run a full OS till Dell's Inspiron Duo. It works FANTASTIC! Finally, a digital notebook that can run ANY program windows can run. All i did was some small OS tweeks. such as change the UI for single click to launch an app instead of a double click. which is hard on a touch screen to tap twice in the same exact location.

Sourcere
Sourcere

It is all fine and well to say having one OS to rule them all but what about the resources factor. If you are not going to use something why should it be there it takes up space and resources. Even if you uninstall the app it is still in the Program directory. So yes I would like there to be different Windows 8 for different Platforms. And with regards to your other point about the different versions of XP it's because it had the same branding why should the Windows 8 version for mobile phones also be known as windows 8 give it a other name and make it more useable for that particular device. I like to keep all my things separate this notion of one thing to rule them all is just so bla-Zay. Different strokes for different folks.

Sourcere
Sourcere

It is all fine and well to say having one OS to rule them all but what about the resources factor. If you are not going to use something why should it be there it takes up space and resources. Even if you uninstall the app it is still in the Program directory. So yes I would like there to be different Windows 8 for different Platforms. And with regards to your other point about the different versions of XP it's because it had the same branding why should the Windows 8 version for mobile phones also be known as windows 8 give it a other name and make it more useable for that particular device. I like to keep all my things separate this notion of one thing to rule them all is just so bla-Zay. Different strokes for different folks.

batnet
batnet

Microsoft are already doing this with their version of windows thin PC. It's not a question that requires an answer! It is being prepared as two separate OSs as we speak... Read the signs and you'll find your answers.

blarman
blarman

Windows 2000 is the last one. XP Home and XP Pro are different beasts when you take the networking into account, and Vista and 7 fractured into at least 4 versions - each of which were a different feature set than the others. What Microsoft needs to do is release ONE version of Windows 8 with the functionality of XP Pro (NO HOME EDITIONS WITH GIMPED NETWORKING!!!!). Have the touch functionality be an add-in (installed by default) that desktop users can disable with Add/Remove Programs - Windows Components. Have ALL other functionality be installed (for a fee) just like other programs, including Bit Locker, etc. There, you're done.

CyberOptiq
CyberOptiq

do all yourselves a favor and go Linux...you won't have to stay up late nights trying to figure out how to get Billy's crappy software (that he stole from IBM) to run right!!

Spexi
Spexi

Small tablets or phones would be the limitation for how powerful the system would be. That wouldn't be comparable for how much power a workstation may have. So for have a chance in take advantage from all the resources in our desktop computers there should be two different versions of Windows 8. But if consider how much work that can be saved by only develop one version for them all, it wouldn't be unreal to believe that much of the time could be used for developing many more features instead. So I guess the whole discussion ends in 50/50 anyway:)

pohsibkcir
pohsibkcir

Simply said ... Offer people many choices and they may say it is nice to be able to have options, Yet, 90% of the time, they will always select what they are familiar with. The Media Center platform version of XP failed, not for any lack of usefulness ... But for the simple fact that Microsoft didn't support it correctly from the onset, by not offering it as a purchasable disk option . Understandably because, it was hardware motivaterd and dependent. I owned a Media Center PC. It was the best one I have ever had. But Microsoft made it obsolete the day after I bought it home because it wasn't worth upgrading. They've made the same blunder by even offering a Starter edition of Windows 7. They further that blunder by considering releasing a new OS before 2016 and by not making the improvements they are currently working on as a Windows 7 Service Pack update. You lose customers if you offer too many changes, too soon. To be really honest, I think Microsoft missed the boat when they wouldn't even consider my idea to hardwire the OS into a purchasable Hard Disk (or Solid State Disk) Drive. In that way, you have a secure OS and a built in obsolession strategy to boot (pun intentional).

rickstaz
rickstaz

I've got a 1920x1200 24" Dell and am looking toward a 30". Win 8 would make that wasted real estate. I have all my most used icons at a glance even with two or three applications open. "8" would have us go back in time to a 640x480 on 14" mentality having to group icons in sub directories (or scroll of screen). Its a great Idea for mouseless and keyboardless touch screen devices, but keep it away from workstations.

FlaminCarritt
FlaminCarritt

W8 will be a leaning curb, the next edition will save it grace as W7 did to Vista. the tablet version on W8 tablet cannot compute on the level of a PC or laptop unless there are leaps and bounds in tech hardware development to boost power. to limit the ability of your OS by the hardware is two steps back. The development should be focused on a tablet version alternative for a already reduced price if you own the PC version.

cedric.tanga
cedric.tanga

A massive leap forward ... ahead of Apple that could sweep Apple to yesterdays news. One with optional intuitive functionality, Server, Desktop, Tablet, Smart Phone, and maybe the Laptop if they are still around!

russell.g.oneill
russell.g.oneill

I can see why having only one version makes a lot of sense. It makes it easier for consumers to understand and helps keep pricing structures sane. However, my concern is performance. I just wonder if having a specialized ARM version just for tablets would work better with tablet hardware than a combo version for both x86 and ARM. To me, the biggest problem with Windows tables hasn't been the interface (although I think the new metro-based UI is a huge improvement), but with the weight of and battery life of the hardware. The expectations for tablets is that they must be able to run all day and weigh no more than a pound and a half (or so). I just really wonder how Windows 8 will run on that type of platform...ARM processors are so much less powerful than today's crops of X86es, and today's Atom-based tablets have left a lot to be desired, I'm really curious to see how this all works out from a hardware performance perspective.

seanferd
seanferd

Otherwise, what is the point of installing at all? (Other than to make things difficult in certain cases.) I can't grasp why modularity is so damn difficult, and why there aren't more options in Add/Remove Windows Components. Quit tying up everything in common/shared dlls. (You know, like the "Send To Desktop - Create Shortcut" is (or was) dependent on sendmail.dll. Stupid. So, is there any info on what the OS is actually like? Or is this just 7 with yet another UI (or UX, for the apparently always-genius UX design types).

cquirke
cquirke

The UI isn't the OS, and we should be able to swap UIs on the fly. A large-area, high-res desktop and mouse is the human performance equivalent of a vast, RAM-speed SSD. Every time you have to scroll, it hurts you the way having to page RAM to disk hurts system performance. We already have the "docking station" concept for the system hardware, where it detects whether it is docked or not and adjusts to whatever extra performance the docked state can offer. Even running on mains is taken advantage of, compared to deliberate fainting spells to keep the battery alive. So when I choose to dump the 10-foot or hand-held UI in favor of traditional hi-res WIMP, that is what I expect to do - not just when I pug in the big screen (which can be hardware-detected) but when I pace back from the wall TV/presentation touch screen and start wiggling my mouse or typing on the keyboard. What I do NOT want, is the kludgy "we did it first" mess of Ubuntu's Unity, which feels like using a club for a mouse in Windows 3.yuk Program Manager. Ubuntu think they've got that covered because you can change UI at the logon screen - but heelllllooo, I bypass that screen and therefore don't get that UI; I need to do it on the fly, not be given a once-a-boot opportunity to lock myself into one GUI for the rest of the session.

nwallette
nwallette

Microsoft has always stumbled on this because they've never really committed to their decision. Consider the approaches here: - Microsoft tried implementing tablet functionality into a desktop OS. This didn't work. Why? Because the vast, vast majority of apps were meant to be used on a desktop. So what if you could bring up an on-screen keyboard or handwriting-to-text conversion panel? It wasn't integrated, it wasn't cohesive. Just cumbersome and ill-supported. Most developers would never test their application's accessibility with a tablet interface. Plus, the available hardware sucked, and you still had full boot and shutdown times - no instant-on gratification - making it little more than an underpowered, expensive device lacking the ergonomics and power of a laptop or desktop. FAIL. - Microsoft's Media Center is an application on a general purpose OS. This is OK if you wanted a PC in your entertainment system, but most people didn't. They wanted an appliance with the power, versatility, and customizability of commodity PC hardware. When specialized hardware (tuner and A/V output cards) *finally* started showing up to give a computer the same I/O capability as a cable box or DVR, the only thing lacking was software that could be used with the ease of a remote. Again, you don't want a Start menu and 60-second boot times. Appliance-like. Windows MCE was never like this. Again, FAIL. - Apple's iPad solved all of these problems. It turned on instantly, it had a consistent interface. Apps that ran on the iPad were *designed* for the iPad. The only problem, really, is how locked down it is. No custom apps, lack of flexible I/O. But it did what it was supposed to do, and it did it REALLY WELL. Finally, a successful tablet computer. - Linux has a ton of options for customizing commodity hardware. You can get the power of a real, modern multitasking kernel, and do whatever you want with the UI. Touch, appliance-like, whatever. But, you have to build it yourself. For a very small niche, this has been nearly perfect. The only thing really preventing (albeit limited) success is the effort required by developers to support enough and the right kind of hardware, and of end-users to essentially engineer their own solutions. Unless some third party sells a pre-fabbed bundle, this won't ever take the computing world by storm, but for some it's plenty. So, given this history, what direction should Microsoft go? Bundle the add-ins with the base OS, or develop separate OSes? Neither. The problem here is that MS doesn't know how to do "modular". What they NEED to do is build "The Windows Kernel" and package that with: 1) a general-purpose KB/mouse UI for desktop use. 2) a minimal KB-only, or KB/mouse UI for server use. 3) a minimal touch UI for tablet use. 4) a minimal graphical UI with generic input event handlers for interactive appliance use. 5) no UI for hypervisor or headless service hosting use. Is this a lot of effort? No, not really. You have a kernel team, a driver team, a base library team, a couple UI teams, and a couple integration teams. The kernel should build with any level of options enabled to suit the target platform. The GP-OS would be the superset of ALL options, so the duplication of testing would be minimal. The development tools should be built to target these different platforms and load the requisite UI libraries rather than the generic Win32 presentation library as it exists now. Changing the interface would be as simple as building an alternate presentation layer on an existing codebase. Developers who build business logic into the UI will have trouble with this, but that's NEVER been a good practice, and Linux has proven this approach works. Many applications can be targeted for console use, or gtk or Qt UIs through a simple switch passed to the build script. As separate, targeted, supported platforms, when someone distributes a desktop application, they don't need to worry how tablet users would be able to use it. But they can take their back-end code, develop an alternate UI and compile it for the tablet market if they choose to. Etc., etc. This is the ONLY approach that will work, and I bet my left big toe that MS has still not learned this one essential lesson. And they will still fail to dethrone the iPad. Now, they stand to lose the desktop, too.

rwbyshe
rwbyshe

I concur totally if MS were to approach it as two separate and distinct OS's for the different platforms. However, if they approach it as a single entity with the built in option to turn off the "touch screen" side of it so that it functions normally for the keyboard/mouse user, it simply will add a little additional development time and additional code generation. It's really not that hard to do. In my opinion that's the way MS should approach it... a single new version of the Windows OS where the end user can choose which functions he/she wants active.

Den2010
Den2010

At this point, I can not see why there shouldn't be one version of Windows for both traditional PCs and tablets. As long as the binaries are compatible, and the proper driver code is available, why not? Must we bifurcate everything?

maj37
maj37

When I saw the link in the newsletter I came with the intention of saying separate versions but you convinced me. The only problem I see is the size of the OS on the tablets, will there be enough memory etc. to handle it? You also explained what that, to me useless, Media Center junk is on my Win 7 machines, also I suspect the equally useless HP Media Center on them. Thanks. maj

ltl_vidorg_se
ltl_vidorg_se

Particles knows each others from faraway,telepathy works,precognition too. Why can??t os-developers find common os cores-core standards-and then collaborate in OS-worlds? If not on the same one,try different dimensions like my many-dimensional function-theory which-according to me-works on the basic,ontological level of reality,binding everything together (Einsteins dream: how to solve this;but why with dicrete equations,not by a basic,axiomatic principle like in Laine??s new paradigm of sci).

iworsfold
iworsfold

It would be a risk to have one edition for all. The first and most important thing that comes to mind is cost. If you look at the editions of Windows 7 and the price for each edition then this will certainly put the cost of the tablets up high. For example when you look at netbooks the price is so cheep partly because of the fact Windows Starter is generally included. Another reason is that having all those features available whether installed or not will take up considerable amount of space, which in a tablet is more valuable considering many tablets have from 16GB up to a maximum capacity of 64 GB. And with Windows 7 (as an example spec.) requiring between 16 and 20 GB depending on whether you use 32 bit or 64 bit editions it would mean that a typical tablet would require 32 GB to be of any use. And that comes back again to the price of having that much required space available. In summary, keeping the price of tablets down will be key to its success. Maybe its possible the Store icon will be a portal to allow additional features from the advanced editions to included.

JJFitz
JJFitz

like using a stylus on the Windows Tablet. It is the best way to handwrite notes. Capacitive styli are a joke.

Sourcere
Sourcere

Amen Brother they are technically forcing us to move on yes I will get there but in my own time or so I thought what happened to choice or is it just a pigment of my imagination. If windows 8 bomb and I do have this feeling it is going to what do think is going to happen, One word GOOGLE OS will pick up all Microsoft's ex why because after all these years they still don't know what the people want. Trying to force people to do something they don't want well. I love computers but only if I'm in control of them and not they of me.

blarman
blarman

Why hasn't there been Windows on a Tablet? Bloat, plain and simple. I used to work at HP where they were TRYING to use Windows CE to power various devices. Every time it failed miserably and they went back to using Linux. No change in hardware, but change in the OS made all the difference. Why? Windows CE was a piece of junk for two reasons: size and shoddy programming. The engineers had to manually write patches for the buggy Windows code base so basic drivers would work. And the CE install size was 10x the size for the same functionality in Linux. It's not the hardware, it's the OS. And saying that you have to have a dual-core proc with tons of RAM to run an OS isn't really a big pat on the back to me regardless of the platform.

JJFitz
JJFitz

My Fujitsu convertible tablet works great on Windows 7 too. It accepts mouse, pen, or finger input. Most people who complain about Windows tablets have not even used a one for more than 1 hour.

Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin

Let keep the information as realistic and technically informative as possible, without the derogatory maliciously infantile comments.

nwallette
nwallette

You're right, and this is the fundamental problem with having the "new UI" as an option in Control Panel or Add/Remove Programs. The performance model of laptops and desktops is that every application shares the CPU's time more or less equally. On a mobile platform, applications get CPU time if and only if it is necessary. This has to be mandated by the scheduler because developers aren't always going to have your battery life considerations at the top of their priority list. Especially if they have financial motive to do otherwise -- like showing ads, calling home for updates/licensing, and at the worst case, malicious code. Tell me how picking a different skin will settle that quandary?

seanferd
seanferd

You can turn them on and off at will, most of them.

blarman
blarman

You hit the nail on the head. Microsoft's problem has always been the monolithic kernel. Microsoft views "modular" as 3rd-party programs, where Linux views modular as EVERYTHING outside the kernel. Microsoft (though it would be in their best interest) will never go modular because they have invested so much into their kernel through integration and lawsuit. The GUI is Microsoft's heart and soul - removing it from the OS would be impossible without redesigning the OS from the ground up. It would also be a problem for Internet Explorer, as it also has been built into the file handling.

seanferd
seanferd

Wacom. Specialized, mostly, but well done. Kind of off-target inregards to what iPad consumers are looking for, but I just thought I'd mention it. Completely on-board with your perspective, though. I've said the same things before, but mostly less specifically.

Sourcere
Sourcere

When must they than make money, bottom line. If they were to work together and come up with something amazing the world as we know it will fall apart it might just cause something so destructive it is unthinkable, LOL

PRIMEREBEL
PRIMEREBEL

I see your point but I think that looks at cost from only one perspective, the end users'. The price of a product isn't just calculated by the sum of its parts, but also the cost of developing and maintaining those parts. If MS creates two separate versions of Windows, they will need two separate departments to develop them. They'll need two departments for research and development, two for updates and maintenance, two for marketing and so on. That's a lot to spend on office space, salaries, and equipment and those added costs to MS convert directly into an increase in the cost of the product to end users. That's not even taking into account the added difficulty of the right hand talking to the left hand so both departments are on the same page as far as compatibility and interoperability.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I am not sure what you mean by "Why hasn't there been Windows on a Tablet?" There have been dozens of Windows Tablets since 2002. I have been using Windows tablets since 2003. I change Windows tablets about every other year to keep on top of the latest technology. I have had both slates and convertibles. Fujitsu Stylistic slate, Motion Computing slate, HP Compaq slate with removable keyboard, Lenovo X41 convertible, Lenovo X61 convertible, Fujitsu Lifebook convertible. I would never go back to a plain old laptop. Their performance has been great and has only improved with each new OS version. The only Windows tablet that was disappointing was the Lenovo X41 convertible. It would fall asleep on me every once in a while for no apparent reason. Once I removed Lenovo's ThinkVantage software from the device, I never had a performance problem. Apparently STINKVantage had a problem staying on a wireless network and it was constantly looking for software updates. UGH! My current convertible tablet is a Fujitsu LifeBook running on Windows 7. It flies! In my opinion, the real reason why Windows Tablets have not been successful is because the hardware costs too much for most consumers. "You mean I can get a decent Windows 7 laptop for $700 or a Windows 7 Tablet convertible for $1500? I'll take the regular laptop." If Microsoft wants to enter the new less powerful, smaller, leaner, tablet market, they should dumb down the OS like the iPad and Android have. Make it leaner and remove the more advanced features and functionality. The average consumer doesn't need them or care about them.

CyberOptiq
CyberOptiq

What do you care?? You another vendor sleeping with Billy boy?? Constitution says I have freedom of speech which I defended during my tour of duty in the U.S. Navy and continue to defend to this day...so who are you to try to regulate what others say....don't like the comments just keep on reading and pay no mind to them...that is if you have a mind...

TAPhilo
TAPhilo

There is likely two completely different sets developing it right now. You have one doing the touch and one doing the keyboard. You have a different set of people designing the interfaces than the off the shelf icons in the current standard interface. The whole OS is so large that it may look like just 1 little org developing it - but in reality it is likely more like 30 different ones all trying to work together to get it accomplished.

JJFitz
JJFitz

If you use an OS made for a fully functional laptop and then layer on a touch screen, the price of the device will increase. The cost will only decrese if you dumb the OS down and limit functionality like the iPad and the Android Tablets.

blarman
blarman

... that for the most part, Windows Tablets were a small niche market and that the main reason was because of Windows itself. I agree that there have been Windows Tablets, but that was before a good touch UI was developed with hardware to support it - and that part wasn't c/o Microsoft. As for the cost issue, you hit on another reason that ties in directly: the hardware costs. And this proves my original point: When it requires such high-powered hardware just to run the OS that you price yourself out of the market, you have an engineering problem. The reason the tablets were so expensive is that you couldn't just remove portions of the OS that weren't necessary, and so to compensate, you had to have PC-equivalent hardware. And because of the expensive custom engineering of the hardware components to fit inside the form-factor, the prices quickly skyrocketed. If Microsoft's OS were modular, they could have simply eliminated the unnecessary portions of the OS and made it work on less powerful and less costly hardware.

dogknees
dogknees

Every time the Linux camp do this they just make themselves look more infantile. It's a discussion about Windows, no matter how much you hate it, that's the topic. No statement about Linux is on topic. Simple really.

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