Category: developers journal

Windows 8 Tablet, developer preview

Author: Daemon September 14, 2011

Yesterday I saw on “This Is My Next…” a nice writeup about early developer hardware and software which combined could be called Windows 8 Tablet.

If you do not have the time to read that entire wall of text, here are two highlights

“However, fan noise is very noticeable, as is the heat coming out of the top vent”

“We were pretty disappointed to see the tablet running on x86 architecture, with only a token gesture to ARM during our session, but VP of Windows Planning Mike Angiulo assured us that the progress on ARM is coming along quite nicely”

Fans on tablet? When Steve Jobs said “if you see the stylus, they are doing it wrong” he did not even dream that someone could put fans into tablets. So here is me saying it: If you hear the fan, and feel the heat exhaust, they are doing it wrong.

But let’s leave this aside for a moment.

Let’s look at the bigger picture.

This is a developer version of hardware and presumably software. Most likely, this is what the developers will get to work with in order to develop software which will have to defend Windows flag on the day of the release. This could very well be the software that will make or break Windows Tablet, as people will start blogging and yelling about what they see in the first month.

And the development platform which developers will use before the release is a fan-buzzing, x86 architecture device, and in the real life Windows Tablet might be ARM processor quiet machine.

How the hell are developers supposed to work on that? How can they have one version now, and then something completely different a bit later?

Do you remember when Apple first presented iPad (1)? How they introduced applications which were developed behind the scenes, The New York Times, Need for Speed, and more. Here is a video, I strongly suggest you refresh your memory:

Can you guess what hardware and software those behind-the-scenes developers had to work with? They had bloody iPad. Not x86 version of iPad. They had the real stuff. Yes, Apple had them sign huge NDA agreements, and probably had one Jack Bauer clone in their office at all times, but the end result is that the apps developed for the first unveiling of iPad were the same running on developer machines as well as millions of iPads sold later.

Why is it that other companies do not even try to compete with Apple? Why? Why do they have to fail so miserably anyone could see that the future of their product is termination? HP/Palm WebOS? Blackberry Playbook? We might now remember with a tear in our eye how these platforms looked promising but we all knew right there and then – they stood no chance.

I want Apple to have competition, a fierce one. This will not decrease the price of their hardware, but it will make software much better. It took Apple 5 versions of iOS to deliver good notification system, and they only did it because Android is breathing behind the neck with their superior notifications. Competition is a win-win situation for consumer. And so far, and in the foreseeable future – there will be no serious competition.


    7 thoughts on “Windows 8 Tablet, developer preview”

  • First of all this is dev. tablet, it’s basically a PC with a lot of sensors, so it’s not a real Win 8 tablet as you call it. It’s used as (hardware) simulator (which is – as far as I know – the first device on which you can debug in your Dev Studio your app without software simulated sensors). Instead of transferring your app from Dev. machine to user device and test it, you can test it right away.

    Besides that it can be extended with tower, which offers you to connect even more devices to it (mouse, keyboard, external Monitor..). With it, there is no difference between dev “tablet” and real PC.

    So your whole post is gone in wrong direction!

  • I think the point was there but not stated enough.

    Tablets in general are #fail for any kind of serious work. I know Deamon is using iPad for typing articles. I use iPad for surfing and some gaming. Both can hardly classify as real usage. :) And all that not because we cannot connect tv or keyboard to ipad (because we can), but because we have real computers for hard work – at work.

  • I’m not talking here about serious work (like developing whole app on tablet), I’m talking here about testing and debugging the app.

    But to be clear, if this was win 8 tablet (not dev. thing) this would fail. But if you are win 8 developer, you will find this thing exciting just as much as regular users find iPad exciting :)

  • The trick is that early iPad developers used real iPad to develop first bunch of software. Win Tablet developers will use some proxy, some Frankenstein. They will not know how will their app look like exactly, feel like, behave like, when it lands on real machine. That’s just stupid.

  • As you already know Microsoft will not sell Win 8 Tablets, only Win 8 OS. Same as with WP7, they will have OEMs who will sell different tablets. So there is no way to exactly feel on any device how your app will run on all devices.

  • I hate it when people fail to understand the true potential for a tablet.

    W8 is a massive step forward in bringing proper PC power to the tablet environment. Just because it has a fan does not mean it is a failure. Quite the converse. A fan has nothing to do with it. I just hope W8 does not fall into the trap of replicating idevices.

    I am not content with an underpowered, non-functional consumer content device. I want a tablet I can do real work on – not just check email, surf the net, etc. That is stuff I can do on my iphone or any other smartphone, every bit as efficiently as my ipad.

    The true benefit is mobile computing that can go anywhere (more than a laptop) and is more focused on providing high end solutions.

    My understanding (and hope) is that the W8 philosophy is a hybrid / two pronged approach. The W8 metro interface is great for simple “apps” as defined by Apple – content and consumer driven content. Behind this is the traditional windows environment with the full power of full scale applications etc.

    Why people do not understand the benefit of full scale applications, I do not understand. Just because Steve Jobs said that you should’t need a stylus or external input, and freedom in developing applications doesn’t mean he is right. We have all been blinded by iMarketing.

    The Asus 121 is annother great example – laptop power in a tablet (I can run anything I want!).

    All the above aside, I love my iphone and ipad :)

  • Tablet computers are not supposed to replace laptops. Without real keyboard it is impossible to type long texts. Without mouse your “pointer” is not so precise. Tablets serve a different purpose, they are finely placed between a mobile smartphone and laptop. As such, in order to make them good, you need to sacrifice some options.

    We will see. My prediction: trying to mix up everything into tablet, trying to be both laptop and tablet at the same time will result in failure.

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