Editorial

Windows RT, not Windows 8, is Microsoft's tablet future

At Microsoft’s shareholder meeting last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, “Sometimes getting innovation right across hardware and software is difficult unless you do both of them.”

He’s right, of course – innovative software is set up by equally innovative hardware.

Microsoft exemplified this when it released Surface RT a little more than a month ago. The tablet itself had unique features (such as its kickstand and optional keyboard covers), and the new Metro interface is drastically different from the interfaces of iOS and Android.

That’s why it’s so perplexing that Microsoft is relying on a tablet strategy that’s anything but innovative.


Microsoft's Metro interface lends itself to touch-based devices such as the company's own Surface tablets.

Windows 8’s biggest selling point when compared to Windows RT is the fact that it runs software from previous versions of Windows. For desktops and laptops, this is vital. But for tablets, it’s another matter entirely – there’s nothing innovative about shoehorning old software into new hardware.

Many ardent Microsoft supporters have proclaimed they’ll wait for the Windows 8 version of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, Surface Pro. These claims come despite the past failures of tablets running x86 versions of Windows, however. Granted, those previous Windows versions were using an interface that didn’t lend itself to touchscreen devices, but at the same time those tablets partially failed because people aren’t looking for the same thing out of tablets that they are computers.

Windows RT is the solution to these problems. Though it certainly hasn’t gotten everything right – yet, at least – it’s a far better bet for the future of Windows on tablets.

I’ve never been a big believer of the traditional Windows interface on tablets, but that’s only a minor aspect of the issue at hand. Just like the Windows interface isn’t well-suited for tablets, legacy applications aren’t well-suited for tablets either. Some would argue the lack of legacy application support on Windows RT is a bad thing. But is it?

There’s little reason to use an application if it’s nearly impossible to use. Trying to use Photoshop on a tablet’s touchscreen is enough to put the most rational person in an insane asylum. Application interfaces could always be modified to have some sort of touchscreen support, but that compromise has already been proven ineffective.


The Metro interface is where most tablet users will spend their time on Windows 8 or Windows RT.

Office RT’s touchscreen interface is clunky and cumbersome, despite the larger buttons Microsoft added to make touch input easier. By comparison, the Metro-style OneNote app works great on touchscreen devices because it was designed specifically for them.

The Metro-style OneNote app still incudes the majority of features present in its desktop variant, but it refines and simplifies them so it’s easier to do the main task – type notes – without displaying unnecessary options. OneNote’s more specific options can still be accessed, but through a radial interface that isn’t apparent until a user selects it.

Obviously OneNote isn’t the most demanding Office application, but it still shows the distinct advantage the Metro interface has for tablets compared to the traditional Windows interface.

Other apps show the depth possible when creating Metro experience as well. The recently released ESPN ScoreCenter app, for instance, provides an experience unmatched by the company’s ScoreCenter apps on other platforms. Teams have their own dedicated areas in the app that display pertinent information such as news, rosters, schedules, stat leaders and more.

So what does this have to do with the advantage of Windows RT over Windows 8, since they both have access to Metro apps? The fact that desktop apps are almost entirely unnecessary on tablets, making Windows 8 on a tablet almost entirely unnecessary as well. Sure, some professions may take advantage of desktop apps (such as those that require use of specialized database software), but it’s a feature most consumers don’t need.

There’s even been information suggesting these exact issues are what led to Microsoft's decision to make its own hardware in the first place.

A New York Times report earlier this year stated HP’s failed Windows 7 tablet, the Slate 500, was unsuccessful at least partly because HP “fumed at Microsoft” for not creating software better suited for touchscreens, and Microsoft was equally mad at HP for using an Intel processor that made the device hot and bulky in comparison to ARM-based Android and iOS devices. While Surface Pro is using a more recent Intel processor that’s more advanced than what HP was using at the time, the same problems persist.


Apps such as ESPN's ScoreCenter provide functionality unavailable on other tablet operating systems.

Most Windows 8 tablets are still going to suffer worse battery life than their Windows RT counterparts – something that’s important for almost anyone considering a tablet. The fact that Surface Pro was recently revealed to have a much shorter battery life than its ARM-powered sibling should come as no surprise, as ARM architecture has an inherent advantage over more powerful x86 architecture in terms of power consumption. Some still seem shocked, yet it was an inevitable announcement.

That may not a problem for some people, but having a relatively short battery life essentially defeats the entire purpose of having a tablet instead of a laptop. It’s a major aspect consumers have come to expect from their tablets.

Intel recently released its new line of Atom processors based on its Clover Trail platform, which provides longer battery life, however. Clover Field comes at the cost of performance, though it offers more power than Surface’s dated Tegra 3 processor. It’s worth noting, but those looking for an x86 experience likely won’t be satisfied with an Atom processor, and Windows RT was specifically designed to optimize energy efficiency by limiting what applications are allowed to run in its desktop mode.

When Steven Sinofsky, the former president of Microsoft’s Windows Division, announced last year that the company was working on a version of Windows for ARM processors, he was quick to emphasize that power usage would be a major advantage of the then-unnamed ARM version of Windows.

“Our job is to allow the power, the flexibility and the choice of [the ARM] architecture to shine through,” he told the audience at CES on Jan. 5, 2011. “If a processor package uses less power, the role of Windows is to let that reduction in power shine through.”

People will likely continue to tout the fact that Windows 8 tablets support previous Windows software while Windows RT tablets are left out in the cold. But in reality, this isn’t an advantage. It’s an unnecessary tether to software and hardware that wasn’t designed for tablets in the first place.

Again, it may be a necessity for some professions – and possibly even some people who don’t mind the fact that they’ll be stuck with significantly shorter battery life and software that essentially requires a mouse and keyboard.

For the majority of users, however, Windows RT is more than enough.

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Just like when Apple introduced the first useable tablet the market and consumers changed from just using a PC for all their needs to consuming on devices and producing on PC's

Who would have thought that users would do this when they had everything on one platform. Mobility and ease of use were the main reasons and these weren't possible from one device.

So I believe for the same reason your main point that users don't want to have one device that does both is untrue now. If they can have ease of use and mobility then clearly most users would prefer to have one device.

You also state that "Most Windows 8 tablets are going to still suffer worse battery life than their RT counterparts"

This is a weak statement as it does not recognise that this is only true to a point. The point being that if the needs of the user are served by a Windows 8 battery then the fact that an RT tablet lasts longer is less of an inhibitor to adopting that one device solution. What happens to this major blocker of which you speak when the Haswell chip will reduce power demands by 20x and provide better performance?


The same argument counters your logic when talking about how much less power a clover trail cpu has.
"those looking for an x86 experience likely won't be satisfied with an Atom processor"

You also use the old tarnished image of the early atom processors poor performance to state that power will be insufficient. The difference between the old and current Atom processos is like night and day and you either knew this and chose not to provide a balanced article or you haven't done your research.


But the biggest concern I have is that you seem to misunderstand that there are effectively two OS's in one with the Surface running RT and even more when running pro. You state that tethering software to a tablet that wasn't designed for a tablet is unecessary. Software that wasn't designed for a tablet is run from the classic windows desktop UI and the tablet specific apps are run from the tablet UI.

Users will use one when mobile and the other when not. Real hard productivity work is hard to do when mobile.No one is going to use word to write a large business case which requires embedding excle and powerpoint data into a word document whilst in tablet/mobile mode.

I agree with you that there is a place for a Windows version of the iPad and that is Windows RT but there is also a world of people who want a tablet and their wor on one device and that is Windows 8 based tablets, convertibles/surface.

You seem to miss these important points and the change in the customer use cases.

There are a few problems with this 'theory' in reality though.

Making the transition to WinRT is not as simple as it could have been, and this is where you will find that many of the developers and Sinofsky came to blows.

The Windows 8 and Windows 8 Phone platforms (RT) were supposed to be far more seamless than they ended up being because of stupid mistakes on the Windows 8 side of the decision making. For non-developers, look at the UI and imagine more WP8 functionality that should have been a part of Windows 8, like even resizing Tiles down to a smaller quarter size.

What will happen in the next year will define where the platform goes, and if Microsoft gets a few things sorted out, then yes WinRT could be the future; however, right now it still is lacking, which is a shame.

Windows has a very vast and rich set of frameworks to use and build on, yet the creation of WinRT was too constrictive, leaving a lot of power of the OS unused in WinRT Apps.

This is where the Windows RT as a device takes a hit, because Microsoft could have offered two paths, and ended up not offering either of them.

1) They could have created a richer WinRT that with 'exception' did allow access to older framework APIs that were removed. This would have allowed a seamless transition, as they could have even replicated Metrolike controls from the Win32 API etc.

2) They could have allowed Desktop Applications to be easily published and distributed for Windows RT. It is the Full NT OS with all the trimmings of x86 and x64, yet what is available to developers is a fraction of the power because of the limitations in WinRT and access to lower level system features.


As for ARM being superior, Anthony - No...

They could have been, and if Intel would have continued its 'path' from 5 or 6 years ago, ARM would be superior in performance vs power consumption. This changed when Microsoft issued Intel a challenge, basically telling Intel that they were going to pass they over if they didn't get closer to ARM.

Intel came back with new Atom processors and even dropped power consumption of their iX Core CPUs.

Look at an i3/i5/i7 based Ultrabook/Tablet, they getting 5-10 hrs of realtime usage out of them, and these are the fastest CPUs to have ever existed in the consumer market, they are not some simple knock off.

So if you take the Surface Pro, it has a desktop class processor and adequate GPU that can run Crysis and current generation games and still has a batter life that is 'acceptable' to most Tablet users and still is light enough to be used in a Tablet form factor.

When comparing even the Atom based CPUs to ARM there is a magnitude of performance difference that is still 5,10,20 times faster for x86 than ARM.

------------------------------

The other thing that is being missed or glossed over is REAL tablet users that will be doing handwriting and drawing on the screen with pressure sensitive Styluses, like the TabletPC generation was familiar.

This is something ONLY Windows truly offers, and is more of a 'Tablet' interface than touch. It is like this, touch only is like finger painting, Stylus and Touch is like a calligrapher or master painter. Sure finger painting is fun and gets by, but in terms of what is possible, it is something best left to children.

This Author apparently fails to realise that Windows 8 on a tablet brings everything that Windows RT offers + x86 application compatibility. Therefore it offers more not less. The exact same touch first interface is on Windows 8 complete with all of those metro applications. I actually think that Windows RT as such will be irrelvant now that Clover trail has bridged the gap with ARM in terms of battery life. Why would anyone get a Surface RT or any other RT tablet, when tablets like the Samsung Ativ, offer the same battery life, more performance and full compatibility with x86 applications.

Such tablets have everything that Windows RT bring to the table, but can if needed run x86 applications, you don't have to, but you certainly can.

"The Modern UI-style OneNote app still incudes the majority of features present in its desktop variant..."

Uh, no. The Modern/Metro/MX version of OneNote doesn't even come close to having all of the basic features that desktop OneNote has, let alone the advanced stuff. Even on a touchscreen, I still use the desktop version 99% of the time. Really the only time I don't is when purely viewing.

"Obviously OneNote isn't the most demanding Office application"

That's related to the former part, in that the reason OneNote isn't the most demanding in this case is because they ripped out all of its features.

jhoff80 said,
"The Modern UI-style OneNote app still incudes the majority of features present in its desktop variant..."

Uh, no. The Modern/Metro/MX version of OneNote doesn't even come close to having all of the basic features that desktop OneNote has, let alone the advanced stuff. Even on a touchscreen, I still use the desktop version 99% of the time. Really the only time I don't is when purely viewing.

"Obviously OneNote isn't the most demanding Office application"

That's related to the former part, in that the reason OneNote isn't the most demanding in this case is because they ripped out all of its features.

+1

It is statements like this that demonstrate the author has no real understanding of OneNote, and probably didn't start using it until OneNoteMX was released.

Right now it barely a step up from the Windows Phone Version and is a vast difference from the functionality in the desktop version, especially when it comes to handwriting and audio/video recording and transcribing, that requires the Desktop version to be installed on one of the user's computers to process the shared OneNote files.

"as ARM architecture has an inherent advantage over x86 architecture in terms of power consumption"

No. x86 CloverTrail Atom have better battery life than ARM Tegra 3 and 2 time better perfomance.

wendoman said,
"as ARM architecture has an inherent advantage over x86 architecture in terms of power consumption"

No. x86 CloverTrail Atom have better battery life than ARM Tegra 3 and 2 time better perfomance.


Clover Trail offers similar battery life, as another user pointed out above. I updated the article.

I believe that MS will eventually ditch the legacy desktop altogether and the Metro interface and accompanying apps will be all you get on any device. I think MS would have done this on the RT machines if Office for Metro was ready.

derekaw said,
I believe that MS will eventually ditch the legacy desktop altogether and the Metro interface and accompanying apps will be all you get on any device. I think MS would have done this on the RT machines if Office for Metro was ready.

What about file management? There's nothing remotely close to Windows Explorer (Or File Explorer as it's now known) in Windows 8 Metro.

Office isn't the primary reason for the inclusion of the desktop on WinRT devices.

Ideas Man said,

What about file management? There's nothing remotely close to Windows Explorer (Or File Explorer as it's now known) in Windows 8 Metro.

Office isn't the primary reason for the inclusion of the desktop on WinRT devices.

True, although the usability theory is that users will move more to a non hierarchical notion of storage space, which is demonstrated in other UI concepts like on WP7/WP8.

This hits limits, but when used in a simplistic manner like a Phone or 'simple' tablet is used, works. A WP7 users doesn't give a crap what folder anything is in and never really has to deal with the concept with the exception of whether it is local or SkyDrive and the folder metaphor used in this context.

However, the OP is insane if they think Microsoft has any intention or will ever give up the Desktop.

Microsoft is still running DOS VDM that can run Apps over 30 years old, they aren't going to drop their main Application level platform over the past 20 years.

The main reason, they don't have to do lose the desktop, and even if they changed NT, they could shift Win32 subsystem to be secondary or even put it in a VM, and never have to give up any of the current functionality.

What all commenters on this article have failed to realize is that the Windows Runtime, which powers the new UI on both OSes, has it's own power management framework built in.

Anyone who says that the new x86/64 architecture will match ARM in battery life is dreaming. While theoretically that may be true; as soon as you install some errant service like a hungry virus scanner, all battery life estimates go out the window.

This is the reason for Surface with Windows RT not supporting desktop applications more than anything. It is theoretically possible to recompile for ARM, but there is enough legacy layers that were paired down to make this a reality.

So, battery is king in ARM world, and MS tailored their new development framework to acknowledge that.

deadonthefloor said,

Anyone who says that the new x86/64 architecture will match ARM in battery life is dreaming.

Just compare CloverTrail Atom tablet ATIV Smart PC 500 with Surface RT.
Or compare Motorola RAZR i (x86 Atom) with RAZR M (ARM Qualcomm S4).

deadonthefloor said,
as soon as you install some errant service like a hungry virus scanner, all battery life estimates go out the window.

Or get crappy background service in Android ARM smartphone ...

deadonthefloor said,
What all commenters on this article have failed to realize is that the Windows Runtime, which powers the new UI on both OSes, has it's own power management framework built in.

Anyone who says that the new x86/64 architecture will match ARM in battery life is dreaming. While theoretically that may be true; as soon as you install some errant service like a hungry virus scanner, all battery life estimates go out the window.

This is the reason for Surface with Windows RT not supporting desktop applications more than anything. It is theoretically possible to recompile for ARM, but there is enough legacy layers that were paired down to make this a reality.

So, battery is king in ARM world, and MS tailored their new development framework to acknowledge that.

1) A desktop application running overtime would consume more power; however, you are forgetting that the ENTIRE power management system has be adjusted and it is not just Windows 8 Store Apps suspending themselves that give you all the extra power.

Desktop Applications can be suspended too.

2) As for the 'paired' down legacy layers, you really don't understand this. Windows RT may have some upper level Applications removed, but the core OS from the NT kernel to the Win32 subsystem to the complete set of frameworks are ALL there. The only thing really missing is the DOS VDM (that isn't in x64 either).

You seem to think that Windows RT is a 'reduced' version of Windows 8, when it is just a recompiled version for ARM, 99.999% of the code is identical from the kernel to the Notepad application running on it.

Even Windows Phone 8 is essentially the same entire OS (although there are a few pieces set to the side). If you look at DirectX development and even Win32 availability, it is there.

Here is a start to look this up: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u...lop/jj662956(v=vs.105).aspx

There are not 'emulated' nor 'pretend' variation of Win32, these are the REAL AND ACTUAL Win32 APIs that are 'allowed and exposed' to developers of Windows Phone 8.

Which means, the Win32 subsystem and the Win32 API sets are THERE.

Get it?

I want both the desktop AND the touch interface. In time battery life will accompany the power needed to run both. Clover Trail seems like a pretty good fix in the mean time although not sure about it running some of the more processor intensive apps.

What I would really like to see UNTIL the desktop apps get finger friendly, and as long as the "desktop" is going to be in the mix, is the ability to pinch to zoom the entire desktop interface, like I can on the browser to hit those small spots.

Although, there are downsides to Windows RT, once you use it for a while, you will realise that it is actually quite a great OS

Sent from my Surface RT.

RT is more commercial and closed than windows 8, it just follows the money.
So it's the dream of Microsoft that every user adopt that RT, and I'd say "keep dreaming".

Why does everybody assume every app or program on the Surface Pro tablet has to support touch? Its the ability to choose what I want to do, if I want to run a "app" then I'm likely using the Surface as a tablet, if I need to use Photoshop (as an example) then I'll be sitting at a desk with a mouse and keyboard with the surface connected to a external monitor and I'll be in "laptop mode".

The surface will prevent me from having to buy/carry both a laptop and a tablet. It makes total sense to me and fits my lifestyle/use case perfectly.

For me Win RT is a fail because it doesn't eliminate a device. It doesn't eliminate the phone, laptop or desktop. It simply replaces the iPad consumption type device. Head to head, it won't beat the iPad/Apple ecosystem.

However, Surface pro can legitimately replace the laptop, which the iPad cannot.
Not having the Surface Pro available for the holidays was a HUGE fail. And now Microsoft wants to bump the release of the Surface Pro to January, why? Most of America will be broke either from the Holidays or enactment of the Fiscal Cliff. Horrible, horrible timing.

willgill said,
For me Win RT is a fail because it doesn't eliminate a device. It doesn't eliminate the phone, laptop or desktop. It simply replaces the iPad consumption type device. Head to head, it won't beat the iPad/Apple ecosystem.

However, Surface pro can legitimately replace the laptop, which the iPad cannot.
Not having the Surface Pro available for the holidays was a HUGE fail. And now Microsoft wants to bump the release of the Surface Pro to January, why? Most of America will be broke either from the Holidays or enactment of the Fiscal Cliff. Horrible, horrible timing.

The worst part is, it doesn't even eliminate the need for a separate reading device or iPad. With a screen size of 16:9, it is extremely cumbersome to hold it when you want to read a book or magazine in bed or lying on the sofa. For that, the 16:9 screen size has a huge disadvantage over iPad.
And a 10" screen for doing serious work laptop style is just too tiny.
So, you still ned a laptop with a bigger screen, a phone, a desktop computer for serious work and an iPad for magazine subscriptions.

I completely disagree. Windows RT is Microsoft's attempt to make a cheap tablet to play with the iPads and Androids that are out there. The future is Windows 8. Tablets with a full desktop OS on them. As CPUs become more powerful use less power, and battery technology continues to improve, this will become more and more obvious. THIS is the one good thing about Windows 8 in my opinion. This is the key to the future. This is where Microsoft got it right. The future is most certainly a full blown desktop OS with a touch friendly UI on top so you can use one machine as your tablet, and then toss it in a dock with a keyboard and mouse (or just a kickstand) and have your full desktop. Windows RT is just a stepping stone along the way since power and battery life aren't quite optimal yet. Why do you think they made everything on RT work on Windows 8? They don't want to build a iPad or Android like tablet market with apps that don't work on Windows 8 because Windows 8 is the future of MS tablets.

What I hate about Windows 8 is the fact that they force the UI on desktop only users, but I can see them doing that to bring the ecosystem front and center and grow it rapidly to try to quickly allow them to push more towards tablet style computers with Windows 8.

You say people aren't looking for the same thing out of a tablet as they are a computer, but what sense does that make at all? Of course they are looking for the same thing out of a tablet as a computer. They are looking for a system to access information, maybe an internet portal and some apps to do whatever they want. There's no difference if that's in a iOS, Android, or WinRT, or if it's in Windows 8, it's just a matter of if the tablets are practical (past x86 tablets were no where near as thin and mobile as Win8 Pro tablets will be, and will only get better), and the past UI didn't lend itself to tablet usage. As far as the underlying OS, the more powerful and useful the better. It has nothing to do with not wanting the same thing, it's just that there hasn't been "the same thing" from both yet. That's why we have this intermediate market of tablets that have a much more limited usefulness.

In 10 to 15 years time, I can guarantee you that tablets (or by that time phones, likely) will be your main computing device. They will do everything you want to do on the go, and when you need a bigger system, you just toss them in a dock and get a keyboard, mouse, a full desktop OS (by then Apple and MS OSes would have merged desktop and tablet/phone OSes entirely like Windows 8 does, well except for the phone right now) and even a larger display to work with. THIS is the future of computers without a doubt.

Edited by AJerman, Dec 3 2012, 3:25pm :

Microsoft is mad at HP. Yea, that makes sense. NOT! MS supplies crappy bloated Windows and HP had no choice but to use a bulky Intel processor to get some speed and MS is mad at them. This world is going to crap!

NeoPogo said,
Microsoft is mad at HP. Yea, that makes sense. NOT! MS supplies crappy bloated Windows and HP had no choice but to use a bulky Intel processor to get some speed and MS is mad at them. This world is going to crap!

Ladies and gentleman, we found the one person on Earth who doesn't think OEMs are the ones responsible for the past 15 years of crappy computers.

They had no CHOICE but to use subpar components! They had no CHOICE but to bake bloatware into Windows as deep as even the recovery partition. They had no CHOICE but to use poorly maintained drivers they would abandon after six months. Every mistake ever made by an OEM was the fault of those responsible for the OS!

Of course, by extension, this means every failed, unusable, sluggish, and hideous Linux netbook was the sole fault of every contributor to the Linux open source project.

Damn developers doing shoddy work just to have a few git commits to put on their resumes!

[quote=Joshie said,They had no CHOICE but to bake bloatware into Windows as deep as even the recovery partition.[/quote]

This part is true. This is how they recouped OEM license fee that MS charge for Windows vX

COMPLETELY missing the point of Win 8 on tablets. Why do you think devices like the Surface come with a kickstand in the first place? Why do you think you get many other Win 8 tablets with keyboard docks?! It's so you can sit down and actually be productive on the desktop when you want to. This type of usage is even shown off in Surface ads and ads from many other OEM's. How can people STILL not get this. It's common sense, it's ridiculously obvious!

You use the Modern/Metro UI for touch, and the desktop with mosue/keyboard. No one is actually planning to use the desktop with touch as obviously it'll be very poor. Theres no point in having a latop + tablet when one single device can do all these things just as well. Look at the Asus Transformer Book as a good example. You have the OPTION to use the device how you like, touch is just another optional input method like when the mouse came along.

"ARM architecture has an inherent advantage over x86 architecture in terms of power consumption"

Wrong again. Intel's new Atom (Clover Trail) easily matches ARM for power consumption/battery life yet is more powerful than the ARM based Tegra 3 in the Surface RT. If the Surface actually used one of these then you'd have the best of both worlds - long battery life + fast enough CPU to get work done on the desktop.

The sole reason the Surface Pro's battery doesn't last long is because it has a full blown Core i5 in it which is many many times more powerful than any ARM SoC. It has NOTHING to do with with the fact it's x86 based. Most people who want a Surface Pro are fully aware it would inevitably have lower battery life, but most of these people also want it as laptop replacement that can be used as a tablet when necessary. Surface RT/Windows RT isn't up to that task.

This should all be obvious.

Speaking of which, where is the Transformer Book? At least with the ATIV Smart PC Pro, you -can- find it if you hunt hard enough/get lucky. I don't see anything on Transformer Book since the event in June.

1Pixel said,
COMPLETELY missing the point of Win 8 on tablets. Why do you think devices like the Surface come with a kickstand in the first place? Why do you think you get many other Win 8 tablets with keyboard docks?! It's so you can sit down and actually be productive on the desktop when you want to. This type of usage is even shown off in Surface ads and ads from many other OEM's. How can people STILL not get this. It's common sense, it's ridiculously obvious!

You use the Modern/Metro UI for touch, and the desktop with mosue/keyboard. No one is actually planning to use the desktop with touch as obviously it'll be very poor. Theres no point in having a latop + tablet when one single device can do all these things just as well. Look at the Asus Transformer Book as a good example. You have the OPTION to use the device how you like, touch is just another optional input method like when the mouse came along.

"ARM architecture has an inherent advantage over x86 architecture in terms of power consumption"

Wrong again. Intel's new Atom (Clover Trail) easily matches ARM for power consumption/battery life yet is more powerful than the ARM based Tegra 3 in the Surface RT. If the Surface actually used one of these then you'd have the best of both worlds - long battery life + fast enough CPU to get work done on the desktop.

The sole reason the Surface Pro's battery doesn't last long is because it has a full blown Core i5 in it which is many many times more powerful than any ARM SoC. It has NOTHING to do with with the fact it's x86 based. Most people who want a Surface Pro are fully aware it would inevitably have lower battery life, but most of these people also want it as laptop replacement that can be used as a tablet when necessary. Surface RT/Windows RT isn't up to that task.

This should all be obvious.


And the people who need those things for productivity software can still have Windows 8 tablets. I never said Windows 8 tablets shouldn't exist -- I said they're not the future for the majority of users and Microsoft. The majority of the second half of the editorial addresses that. There's a space for Windows 8 tablets, but it's more of a niche space.

As far as the battery life of Intel's upcoming chip: I'll believe it when I see it. It's not the first time Intel's made such claims.

Anthony Tosie said,
As far as the battery life of Intel's upcoming chip: I'll believe it when I see it. It's not the first time Intel's made such claims.

The Samsung Ativ Smart PC (not the Smart PC Pro) is already out, and running on the new Clover Trail Atoms. You can already check it out!

Kai Y said,

The Samsung Ativ Smart PC (not the Smart PC Pro) is already out, and running on the new Clover Trail Atoms. You can already check it out!


The 47 Wh battery of the Ativ Smart PC lasts 8 hours. The 31.5 Wh battery of Surface lasts, at minimum, this long, with most battery tests saying it lasts at least an hour longer.

It's certainly an improvement over previous Intel processors, though, and is surely faster.

Anthony Tosie said,

The 47 Wh battery of the Ativ Smart PC lasts 8 hours. The 31.5 Wh battery of Surface lasts, at minimum, this long, with most battery tests saying it lasts at least an hour longer.

It's certainly an improvement over previous Intel processors, though, and is surely faster.

From Samsung's website about the Ativ http://www.samsung.com/global/ativ/ativ_pc.html, the Smart PC has a 30Wh battery, and is rated at 14.5hrs on MobileMark (which is not really reflective of real-world usage) and 10hrs of video playback (which is more realistic, imo). Some user reviews are saying about 8-9% battery usage per hour of video playback, which gives about 10hrs.

The Smart PC Pro (http://www.samsung.com/global/ativ/ativ_pc_pro.html) has a 49Wh battery and Samsung says it lasts 8hrs on MobileMark (which is again, not reflective of real-world usage).

I guess you got the two mixed up... the Pro has an i5, the non-Pro model has an Atom.

Kai Y said,

From Samsung's website about the Ativ http://www.samsung.com/global/ativ/ativ_pc.html, the Smart PC has a 30Wh battery, and is rated at 14.5hrs on MobileMark (which is not really reflective of real-world usage) and 10hrs of video playback (which is more realistic, imo). Some user reviews are saying about 8-9% battery usage per hour of video playback, which gives about 10hrs.

The Smart PC Pro (http://www.samsung.com/global/ativ/ativ_pc_pro.html) has a 49Wh battery and Samsung says it lasts 8hrs on MobileMark (which is again, not reflective of real-world usage).

I guess you got the two mixed up... the Pro has an i5, the non-Pro model has an Atom.


You're right, my apologies, I was looking at the wrong page. I have yet to see any reviews from outlets I'd trust of the Smart PC, however; can you link to those reviews?

The Tegra 3 is also an pretty older ARM processor; more recent ARM processors boast battery lives and power far greater than the Tegra 3.

I'll update the article to reflect the difference, however.

Anthony Tosie said,

You're right, my apologies, I was looking at the wrong page. I have yet to see any reviews from outlets I'd trust of the Smart PC, however; can you link to those reviews?

Sadly I've not been able to find reviews on any of the major sites yet, for some unknown reasons (Samsung not sending evaluation units???). So I got the numbers from some "user anecdotes" and reviews from less well-known websites...

On Neowin's own forums: http://www.neowin.net/forum/to...ndows-8-atom-tablet-review/
http://pcworld.co.nz/pcworld/p...ptops/samsung-ativ-smart-pc
http://winsupersite.com/window...eview-samsung-ativ-smart-pc

i want windows 8 why? because i like to use a stylus in photoshop, office, etc. i like to use Worldwide telescope, flight sim, and a choice of other browsers (still love IE10 btw)

You can't possibly compare Core i5 Ivy Bridge with Tegra 3. There's an order of magnitude increase in performance. If ARM were scaled up to match Core i5's performance you can be rest assured it would suffer from similar or poorer batter life.

A more apt comparison is Tegra 3 versus Atom Clover Trail. Fact - Clover Trail is significantly faster and offers similar or greater battery life than Tegra 3. Over 10 hours in the case of Samsung Ativ Smart PC, which is the first Clover Trail device on sale.

Subhadip said,
You can't possibly compare Core i5 Ivy Bridge with Tegra 3. There's an order of magnitude increase in performance. If ARM were scaled up to match Core i5's performance you can be rest assured it would suffer from similar or poorer batter life.

A more apt comparison is Tegra 3 versus Atom Clover Trail. Fact - Clover Trail is significantly faster and offers similar or greater battery life than Tegra 3. Over 10 hours in the case of Samsung Ativ Smart PC, which is the first Clover Trail device on sale.

remember tegra 3 is aging. the Exynos 15 is much better and even better than that is the Snapdragon S4 Pro used in the Ativ tab (not smart pc)

Its a hardware limitation at this point. With new chips from Intel coming out next year, the power consumption will be better under control. What everyone I know wants is full access to everything in a single device. They are tired of having a powerful desktop, midrange notebook, and restricted tablet. Everything I showed them about the ATIV Smart PC Pro seems to be what they are wanting(docking station on their desk, keyboard bit to work like a notebook when they go on the road, tablet that they take home and do light work/entertainment with or when needing to roam around the lab). The Surface Pro is just missing the desktop docking station and it'd be perfect.

The -only- thing I've considered Windows RT for is its low price. Honestly, I'm surprised that Surface wasn't Atrix/Padfone style, where its a phone that docks to a larger form factor but uses the cpu/memory/storage of the phone. Especially since WP8 is supposed to be so close to W8.

I believed on this idea. Got the surface RT and I love it.
But cant help and ponder how awesome it would be to have my main tablet device also douible up as my main programming machine. TESTING SOFTWARE (SERVER 2012 ETC)

I am patiently waiting for the surface pro. Windows RT is for when the actual metro app ecosystem is more mature. Till then RT is niche with a dream and a possibility of being the answer.

m-p{3} said,
It's definitely not the future for my desktop.

Hence the title, "Microsoft's TABLET future", but thanks for the completely irrelevant comment.

Thanks for hating against a good opinion...

bviktor said,

Hence the title, "Microsoft's TABLET future", but thanks for the completely irrelevant comment.

m-p{3} said,
It's definitely not the future for my desktop.

Hey bro... You can't install Windows RT on your desktop, so it's DEFINITELY not the future for your desktop.

I'll be purchasing a Surface RT shortly. It's more than capable for being my mobile solution, and I still have an x86 laptop should I need desktop functionality, but having Office RT should cover that. There's nothing else on the desktop I "need" need that would prevent me from getting things done.

Ahmed Alrasheed said,
if RT is the future... then fix your damn main apps there !
mail, music, people... etc all all crap

Preach on it brutha!!

Its so frustrating and it ****es me off to se the xbox music app that is a alleyway abortion and this from a Zuner, oh how I miss Zune.

Ahmed Alrasheed said,
if RT is the future... then fix your damn main apps there !
mail, music, people... etc all all crap

While I agree with you the default apps are crap, what's preventing you from downloading other apps instead?

This. 100%, this. Core windows apps must function properly and 100%. Being forced to look for apps to replace core functionality is a FAIL. And Surface will FAIL with consumers if this is not rectified in a hurry. May already be too late to be honest.

Ahmed Alrasheed said,
if RT is the future... then fix your damn main apps there !
mail, music, people... etc all all crap

MorganX said,
This. 100%, this. Core windows apps must function properly and 100%. Being forced to look for apps to replace core functionality is a FAIL. And Surface will FAIL with consumers if this is not rectified in a hurry. May already be too late to be honest.

And if the core apps are better than any 3rd party app, people will scream "Monopoly!!!" and claim Microsoft is abusing its position.

It's really sad Microsoft has to dumb down much of its software so others have a chance to make something just a tad less mediocre... in order to not be sued.

1) No they won't.

2) Doesn't have to be better, just has to function the way it is supposed to, or else leave it out altogether. I expect certain basic functionality in a OS. Music/Video/Media Management is one of them.

3) Make Windows free then fine, don't bother making all the core apps function. I'm OK with that.

4) Apple doesn't seem to have a problem with iTunes working.

abecedarian paradoxious said,
And if the core apps are better than any 3rd party app, people will scream "Monopoly!!!" and claim Microsoft is abusing its position.

It's really sad Microsoft has to dumb down much of its software so others have a chance to make something just a tad less mediocre... in order to not be sued.

mrdeezus said,

Preach on it brutha!!

Its so frustrating and it ****es me off to se the xbox music app that is a alleyway abortion and this from a Zuner, oh how I miss Zune.


TBQH, as a person who never used a Zune and rarely used the Zune desktop player, I don't understand the seething, vitriolic hatred for the Xbox Music app.

It strikes me as a fairly decent streaming music service with access to locally hosted music as well, with good integration into the Windows 8 environment. What's it doing wrong?

Try to build a playlist with it, searching your music library for songs. Try to sync playlist (if you have the nerves to actually finish building one) with a Windows Phone 8 or Surface. The playlist itself will sync, but will not find local files unless they were purchased. And that's sometimes, some people get nothing.

Joshie said,

TBQH, as a person who never used a Zune and rarely used the Zune desktop player, I don't understand the seething, vitriolic hatred for the Xbox Music app.

It strikes me as a fairly decent streaming music service with access to locally hosted music as well, with good integration into the Windows 8 environment. What's it doing wrong?

Sorry Joshie, I'm with the Zunies on this one.

TBH, basing the Windows Runtime XAML implementation on silverlight rather than WPF was not the best decision MS made. This decision alone limits functionality.

There are a lot of things the new music player doesn't do, like manage my Zune.
It also doesn't support podcasts, which is a big beef from my wife.

MorganX said,
Try to build a playlist with it, searching your music library for songs. Try to sync playlist (if you have the nerves to actually finish building one) with a Windows Phone 8 or Surface. The playlist itself will sync, but will not find local files unless they were purchased. And that's sometimes, some people get nothing.

In that regard, it sounds more like an incomplete app than a 'bad' one, and I think it's worth it to differentiate the two. Xbox Music is a good framework for a solid cross-platform user experience, and should be looked at as "here's what it needs" rather than "here's why we need to kill it with fire".

I've never been a playlist junkie (it always struck me as grueling, tedious work), especially when tagging came along and generated (smart) playlists came within reach. So I'm not affected by whatever playlist feature is present in Xbox Music--I simply don't use it (I choose a song I like and have it build a playlist out of that, then get back to whatever else it was I was doing).

I'm a podcast junkie, though. But for me, podcasts are serious business. I would never, ever want to use my music player as my podcast manager--I don't only subscribe to audio! After years of using mobile, dedicated podcast apps (BeyondPod ftw) that naturally handle both types of media, the only podcast experience I want at this point would run like a feed manager that would launch the necessary audio/video player app depending on feed content type.

So really, I guess the point is that the matter is so subjective to what a person wants for their media experience, that it strikes me as a childish waste of energy to declare the application universally crap. There's simply no denying that, for many people, Xbox Music will cover everything they want. Telling them not to like it because it doesn't do a dozen other things they'll never need makes people sound like they're preaching bloatware.

I don't necessarily disagree with you semantics. But an incomplete app released to manufacturing is a bad app IMO. How crappy is the app, my experience is more of non-working features and usability. Many others have worse experiences. This leads me to question how many people are actually using Windows 8. Not many non technical consumers IMO. We'll know more after Christmas.

Most opinions on it so far are from upgraders who see what a quantum step backwards it is. Unfortunately, the usability is more a limitation of the Modern UI and there may be no hope for that.

Yet there are better designed apps in the store, unfortunately they don't have the resources of MS to make the app work across Microsoft devices well, yet. Maybe they do, but there's no real incentive to make that type of investment.

Finally, it's crap. Works well with an Xbox Music Pass though. Hmmmm, that's interesting.

MorganX said,
I don't necessarily disagree with you semantics. But an incomplete app released to manufacturing is a bad app IMO. How crappy is the app, my experience is more of non-working features and usability. Many others have worse experiences. This leads me to question how many people are actually using Windows 8. Not many non technical consumers IMO. We'll know more after Christmas.

Most opinions on it so far are from upgraders who see what a quantum step backwards it is. Unfortunately, the usability is more a limitation of the Modern UI and there may be no hope for that.

Yet there are better designed apps in the store, unfortunately they don't have the resources of MS to make the app work across Microsoft devices well, yet. Maybe they do, but there's no real incentive to make that type of investment.

Finally, it's crap. Works well with an Xbox Music Pass though. Hmmmm, that's interesting.


And since RTM status there have been updates to the default apps which improved them considerably.
I do keep in mind that Win8 is still a developing new platform. And give MS a chance and time they need to improve it to an hopefully amazing platform.
The music app isnt to bad so far, altho Winamp or even WMP are allot better. But it has the basic functionality a music app needs.
Videos is quite okay, altho considering all tv videos is in .mkv container files, its useless to me (the mkv decoder for windows slows the videos down and is a resource hog) so i'm sticking with potplayer for now. Altho VLC has made some sounds about making VLC a full RT application. So maybe there will be a better one some day
I do like the messenging app, love it being docked to the side and browsing the web in metroIE. It lacks some functionality as I cannot see when someone shows me a facebook picture (have to open facebook to view them) and no drag-drop file transfers.But I'm hoping it'll improve. However Skype is also a MS app and i found it to be better then the messaging app tho.
The mail app is good enough to rival any mail program (including outlook) in basic usage and functionality. I'd love it to have windows or whatever, but considering most RT apps are more or less designed for tablets/touch usage. I can understand it not being the best app available for mouse/keyboard inputs and (for now) there's countless of 3 rd party desktop apps that do a much better job.

But again, this platform has been only 2,5 years old from start of development. And it already started out better and with richer content and basic apps then iOS or Android did. They where both at release not even close to WinRT at release is.
People expect WinRT to be like Win8, while it should be compared to iOS and Android around their respective launch dates.

We'll have to agree to disagree on the Music app , and the acceptability of a company the size of Microsoft, at this point in the evolution of computing, releasing such incomplete products. All of the parts of the core media apps (which are critical to consumers on phones and tablets) actually work great with Microsoft's online Xbox services. It's when you want to manage the media you own that everything is kludgy or just doesn't work well.

That disagreement aside, I don't use the messaging app much, but I actually prefer the Modern UI Lync, to it's desktop counterpart. When you have to use menus, the Modern UI gets kind of clumsy on a desktop (that's just the nature of this UI on the desktp) but Lync on a Surface is a thing of beauty, as are RemoteApps and Remote Desktop.

MorganX said,
We'll have to agree to disagree on the Music app , and the acceptability of a company the size of Microsoft, at this point in the evolution of computing, releasing such incomplete products. All of the parts of the core media apps (which are critical to consumers on phones and tablets) actually work great with Microsoft's online Xbox services. It's when you want to manage the media you own that everything is kludgy or just doesn't work well.

That disagreement aside, I don't use the messaging app much, but I actually prefer the Modern UI Lync, to it's desktop counterpart. When you have to use menus, the Modern UI gets kind of clumsy on a desktop (that's just the nature of this UI on the desktp) but Lync on a Surface is a thing of beauty, as are RemoteApps and Remote Desktop.


This is the era of agile development, after all, where 100% is never the goal of the first release. Not even 80%.

The disagreement comes down to a pair of subjective factors: our idea of RTM expectations, and how we use the software itself. Because of this, it's not about "agreeing to disagree" so much as it's about agreeing that the whole topic is subjective to begin with. Without that perspective, people get way too involved in an issue that isn't worth the emotional investment in the first place.

FWIW, I share an attitude similar to yours when it comes to the Windows 8 video player, which I find just plain poor design in the face of where digital video is right now. A music app that supports local storage as well as streaming is doable today, but mixing local video with served video feels *bad* because of how differently we use the two (local video is very hands-on for me, regarding codec settings, channels, etc--streaming video just...is what it is).

Don't you mean "WinRT" is the future of Windows as "Windows RT" or "Windows 8" doesn't really matter.. Whomever can develop the best hardware will have the best sales - no matter the architecture as even "Windows RT" may soon be spread across multiple variations of ARM

spudtrooper said,
Whomever can develop the best hardware will have the best sales

Stupid grammar mistake alert! Stupid grammar mistake alert! It should be whoever, not whomever. This was a public service announcement. Thank you.

TheDogsBed said,

Stupid grammar mistake alert! Stupid grammar mistake alert! It should be whoever, not whomever. This was a public service announcement. Thank you.


Cover all your bases. Next time use whosoever. Putting on airs almost always covers up grammatical mistakes.

spudtrooper said,
Don't you mean "WinRT" is the future of Windows as "Windows RT" or "Windows 8" doesn't really matter.. Whomever can develop the best hardware will have the best sales - no matter the architecture as even "Windows RT" may soon be spread across multiple variations of ARM

Dafuq?

Do you call Windows 8 "Win8" as well?

MidTxWRX said,

Dafuq?

Do you call Windows 8 "Win8" as well?

Spud was referring to the Windows Runtime (aka: WinRT), the layer that powers the new app experience on Windows RT and Windows 8, hence why it no matter to spud.

Author clearly makes distinction that no-legacy app support is what MS are striving for with the ARM platform, thus making it the most compelling tablet offering by being the walled garden that it is.