Why My Next Tablet Will Run Windows 8

by Nathan Brookwood   |   April 19th, 2012


I’ve been using Windows-based tablet computers for almost a decade. I was hooked the moment Bill Gates trotted out Microsoft’s first prototype tablets at a developer event in mid-2001. I got my first tablet, a Fujitsu Stylistic, in 2003 and I’ve carried it or its successors to meetings ever since, migrating along the way from Windows XP Tablet Edition to Vista to Windows 7. Nothing beats a Tablet PC for capturing notes during meetings and presentations, especially if the material contains diagrams, graphs or mathematical equations. When I’m not using my tablet to take notes, I use it to get my mail via Outlook, or to work on documents and spreadsheets with Word and Excel. It’s usually the only mobile system, other than my phone, that accompanies me when I travel.

Some suggest that the structure of the tablet market has already been settled. Apple rules, Android-based suppliers challenge; no other platforms need apply. The failures of HP’s Touchpad and RIM’s Playbook prove there’s no room for another software platform. I beg to differ. Android and iOS tablets do a yeoman’s job when it comes to consuming content, but lack the software tools and hardware features needed to create content. Windows-based tablets, which have been around since 2002, have always included the features needed for content creation, but lacked the easy to use interfaces needed for content consumption. The Metro User Interface in Windows 8 supplies these missing elements, and thus positions Win 8-based tablets as the only ones suitable for those who want to both create and consume content on a single device.

“Content Creation” as I use the term applies to a broad range of activities that includes tasks as varied as a student taking notes, a worker recording and distributing meeting notes, a club secretary assembling and distributing newsletters, a teenager spiffing up the audio from a band performance, a webmaster updating a website, and a mother preparing her annual Christmas letter. Contemporary PCs and MacBooks handle such work effortlessly. But, have you tried to accomplish tasks like these on an iPad or Android tablet? The process is at best arcane, and often impossible. Printing from a tablet? Most of the people I know e-mail the files they want to print to their PCs, and print from there. Manage a mail list? Forget about it. iPads and Android tablets work best as “companion devices,” and assume you have access to a PC or MacBook to handle everyday computing tasks. In fact, when I took my new iPad2 out of its box, it insisted that I connect it to iTunes running on a PC or Mac before it would let me do anything. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of those systems around my office, but what if I purchased it in the airport store, and tried to use it for the first time on a flight to China?

Windows 8 provides a more complete environment. Unless you’ve spent the last six months on the International Space Station, you’ve probably seen its vaunted Start screen, which replaces the Start menu used in earlier versions of Windows. The various colored blocks, referred to as “tiles,” contain live content updated by applications running in the background. Touch a tile and its associated program fills the screen. Switch from one app to the next by dragging your finger from left to right. Drag your finger up from the bottom of the screen to call up menus for the app. Drag your finger from the right edge of the screen to call up system menus, or to get back to the Start screen. Multi-finger gestures for pinching and zooming work intuitively, just as you’d expect. All-in-all, a well architected, contemporary user interface, great for leaning back and reading web content, watching videos, or whatever. But Windows 8 also supports more serious endeavors. Tap on the Desktop tile, and you are instantly transported to the familiar Windows 7 desktop. The applications you invested years learning to use are there in all their glory; not striped down versions that some guy in a marketing department thought were “good enough” for tablet users. Although the touchscreen interface works with these packages, odds are you will want to use a traditional keyboard and pointing device (mouse or track pad) arrangement, whether built into a dock or case, or freestanding. They may be old fashioned, but after 30 years of development, the industry has refined these input devices to the point where they’re hard to beat for content creation.

Digital Ink: Microsoft’s Unsung Advantage

Microsoft’s Tablet PC software includes a feature it calls “digital ink” that allows users to write on the surface of the display the same way one writes on a sheet of paper. The system makes no attempt to convert pen strokes entered this way into machine-readable text in real time, a la Apple’s failed Newton (although the option remains to convert information entered this way into a more conventional format if needed). Digital ink documents can be filed and searched in the same manner as conventional text documents. My tablet contains inked notes I’ve entered over the last eight years; I back them up, transfer them from one machine to another, and read them on my desktop when needed. Almost nobody knows this feature exists. Often, when I’m scribbling notes on my tablet at a conference, people sitting nearby will ask me what magical device I’m using. They’re amazed when I tell them it’s a five-year old tablet PC that runs Windows 7 and Office. I view Micro0soft’s failure to capitalize on this feature to be one of its biggest marketing disasters ever, almost as bad as Vista or Bob.

I don’t doubt the claims of a few of my colleagues that they can type faster than they can write. But can they capture graphic information as well? Here’s a snippet from the notes I took at a recent event where Intel’s Mark Bohr discussed the company’s new 22 nanometer technology. I captured the charts Bohr flashed on the screen on my tablet as he touted the advantages of Intel’s approach. I doubt any of my colleagues could key this in on their PCs.

Digital ink has always struck me as one of the most natural ways (other than pen on paper) for students to take notes in class or attendees to take notes in meetings. Yet Windows Tablets with this feature never gained much market share. Some of this resistance can be attributed to the premium (typically $300 or more) that suppliers charged for Windows Tablets, compared with conventional laptops. Some of this premium stems from the specialized hardware needed to implement digital ink (see below), which adds to the cost of Windows-based tablets. Suppliers like MSI omit such hardware in the interest of lowering the system’s cost. I’m confident the cost premium will shrink over time. I’m less confident that Microsoft will figure out how to market this capability successfully.

Since there will likely be a range of Windows 8 Tablets on the market, some with and some without the hardware needed to handle digital ink correctly, buyers who care about this feature should evaluate the specs of the devices they are considering with regard to the digitizer technology they use.

All told, Windows 8 melds a modern multi-touch user interface that’s great for consuming content with Microsoft’s successful Windows 7 environment that excels at creating content. No other tablet OS can deliver this one-two punch.

Nathan Brookwood

In 1998 Nathan founded Insight 64, a semiconductor marketing consultancy. Best known for his knowledge of the semiconductor market, he also works in closely allied system markets where semiconductor technology plays a key role. He has assisted established suppliers and embryonic start-up ventures in the areas of strategic planning, business planning, product definition, product positioning, marketing communications and analyst relations. Nathan honed his 32-bit insights as Director of Marketing for Micronics, a PC component supplier, and at the Intergraph Advanced Processor Division that developed the Clipper RISC microprocessor. Before Intergraph, he developed his 12-, 16-, and early 32-bit insights during 18 years in the computer systems industry, working for Univac (now part of Unisys), Digital Equipment Corp. (now part of HP), Prime Computer, and Convergent Technologies (now part of Unisys).
  • 1stkorean

    Thank you for your article…finally a Windows based tablet gets the credit it so deserves.

    • GrumpyMonkeyPants

      “Finally”? The Windows 8 Tablet DOES NOT YET EXIST! What kind of credit does it deserve if no one can pick it up at a store and see if it actually deserves any credit at all!

      Microsoft = Yesterdays Technologies, Tomorrow.

      • 1stkorean

        i guesss you have not be priviledged enough to have the samsung slate 7 series running windows 8 consumer preview, maybe that is why you have a small GrumpyMonkey in your Pants.

        • http://kaizenity.blogspot.com/ FalKirk

          Grumpy Monkey Pants may be grumpy (wouldn’t you be if you had a monkey in your pants?) but he makes a fair point. Windows 8 consumer preview is…exactly that. A preview. Let’s wait until the final product exists before we start to give it any credit, more less, “the credit it so deserves”.

          • 1stkorean

            OK Grumpy lets wait till then it is not that far off, I will be in Seoul for the Holidays and a couple concerts so hopefully I won’t have to wait until I return to America to find out.

            In the mean time Listen to this, and hopefully that monkey in your pants will ‘Smile” and not be Grumpy for a while. This singer is considered to be among the most beautiful voices in the world.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwetPEibOfo

            Best wishes,

        • Blahblah

          Can I run down to the local WalMart and pick up a Windows 8 tablet right now? Hmmmm. No, but they do have a nice shiny iPad there…

  • conradb212

    I think you’re totally right on the content consumption emphasis of iOS and Android devices, and also on the benefits of digital ink. Those two aspects keep me from totally embracing my otherwise beloved iPad, and also from totally jumping on the “post PC” bandwagon when, in fact, hundreds of millions will continue to depend on PCs for a long time to come.

    That said, for now I cannot help but see in Windows 8 the same mindset that brought us Windows for Pen Computing, he Pen Extension, and the Tablet PC Edition, i.e. something grafted on to Windows without making a real commitment. As is, it looks like x86 Windows 8 tablets will remain much like current Tablet PCs, i.e. a near constant struggle with legacy software that simply can’t work with touch, and nice Metro apps that are really living in the different WinRT realm. ARM-based Windows 8 tablets will likely be more cohesive, but there I have questions about the nature of the ARM versions of Office that’ll live on a Windows 8 pseudo desktop. I fear that the whole ARM thing will look a bit like a modern-day Windows CE.

    Despite the above, standard Windows 8 will likely be a great success. Even with Win 8 tablets, those who don’t want the Metro interface don’t have to use it, and as long as one stays within classic Windows mode, the Microsoft legacy argument will remain valid. Windows RT-based ARM tablets may have a harder time. Since they’ll use multi-touch, there won’t likely be an active digitizer required for truly precise electronic ink. And Metro apps will start from zero, and even advanced ones will likely suffer from the lack of content creation inherent in touch apps. Which means the main arguments for Windows RT will mainly be that it is not Apple, and doesn’t suffer from Android tablet fragmentation.

    Any which way, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

    • Blahblah

      “I think you’re totally right on the content consumption emphasis of iOS and Android devices, and also on the benefits of digital ink. Those two aspects keep me from totally embracing my otherwise beloved iPad, and also from totally jumping on the “post PC” bandwagon when, in fact, hundreds of millions will continue to depend on PCs for a long time to come.”

      You should try taking your “beloved iPad” out of the box. There are _dozens_ of “digital ink” apps available, even for the iPad 1, and plenty of apps to create all sorts of content.

  • mhikl

    Sounds like a great machine, Nathan. I think there is room for many tablet versions and I applaud MicroSoft’s adventures in this field. I was surprised to see how fast the Courier was cancelled after the iPad first came out. I was disappointed that Android chose the route of imitation instead of taking the time to think and design originally. No company has all the smarts, and choice usually makes for greater advances in human endeavours.

    Our thoughts about computing are often very narrow. I remember being amazed with my handheld speller that included a thesaurus, word games, a simple note pad and an alarm clock. Great little device for a guy who knows many ways to spell a common word but has short sighted teachers who want uniformity. My Palm TX was so versatile though connecting through a Mac was not as easily done as in the world of Windows. It lasted me many good years until the iPod touch and iPhone came out.

    There are so many digital opportunities on so many technological platforms that it sure makes it a more interesting world than the yesteryears. I know stories from a time when a tech guy had very few toys at his disposal. One that met the interest of the most electronically technical was Ham Radio. The path to this magical universe wasn’t an easy road for a strict licence was demanded. You had to take amateur radio classes. You were tested on the science behind the equipment, built your own transmitters, receivers and aerials, and had to become proficient in and use Morse code for hundreds of hours before advancing to communication by microphone. In our family there have been four generations with call signs ranging from four to seven letters, three generations of which built their own radios. Many were monster machines with tubes and neat switches and knobs that were a delight to a child who liked the hum and the glitter of lights that started out low and grew as the box or boxes warmed. That one could talk across continents through the air, by bouncing signals off some invisible part of the atmosphere, was magical. Shortwave radios picking up distant music and other programmes were the simple cousins to the boxes of the bigger boys and for the pint sized, there were crystal radios that ran through the mystery of pulling electricity out of the air. Anyone could just turn on a ready-bought radio or television set but there was little imagination in those acts, outside of punching a button, turning a knob and adjusting an antenna. There is something special in tweaking and tuning an instrument to perfection that calls out to the inner spirit of our species.

    In the modern spirits of today still lives such atavistic needs. They are the tinkerers, the fiddlers, the tech savvy who dare to jump through hoops to accomplish things that might seem mundane to others. There are those who have the penchant to tweak and stretch their computing devices past the limits of the masses. This was not the mind of Steve Jobs but I suspect MicroSoft’s forays into the world of tablets is going to answer such needs. I know my brother, the last in the family to get his ham radio licence will be skulking such a tablet out with the joy of an artist.

    • http://www.acid-product.co.uk Ian Davies

      I was surprised to see how fast the Courier was cancelled after the iPad first came out.

      The Courier was a marketing fluff-job that lacked any real substance in terms of a fully thought-out interface that could scale to do actual work, rather than the shallow selection of carefully choreographed demo tasks in the concept video. In other words, classic MS vapourware.

      Only those who failed to see it for what it was would have been surprised at how quickly it got cancelled. The fact that so many people were suddenly expecting MS to actually deliver on the promise probably scared the crap out of them.

      • mhikl

        That was my opinion at the time, Ian, but the history suggests something different. It seems it was Gates, from his armchair, who said to nix the Courier and Ballmer, who lacked the the plural to the first part of his surname, followed his and others’ advice and the Courier never had a chance. Whether or not the Courier could have come to something we shall never know.

        Of course your point is the common, accepted thought. Continue to think safe, Ian.

        • http://www.acid-product.co.uk Ian Davies

          It’s not about “thinking safe” or any other passive-aggressive phrase one might be able to concoct, it’s about simple application of Occam’s razor. Why would MS (Gates/Ballmer/whoever) kill a product that was gaining so much positive buzz, unless it never really existed in the first place?

          As inexplicable as I found it, there were plenty of people getting genuinely excited about the Courier, and I’m afraid MS simply doesn’t have the necessary history of product integrity to have canned something apparently so popular.

          Then, after the cancellation became public knowledge, we had the comments from people allegedly “close to the project” saying how it was almost complete (or at least at an advanced stage, I forget the exact wording) and what a shame it was.

          Again, given how eager Ballmer had been in the past to show off things that weren’t ready yet, things that people found nowhere near as interesting as the Courier – remember the HP ‘slate’ that was supposed to be one of the flagship Windows 7 touch devices, but in fact ended up shipping with WebOS on it? – there’s simply no way on earth that he would have been able to resist giving demos of something as stroke-tastic as the Courier.

          No way unless… it never existed as anything other than a concept demo video in the first place.

          QED

          • mhikl

            Ian, regarding passive/aggressive may I point out the first statement of yours* that could be interpreted as p/a. Surely the first to takes off the gloves should not complain when another follows suit.

            * “Only those who failed to see it for what it was would have been surprised at how quickly it got cancelled.”

            I am always delighted to stand corrected and am quick to applaud correction. I like to be informed but nothing in your second response says anything different from your first.

            I suspect you also have a curious mind. John Martellaro of The Mac Observer offers some points on the subject: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/what_ever_happened_to_microsoft/

            Namaste Ian,
            mhikl

            Regarding some of the responses to Mr Brookwood’s article:
            I may not have agreed with everything Mr Brookwood had to say in his article but he certainly deserves respect for some challenging ideas. Still, I was still very dismayed to see the many rude posts made about him and his effort. This is not something seen very often on Tech Opinions. We might not always agree with each other, but that is not an excuse for rude behaviour. It is why I chose the short wave analogy rather than attempt to cripple his thoughts as so many opted to do.

      • Poopmonkey

        What a cynical post! Like sand in the desert.

    • Poopmonkey

      What a wonderfully positive post! Like water in the desert.

  • Uday Varma

    I get it that this is very much a personal choice however a little research would have been appreciated

    A few points -

    1. I might be wrong – but wont the tablet version of Win 8( Win RT) lack support for 3rd party desktop apps? Only the x86 version will support 3rd party desktop apps.

    2. Looks like your iPad 2 hasn’t been updated to IOS 5. With the release of IOS 5 the connect to iTunes no longer appears on start up . Andriod tablets can similarly set up through the use of your Google ID

    3. In answer to Digital Ink I give you – Evernote. There are loads of apps which could mimic or better the note taking ability you seem to be so proud of

    4. Every example of Content Creation you have given can be done with ease on an iPad. From writing a letter to editing music – there is an app for that :-)

    5. The Newton?? Seriously??

    You have not made any effort to try and learn what IOS is capable of. There are plenty of apps which would allow you to both create and consume on the iPad.

    • http://kaizenity.blogspot.com/ FalKirk

      You said it better in 100 words than I did in 1,000. I should have taken more time on my post and made it shorter (and better), like yours.

      • Uday Varma

        Would have loved to do a point by point rebuttal..too lazy to type that much I guess…:-)

        Personal choices are perfectly acceptable but the lazy research is inexcusable. Especially when the author has such an extensive resume.

        He seems to be pinning his tablet hopes on an x86 tablet with a keyboard which will run Win 8 with all his legacy apps. Why not just use a Win 7 tablet – i am sure a few of them are still around :-)

        • Player_16

          And there is: the Axiotron. t’s the only successful (Apple) tablet on the market -made-to-order or complete. There are 2 models: The Modbook and Modbook Pro. They run OS X Lion (and any other Apple program -as well as Windows). In fact, it’s CHEAPER than most equivalently equipped current tablets and comes equipped with blue-tooth & DVD drive. As well, the screen is glass, not plastic. It is touch capable and uses a programable stylus but overall, it’s the only -if not the best (I believe)- truly successful, longest running (since 2007) tablet on the market that was designed to handle variable pen-based inputs instead of keyboard swivel/remove, cheap plastic, give-it-a-scribe Windows flop. (Steve Wozniak is the CEO.)

          Unfortunately, they seem to be in limbo now. The demand for their tablets is still there as well as the software but nothing is happening. You can still checkout their website.

          http://www.axiotron.com/index.php?id=home

    • Poopmonkey

      If you work as an artist or designer, then you NEED full windows. There’s nothing remotely close to Autocad, or Houdini, or Maya. Show me a production-usable 3D sculpting program like Zbrush or Mudbox and I will EAT MY OWN FACE RIGHT NOW.

      So yeah if you’re dicking around with a drawing or two between twitter sessions, then yeah iPad! But if you need to make professional quality content, then devices like these are the ONLY choice.

      • earthlingdave

        I love that you think those programs you mentioned will run on a windows tablet. Maya on a tablet?! Are you kidding?

        • Poopmonkey

          Oh I’m sorry, I meant show me one of those programs on a tablet. x86 Tablets can handle all of that stuff of course. I’ll still eat my own face.

          You know what really sucks about it? there’s no reason hardware-wise that a modern tablet COULDN’T run photoshop CS1 or do light 3D tasks. It’s just that nobody on a tablet would pay more than 10 bucks for it, so why bother?

          That’s why I really hope these W8 tablets take off. It’s literally the only option for full no-goofing-around content creation.

      • http://twitter.com/PeterDeep Peter Deep

        And I’ll eat my own face if you can seriously convince me that your device of choice for AutoCAD and Maya would be ANYTHING with a 7 or 10 inch screen. Really, get serious.

        • Poopmonkey

          Yeah, except x86 tablets have traditionally been 11″-13″. That’s a good sweet spot for a portable workstation.

          And get serious? Dude, you run a club in mexico! What the hell do YOU need AutoCAD for?

      • trexuphigh

        A screwdriver isn’t a hammer and vise versa. For some applications you will always need a big screen, no portable device will suffice. Retina display or not. I’m not saying a portable tablet will never have the processing horsepower to do such work, but screen real estate vs portability will be a huge technological hurdle for all platforms.

      • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

        Heh, thats funny…wait..you’re serious?

    • Arghammer

      http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa100197.htm

      I don’t know, I kind of agree with him! I like my Ipad and all, but it really blows chunks at writing accuracy compared to a pencil and paper. Hard to compete with 6000 years of refinement.

  • shockme

    People still print things? Except for MS Word and MS Excel, I can’t see much that Windows 8 offers. I think it looks nicer and responds better than Android ICS though. I’m willing to give it a shot but you have to realistic about the things that are unique and those that are not.

  • Pete Austin

    You seriously expect full MS office on a tablet? No chance. The whole UI is totally unsuited for touch, because fingers are way too big.

  • http://twitter.com/kootenayredneck kootenayredneck

    LOL

  • Gjgustav

    Anyone who thinks an iPad is only for content consumption and not suitable for content creation has not learned the full capabilities of the iPad and its App ecosystem, or has a very limited view of what content creation is.

  • Chuck

    What a bunch of nonsense, there are plenty of apps for the iPad that offer the same tools for creating content. You can print just fine from an iPad. On the ‘you have to connect tot a computer before you can do anything’, did you miss everything since iOS 5?

    Using applications designed for a keyboard and mouse are terrible when used with a touch interface, just plain terrible, I’ve used remote desktop on the iPad, it’s terrible.

    The unsung advantage of ‘Digital Ink’? There are at least two dozen iPad apps that have done exactly the same thing since a week after it launched.

    “Unless you’ve spent the last six months on the International Space Station” Sounds to me like you’ve been out of the game for a couple of years, and only read up on Windows 8 stuff recently. I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re entirely misinformed about the iPad (and probably Androids, don’t know) capabilities. Time to try an iPad for real for a change.

  • http://www.techhog.com/ Michael T. Blake

    Are you serious? The iPad lacks content creation? How about, Sketchbook Pro, iPhoto, iDJay, Pages, KeyNote, Notepad, Paper, Garageband, Blogsy (blogging with use of Voice dictation), Numbers, and more…I understand this is your “opinion” but even opinions need to be based on facts. Your opinion lacks the research of facts, as if you’ve never even used an iPad running iOS 5. There are literally thousands of apps for creating all kinds of content. As Uday pointed out, Windows 8 RT (which stands for RUN TIME) will not be a full version of Window 8 x86, it will be a “tablet version,” meaning it won’t be running full desktop apps.

    Sorry, Nate, but you’re completely off base. I agree that everyone has an opinion, but you seriously need to take the “fanboy-ism” down a notch and accurately report facts to back you opinion, not just make stuff up.

  • http://kaizenity.blogspot.com/ FalKirk

    “iOS tablets do a yeoman’s job when it comes to consuming content, but lack the software tools and hardware features needed to create content.”

    If you prefer Windows 8 to iOS or Android then you should, by all means, go with Windows 8. If, however, you’re contending that you’re going with Windows 8 because it is better at content creation than iOS, then I respectfully disagree.

    “Tap on the Desktop tile, and you are instantly transported to the familiar Windows 7 desktop.”

    True. Tap on the Desktop tile, and you are instantly transported to the familiar pain that is the Windows desktop operating system shoehorned onto the tablet form factor. If the concept of a desktop OS on a tablet hasn’t worked for the past ten years, why should we suddenly expect it to work now?

    “The applications you invested years learning to use are there in all their glory; not striped down versions that some guy in a marketing department thought were “good enough” for tablet users.”

    True. The applications that frustrated tablet users are there in all their horror, not optimized Apps specifically designed for use with on the tablet form factor.

    “Although the touchscreen interface works with these packages, odds are you will want to use a traditional keyboard and pointing device (mouse or track pad) arrangement, whether built into a dock or case, or freestanding.”

    True. Although you can add a hitch to a sports car and pull a trailer with it, you’re much better off buying a pickup truck. And if you’re going to attach a keyboard and a mouse to a tablet, you’re much better off buying a notebook.

    “(W)hen I took my new iPad2 out of its box, it insisted that I connect it to iTunes running on a PC or Mac before it would let me do anything.”

    True then. False now. iPhones and iPads have not required a PC or Mac for setup or maintenance since the introduction of iOS 5.

    “’Content Creation’ as I use the term applies to a broad range of activities that includes tasks as varied as…”

    This is where, in my opinion, you really go off the rails. You say that iOS is not a content creation device, yet you totally ignore the 585,000 apps that are capable of turning it into exactly that.

    - There are dozens of Apps that are specifically designed to take notes. Not only do they appear to duplicate all of the functionality of digital ink, but they also have many other useful features such as recording audio and, on command, returning you to the audio associated with any specific note.

    - There are dozens of Apps that allow you to print.

    - There are dozens of Apps that allow you to record and distribute meeting notes or assemble and distribute newsletters.

    - Garageband is probably the best App there is for “spiffing up the audio from a band performance…”-

    - Anecdotally, my mother does her annual Christmas letter on her iPad, using Pages.

    Again, if you prefer Windows 8 to iOS or Android then, by all means, buy and use Windows 8. But if you’re arguing that Windows 8 is a superior content creation machine, while simultaneously ignoring the difficulties inherent in using a desktop OS on a tablet and ignoring the content creation abilities contained in the iOS App library, then your argument is fatally flawed.

    • GemLahey

      Apps apps apps! Fap-fap-fap! Apple won’t let us have porn apps, but we don’t need them with all of our sexy apps to spank to.

  • GrumpyMonkeyPants

    “…but what if I purchased it in the airport store, and tried to use it for the first time on a flight to China?”

    Reach much!?

    • blahblah

      oh come on, i do this every day. lol.

      show me any computer or tablet device that you’re going to buy from one of those best buy vending machines that is going to be very useful on that flight.

      maybe you should come a little better prepared next time!

  • RealGarrBaker

    You really ought to remove the “informed” part form your tag line. “most people I know email files to a PC to print”? An informed opinion would have searched our great products that help iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch devices to print on the network such as Printopia or AirPrint Activator (which I use) that lets me print to my laser printer with ease. As for typesetting my Christmas letter? I actually did that on the iPad this year. Meeting notes? I have been taking those on the free Wacom Bamboo for the last several months and emailing them to colleagues who weren’t able to attend. Tuning music from a garage band session? Apple has you covered with, aptly named, Garage Band for iPhone and iPad.

    You may be right with what the lack of such apps for Android tablets but you are horribly informed with iOS devices. The windows tablets do posess much more computational power and may run different apps, but don’t mistake not having your favorite app for not being able to accomplish your favorite task it the same or better polish.

    • rattyuk

      Fingerprint too. Works on both Mac and PCs.

  • http://gplus.to/FaustsHausUK Dale P

    My 54 year old luddite mother figured out how to print from her iPad without any help. You’re a tech writer. I’m sure you see what I’m getting at.

  • RawBob

    “Authoritative. Informed. Opinionated.”

    Well, one out of three ain’t bad.

    A remarkably infantile analysis.

  • http://www.elliot-ross.co.uk/ Elliot Ross

    “In fact, when I took my new iPad2 out of its box, it insisted that I connect it to iTunes running on a PC or Mac before it would let me do anything.”

    Sorry, but that’s just not true. I bought an iPad 2 on the day after launch, and didn’t have any problems using it fully. In fact, the first time I connected it to my macbook was for the iOS 5 update. Now, unless you bought your iPad 2 on day one, which seems unlikely given the tone of the article, AND Apple somehow released a completely different iPad the day after launch, then you’ve made a mistake.

  • codegefluester

    Did Microsoft pay you directly for this article?

  • MindFad

    Pass me that shit you’ve been smoking, Nathan, please. I will look after it while you do some actual research and re-write this article.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TD2LEZYY7OSZLLXKIIXBPDKNNA Vito Meingold

    White nights who wear wolf’s fur on their brows, looking through the window in fear of what’s out, with empty thoughts stealing wares from the neighbor’s yard, and proclaim to be one’s grown.

    Such neighbors fare better when the road is laid out, for them to follow unhindered.

    Peasants are in wonder to hear the piper proclaim the sensory habits of the farmer who says he grew his wares.

  • JohnDoey

    Simply not true.

    At the technical level, all OS X systems, including iOS systems, have subsystems that are designed for the needs of creative users and the developers of creative apps. For example, when making music with an iPad, the CoreAudio and CoreMIDI subsystems of the OS X core enable me to accomplish things that can’t be done with any Windows-based system, no matter how powerful. CoreGraphics and CoreText and many other subsystems contribute to photograpghy and publishing workflows. That is why Mac and iOS apps are typically richer and more creatively powerful than apps on other platforms. The apps are leveraging OS X subsystems that Apple has built and included with every device. That is why there are Mac and iOS apps done by a single developer that outshine apps on other platforms that were made by whole teams. The Mac and iOS developer has a ghost team of Apple designers and engineers working to make his or her app great by making it easy for them to include video or animations or high-level interactivity, or send MIDI over Wi-Fi, or set up an ad hoc network, or whatever.

    At the practical level, there is already a ton of published content that was created on iPads and iPhones. There are many paintings, many sideshows, many videos, many songs. I have been running a multitrack recorder called FourTrack on my iPhone for 4 years — I have written and recorded hundreds of songs with it. I sold my standalone portable multitracker because I no longer needed it. I also sold my “Logic Control” mixer controller because an app called AC-7 replaces it. Those are 2 $10 apps that replaced a $400 and $800 creative tools.

    It is great that you are looking forward to maybe finally getting a decent tablet from Microsoft. But you are years and years behind. There are about 300 million of us who have been tablet computing since 2007 or 2008 and yes, we have been creating and producing the whole f’ing time.

    Also, have to say, when you say “iOS and Android” like it is one thing, you will always be wrong. The former is a PC class operating system with PC class apps on mobile-heritage hardware, and the latter is an open source project that provides a 2005-era Java applet phone environment for generic hardware makers. You have to be really, really misinformed and even lying to yourself to group them as one, especially when the context is mobile PC’s, a niche that is defined by iPad and iPad alone.

    Here is the story on Microsoft right now: they lost the high-end of computing to the Intel Mac between 2005-2010 and they are losing the low-end of computing to iPad from 2010-2015. End of story. Whatever rationalizations you have to make, make sure they fit those facts. The Mac solves the problems that high-end computer users have. The iPad solves the problems that low-end computer users have. Those users all spent at least 5 years telling Microsoft what their problems were before Apple finally got around to solving them, and Microsoft did NOTHING to address their problems. That has already happened. It is not just starting. A lot of Microsoft’s success was making “$500 Macs” when Macs cost $1000. Even 20 years ago, pundits would say “if Apple ever makes a $500 Mac, Microsoft is toast.” Well, the non-Jobs Apple (1985-1996) tried to make a $500 Mac via cheap components and cloning, and failed. Steve Jobs came back and made a $500 Mac (iPad) via design and engineering and innovation. Now that it is done and iPad is the best-selling PC in the $500 consumer market for over 2 years and no sign of stopping, yes, Microsoft is screwed. The “Ultrabook” and the “Zune” and the “Windows tablet” are in an “uncanny valley” where they look like Apple devices, but have only 10% of the functionality and yet have 95% of the cost. And with 1-click no-hassle 3rd party app installs, the functionality of the device definitely includes its 3rd party app platform.

    Everything you think about Windows is now either Mac at the high-end (Photoshop users, video editors, audio pros, programmers) or iPad at the low-end (consumers, business people, documents, spreadsheets, email, Web, etc.) That is what happened. Past tense. The fact that low-end computing has a long tail is no excuse to deny what the head has already done. When you think “Apple fanboy” think programmers and CIO’s, the very people who used to hold Microsoft’s gun against the head of everyone else and make them use Windows. Those people are not switching back to Microsoft because there is a Windows runtime coming for ARM later this year. If they needed Windows on iPad-class hardware, they already have an iPad with OnLive Desktop. If you had any need for it, you would already have an iPad and OnLive Desktop, too.

  • Doug

    Too many Apple fanatics here. PLEASE. The iPad does create content, but not as a first class citizen. Windows 8 is attempting to make both consumption and creation a first class citizen. Will see if they pull it off. Not easy to do and not a direction Apple or Google had the balls to try.

    • tomandyourmom

      sorry doug, you’re just wrong. how is content creation on metro any more of a 1st-class citizen than on the iPad? grasping at ridiculous straws, indeed.

    • Tfmeehan2

      I think you meant “…and not a direction Apple or Google were STUPID enough to try…”

  • http://www.BarnesFamily.com/ davebarnes

    Why the iPad (4) will blow away the first-gen Windows 8 tablets will be next week’s article.
    As long as we are writing about unavailable products; why not?

  • steve_wildstrom

    You’re welcome to express your opinion, no matter how negative. But let’s try to keep it civil, please. Criticism, not name-calling.

    • http://www.BarnesFamily.com/ davebarnes

      At Steve,
      I believe that tomandyourmom was making a factual comment.
      ,dave

      • benbajarin

        No he was not, nor did he look at our commenting guidelines. Secondly anyone who is willing to do the smart thing before criticizing another person or a site would do best to look into the body of work of the person or the site for some background before commenting, thus to keep themselves from looking foolish.

  • paul jordan

    I share the authors enthusiasm for tablets with “active digitizer” or wacom style pen interfaces. I also share his skepticism of MS’s ability to use this advantage as a selling point. Having a true drawing interface–not the ipad’s clunky capacitative touch equivalant–joined to a traditional windows file system makes windows tablets a designer/student must have. I love my ipad–its a great e-reader and wonderful for watching ocw videos–but i would never consider doing work in the IOS envronment.

  • Manacap

    I definitely agree with the digital ink superiority of windows to any solution out there. I’ve tried Evernote and it doesn’t hold a candle to OneNote. That said, where previously Microsoft failed and Apple succeeded was an instant-on, long battery life, light weight tool. I’ve been using a tablet for ten years now. My frustration with my tablets have mainly been: turning them on quickly (even from sleep is slow — 3 secs), getting them to last more than 2-3 hours (and still see the screen), and not being excessively heavy by an attached keyboard. The keyboard still works better than the pen for report writing, programming, and Excel work. The pen works much better than the keyboard in meetings, especially when the other attendees are fairly high in rank (you don’t want to be clicking on a keyboard at the boardroom table). I’ve seen people try to use an iPad to take notes either via pen or touching the screen (and tried myself) — very inefficient, basically useless compared to a yellow pad. The apps are not there yet unless you have a pretty lame standard. Windows 8 problem is that it took so long to figure out the previous windows’ shortcomings, and it may be too late.

  • http://www.KillerGameRants.com/ Warren

    Realized AFTER reading this article, Nathan Brookwood has never used an iPhone to create anything? A Word Document? MULTIPLE twitter posts that people re-tweet and respond to? Made a video and edited it with iMovie and uploaded to YouTube? Content Creation not on iPad? It’s like saying “No one uses #2 pencils any more…..

    Oh, I HAD an iPad2 16GB (now iPad 3rd Gen 64GB), but I use:

    Chapters (Notes and Notes written)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chapters-notebooks-for-writing/id384499033?mt=8

    Penultimate (Scratch notes and idea concepts. Digital Scrap Paper)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/penultimate/id354098826?mt=8

    Sticky Notes (FREE stickynote reminders)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sticky-notes-for-ipad/id364899302?mt=8

    Pages (Professional Looking documents and more)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pages/id361309726?mt=8

    ReadleDocs (A wifi USB FlashDrive that doubles as a file reader)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/readdledocs-for-ipad-pdf-viewer/id364901807?mt=8

    AudioNote (Record meeting and then write notes AFTERWARDS, draw too)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/audionote-notepad-voice-recorder/id369820957?mt=8

    Keynote (PowerPoint on iPad)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/keynote/id361285480?mt=8

    Doodlecast Pro (Sketch it, draw it, this records it. Tutorials?)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/doodlecast-pro/id469486202?mt=8

    Snapseed (Tidy up photo correct quickly and easily)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/snapseed/id439438619?mt=8

    iMockups (Do layout designs on the go)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/imockups-for-ipad/id364885913?mt=8

    SketchBook Pro (Not Photoshop, but an art program)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sketchbook-pro-for-ipad/id364253478?mt=8

    idea Sketch (Idea collector and thought layout)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/idea-sketch/id367246522?mt=8

    EasyBeats 2 (POWERFUL Drummachine)
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/easybeats-2-pro-drum-machine/id364882805?mt=8

    I use all of these on a weekly basis.

    So the iPd 3rd Gen 64GB is nice. Though I see a little performance lag. Not bad, but noted. I use my Canon Rebel T2i with the Camera Kit. I’ll be uploading more photos now. Most do not need touch-ups, but I do like to increase saturation and tweak the contast a bit. Something I USED to have to wait, load images onto the computer, load Photosho (CS2 or CS5) then do the simple editing.

    Snapseed, I just take my SD Card from the camera, then plug it into my iPad Camera Kit, connect it to the iPad, import what images I want and EVEN DELETE the one on the card (you know, some images are only for online and for one use). Then go right into editing. Done in about 40 seconds. Loving it.

    Now Mr. Brookwood, no disrespect, but I beg to differ. I can Photoshop iOS onto your photo of your ‘tablet’ on my ‘multi-tool tablet’. And from my little experience of Win 8, I’d love it as a kiosk OS, but on my phone or tablet, NO WAY. I ACTUALLY use my device. I do not just take notes at one meeting a month. I use it daily on the hour. Email, iMessage, WHY didn’t I think of that instead of using Yahoo Messenger – chained to my computer? Oh, also, on iPad, press the Power Button + the Home Button to take screenshots. I hope you go research all the links I posted.

    Now with that, the iPad is not for some people: people who like FULL customization. But those who want to work, have fun and enjoy their devices, the iPad is GREAT! Bad eyesight? The iPad now has a 5MP camera and is easy as tap, focus, tap. Done. Grandma doesn’t have to squint any more! Yay!

    Good luck Win 8, but I do hope I see you at a kiosk one day.

  • http://twitter.com/axian A.X. Ian

    In no other industry would you see such statements made about unreleased, untested products.

    The whole argument falls apart the minute you mention Microsoft’s previous “tablets” which failed spectacularly in the market — this is a fact. Glad it works for you, but the consumers at large rejected it. Fringe groups of people who cling to outdated software aren’t the profit engines these companies depend on.

    There are people who still use Palm products from distant past and apparently love it. The company behind it no longer exists. What does that prove?

    On the subject of “Digital Ink”, one has to take a look at current trends in society to understand why this buzzword no longer carries the weight it once did. Most young people today grow up with keyboards. The “writing on surface” is quaint, unnatural and inefficient to today’s generation. Find a teenager these days who prefers to write in cursive. Can’t be done.

    For the holdouts, the alternatives on the iPad cover about 95% of the market. It just doesn’t make sense for any company to invest money and resources propping up technologies for a dying generation who grew up with ink-based input methods. It’s like trying to bring horse-smell air freshners into an automobile.

    • Blahblah

      +1 for “It’s like trying to bring horse-smell air freshners into an automobile.”

  • Some Guy

    Well, if you’re one of the dozens of people who bought a Windows tablet back when Scoble was hawking them, I guess Apple will somehow have to get by without you. Lucky for them there are tens of millions of people who prefer their product.

  • trexuphigh

    Total fluff piece. Meant to stir controversy. The writer’s favourite device doesn’t exist and he has little clue of its limitations and the now mature competition. While the iPad was at first seen as a content consumption tool, it has since evolved to the point where it has a library of content creation apps for nearly every need. On top of that, it has proven that for 90% of users $400 office or other content creation tools are not needed and users’ needs are more than amply satisfied with $5-10 apps. As of this as an iMac/ MacBook pro user, I have to admit my favorite content (photography) creation device is the iPad, especially my wife’s third generation unit. His examples also show a poor understanding of both current iOS and android.

  • http://twitter.com/snookasnoo Idon’t Know

    This “article” is so dumb I have to ask the author what his connection to Microsoft is.