Microsoft has missed a few “buses” over the past few years, most significantly, in the realm of smartphones and tablets rivals such as Apple (iOS), Google (Android) and BlackBerry have woefully outclassed it. The company has finally come to realise that the future of personal computing lies, not in the traditional PC, but with ultraportable and relatively cheaper devices such as smartphones and tablets, especially in crucial markets in developing countries. One of the biggest obstacles to this transition was the Windows OS itself, which has proved a challenge to re-engineer entirely to suit portable devices; both Google and Apple built their mobile operating systems from bottom up. Now, Microsoft seeks to readdress the balance with the launch of Windows 8, which it seeks to design in a manner that makes it work well with both Intel and ARM architecture (officially WOA). The aim is to give to allow Microsoft to take advantage of a wide variety of platforms.
Windows 8: Hitting The Ground Running
The effort seems to be paying off and already a number of manufacturers have publicly stated that they will launch Windows 8 Tablets. One of the first on the scene is Lenovo, which plans on to launch an Intel-based Windows 8 tablet. Unfortunately, currently on the most basic details are available and we are not sure about any other details. Intel architecture, is designed to be more powerful and hence more power hungry, so maybe Lenovo is targeting business or professional users who already rely on Microsoft and just want to access their work on a more portable platform. If current sources are correct, then we may get to see the Windows 8 based Lenovo tablet somewhere in October.
This initial release is going to be of serious significance, and will tell us exactly to what degree Microsoft has successfully created a tablet compatible Windows OS. One possible candidate that could resemble the future Windows 8 tablet is Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, which effortlessly transforms from a laptop to a tablet. Of course, the final product may be quite different.
If you are not an ardent fan of Lenovo, then you might be pleased to know that a number of other companies have displayed interest in developing a Windows 8 based tablet. Dell and Nokia have already confirmed that they are in the process of developing such tablets.
Microsoft’s Windows 8 Approach
As mentioned earlier, Microsoft plans on launching two different versions of Windows 8: a heavy version for traditional personal computers, and a light version for tablets. Both versions will share a few things in common, including the green Metro start-up screen, which will feature a number of tiles with active content, something inspired the Windows mobile OS.
Obviously the fascinating thing about this is the fact that Microsoft has long changed its age-old policy and embraced ARM technology. This is the same technology that powers Apple’s iPad, which is sure to bring out some tough competition. So in theory at-least, Microsoft can release a sleek capable device, providing a chance against tough competition.
Many skeptics argue that Microsoft is already late in the game and is trying to get a hold of a market that is already dominated by Android and Apple. Therefore, there is remarkably little scope for a Microsoft tablet. The fact, however, is that the market for tablets is still maturing, and the only reason Apple has dominated the market is because it is in all fairness the only one providing a decent product for consumers. The lack of choice is further compounded by the fact that business users and IT managers generally shun iPads and Android devices since they cannot be easily integrated into their existing systems, which are dominated by Windows. So not only is the market not fully developed, but there is an entire class of consumers who are still not settled on a tablet.
This is where Windows 8 has a strong advantage: It already has a range of highly developed office and communication tools that easily outclass the best its rivals can offer. As a result, (optimistically), companies might settle for a whole scale adoption of Windows tablets because it could then be easily integrated into their own systems. The strong appeal it can make towards business users and other professionals could even make a dent on the iPad, and help it redefine the market.
Another interesting thing about WOA is the fact that it will no longer features “backwards compatibility”. In other words, legacy applications written for previous versions of Windows will no longer be compatible with WOA. Microsoft quite correctly justifies this on the basis that those legacy applications are not actually compatible with touch sensitive interfaces.
So how does Microsoft plan on attracting developers who are already having their hands full with iOS and Android apps? The answer is quite impressive. WOA has been designed in a manner that makes it compatible only with applications designed specifically for to work with the Metro interface. This is the same interface that it shares with the Windows 8 version for the desktop (heavy version). Therefore, developers writing an application for the desktop version, which is sure to have a relatively high volume of demand, will automatically create a code for the ARM version too.
Windows 8: Conclusion
Microsoft, in my opinion, has been hastily ruled out of the next generation of tech giants, and despite the fact that Google and Apple seem to be getting all the attention these days, it is Microsoft and its Windows OS that has managed to remain relatively consistent throughout the years. The company has had a number of pitfalls, and it can be criticized for failing to adapt to new trends sooner. However, one cannot deny that Microsoft is still in a strong position to make a comeback and its with a decision to launch a new era of Windows on tablets, smartphones and traditional PCs, it is taking the competition to a whole new level. Microsoft can still fail to make an impression, and Windows 8 might stumble and fall, but anyone would be a fool to rule it out so early in the game.