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Tablets. You either love them or you hate them. Chances are, if you were on the fence about them, you snagged a TouchPad when they went on sale (if you managed to hunt one down). But the main argument against tablets at this point – and no, I'm not talking about those old Windows tablets – is functionality, or lack thereof. Instead of full-fledged operating systems, modern tablets come equipped with mobile platforms (Android, iOS, webOS, QNX, etc.). For most consumers, this is all they'll ever need. But for many, a mobile OS is hardly everything you need to get the job done.

In the midst of all of this tablet craze, there has been one major player sitting on the sidelines. At first, we wondered if they were even interested in the current tablet market at all. Maybe their previous failures in the tablet industry disheartened them. Maybe they knew something about tablets that we didn't. After all, they were the first to really push the market. Microsoft introduced tablets many moons ago, to a very disinterested audience. People loved the idea of a more portable PC, but they were before their time – the technology simply wasn't there. Battery life was atrocious, performance was sub par and resistive touchscreens (shudder) were not exactly efficient. But Microsoft's perseverance and patience may have finally paid off.

Enter Windows 8.

Microsoft officially announced plans for their next major OS upgrade back at the beginning of June. Earlier today, This is my next was present at BUILD (Microsoft's ongoing developer conference) and got a chance to get their paws on a Windows 8-powered Samsung Developer Preview tablet. They gave an in-depth look at the new operating system. At BUILD, Microsoft made it very clear that Windows 8 is not just a version of their next OS update; it is the update. This is the version of Windows that will run on all PCs, laptops, tablets, etc.

The first two times I read the headline for the Windows 8 video preview, I blew it off. Nothing Microsoft has done in the past seven or eight years has really impressed me at all. In fact, I switched to Linux full-time two years ago and never looked back. I figured Windows 8 would be much of the same. I was wrong ... I think. Windows 8 is a totally different ballgame. It has it all: gestures, better multitasking, app switching, universal search, the familiar PC desktop and a similar Metro UI to what is seen in Windows Phone. The biggest differences between these Windows 8 tablets and every other tablet currently available is that they are working on x86, x64 and ARM architectures. The Samsung tablet This is my next got their hands on is powered by a 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M processor, and it sports a 64GB solid state drive. So boot up time isn't really an issue. The problem with hardware is this thing is fan-cooled, so it will come with some added noise. (Note that this nor battery life will be an issue with an ARM chip.)

That said, this platform borders the line between full and mobile OSes – something Apple is clearly moving towards with OS X and iOS. The Metro UI is the main interface and replaces the all too familiar Start menu within the Windows Desktop, which is simply an app. It can run full Windows programs and mobile-like HTML5 and Javascript apps backed by Internet Explorer 10. If you can overlook the noise from the fan and potentially dreadful battery life (in the Intel-powered tabs, at least), this could bring some serious benefits over existing tablets.

Joanna Stern of This is my next made it very clear that the whole idea behind Windows 8 – mashing up two totally different interfaces – felt very "redundant" and as if the tablet was "schizophrenic" at all times. But as platform mashups become more common and tablets become more PC-like, I feel this is something we will get used to: a "quick access" UI for on the go and the ability to instantly switch to a more work-friendly interface for getting down to business.

Some see it differently and feel that Microsoft should gear Windows Phone towards tablets instead of revamping their full OS to work on the slabs. But Microsoft may have finally got it right, in my book at least. I'll definitely have to get one of these Windows 8 tablets in my hands before I make my final decision, especially one of those ARM-powered ones. But from what I've seen so far, this is exactly what I need in a tablet – paired with a few peripherals, of course.

The only thing we're left wondering is where manufacturers will hit with price point. If they struggle to keep costs down and release these tablets for anything higher than the base model of the iPad, they will have lost the attention of the majority of potential buyers at the starting gates. In other words, if they can't keep these tablets below $500 or $600, they may be wasting their time.

What say you? Did Microsoft finally strike gold? Will Windows 8 be a hit with consumers looking to get more out of the tablet form factor? Or should tablets have dedicated mobile platforms instead?

Images via This is my next


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44 Reactions to this post

"Does Microsoft have the right idea with Windows Phone 8?"


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tleeford
tleeford Very nice OS. It's different, but once you use it for a couple of days you can see where a lot of thought went into this version of Windows.
Matt Bourdette
Matt Bourdette juan, web os is dead. Although they are similar, microsoft has craffted it in a way that works.
Matt Bourdette
Matt Bourdette definetly getting there
Adrian Marius
Adrian Marius Win 8 = GREAT
Shawn Meadows
Shawn Meadows Nope
Juan Carlos Munoz
Juan Carlos Munoz Wp7 copied webos with it's wanna b multitasking. How is that a good sign?
Alan Alty
Alan Alty What are people on about, im not exactly weathly and i bought an ipad 2 when it came out and im 15 :L
Cody Hilton
Cody Hilton no not really
Danu Carrión Perales
Danu Carrión Perales It seems so, apparently its even more secure and at the same time faster using less ram and less precesses, I mean while demonstrating it it took around 8-10 to boot and about twice as fast to transfer files! Can't wait!
Candi Sweet
Candi Sweet I think Microsoft is great & I will use it forever!
John Resch
John Resch I hope so..
Joeben Mar D. Batucan
Joeben Mar D. Batucan Yeah! Pretty much! Of Course they do! Been a microsoft lad for a long time and its nice to see that microsoft is on track to race against popular Android and the ridicoulous Apple on mobile and tablet arena.. Can't wait to have a windows 8 tablet with landscape thumb typing on it, and definetly will upgrade my Gaming PC OS from Windows 7 to Windows 8!
Dwight L. Burton
Dwight L. Burton I'm impressed with microsoft on there mobile operating systems that were revealed recently. I hope to see them grow into it more.
Brandon Riesenbeck
Brandon Riesenbeck This thing will expose the iPad for the toy it really is.
Carmelo Del Valle
Carmelo Del Valle Yes they do
Jesse Moore
Jesse Moore I thought it was just commonly called Windows 8... not Windows Phone 8. And I for one welcome Win8.
Tomas Hernandez
Tomas Hernandez Hell no! Why was it a good idea to begin with?!
Mj Williams
Mj Williams In a word, yes
Nick Kalman
Nick Kalman Of course they do. Have WP7 it's awesome plus Mango is coming. For all of those who hates WP7 first get one, use it for a while and then will how much you'll hate it.
Cristian Reyes
Cristian Reyes too many haters as you can see
Israel Leiva
Israel Leiva F*ck Microsoft.
Nick Goetzinger
Nick Goetzinger Suxs. Lmao
CJ Osborne
CJ Osborne They have the right idea as far as a Phone us concerned and possibly a tablet but it should never be intergrated into a pc desktop or laptop for any reason
Cornelius Hardy
Cornelius Hardy I have been using tablets for the past two years or so, and they all have come from Japan. Some with windows, some with android, none with ios because I hate Apple. Good to see Microsoft back in the game with Windows 8. With all of the things that Microsoft makes, think of how many uses the tablet will have. It may be the first ever tablet I purchase from the U.S.
Phillip Ith
Phillip Ith Windows suxs...POINT BLANK !
Hansel Starley
Hansel Starley yes, yes, yes, YES, YES!!
Ken Rowe
Ken Rowe Absolutely. I'm running the developer preview as we speak. It is like I just got a brand new type of computer. And on my wide screen monitor, this metro look ROCKS!
Terry Davis
Terry Davis Yes I believe they do. I wish they would start releasing products instead of showing proof of concept and demo products.
Samuel Sous Chef Dufresne
Samuel Sous Chef Dufresne To all the ppl that's been bashing on windows phone and products, can go suck it...can't wait for this release
Christina Elena Amaya
Christina Elena Amaya I'm looking forward to Win 8 release
Niko Ylä-Poikelus
Niko Ylä-Poikelus Wow, I can't wait for Nokia to bring out tablets and smart phones with Windows (Phone) 8... It'll be interesting...
Arvydas Grušeckas
Arvydas Grušeckas Yes :)
Eric Stephon Mitchell
Eric Stephon Mitchell Microsoft is the only one who knows what a tablet is. Lol.
Andrade Victor
Andrade Victor I can see what they are trying to do, it seems the concept is ther but somthing doset feel quite right just yet...
Cathy Dornbos
Cathy Dornbos would love an ipad but cant afford so my husband bought me a nook color for christmas last yr:)
Dwayne Demaurivert
Dwayne Demaurivert Probably
Prabhath Jay
Prabhath Jay most ppl here cant afford an iPad.. few people hav tablets.. so ppl get mid range android devices and frgt about tablts and iPads..
Enrique Pascual
Enrique Pascual Going to have to wait and see. Never been a fan of Windows.
William Hall
William Hall Oh yeah!!!
Chase Millar
Chase Millar I already have that phone and I broke it twice...
Sonny Waraich
Sonny Waraich Yeah.... Nd its gonna be big
Sid Acidic
Sid Acidic of course they know :)
Denis Zahirovic
Denis Zahirovic Yep..
James Matthews
James Matthews Yes they do.




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