Windows 8 Will Lose To iOS Because Microsoft Just Can’t Let The Past Go [Opinion]

When it comes to mobile, Microsoft has been caught with its pants down twice in the last four years.

The first time was when the original iPhone completely turned the smartphone industry upside down overnight back in 2007. Microsoft was so slow to respond that by the time they released their first true touch-based operating system, Windows Phone 7, in November of last year, they had gone from a dominant player in the smartphone market to losing almost all of their market share.

Before Microsoft could even get Windows Phone 7 out the door, though, it happened again. Apple released the iPad in 2010, and this time, iOS didn’t just revolutionize smartphones… it attacked the very foundations of Microsoft’s Windows empire itself, cannibalizing laptop sales and utterly destroying the netbook market.

The iPad is a huge threat to Microsoft, and they know it. They need to get something out the door as soon as possible that will convince people used to cheap notebooks and netbooks that they can have all the benefits of a tablet without switching away from Windows.

That solution? Windows 8, which will have different interfaces designed for both tablets and PCs. Microsoft has just shown off Windows 8’s tablet functionality for the first time in a new video, and it looks good… so good that a couple of its features are enough to make an iPad user envious.

As you can see in the video embedded above, Microsoft has taken Windows Phone 7’s Metro UI and applied it to Windows 8 for tablet use. The major distinction between Metro and iOS is the way it handles apps on the home screen: while iOS deploys simple icons that can only be updated with the use of a numeric badge, Metro tiles are widgets that operate as icons. For example, a weather app under Windows 8 could display the day’s weather forecast on the homescreen: tap the tile and it would drill down to a more fully-functioning app.

It’s a great system, one in which Windows Phone 7 (and Windows 8) clearly have the advantage over iOS. Apple’s operating system simply has nothing like this… but the operative word is “yet.” Numerous rumors have popped up over the last few weeks suggesting that a big change coming to iOS 5 is widget support. If these rumors pan out, the advantage of the Metro UI over iOS might be obviated as soon as next week.

Another fantastic feature shown off by the Windows 8 design team is the ability to run two Windows 8 apps side-by-side using the Metro UI. The way Microsoft has gone about accomplishing this is really elegant. Normally when you use Windows 8’s touch interface, you can quickly switch between fullscreen apps by swiping left or right with your thumb. If you only half swipe, then hold, though, you can show two apps side-by-side on one display.

At first blush, Windows 8’s ability to snap apps next to each other seems just brilliant. After all, as nice as multitasking under iOS is, it’s only half the picture without being able to display two separate apps side by side. This isn’t an issue on the iPhone, but it’s an ability writers sorely miss when working on the iPad.

There are battery life concerns with running two apps side-by-side, of course, but ultimately, these would probably be minimal if Apple chose to adopt the system. Most iOS apps are not particularly battery intensive, and the apps that are — video apps, or advanced games like Infinity Blade — aren’t exactly the sort of programs people would tend to run side-by-side. Surfing the web while also watching a video on your iPad isn’t going to be that much more power intensive than just watching a video. Even if that is an issue, Apple could even provide a developer flag that tells the operating system whether or not an iOS app can run half-screen, eliminating the problem.

We’ve heard no rumors that iOS 5 will feature the ability to run side-by-side apps, but it’s possible Apple could introduce such a feature in iOS 6. It’s a good idea. The problem with Windows 8’s side-by-side approach, though, isn’t the functionality… it’s the philosophy behind it.

Microsoft wants Windows 8 to be all things to all people. They want it to run on tablets. They want it to run on PCs. They want it to run on Intel processors. They want it to run on ARM. They want you to be able to use the tablet interface on a PC. They want you to be able to run PC software on a tablet. They want apps to run fullscreen. They want them to run in windows. They want Windows 8 to be an ecosystem for the cutting-edge in mobile apps. They want Windows 8 to be backwards compatible back to Windows 95.

It’s just too much, and all it’s going to result in is user confusion. Want to buy a tablet with long battery life? Make sure to buy a Windows 8 tablet with an ARM chip… unless you want to run software made for Intel chips, in which case you’ll have to buy a tablet with an X86 core. With Windows 8, Microsoft is going to fragment their own operating system in a way that won’t be intuitive or understandable to 90% of tablet buyers.

Apple understood the perils of this from the start. That’s why the iPhone and iPad don’t run OS X. They instead have a rich operating system built from the ground up to expertly leverage the distinct advantages of a touchscreen form factor. It’s a strategy that has paid off for Apple to the tune of replacing Microsoft as the biggest and most valuable company in tech.

Microsoft’s stuck in the past. They’re still thinking in terms of being all things to all men, but the jack of all trades is the master of none. Our first glimpse at Windows 8 is impressive, but at the end of the day, it’s just a desktop operating system running on a tablet, and it’s small advantages in UI are flourishes that Apple might easily counter as soon as next week’s WWDC, making iOS just as capable as Windows 8… without 16 years of legacy gunk gumming up the works.

  • Matt Wood

    A bit of a stretch to suggest that iOS will be ‘just as capable as Windows 8′ by next week. Come back when an iOS device can transcode video, act as a server, facilitate web development or even suffice for plain Word/Excel productivity work.

    It’s easy to criticise Microsoft’s approach, but Microsoft is bound to consider plenty of usage scenarios that Apple can currently forget about with iOS. Apple will also face these challenges as the markets continue to converge.

  • Creul

    You mean mircosoft are still around? i thought the world was now run my Apple :p i dont even know why they are trying to run a PC OS on mobile devices, its sure to fail as vista did 

  • brownlee

    Why would a tablet need to work as a server or transcode video? That’s absurd. That’s what a PC is for. Microsoft is not bound by these “usage scenarios.” They just think they are.

  • Matt Wood

    That’s the entire point – Windows 8 needs to run on tablets AND traditional PCs, so Microsoft has to consider BOTH sets of usage scenarios!

  • Morialkar

    I think you forgot one thing in your article, all apps and programs will be working on both ARM & X86, and ARM will be, if i am right, the only architecture for tablets, while x86 will be for computer. Anyway, most people look at number, not where it come from, so they will see better battery life and won’t care whether it’s ARM or X86, because they just won’t know it exist

  • Patrick S

    Microsoft keeps trying to scale down their desktop os, wile apple and google scaled up their mobile os. I think Microsoft should have been working on a tablet version of windows phone 7. 

    Steve Jobs gave that famous analogy of desktops as trucks and tablets as cars, I think thats absolutely true. I don’t think most people need the richness of OSX or Windows 7. the vast majority of consumers just want to surf the web and check email. those of us who do real work on our computers can buy an imac.

  • Alistair H.

    I know this is ‘cult of mac’ so you’re somehow obliged to criticize Microsoft…but actually this new touch interface is amazing. Let’s hope it will work as it should, and we’ll get an amazing new UI.

  • Patrick S

    there are already windows tablets running on x86, and your mistaken about legacy programs running on arm. when apple transitioned from powerpc to intel they had rosetta but Microsoft plans no such bridge. programs and apps will have to be re-written or at least re-compiled for arm.

  • Prabhakar Siddhant

    and what about the point that they are using open standards rather than their own platforms(.net to say) and primarily if they want to focus on tablets they are still insisting on running the whole windows rather than saving memory and resources and deploying a tablet specific interface(OS). so sucks for me but the side by side feature is brilliant

  • Don

    Nice article John …

  • R.W. Elti

    I agree, and I’m glad you give credit where it’s due on the good parts of the demo.

    IMHO most people will have a desktop if they need to transcode video or be a web server or author Illustrator documents.  And they’ll have a tablet for couch surfing, bedside table, travel, etc.

    The tablet does not need full PC functionality. To me it’s absurd to expect to do fine work with your finger on a tablet. Give me good core stuff: Netflix, web browser, email, DropBox, music, ssh, a few games, movies, screen-sharing client, etc.  In other words give me an iPad as it already works today.

  • Dwayne_Chapman

    Transcoding video, acting as a server, and all that other stuff is not why people buy tablets. All that stuff being available on a tablet will not make it a huge seller. You don’t buy a desktop computer to take on a cross country flight to watch movies and you don’t buy a tablet to do stuff like web development or transcoding video. Apple knows this and they’ve sold millions of iPads knowing this. Plus at this point Windows 8 has no eta but iOS 5 will be here shortly.

  • besweeet

    I think that their approach is great. Gives the users more choices. Should Windows 8 tablets perform well and have good battery life, then it’ll be amazing. By the time they’re actually released, I’m sure they’ll be capable of those things. I find nothing wrong with running tablet apps and desktop apps on the same machine. Will be nice. Can’t wait.

  • gnomehole

    I actually think the author points out how nice it is but then does a good job of showing everyone the reality of whats behind that shiny new touch interface.

    Users that fall for that will end up with a turd of a tablet that sits on a shelf and they will wonder why the iPad was so hyped up.     This will happen because so many still feel Microsoft is the company it was a decade or more ago.

    Microsoft is adding visual effects to old operating systems and Office packages and making money over and over again.   Putting some polish on top of Windows 7 which we all see doesn’t work well on a tablet is just shining up a turd.

  • B066Y

    No, Windows 8 does not need to run on tablets AND traditional PCs. That’s the entire point. Microsoft would be better off seperating their mobile and desktop OS completely the way Apple has done.

  • JoeBin

    Microsoft’s track record speaks for itself. Their end product OS’s have had their key innovative features dropped or half-baked. Some of their features that made it out didn’t even catch on with consumers (remember “Squirting?”) Just Google videos of when MS previewed Longhorn, Zune, Windows 7, etc. and look at all the cool features they showed off that, in the end, never really happened in the consumer’s hands like it did in the preview. 

  • WVMikeP

    Yeah, you try and use that desktop app on a touch screen.  You know, Excel, with its tiny UI elements scaled for a mouse cursor as you try to stab at it with your sausage-shaped finger…

    Microsoft is a feature list-driven company.  Apple’s a user experience-driven company.  One knows how to design human-usable UIs.  The other is Microsoft.

  • Alexander530

    Looks nice, but cumbersome. Let’s just face it. Our brain could not function well processing two tasks at the same time. Like watching a movie to the right of your screen and tweeting to the left. Our brains do better processing one task at a time. With that said, if I’m watching a movie on my ipad and suddenly remember that I need to post an update on twitter, I’m better off pausing the movie, open my twitter app to post an update, and then go back to my movie. That way I can fully give my undivided attention to a task at hand and avoid making mistakes that I might regret.

  • brownlee

    Thanks!

  • brownlee

    Legacy programs won’t work under ARM. In fact, as I recall, Intel and Microsoft have said as much.

  • Don Pope

    Yes, that’s why multitasking operating systems never caught on. /s

  • bplano

    I agree. Microsoft did something totally new with WP7 because they knew their old platform was crap. And it’s honestly my favorite phone OS. It’s not all about the apps necessarily – it’s about the people who USE the apps, moreso. I like all the personal integration and whatnot. It’s good stuff.

  • Mathias Grelck Johnsen

    Well, that’s not true. As an example this would be great in educational context. Image being a non-native english speaker who just bought an iPad. For them, a dictionary in dual-screen with apps written in english would be very handy. (After all, only a few apps out of the 400k exists in foreign languages) AND it would be very handy to have when writing e-mail or essays where quotation from books/websites is often needed. 

  • Rigogibson

    There are a few really nice ideas here, but the problem is that Windows 8 will be on every PC / Tablet / whatever- sold, just like 7 is.  Why is this an issue?  How many of you have a parent and or grandparent that wants to buy a computer and relies on you to teach them?  I honestly got a little confused when the start button showed up, and it almost looks like this “mobile” part of the OS should be the secondary, not the main feature of the OS.  Microsoft just does not understand SIMPLE, they can’t figure it out.  It’s simple when all your devices run the same OS, it helps developers out, but this just isn’t the right kind of simple that most of us are looking for in our GUIs.  If they made the mobile stuff much like apple has done with widgets, or something like this, then I think they may have something interesting, but until then it’s just Microsoft trying to out do Apple and failing at it.

  • Mike Rathjen

    Windows 8 will be an automatic success just like Windows 7, Vista, XP, 98, 95, etc. (Yes, despite the bad press, Vista was a success).

    Windows is an automatic success because every damn PC sold in the world comes with it for free. Until that fact changes, Windows will always be successful.

    And no, iPads are NOT replacing PCs. What’s the first thing you do with a new iPad? YOU ACTIVATE IT ON YOUR PC.

  • Matt Wood

    Where in my posts did I suggest that tablets capable of transcoding video were a good idea? What I said was that Windows 8 must be capable of doing it.

    A tablet is a device for consuming content. A PC is also a device for creating content. Hitting both of those markets simultaneously is the challenge MS faces with Windows 8.

  • DrM47145

    You’ve got it Brownlee. Good analysis. 

    It was about time to write something serious man!

  • Griff

    You forgot Windows Millennium.

  • blueleaves

    If I understand things, they have a nice new shiny UI – and application look – that co-exists with the traditional UI and application look. If so, that’s crazy.

    What they should surely be doing is… Basically what Apple’s doing. Leaving the tablet UI to be touch based only and only allowing touch based apps onto it. No WIMP apps.

    And then they should graft on some of the Metro goodness onto traditional Windows.

    Oh no…. Another Windows carcrash approaches, anyway. Great.

  • Sean Liu

    Fortunately Windows 7 isn’t turd-like at all. I do think that merging the WP7 interface with the Windows 7 is kind of weird. It would be like running iOS and OSX together.

  • Sean Liu

    On the contrary, WP7 is an excellent smartphone OS. but I agree that trying to run legacy desktop apps on tablets is a bad idea.

  • Sean Liu

    Except most people do need a desktop OS at the end of the day, because mobile OS are not quite there yet. and iMacs are $1200+, so not the greatest example

  • Sean Liu

    Do you not understand how sarcasm works?

  • Sean Liu

    agreee

  • Sean Liu

    forgot your /s

  • Barbara

    You totally missed it dude. You DID say that. Re-read your original post. Then read the replies. Try thinking outside of the Windows box and understand that what’s needed is an OS that works on a tablet and an OS that works on a PC. There’s no reason that they can’t be developed separately while having similar elements… other than the corporate climate at Microsoft. They keep digging themselves into ever deeper holes and then saying how nicely the hole is lined with really attractive stones and layers of earth and you should join them down there.

  • Arne Helseth

    It doesn’t _need_ to, but it makes sense.

    Microsoft, currently, has Windows 7 (“proper”) and Windows CE. They both do pretty much the same thing, it’s an operating system after all. The major difference between them is that one runs on Intel architecture (x86/x64 – and previously also Alpha, MIPS and PowerPC) whereas the other runs on ARM.

    The OS has little to do with the UX. Once Windows “proper” runs on ARM it makes no sense at all for Microsoft to continue supporting and allocating resources towards the development of Windows CE.

    As they showed at All Things Digital they currently have two UIs in Windows 8. One being the all too familiar Windows UI and the other being targetted towards slates/touch. Sure, you can jump into the standard desktop UI from a slate but I see that as an added extra rather than a “problem”. Being able to jump into a “legacy” application from my couch using a tablet would be great – not that it’s something I often yearn for, but it has happened.

    I expect Windows Phone will also be moved over to Windows 8 along with WP Apollo. This is a move that would have no effect on the ecosystem as such and existing apps for WP would be fully compatible with WP Apollo because it’s all written in managed code.

    The point is, maintaining one operating system demands a lot less money and resources than maintaining two. Even maintaining once OS with three or four UXes would be less demanding than two fulle separate OSes. BTW, iOS is, AFAIK built on the same core as Apple’s desktop OSes but rather than having a single modular OS they now have a “branch”, just like Windows vs CE.

    I expect great things ahead. All that’s really left is for them to include SL support on the Xbox and they’ll have all screens covered. Microsoft may have been viewed as a big “softie” with little direction as of late (past decade) but now that the antitrust decree has ended I, as a competitor, be very afraid. They seem to be lining up all their ducks at the moment and we know how that’s worked out in the past.

  • TroyGates

    To think that Office will keep its same interface is idiocy. There have already been leaks of the next Office release with the same Metro interface. It will work with touch just as Windows 8 will.

  • OS2toMAC

    Personally, I think the UI is a bit cluttered, particularly for a Desktop.

  • TroyGates

    I am an architect and I run several apps at once while I work. I usually have my design software open on one monitor and IM/Social Apps, Email, and a movie playing on another monitor. I have them all showing all the time and use them all at the same time. I know many people that run multiple monitors with multiple apps all running at the same time.

  • Matt Wood

    No, I did not say that. I said that until iOS can perform the more advanced tasks I mentioned, it won’t be true to say that it’s “as capable as Windows”. At no point did I suggest that this was a good idea! I thought it was obvious that a tablet will never need to transcode video or serve web pages.

    I suggest that you are reading things into my post because it doesn’t conform to your anti-Microsoft viewpoint.

  • Cale Johnson

    iOS is a form of OS X, just go back and watch the keynote from 2007 when they announced the first iPhone. But it is built specifically for the iPhone and iPad, and not just a scaled or watered down version of OS X like Windows 8 will end up being.

  • loopster82

    this article hit the nail perfectly on the head..the metro design is looks fantastic in the tablet form but why in the hell dd microsoft build it over top the old and non-touch friendly windows os instead of building it fom the ground up..and dont give me the backwards compatibility argument either because we have heard enough of that. metro and windows phone was a fantastic concept but a little late to the game therfore it didnt catch fire with developers like it should have..this is their chance to really get their foot in the door….ditch the damn windows subsytem already!

  • Patrick S

    Most consumers are like my parents, they will never do high end video editing, design, programing, or anything that requires the power of a desktop os. a tablet is fine for most people. For content consumption its going to be light mobile operating systems like ios and android/chrome, for content creation its going to be Mac OSX. 

    I give the imac as an example as a real computer, one serious people use for real work. I’m a designer so by real work I don’t mean editing text, I mean large scale pre-press. the imac was a great example for my point, it has an operating system and hardware capable of handling powerful applications and multitasking those. try running aftereffects, photoshop, illustrator and premiere on any system less than $1000 (or any pc of any price to that matter) and be prepared to be disappointed. 

  • Truthhz

    Choice is a good thing. If you only want to play Angry Birds and use app store, you never have to see the Windows desktop at all. If you need to do real work, Excel and Visio are available also. Microsoft using HTML5 and javascript for apps is also a great move. Developers will easily be able to create apps for Windows 8.

  • Proof reader

    In the last paragraph: “and it’s small advantages”: no apostrophe needed!!!

  • www.onlybestgame.com

    Seems like alot of critique on the latest Windows 8… why don’t we wait for more details about the Windows 8, then only critique about it?

  • jasongw

    I hate to break this to you, but Windows Phone 7′s metro UI is head and shoulders above iOS in terms of usability. It’s faster, presents more information in a useful way via Live Tiles without the need to launch an app, and is overall a vastly superior experience.

    How do I know? Because I was an iPhone fanboy for nearly 3 years, and on the day I went to get my new iPhone 4, I played for awhile with the Samsung Focus while I waited for the clerk to fetch me an iPhone 4. When he finally came back from the evidently cavernous depths of AT&T’s stock room, I sent him back in–to get my new Focus.

    WP7 is new, it’s shiny, and it’s missing some minor features that it’ll shortly receive with the Mango update. But even with those few missing features, the interface and OS are a DELIGHT to use. By way of comparison, iOS looks stale and antiquated, and that’s how its usability is, too.

  • jasongw

    Nonsense. I use the full Adobe suite including CS5 versions of Photoshop, Premiere and Illustrator on a regular basis. I also do 3D modeling and animation with Maya, and I do it all on a Windows 7 system I hand-built for about $500. It includes a quad core processor, 8GB of memory, 500GB hard drives in RAID 0, a 1TB storage drive and a Geforce GTX460 768MB. It runs all these apps fast–far faster than my $1200 Macbook Pro (October 2010).

    I wholly agree that a “consumption” device is fine for most people–but to claim that one can’t do real work on a Windows 7 PC is simply dishonest, ignorant, or both.

  • jasongw

    Your point is wrong. Windows DOES need to run on multiple kinds of devices, because CONSUMERS are using multiple kinds of devices. In order to maintain and/or grow their market share (still well over 80% compared to Apple’s less than 10%, I’ll add) they NEED to put Windows onto other devices. It’s clear that simply shoving an existing OS with a desktop interface into a tablet form factor isn’t a great idea. What IS a great idea is the Metro UI, which is currently the best touch-centered user interface on the market.

    When I got my hands on WP7 for the first time, waiting to buy my iPhone 4, I knew clearly that I’d found the future of UI’s. iOS is archaic by comparison.

  • jasongw

    Actually, tablets capable of transcoding video IS a good idea, as there will be cases where people have video on a tablet that isn’t natively playable on their network-connected TV, Xbox, PS3, what-have-you, and transcoding and transmitting via DLNA will be a terrific way to do that.

    And please, as much as I love my iPad, it’s no threat to the PC, not by a country mile. iPad last year sold about 15 million units. PC’s sold well over 200 million units, approaching 300 million.

  • jasongw

    Actually there are many reasons why they should ultimately be the same OS on both tablet and PC. 

    First, it’s more cost effective to build a single OS. 

    Second, it’s better for consumers, who can expect a consistent UI and experience across their devices. 

    Third, it’s better for developers, who can sell across a broader range of hardware without needing to recompile and redevelop the same app over and over again, thanks to managed code.

    When you could always guarantee that portable hardware was massively weak compared to desktop hardware, it made more sense. But the days when portable hardware has more than enough grunt to do heavy lifting are now upon us, and the pace is accelerating. Microsoft is making the right move here.

  • jasongw

    How about a tablet that’s powerful enough you can pick it up and take it with you–use it for your consumer stuff–then dock it at your desk and use it for “heavy lifting” work–then dock it in a laptop shell and take it with you on vacation, to work–whatever.

    Your argument rests on a false premise: that tablet hardware will never be powerful enough to do real work. The day when those processors are heavy lifters are on our doorstep already. Tegra 3 and similar ARM based quad core CPU’s with 4-12 core GPU’s are the first of truly powerful mobile hardware.

  • jasongw

    They’ve been pretty clear that the “desktop” OS portion is being revised to be finger friendly as well. Ditching the Windows subsystems would be a mistake, however–much of MS’s business is in the Enterprise, which relies on those subsystems.

    Ditching those systems isn’t what needs to happen, optimizing the code is. MS has already been doing that very aggressively–Win7 is smaller, lighter and faster than Win Vista was, and they’ve said clearly that Windows 8 will have the same or *lower* requirements as 7. You can expect an even more aggressively streamlined experience.

    And hey–if indeed they offer no way to use x86/x64 apps on ARM versions of Win8, you’ll never have to worry about it anyway, as you’ll always work with native ARM apps :)

  • jasongw

    As someone who switched to WP7 from iPhone, I’ll tell you that MS understands simple far, FAR better than Apple does. You’re confusing “simple” with “limited”. The Metro UI of Windows Phone 7, which is what you’ll have by default in Windows 8, is far simpler than any other OS I’ve ever used (and as a 15 year Systems Engineer, I’ve used MANY), far more intuitive and far faster at getting the tasks I need to do, done.

    You don’t understand their new UI yet. If you want to learn, go spend an hour with a Samsung Focus and really play with it. You’ll have it mastered in 10 minutes and know where all the settings are in 15 :). And unlike iPhone or iPad (I own an iPad and was a 2+ year iPhone junkie), you don’t need to plug it into a PC to activate it.

  • jasongw

    Impossible, PC’s can’t do that. Only Mac! Only MAC! :) 

    /facetiousness :)

  • jasongw

    Reposted for your benefit:

    Actually, tablets capable of transcoding video IS a good idea, as there will increasingly be cases where people have video on a tablet that isn’t natively playable on their network-connected TV, Xbox, PS3, what-have-you, and transcoding and transmitting via DLNA will be a terrific way to do that.
    You’re assuming that your perceived lack of need to do X translates to “Nobody will ever need to do X, because I don’t!”–and that’s a mistake :)

  • tszheichoi

    I have to admit the “Tile UI” is very attractive. I think this will work great on a tablet, but not ready for a full featured computer yet. 

  • Sirius Lee

    Software written for Windows 15 years ago still works today.  Backward compatibility is a major part of what Microsoft offers and why it is going no where any time soon.  I develop for Windows and various flavors of Linux (in itself an issue) and its inconceivable that I’ll be able to run existing code on new distributions. 

    Backward compatibility is a huge asset because retail and corporate purchases can be amortized over a long period increasing the ROI.  While it may slow Windows down it remains to be seen if any of the investment individuals and corporations make in Apple platforms will be earning their keep in 10 years time or whether the  such investments will have to be written off after only a few years and the ROI revised down..

  • Chemass

    No-one forgets Windows ME. We just choose to ignore it!

  • Chemass

    No-one forgets Windows ME. We just choose to ignore it!

  • Patrick S

    At all the design firms I have worked for or even been to have used exclusively macs. When your doing high end creative content, its much faster and more productive to use OSX, thats not just me thats the whole design industry. Wile photoshop may *run on windows 7, its only really photoshop on a mac. have you ever tried to color calibrate a monitor in windows, your not even going to get an idea of what pantones are going to print. 

  • James Wallis Martin

    Thanks for reminding, now I am having bad flashbacks to Windows B.O.B., clippy, Win CE (which made me wince), and Win NT :-P

  • mtcoder

    you know what you get with windows CE, ME, and NT right? CEMENT. Man that joke still good even today. Noting I am windows fan. Those were just horrible. lol

  • trp

    The one hope MS has is to build OSs in which the same codebase can run across multiple platforms.  For all of its drawbacks, they have an excellent development platform in .NET.  If developers like me can develop a code base that can run across a desktop, browser, server, tablet, and phone, where the developer just needs to build UIs for the different platforms, that would provide the one compelling reason for people to go Windows, i.e. let me use my (custom developed) work app from home on my tablet.
    IPad/IPhone is a consumer electronics device, and is good enough that no one is going to knock it off its perch.  Android is established as a lower-end, but still very good, device for people who don’t want to pay the Apple premium.  The only way to get people to use Windows is to make it an ‘enterprise’ OS; this means allowing interoperability.  Working on other form factors is not a drawback for Windows, it is its one major selling point.  

  • Jamiemurray2004

    wow, how evangelical can you get…

  • Stephanos

    Microsoft has recently been devleoping the WPF foundation technology based on the .NET technology. This should allow (at least simplify) the software developors to easily develop such applications.
    While Apple is not prepared for it (Apple does not have any equivalent technologies of .NET or WPF), Microsoft is.

  • Code Bozo

    You Apple fanboys are dreaming.  You love to tout the market share that Apple has with products like the iPhone.  What about Microsoft’s desktop market share?

    Let’s see, OS X + iOS + Linux = 10%.  I wonder who has the other 90%.

    You people are smoking some stuff that I want if you think that market share will just suddenly disappear.

  • oolong2

    Transcoding video, acting as a server, and many many many other tasks are not why people are buying tablets TODAY.  But it’s inevitiable that people will want to do these things tomorrow.

    This is not really new… Windows Media Center has been an insanely popular touch interface amoung people that use their PCs for consuming videos, blu ray, etc. HTPCs transcode video, run websevices, multiple video input cards (TV tuners, video capture, etc), even though their primary purpose is to consume content.

    The great thing about Windows 8 is that people will be able to install touch support on their own hardware.   People stuck in the iPad craze really have no clue what the potential is for having a powerful touch interface for tables, walls, cars, etc.

    Furthermore why have two devices when you can have one?  If Apple had the foresight to integrate Mac OS X and iOS they would be penetrating the PC market right now instead of being just a toy…

    The fact is ARM processors are getting insanely powerful these days.  Convergence is happening whether people want to accept it or not.  The chips coming out from NVidia have much more processing power than the  laptop I work on every single day.  I would never get an iOS device to replace my laptop but I would get a Windows 8 tablet in a heartbeat.

  • oolong2

    Yeah but most Americans don’t drive cars or trucks, they drive SUVs because they want the best of both worlds…

    Convergence is happening whether Jobs likes it or not.  

    If there is anything to learn from Android or Mac vs Windows.  Is that there is no one size fits all…   All things being equal flexability will always wins out over specialization. 

    Sure most people don’t NEED everything that Windows or Android offers…  However the flexability of the OS means many more form factors and many more choices in the marketplace.  As welll as something that businesses and power users can fit to their own needs.

  • Jeroen Bakker

    Having the same codebase run on Windows Phone 7, XBOX 360 and Windows PC’s with minimal changes is already possible. Microsoft has the .NET Framework for this. They also have Visual Studio which one of the finest IDE’s available . And there are tons of professional developers who already have experience with both. So having the same app running on both a tablet and a PC is not that much of a problem.
    There may be some confusion when having different processors, but they can catch that in the Marketplace and only show compatible apps for download. I think a new version of Office will be compiled into versions which support both Intel and ARM, just like I can install my good old StarCraft on both Mac OS and Windows. I suppose we all agree that in the near future most desktops apps will be sold through such App Stores or marketplaces. I think this fragmentation is much less worse than for example the Android fragmentation. And still does that keeps down Android sales. Most non tech people do not even know the term and if they can run their favorite application they are happy. How many Twitter clients or calendar apps does one need on a phone??I like the tiles. mostly I just use a limited number of apps and they can all be in the first tileset just like the websites I visit most are all shown in Chrome. Widgets are really cool in Android and can be handy in Windows 7, so I am sure iOS powered device owners will be happy with them.I recently had my first chance to play with a WP7 device and I have to admit it all is very simple and logical. At first glance I might even prefer it to my Android phone.Being backwards compatible is very important for companies who might have legacy software. This is something which a lot of people seem to underestimate.I also like the emphasis on HTML5 and JavaScript. This is the future. Wasn’t it Steve Jobs who said HTML5 applications would become big during the release of the first iPhone. I consider the whole (local installed) apps thing a step between yesterday and tomorrow.And Chrome OS, for the same money you have a low end laptop with Windows or Linux on it which allows not only to store things on you own HDD, but als has more capabilities than a Chromebook. And if you want to use Chrome apps, you can just use the Chrome browser like I do. In my language we have a saying: ‘There are many roads to Rome’.  I think the writer of this article is a bit blinded by his love for Apple and thinks that the Apple way is the only way… Attack is the best defense, but to go into defense you have to feel threatened, don’t you? ;-)Makes me think about how Apple started, remember how they where the first then like they are now. And remember how it all fell down. Don’t get me wrong, I think there should be options for consumers (which means more competition, which means lower prices) and I think there is a place for WP7, iPhone and Android. Hell, even for RIM.

  • CSX321

    Isn’t Apple basically planning to do the same thing?
    http://gizmodo.com/5808238/wha

  • arvindsg

    Contrary to popular belief – Seattle and New York are not the only places on earth using computational devices. There’s a big world that uses a bunch of different OS’s (including Linux)! There are too many people using Windows and will continue using Windows and will not be switching to an ‘iPad’ in the near future.

    There are BRILLIANT scenarios for an iPad – but trust me the number of usage scenarios for any device with an OS are many MANY more! Windows basically tries to (and does) attack about 10 times more of these cases than any specialized OS does. I’m not a die-hard any fan..and yes tackling too many scenarios is usually not so great for ANY scenario – but really? We’re gonna be so ignorant as to compare a large use-case OS to a special scenario OS? Please!

  • Jon Peterson

    This may be just a little bit of confusion on my part… but I got the impression that the whole ( x86 | ARM ) compatibility thing was designed to be executed a little bit more intelligently than that… with hardware manufacturers able to design systems with both types of hardware available, and Win8 able to switch between the two on the fly as needed.

    I really don’t see the type of fragmentation you’re imagining being totally overlooked by Microsoft. They’ve made bad calls in the past, yes… but that’s just too blatantly obvious to have been missed/ignored.

  • Mike M

    God, this debate is looking like today’s Dilbert…

    And then there is the classic:  http://xkcd.com/386/

  • Dmax

    URFOS.

  • Advocate4Liberty

    Don’t forget that about a million times the number of developers working on Window apps vs Apple apps. So, yes, while I can still run a program developed for Win98 on my Windows 7 machine, I also have an amazing variety of new software to choose from, along with the price competition – another factor that will continue to relegate Apple to a niche player.

  • jasongw

    No, it’s actually very easy to color calibrate a monitor in Windows. Everything you’re describing is simply a holdover from the 1990′s, when Macs really were better at graphics than PC’s were. With the advent of 3D accelerators, DirectX and OpenGL, that dynamic changed dramatically, and continues to live in the PC’s favor.

    To claim that “Photoshop is only photoshop on a Mac” is simple dishonesty. I use both, and they are functionally *identical*. You can get the same results on either platform. 

    Your view is colored by nostalgia, not facts. Which, hey, is perfectly fine if you’re more conservative of a mindset, which you seem to be.

  • bc3tech

    Lose where? on the PC, where iOs is non-existent? you can’t say Win8 will lose to iOs because the two are built to run across completely different sets of devices. They only intersect on TWO of them. woo.

  • mrchief

    > Apple understood the perils of this from the start. That’s why the iPhone and iPad don’t run OS X.  > They instead have a rich operating system built from the ground up to expertly leverage the > distinct advantages of a touchscreen form factor.

    You really take everything that Apple tells you at face value? iOS is a stripped down version of OS X. 

    The result of having 2 separate OS is the effect that everything that’s good in iOS, needs to be ‘ported’ over to OS X.

    I’m not sure how much you understand about software development, but that strategy is a costly one in the long run.

  • Derek Hauffe

    I completely agree that backwards compatibility is an asset, particularly from cost of development and cost of deployment points of view. One of the unfortunate trade-offs of such long-term backwards compatibility is sacrificing all of the really excellent progress that has been made in the field of interaction design. While it’s nice that all of the old programs still run, it could be arguably much nicer if they were re-written, informed by modern-day interaction design principles.

  • fusebox

    “After all, as nice as multitasking under iOS is,…..”
    ->Multitasking under iOS is not nice, its non existent. Freezing background apps while running foreground app is not multitasking. If anyone were to release a tablet running Windows 3.11, it would do a better job.

    “Apple could introduce such a feature in iOS 6…”
    -> Then iOS 6 will be a retarded OS coz by then other OS will have come up improved or better features, then you will say something similar for iOS 10.

    “With Windows 8, Microsoft is going to fragment their own operating system..”
    ->Fragment??..WTF….Your grandfather (Jobs) made a similar runt about Android last year, now Android 29% market share, compared with Apple’s 27%..and thats the US only, the rest of the world is a disaster for iOS. From what i see fragmented platforms are out performing and out selling iOS.

    “Make sure to buy a Windows 8 tablet with an ARM chip…unless you want to run software made for Intel chips, in which case you’ll have to buy a tablet with an X86 core”
    ->Ever heard of INTEL ATOM? Universal binaries? Emulation? Virtualization?

    “That’s why the iPhone and iPad don’t run OS X. They instead have a rich operating system built from the ground up”
    ->Don’t be an Idiot! iOS is a stripped down version of OSX.
    A company that employs artists and armature programmers (who borrow 90% from opensource code) and makes impotent (but pretty) electronic sculptures is obviously incapable of doing what you fear Microsoft is about to do with windows 8.

  • SpiritualMadMan

    I think they are letting too much of the past go. I still have some Older Apps that won’t run under Win7! I am not a rich man that can go out an buy a new app every time I buy a new PC! In fact some of my favorite older apps have *NO* modern equivalent.

  • BardCoder

    WPF is extremely bloated and weighed down with legacy junk – I do not see this as an advantage at all.

  • mlahero

    Damn that is a nice looking OS. Looks good and light. I personally think this is a sign that Microsoft are changing in a positive direction and I’d much rather have a full blown OS tablet than a stripped down restricted purchase-oriented one.

  • besweeet

    I think that it would depend on the application that one is trying to run. Older games, such as RollerCoaster Tycoon and The Sims would be great on a tablet. Other applications such as Outlook, Chrome, or heck, even iTunes, would be great as well.

  • Les D.

    To the guy who said that the Adobe software runs better on a Mac – I promise you that my Six Core, 8 GB RAM computer runs the Adobe software better than on any Mac out there.  Seriously though, I have owned a Mac, and the PC is a definite match for running such programs.  I liked the Mac, but I still prefer the PC, especially with Windows 7.  Windows 8 looks soooooo nice, and don’t forget, you can go back to the Windows 7 interface at any time if you choose to do so.

  • Jashjhds

    Suck my balls

  • God

    My head just exploded from the incredible bias in this article.

  • God

    How is it weird?

    What is weird about “code once, run everywhere”?
    Why do people think it’s “better” to maintain several versions of essentially the same app?
    Or why do people think it’s “better” to buy several versions of essentially the same app?

    Windows 8 will be the best thing to have hit the market for a long time.  Up until today, I saw NO use for multi-touch tablets. 

    The whole iPad thingy has been nothing but playing around with new ideas.  Sure, you can do some neat things with it, but it is completely useless in an enterprise setting where you actually need to create things instead of consume them.

    People incorrectly call the iPad a laptop killer… Nobody I know actually got rid of his laptop in favor of an ipad (except a few people who had a netbook that was only used to read some blogs and play music).

    Windows 8 however WILL be a ‘laptop killer’.  Reason is simple: it WILL be a laptop AND a tablet.

    Hook up a keyboard/mous, but tablet on stand, switch to desktop UI and BOOM = mini PC.

    Or have a form factor like samsung’s sliding 7… Metro UI in ‘tablet mode’ and desktop UI in ‘laptop mode”.

    How on earth can people NOT see the incredible epicness of this??

  • Guest

    You are kidding, right?

    WPF is junk?  Have you ever even used the technology?
    I’m a software engineer.  I make LOB web applications as well as desktop apps.  Not a hair on my head would even THINK about using anything other then WPF for LOB desktop apps.  It’s complete ownage.

    Only thing that would trump it is C++, but for most LOB applications, that’s just a lot of unnecessary work imo.

    I absolutely ADORE WPF and Silverlight.  XAML is like coding heaven for me.
    It’s elegant, has great performance and the possibilities are simply ridiculously through the roof.

  • God

    I love (and hate at the same time) how arguments against msft products from iFans are from 15 years ago…

    I remember looking at apple’s “10 reasons to switch” and thinking “eum…  you can do all of those things on a windows 98 machine…”.

    It’s even funnier when you realise that most of the time, the arguments you get from iFans are simply repeats or reformulations of 1 or more of those 10 points.

    It truelly is a “cult of mac”.  Cults have a tendency to be irrational.

  • God

    Read your post again.

    It’s pretty obvious that your overall assumption is “I don’t need it, which necessarily means that nobody needs it”.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • God

    Do you have ANY idea how MANY .NET developers are running around out there?
    Do you realise that ANY application build for a windows desktop WILL run on a windows 8 desktop as well as tablet?

    I’m also quite positive that we, as developers, will be able to ask the OS which UI is active.  This means that we can create ONE application and implement 2 different UI’s as well: a touch friendly one and a keyboard/mouse friendly one.

    Contrary to what yuppies want to make you believe, the desktop-laptop-keyboard-mouse is NOT going anywhere.

    And windows 8 simply gives you the best of both worlds.  We will see a LOT more products like Samsung Sliding 7 PC in the future, running windows 8.
    I would even be surprised that the UI will switch automatically when your transform the tablet into a laptop by sliding out the keyboard.

    This is gonna own.  Big time.
    This will finally by a tablet that will be worth the trouble the money.
    The iPad, in reality, is just a very expensive broken computer.

    Windows 8 tablets will be tablets AND laptops in one.

    “Code once – run anywhere” is gonna be the strategy here.  How can you NOT like that?

  • Guest

    Not if they are written in managed code.

  • Keithut

    I love this interface on my Windows Phone 7 – much perfer to iOS. Seems more streamlined.. less trying to remember what page did I place that icon on..etc. Also the clear and easy to read block icons make for much easier finding of apps. The only thing it needs is some of the cool iPhone apps added. But for the most part I have everthing I need, even a copy of MS Office on the phone.  Like Mac stuff, but suspect Microsoft will do what it has always done to Apple – beat them at their own game.

  • emowgli

    Bloated and weighed down with legacy junk? Do you know what are you talking about? It’s true it has a steep learning curve but don’t confuse ‘bloated’ with powerful. Please don’t judge a technology you don’t understand…

  • Hellyeah

    Not gonna happen.

  • Raja Iskandar Shah

    Apple has iP* for the handphone and tablets, and Mac for the desktop and notebooks. 

    I dont understand why Microsoft wants to have a ‘common’ whatever for all platforms.

    And I am on Ubuntu Unity ….. ;p

  • God

    Wheter it really IS a bad idea or not is pretty irrelavent.  What is relevant is having the OPTION to do so.

    And if I have a tablet that I can mount on a stand and plug in a keyboard and mouse, I will LOVE the fact that I will be able to not only run desktop apps, but use a desktop UI.

  • God

    What don’t you understand about “code once, run anywhere”?

  • steve sexauer

    I like MS’s strategy  a lot
    and yeah they’re a little slower ….maybe because they support more vendors than the  mac-Greedy ” I want to make money on everything you do” platform.  Jobs is stalin reincarnated with tech obsession.

  • Guest

    I’m sorry, but Microsoft was never a dominant player in the smartphone market — at least not at the global stage. Back in the old PDA days, the dominant OS was Palm OS and EPOC, then came Symbian that ate up 40%+ of global smartphone market (the rest wast shared among multiple OS vendors). It was once dominant in the US, probably, but never in the world.

  • SeanJA

    You do know that all of the latest Windows are based on Windows NT right?

    Windows 7 is NT 6.1, Vista was 6.0… XP was 5.2…

    Sigh…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W

  • Andre P.

    I’m sorry, but write-once, run everywhere is nothing but a great pipe-dream.  If you want the user experience to take best advantage of the platform it’s running on, you start writing code with that platform in mind.  Think games on PC vs. platform ports and you get the idea.  If that’s too radical, think of how a web application feels when it’s running in full-width, shrunk-down mode on a smartphone.  It’s just not the same running the same program on different platforms.

    Now, if apps could be developed once, deployed to different platforms, and essentially have a different interface optimized for each platform (or platform type), that would be awesome.  Unfortunately, I don’t know of *any* application platforms that do that…yet.

  • Fcoign

    Now (after WWDC) your comment makes no sense; next month you could throw away your Windows PC if you use only it for activate and sync your apple devices. And by the way, Windows is sold, is not for free. All PC makers have to pay every copy of Windows, further more, many people had to pay an additional license of Windows XP and install it instead of Virus Vista.If you don’t believe me, in dell you can get the same PC with Ubuntu and pay around a hundred dollars less that the one with Windows.

  • God

    There is such a thing called “layered application development” where you seperate all the business logic from the GUI layer.  This allows you to write several GUI’s, using the same business logic.

    Not to mention off course that this is the first mobile device that is actually worth it by itself.  It’s a computer on its own that can do both.

    This is exactly what I was waiting for.  I don’t see the need for a gloryfied media player that costs even more then a quad core laptop.

  • Ricardo Santana

    How can you say “it’s too much” ??? LOL
    I can say to iOS: “It’s to limited”

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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