Feeds

Windows 8 fondleslabs: Microsoft tip-toes through PC-makers' disaster

Winning consumers and influencing content-makers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

2012 should be a landmark year for Microsoft. It will be the year 2011 should have been.

The reason is simple: the company’s play to take on tablet computing should finally hit the road.

Windows 8 will be delivered with an interface that liberates Microsoft’s operating system from the desktop prison of mouse and keyboard and opens it to touch. Windows 8 also ends Microsoft’s decades-old history of x86 monogamy by going with ARM.

Tablets were promised by Microsoft’s chief executive Steve Ballmer this year, when analysts demanded to know what his answer was to the flay-away iPad.

Closely on the heels of “what” was “when”. Ballmer choked at the 2010 analyst meeting and mumbled something about Intel’s Atom Oak Trail processors. Nothing really happened, though - nor could it, given Microsoft’s only operating system in circulation was Windows 7, which had not been built for touchy tablets.

The signs are emerging, however, that Microsoft will kick off the tablet a year early.

Microsoft has only said so far that a Windows 8 beta will hit in “early” 2012; Winrumours, citing unnamed sources, has put that at January. The Next Web claims February - with a RTM (release to manufacturers) of June - although this would be a long RTM period – RTM being the time between final code completion and that code being shipped to PC-makers and channel sellers. The Windows 7 RTM was three months – three months being something of the standard for Microsoft. Mary-Jo Foley, meanwhile, reckons it will happen "after the Consumer Electronics Show."

Next month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, will be critical in discerning whether it will be January, February or sometime later when we should expect Windows 8. CES is critical because it puts Microsoft, Windows 8 and Windows 8 tablets from PC and device manufacturers in the spotlight - for the consumption of gadget-makers, gadget-lovers and tech reporters. It was at CES in this year, after all, where Microsoft dropped the ARM bomb.

Already, it seems, the pieces are being put in place. Dell and Hewlett-Packard are getting over their mid-life crises: the former ending its brief but exciting affair with Google’s Android - the 7-inch Streak, hailed by the gadget press for its glassy coolness, is the latest Android tablet to be yanked by the Texas PC maker. Michael Dell’s company last month pretty much said that it would deliver a Windows 8 tablet. Competitor Hewlett-Packard, meanwhile, is ditching its flirtation with WebOS, and killing the TouchPad, a device it has only been able to shift with hefty price cuts.

DigiTimes reports Samsung Electronics, Sony, Toshiba, Lenovo and Acer have been selected to build ARM-based tablets by the ARM partners that Microsoft is working with.

Shipping the technology is only half the story for Microsoft, however.

Knowing what to ship and then actually having a whole industry of applications for it - and content partners to buy it - is another matter.

If Dell and HP learned anything by blundering into the tablet minefield it was that you can’t just deliver another tablet and think it will sell because Apple proved the market.

The device can’t just look cool, like the Streak, and it can’t just offer the “open internet” by virtue of the fact that it’s capable of playing Flash content.

The iPad succeeded, in part, because it brought a new way of working with apps and with the internet, even if the version of the internet it brought was a walled-garden maintained only by Apple. It offered a compelling way to do existing or new things.

Compelling is relative: it could mean a way to read a book on the go and not lose your page, flipping through the digital-version of the Economist, fragging your best mate in a multi-player war-simulation game, crunching through your operation’s data in its Salesforce application, or watching Harry Potter or re-runs of Buffy.

The iPad is not alone, however, and other unexpected rivals are now branching into the form-factor of field of the tablet established by Apple: for example, Amazon with the Kindle and its Fire browser.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.