Monday, December 3, 2012

Microsoft Crashes the Tablet Party

Will the recent twin announcements of the Microsoft Surface tablet and Windows 8 be game changers? An early adaptor I spoke with recently was thrilled with both the Surface tablet and the new OS. Certainly Microsoft is late to the touch screen tablet game but the Windows ecosystem and user base are both huge so maybe not too late. If you're not a pioneer, I'd advise waiting on the Surface till more reports are in. It's not likely there's a big penalty for waiting three or four months but a premature wrong decision could be painful. It so often comes down to "can I run Office on my tablet" - a subject I've discussed many times before. In summary you'll never get the full Office experience on a ten inch tablet no matter who makes it.

The reviews of Windows 8 have been universally bad and sales have reportedly been slow although no official numbers have been released by Microsoft. Their stats usually refer to copies delivered to resellers - not sold to customers. It's easy to try out Win8 now since PCs are widely available at electronics stores across the country and most have touch screens as well as a variety of tablet/screen/keyboard configurations. If you absolutely need a new PC and don't find Windows 8 appealing, check with the company before you buy to see what it will take to downgrade to Windows 7. Most new Windows 8 PCs come with advertising apps (bloatware) preinstalled; for a fee you should be able to have them removed.

You might want to check out this Windows 8 Cheatsheet. It's a lengthy discussion of some things you'll need to know as you switch to this significantly different version of Windows. And if you want even more information USA Today compared Lenovo and Toshiba hybrids (laptops with touch screens also called convertibles) running Windows 8 in this review.
In many ways the Surface doesn't seem to be a real threat to Android or Apple tablets since it costs twice as much, is heavier and has half the battery life.

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