Get ready for the Windows 8 tablet avalanche
Apple deserves all the credit in the world for the iPad’s runaway success, but the quality of the opposition thus far hasn’t exactly made the job particularly difficult.
Android has scored more misses than hits, while Windows tablets have had to make do with the decidedly touch-unfriendly Windows 7. Well, hold on to your seats, because that’s all about to change, with an insider source claiming as many as a dozen different tablets running the next-gen Windows 8 operating system are set to hit the market in the run-up to Christmas.
Microsoft has largely shot itself in the foot with its tablet strategy so far. The desktop-based Windows 7 simply isn’t built for tablets’ touch-only interfaces and low-power components, while Windows Phone 7 is focused purely on smartphones.
It means any company looking to build a tablet on a Microsoft platform has to wait for Windows 8, which combines the traditional PC underpinnings of Windows with the Metro-style touch interface of Windows Phone 7. And it’s been a long wait.
Finally, though, the end looks to be in sight, and by the sounds of things we’re in for an avalanche of Windows 8 tablet action in time for the holiday season.
An unnamed insider source quoted by US technology site CNET reckons a dozen varieties of Windows 8 tablets will launch in November, and more than half of them will be hybrid or convertible devices that combine elements of both tablets and laptops, such as an all-touch tablet with a slide-out or dock-style keyboard.
There’s no denying that Microsoft is arriving painfully late at the tablet party, but there is one point that could count strongly in its favour. While Google’s approach to tablets has been the same as Apple’s, which is that they are mobile devices and should run on a mobile operating system, Microsoft is sticking to the original tablet concept that was the norm before the iPad launched – that tablets are effectively a different form factor of PC, rather than big-screened smartphones.
That’s not to say it’ll be successful, but the hybrid laptop/tablet area is one of the precious few parts of the tablet market that isn’t hopelessly oversubscribed, and with the slick Metro interface, new low-power Intel processors and the might of some of the biggest PC builders on its side, Microsoft and Windows 8 could be in for a surprisingly merry Christmas.