Windows 8 Tablets: Premature Consumerization

Gadgets, Microsoft
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People love their iPads. So much so that Apple is selling more tablets than the entire PC industry is “shipping” personal computers.

While Microsoft’s attempt at Windows 8 both in software (Metro) and hardware (Surface RT, Pro) is aimed at bringing Microsoft to the tablet form factor, the story so far seems more like that of netbooks than of any success.

As an owner of a Microsoft Surface RT and Acer W510 Windows 8 tablet I’d like to explain to you not just why “Windows on a tablet” is not something you should ever put in your customers hands given the options you have now.


Simply put, what is out there is garbage.

I love my Acer W510 and it runs full Windows 8 (yes even the Start menu from Star 8) but I’m a geek and I understand that the low powered processor is just a piece of the sacrifice of having a tablet that can run business software and still live the whole day.

Non-geeks and non-IT personnel is not going to put up with Windows that freezes, stalls, swirls it’s balls around the screen endlessly and has the screen quality of a third world $100 PC.

With a minor exception or two, what the OEM channel has put out there is just rushed, cheap and misguided. It seems that OEM world wants to battle with the iPad, and in order to ship a price-comparable tablet they have practically taken a netbook (crappy resolution and cheap plastic to boot) and slammed it into a tablet.

I recently took an iPad mini and a notebook on my vacation through Europe. When Microsoft announced the 8” tablet at WPC I was hoping there was finally something sensible with small size and battery life. Well, here it is:


To say that holding this thing is awkward doesn’t do it justice. It’s horrific.


Microsoft (or Acer) points out that this is the device meant to be used in the portrait mode (held like a book, not sideways / across the lap) – but given the shape, weight and cheapo plastic you kind of need a third hand to deal with this beast.

It’s infuriating – they are after Apple on the price, yet the design is more in line with something my 5 year old kid could have found in his McDonalds happy meal.

To compare this with Apple or even Samsung is like comparing a Lamborghini to a Lamborghini fiberglass replica mounted on a stretched Fiero frame. It looks the part. But it feels like a fraud. And if that’s not bad enough, it also costs more.

In case we’re not friends on Facebook..

My wall, every time I post about yet another Windows 8 gadget, is littered with comments of other consultants who have tried to give a Windows 8 tablet to their customer and had to send it back. Doesn’t matter if it’s Microsoft or Lenovo or Acer – it’s just not ready.

Now I know Ballmer is the kind of “Give it another look” but while that may work for Bing, where people just switch back to Google immediately for free, having to live and endure the pain of a Microsoft experience with Windows 8 is going to burry not just this but the next few attempts Microsoft and others make at a tablet.

Delusion is a powerful thing. Last week Microsoft bragged about being overwhelmed with the demand for Surface RT and Surface Pro – at their own WPC event where they discounted their devices by over 75% – and still didn’t sell out the full 20,000 they brought to their own show. Bet you most of those end up on eBay too, though Microsoft again had the last laugh by announcing the discounting Surface RT the very next day.

I have no doubt that Microsoft will one day figure out the tablet thing. Or the phone thing.

But as George Bush famously attempted to say: Well, you can’t be fooled twice.

As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t feel betrayed by Microsoft at all, they run a business and I’m their partner where we can make money. It’s just that this coordinated destruction of the Microsoft ecosystem is very painful to watch and it’s making the prospect of doing any kind of business with Microsoft a matter of discussion because we have to stand behind the stuff we offer for years and “we’ll fix it in the next release” is something that died last decade. Yes, Acer will fix this, but if you bought a $300 Acer W8 prototype that’s not really good news to you.