Windows 8 Tablet Won’t Replace Your PC

Samsung Windows 8 Developer Preview TabletWindows 8, on the surface, is a dream come true to many people. For the first time ever, Microsoft has created an operating system that will work well on a tablet. The Metro interface and apps built specifically for it are highly optimized for touch interaction, much like the iOS and Android, and not so much for keyboard and mouse.

Windows 8 also makes room for work on legacy Windows software, like Adobe Photoshop, which can’t be done on iOS or Android. The promise is that Windows 8 saves you the trouble by assuming the role of both tablet and desktop operating system and only one device will be needed ultimately.

Alas, it remains a dream.

Legacy Desktop Apps Won’t Run on Tablets

It’s a myth that Windows 8 tablets can double as a desktop PC. While tablets running Windows 8 will have both Metro and desktop interfaces, just like their traditional desktop and laptop counterparts, the Windows 8 running on a tablet is not the same as the one running on traditional PCs.

Microsoft calls it Windows on ARM, or WOA. It’s another version of Windows specifically tailored for the ARM chip architecture, typically found in the core of tablets and mobile phones because of its low power consumption.

For that reason, a majority of upcoming Windows 8 consumer tablets will be powered by ARM chipsets, sporting WOA instead of the full Windows 8. It will be similiar to the Windows Phone platform, with the Metro interface and young App Store.

The desktop interface on WOA will support only a number of apps, including Internet Explorer 10 for desktop and the entire Microsoft Office suite. Core Windows features like File Explorer and Control Panel will also be available, but beyond that, the desktop interface is of no use.

Simply put, you can only use Metro apps on most Windows 8 tablets and not legacy desktop apps like Adobe Photoshop, Chrome and PC games. The joke about Internet Explorer being the number one browser to download other browsers isn’t that funny now, is it?

For the minority of tablets that will run on Windows 8 for x86/64, they’ll mostly be similar to today’s Windows 7 tablets. They will be thick, have a short battery life and expensive. These tablets are usually tailored for enterprise user and a far cry from the current consumer tablet trend.

Why Metro on Traditional Desktop and Laptop?

It makes perfect sense to have Metro on traditional desktop and laptop, if the same operating system is used in tablets too. But that’s not the case. Tablets will run a different, albeit visually similar, version of Windows 8. The tablet experience is not dependent on the operating system running on traditional PCs.

That begs the question: Why force Metro on traditional PCs then, with no option to turn it off? I have said it again and again, the Metro interface is ridiculous for keyboard and mouse. It’s unnatural and definitely not productive.

Instead of offering a full desktop experience on tablets, Microsoft is offering a full Metro experience on desktops and laptops. In the process, Microsoft is changing the way we interact with our PCs.

The start button is gone. You will have to click on the tiny space at the bottom left corner to bring up the Start screen. The shutdown button is now buried under the Settings menu, which can be called up using ‘Charms.’ And to bring up the ‘Charms’, you will have to hover to the top right or bottom right corner of your screen.

There is much to learn transitioning from a pre-Windows 8 PC to Windows 8. Loyal, but non-savvy users will be totally confused and unhappy having to learn a system again that they’ve used for years.

For what, I don’t know.

Photo: Odi Kosmatos

7 Responses to “Windows 8 Tablet Won’t Replace Your PC”

  1. anonymous

    Bad article. You’re talking about just WOA. There will still be Intel based Windows 8 Tablets in which it is said that all Windows 7 Apps will be compatible. Also, you can disable the Metro Start button and go back to the native Start button. So yes, it can act as a desktop replacement.

    • Yes, they will be Windows tablets running on Intel or AMD chips, but they won’t be in the same class as the iPad and most of the Android tablets out there. Just Google for Windows 7 tablets to see how bulky these things are, not to mention the poor battery life. If there isn’t any compromise, Microsoft probably wouldn’t bother coming out with WOA.

      As far as I’m concerned, the only way to bring back the old start menu is by using third party software.

  2. Passive bias article. Look at the w500. I don’t think its bulky at all; and that’s a year old. Don’t you know as technology advances it gets smaller. So to think ARM is going to be the only chip in W8 tabs is ignorant.

    _posted on my w500 running Win 8

  3. What I’m most curious about is how similar the programming will be for the WOA and the desktop environments of Windows 8. If they’re similar enough and the limitations aren’t wildly different, we could easily see a rush of familiar applications for the Windows tablet environment—including Adobe Photoshop, Chrome, and other major apps.

    The move toward an “omnidevice”—the tablet/smartphone/netbook hybrids that we keep seeing from companies like ASUS and Samsung—will also be influenced by WOA. It certainly seems that Microsoft is throwing their chips for betting on the trend toward mobility. My own experience with those omnidevices have showed them as limited, often frustrating devices. The coming years will have some very interesting developments, in any case.

  4. Love how people slap comments together without either reading the article or engaging their brain! What he says is spot on correct. Windows 8 on a proper machine is dire, the doubly neutered (how is such a thing possible? Take it from me, it is!) version for ARM chips is enough of a joke to calm my worry that the jailed world (called windoze 8) $soft is now trying to push onto the masses might catch on.