Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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Microsoft gives its developers Windows 8 tablets with a taste of Bob

Daniel Eran Dilger

Handing out free tablets was the least Microsoft could do after years of leading its mobile developers down dead ends with Tablet PC, Windows Mobile, Windows Vista, Slate PC and Windows Phone 7. Still, will $500 worth of hardware in the hands of mobile developers forestal the death of Windows any better than it preserved webOS or Android 3.0 Honeycomb?
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There was a time not too long ago that whenever I’d write about the problems facing Microsoft’s Windows I’d get a mix of arrogant hate mail telling me I’m an idiot for even suggesting the idea that Microsoft might ever lose its monopoly position (like, say, how IBM did before it) and also some kindly phrased mail from fans offering some concerned warnings along the lines of “but Dan, if you write crazy things, people will think you are insane!!”

It turns out that my 2004-2008 optimism regarding Apple’s potential versus Microsoft’s was not overstated enough. Apple is now the world’s top tech company and Microsoft is struggling to remain relevant with the promise of another new edition of Windows where everything about its last version of Windows is covered up with an animated web-based distraction layer.

Take out the HTML part, and Windows 8 sounds a lot like Microsoft Bob. This time around however, Microsoft has hired better designers and so Windows 8 now looks as nice as the Zune and Windows Phone 7, two other products that didn’t sell, if you’re keeping track.

Keeping account of the injury

And as long as you’re keeping track, take note of the fact that the Zune, Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 are all knee-jerk reactions by Microsoft to get in on the success of Apple’s iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Other facts to consider: while there are successful smartphones rivaling the iPhone, there was already a vibrant smartphone market predating the iPhone. However, nobody has made a very successful iPod or iPad challenger, both of which defined a new category of device rather than entering a market already full of popular devices with similar feature sets.

The fact that Microsoft has been unable to withstand new competition from the iPhone to its existing Windows Mobile platform, and that it has been completely unsuccessful in gaining any ground back with Windows Phone 7 should set expectations for the company’s ability to muscle into a market where it has never had any success.

Individual Android makers have had some luck in maintaining profitability in smartphones, despite that their individual models are not selling on the level of the iPhone. However, none have delivered a successful tablet. If Microsoft can’t foster platform growth in the smartphone market, how is it going to change things up in the tablet market, an arena far more difficult to compete in?

By leveraging legacy?

Microsoft does have something RIM and WebOS and Android lack: legacy. Windows Enthusiasts are banking on the idea that Microsoft’s Windows platform will allow the company to reach forward into tablets with the solid footing of its prior success with Windows/Office on the desktop.

While this is a nice idea, a core problem is that Microsoft’s legacy is fading. Its efforts to preserve the 90′s Win32 APIs as the sole way to create software have fallen apart. Today, the top way to build apps is pure HTML, something Microsoft vociferously fought from the days of Netscape and Sun through its battle to introduce Silverlight as an Adobe Flash-like alternative to HTML5.

If you want to deliver software on the web, you don’t aim to support Active X or Internet Explorer anymore. And if you aim to reach mobile users, you’re more likely to target iOS than any other platform outside of the web itself.

Microsoft itself is a major developer, but it hasn’t shown much interest in bringing its own Office apps to Windows 8 for tablets. Apple released iWork alongside the first iPad. Why has Microsoft been so slow in seeing any benefit to bring its desktop productivity software monopoly to mobile devices? It’s biggest news of late was in bringing some Office-branded apps to Symbian, something it announced back in 2009, before Symbian was described by Nokia as a burning platform it needed to leap from to stave off death.

By rallying the troops?

The news of Microsoft’s valuable legacy has been greatly exaggerated. But in addition to its technical legacy, Microsoft’s standing as a monopoly empire capable of wielding the forces of global licensees has also crumpled. Who will build Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablets, HP? The world’s largest Windows PC maker is now out of the hardware business, particularly tablets.

Dell? It just partnered with China’s Baidu to sell the Android based Streaks it couldn’t sell over here. Neither company was really on board with Windows Phone 7. Are they going to jump at the opportunity to sell Microsoft’s latest tablet platform? One that doesn’t have any inertia in the market, and no clear potential buyers?

IDC and Gartner keep talking about “media tablets,” a term valued as much for its ability to ignore acknowledgment of iPad as its respectful nod to “non-media tablets.” But the Windows Tablet PCs they hold in such high regard as significant products have, across the last decade, sold fewer units than the iPad has in the last year and a half.

The only moderately valuable legacy Microsoft has left is its army of delusional enthusiasts, but none of those people are actually buying its mobile platform devices in meaningful quantity.

By ignoring reality?

It’s notable that many Mac users expected (and still wish) that Apple’s tablet would run Mac OS X apps. Apple decided to make the iPad a new device exclusively running iOS apps instead. One can see a number of reasons why: Apple wanted to create a new product, not destroy MacBook sales with a more portable competitor.

Apple was also aware of the performance issues that would result from either trying to shoehorn a notebook Intel x86 processor into a tablet, or trying to run a desktop OS on a low power ARM CPU. For the iPad, Apple created an extended iOS experience without document or app windows, without a visible file system, and exclusively multitouch, both to optimize performance and to focus its abilities like a laser on a clear sweet spot of value.

Apple already had a market for $1000-$2500 notebook computers, so the $500 iPad fit well between those and its handheld iPhone and iPods, both in terms of price and performance. Apple set a clear expectation for what the iPad would be good for, and users happily bought it as a tablet, not as a notebook replacement.

One could make the case that Apple did this with the hindsight awareness afforded by the Newton Message Pad. Back in the early 90s, Apple realized that it didn’t want its new Newton OS to directly compete with the Macintosh, so it limited the Newton to being a handheld device. It didn’t realize, however, that people paying over a grand for the Message Pad might expect it to replace their PowerBook entirely, and then be disappointed that it couldn’t.

Apple also hoped, clearly too optimistically, that developers would rush in and create reasons for users to by the MessagePad, rather than painting its own picture of the device’s value. With iPad, Apple released it with strong functionality as a maps and web browser, messaging and organizer device, media player and iWork office apps tool from day one.

Those are all facts Microsoft can’t wish away.

Not to say it isn’t trying. Microsoft seems conspicuously unaware that its Windows PC market has no breathing room between $200 smartphones and $1000 notebooks like Apple has with the iPhone and Mac. Among PCs, there are already $300 netbooks and $400 notebooks and $500 PCs. Where, exactly, is a limited functionality tablet going to fit into this product mix?

While Apple has two very different brands (Mac OS X and iOS) for its very closely related Cocoa-based development APIs, Microsoft is creating one brand (Windows 8) for both desktop/notebooks and tablets. And while it’s a single brand, the technology is not closely related. Windows 7/Win32 apps are completely different from the new Metro-styled apps that will run on tablets, which are based on extended web standards, Chrome OS-style.

Microsoft is therefore creating the suggestion that Windows 8 tablets will be Windows PCs capable of running Windows apps. Consumers will not be happy when the bait and switch is revealed, uncovering the reality that you simply can’t run Windows 7 apps on a low powered ARM device.

Mac users weren’t led to believe the iPad would run Mac apps, and were further aware from the get go that the iPad wouldn’t do everything you might expect of a regular MacBook or even a low end netbook.

Apple took the heat from blog-mobbers over its design decisions, but the result was that people who bought an iPad were happy with what it could do because they weren’t mislead by excessive expectations that it would defy reality and replace their laptop with a $500 device magically delivering blazing desktop speed and four times the battery life.

What about Bob?

Apple set iPad expectations low and then shattered them. Microsoft is setting exponential expectations that will only shatter once these things go on sale. PCs running Windows 8 will need a more expensive touch screen to take advantage of the new Bob-like layer of web graphics. But that’s nothing compared to the disappointment users will experience with Windows 8 tablets, which will only run the new Bob stuff.

Android tablets are being returned to stores at alarmingly high rates by users who think they will serve as a cheap replacement for notebooks. Windows 8 tablets aren’t going to escape that problem; they’re going to fare even worse because “Android” already conveys some notion that the device isn’t going to function like a PC. “Windows 8″ offers the clear impression that a tablet will run Office and Windows Games and custom enterprise apps other reasons people use Windows. But it won’t. It’s Windows Bob and Bob only.

Even worse, while the original Microsoft Bob was simply a graphical layer of crap on top of Windows 95, it could be set aside offering regular access to the Windows environment. Not with Windows 8 Bob on tablets. All you get is Bob. Microsoft should call it Microsoft Zune Web Tablet to set expectations appropriately, but it prefers to use “Windows” as a misinformation brand to trick its users into buying something they will hate.

Windows Vista will look like a wild success compared to Windows 8 on tablets. Windows Phone 7 will look good in comparison. And that’s because, while Microsoft has had some luck earning royalties from Android smartphone makers, it has no potential to extract such payments from Android tablets, because they aren’t selling either.

Windows 8 could shatter the tablet market

The only thing Windows 8 will do for tablets is fragment Apple-haters between Android on one side and Windows on the other, making it all the much easier for Apple to retain control of the tablet market. It will also fragment the efforts of companies like Samsung and HTC that are trying to decide which platform might afford them the least embarrassment.

Microsofts experiments with tablet web-Bob might also generate some optimism behind HP’s somewhat similar but more mature (and shipping!) webOS and Google’s Chrome OS, two other versions of delivering a non-Windows, web-based experience on low power devices.

And so, while Apple largely only faces a single credible competitor in smartphones, it appears there will be multiple disjointed efforts among tablets that prevent any one brand from accumulating enough power to credibly challenge the iPad, even as the iPad credibly challenges the PC market.

Perhaps IDC and Gartner will finally give up their gerrymandering market reports and stop conspicuously ignoring the iPad as a disrupting force among personal computers to flatter Microsoft.

31 comments

1 TheMacAdvocate { 09.13.11 at 12:36 pm }

To illustrate another fragmentation issue Windows 8 will be faced with, the Windows version of the App Store has fields for “supported architecture” including x86, x64, and/or ARM.

Your point about where the tablet fits into the Windows product mix given the race to the bottom Microsoft encouraged through its “Laptop Hunter” ad campaign is an excellent one. Apple had headroom beneath its laptops to segregate its market for the iPad; Microsoft actively helped to screw themselves out of that luxury.

http://themacadvocate.com/2011/09/13/windows-8-the-meh-starts-now/

2 gctwnl { 09.13.11 at 1:40 pm }

Yes, that was an astute insight: there is no room in price point between a $200 smart phone and a $300 netbook.

Micorsoft’s position, especially in large corporations is still strong though and I do not see a lot of weakness. And they have been reasonably innovative in the area of server software (as in MS Dynamics, MS SharePoint) and are doing pretty well there and they do not have a lot of competition there.

With Microsoft, it has always been that there was a product to keep the Windows desktop monopoly running. Initially it was Office. Then it became Outlook/Exchange. These days, it is Exchange/SharePoint/Active Directory.

I’ve for some time have had the feeling that Apple and Microsoft have divided the world between them: Microsoft on the business/server side and Apple on the consumer/end user side. This also fits Apple’s decision to drop server activities mostly. The business end user position of Microsoft is a bit under attack from the iPad though. I.e. today the Dutch Senate revealed that all members are getting an iPad and a special Senate ‘app’. Given that the Dutch parliament is a stronghold for Microsoft use, that is an important step. OTOH, if another tablet platform becomes successful in a few years, switching is easy. Just write one app for another platform.

3 gctwnl { 09.13.11 at 1:41 pm }

I meant “e.g.” and not “i.e.” of course

4 John E { 09.13.11 at 8:02 pm }

looking at the Verge video of the Windows 8 demo, i was struck, first, by what a kitchen-sink mess it was – it can do everything! desktop OS, tablet OS, any peripheral! apples, oranges, and bananas! we say “no” to nothin’! and second, by how much each half of the OS got in the other’s way if you attempt to use both.

if MS really brings this frankenstein to market like this next year, at the same price or more than a comparable iPad, it will be a much more embarrassing flop than the Zune. aside from MS fans and total geeks, no one needs anything like this.

5 FreeRange { 09.13.11 at 8:17 pm }

It is so much fun to watch MSFT squirm under the weight of the crap they have produced, and the harm they have done, over the last few decades. It is reassuring to know that they have become irrelevant in the mobile space, and are bound to remain so. The bloated, buggy overpriced products they continue to serve up will not and can not work on these devices – we can hear the sucking sound as they leave the room.

6 scottkrk { 09.13.11 at 9:35 pm }

I watched the Build keynote and was gob-smacked at what MS is attempting to deliver. If Windows users thought Vista was a cluster-fuck wait till they have Win8 visited upon them. I give MS a little credit for not totally cloning Apples iOS strategy but their attempt to deliver a PC/tablet OS singularity with Win8 will quicken their demise in the shrinking PC business and won’t buy them a place in the tablet market. The contrast between Apple and MS couldn’t be starker, clean and focused vs messy and scattered.

7 hurtle { 09.13.11 at 10:52 pm }

“animated web-based distraction layer.”

perfect description

8 Desperate-Dan { 09.14.11 at 2:41 am }

Daniel, your track record over time is spot on but I think Microsoft might be onto something here (though their usual clumsy execution may muck things up for them).

I would love a MacBook that I could use as a normal full power laptop during the day and then maybe (somehow) swivel away the keyboard to turn it into an iPad type device for casual surfing and games etc… I don’t ever see the need to have the OSX desktop half showing (ahhh!!!!) and sliding between that and iPad though.

One of Jobs great strengths has been keeping things really simple, maybe even too simple for geeks. However geeks massively overstate how tech savvy average people are. Looking at the Win8 demo looked really confusing (try explaining the slide from the right to see “the charms” thing to your mum… Not so intuitive that, is it…).

So, Win8 tablets, geeks are going to love it, 99.9% of the population, eh, not so much.

9 GamePlayInc { 09.14.11 at 2:55 am }

Good to know I am still betting on the right iHorse as a developer :-)

10 qualar { 09.14.11 at 6:44 am }

Daniel

If you are so confident that Microsoft’s approach is wrong. Would you take a wager? If Win8 sells less than 300 million copies I pay you $50 if it sells more you pay me.

[Phil - Microsoft doesn't sell hundreds of millions of copies of Windows to users; it contractualy licenses it on every PC sold like a tax. Do you also think that the most popular thing to buy in the UK is VAT?

It's also not much of a bet to say Windows 8 will sell a lot but fewer copies than Windows 7, because the PC market is plateauing. Sales still haven't bounced back to pre-Vista levels.

But the real point of what I wrote was that Windows 8 is not going to kick off some new market for tablets, and is certainly not going to encroach upon the iPad. It's the Zune tablet.

Windows 8 is "no compromise," another way of saying "no tough design decisions were made." - Dan]

11 Player-16 { 09.14.11 at 9:22 am }

“…across the last decade, sold fewer units than the iPad has in the last month and a half.”

There, fixed that for ya.

12 Steve x { 09.14.11 at 9:50 am }

So here you have Apple with iOS which threw a lot of stuff out of Mac OS X like garbage collection and some Cocoa classes (like NSXMLDocument) just to save battery life.
Then comes MS with Windows 8 which is a full blown OS, running a anti-virus program in the background, running garbage collection for .NET apps and running a javascript runtime engine for the HTML/Javascript apps. And they want to run this on a tablet?

13 miloh { 09.14.11 at 12:12 pm }

@Desperate-Dan

You nailed it. Apple’s focus has been on people who just want to get things done, whatever that may be. Geeks may enjoy tinkering with the hardware or endlessly tweaking the OS for optimal performance, but most people couldn’t care less. They just want to see their grandson’s first steps, find a recipe, buy a book, write some software, edit a movie, etc.

It seems to me that Apple is headed in a similar direction — touchscreen-based desktop computers. However, in true Microsoft fashion, they’ve gotta be first-to-market. Apple, meanwhile, will let them while they reap the free market-research and eventually produce a product more suited to the general, non-geek public.

14 qualar { 09.14.11 at 1:25 pm }

Microsoft doesn’t sell hundreds of millions of copies of Windows to users; it contractualy licenses it on every PC sold like a tax. Do you also think that the most popular thing to buy in the UK is VAT?

Based on that comment isn’t OSX a tax then because Apple force you to have OSX when you buy one of their machines.

[No. A tax is a fee charged by an authority to pool funds from a group to communally pay for their shared expenses (roads, police, military protection, politicians' hookers, etc). PC makers all pay Microsoft a tax it uses to develop Windows.

People don't tax themselves. If I buy a new pair of pants, it's not a tax on my income. If I go to the store and buy a new pair of pants, the merchant will include California tax because the state demands that I pay them a tax to pay for various elements of civilization around me. If I buy a new car with run flat tires, those run flat tires aren't a tax, even if they are expensive. They are an expensive component of a product. Mac OS X is not a tax on Macs, it's a component.

Idiots in the PC world (including Steve Ballmer) have tried to project the reality that the PC world pays a Microsoft tax to socialize the costs of Windows (and MS' huge software profits) upon Apple, with the Ballmer himself yapping about Macs having an "Apple logo tax." But that's because he's a moron and trying to distract other idiots from the simple reality. Stupid people eat that crap up because they are stupid. Dan ]

15 qualar { 09.14.11 at 1:29 pm }

@Steve X – Give me an honest answer?

If Apple released a tablet with a full OS on it would you buy it? I am almost positive you would.

[Things to consider: how much would it cost? Mac OS X Lion on an iPad 2 would be slow as balls. An iPad 2 with a Core i3 would not be $500. Add some realism to your hypotheticals and they answer themselves. No, nobody who bought an iPad would be happy with it running Mac OS X. They'd return it.- Dan]

16 miloh { 09.14.11 at 4:38 pm }

I definitely would not be happy with a full OS on a tablet. I simply don’t need it. It would get in my way. If I need that kind of functionality it implies I have some significant task to accomplish, in which case I want to sit down and be comfortable with a full-size keyboard, mouse, monitor(s), speakers, I/O ports, desk-space, etc.

Now if there were a device which were simplistic and limited when used as a tablet, but could also be dropped into a dock giving me all of the above, that might be a different story.

17 MikieV { 09.14.11 at 8:29 pm }

“Who will build Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablets,…”

Is Microsoft still trying to limit the variety of hardware used in Win8 tablets? That could slow things down even more…

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-01/microsoft-is-said-to-limit-computer-manufacturers-in-chip-partner-choices.html

” ‘Windows 8′ offers the clear impression that a tablet will run Office and Windows Games and custom enterprise apps other reasons people use Windows.”

Indeed. I’ve lost track of how many comments I’ve read online about how great it will be to be able to run Office or Photoshop on the new tablets… and how these “power users” will be able to do something “creative” on one, instead of just “surfing the web while on the toilet” – which they frequently state is all an iPad is good for. :)

Some even like to point-out that Microsoft has ported Office to ARM, and so all that legacy goodness will “eventually” be available on an ARM tablet.

Poor kids. They’ll be so heart-broken…

18 Player-16 { 09.14.11 at 9:16 pm }

@qualar: If Apple released a tablet with a full OS on it would you buy it? I am almost positive you would.

http://www.axiotron.com/index.php?id=home

Now that’s the only successful (Apple) tablet on the market -made-to-order or complete. There are 2 models: The Modbook and Modbook Pro. They run OS X Lion (and any other Apple program -as well as Windows). In fact, it’s CHEAPER than most equivalently equipped current tablets and comes equipped with blue-tooth & DVD drive. As well, the screen is glass, not plastic. It is touch capable and uses a programable stylus but overall, it’s the only -if not the best (I believe)- truly successful, longest running (since 2007) tablet on the market that was designed to handle variable pen-based inputs instead of keyboard swivel/remove, cheap plastic, give-it-a-scribe Windows flop.

Apart from using VMware linked to your Mac, this shows that a OS cannot be successfully run on a thin, tablet device running full, off-the-shelf programs without some battery-draining grunt and as @miloh has pointed out: “If I need that kind of functionality it implies I have some significant task to accomplish.”

Check out the axiotron Board of Advisors.

19 qualar { 09.14.11 at 10:38 pm }

@Daniel

I see that having a sensible discussion with you is a pointless exercise. You hold far too much Apple bias. I should have exepected as much.

Please don’t retort that I hold an anti-Apple bias. I use whichever products suit my need. My main desktop and laptop are Windows. My server at home is WHS2011. My home cinema machine is a Mac Mini. My portable media devices are a Ipod Classic and an old Nano.

I can appreciate new tech. No matter what MS announced at build you would have hated it.

I am obviously in the wrong blog so I will quietly move along.

[I guess it is easier to attack my identity (you're accusing me of "bias," really? What, you thought you were reading Wikipedia? ) than to articulate why any of the issues you raised (and that I deflated) are actually valid.

Easier, but not at all convincing. - Dan ]

20 Ludor { 09.15.11 at 3:41 pm }

I find it hard to grasp what they’re after. OK, so Microsoft wants its jack-of-all-trades OS to run on ARM tablets, because that’s where the puck was last year… but also on Intel (Atom?) tablets, because otherwise there would be no backwards-comp at all… Am I correct so far?

I must be missing something. These are people working at a very large corporation, and they’re all adults and everything. How can they imagine this will ever work out?

Dan?

21 miloh { 09.15.11 at 4:39 pm }

@MikieV

In response to the commenters to which you referred …

Maybe that’s what I want in a tablet. Maybe I don’t want to run Office and Photoshop while I’m taking a crap. Maybe I’d rather wait until I’m at a desk in a nice chair with a cup of tea.

22 qualar { 09.15.11 at 11:03 pm }

Dan

I do not see why you feel I am attacking your identity. I did accuse you of bias but by your own admission you agree that this is true (Do you think you are reading Wikipedia). However, I do apolgise if you feel that, the world is too short. What I do not understand is how think you deflated any of my comments.

This is my vision for using a Win 8 tablet/convertable device:

On the move/on the couch I use the touch friendly metro UI for doing day to day things email/browsing etc. So I get the nice laid back tablet experience similar to ther Apple and Android tabs.

In an hotel room I pull out a keyboard and switch back to the classic desktop to work in Word and Excel plus other productivity apps.

After a photoshot I use the tablet with its Wacom functionality to edit the photos – Much better than using touch or mouse.

Currently to achieve this I would need to buy tablet, a laptop and a Wacom Cintiq.

I am not saying that Win 8 will be able to deliver the perfect experience only time will tell. But from what I have seen at BUILD I am excited. People who just want the touch tablet metaphor need never see the old desktop but it is there for those that may need it.

23 qualar { 09.15.11 at 11:04 pm }

Life is too short :-)

24 duckie { 09.16.11 at 4:19 am }

@qualar
You’re not really reading and understanding are you? The experience you describe will require Intel hardware, so your “nice laid-back tablet experience similar to Android or Apple” will be battery hungry, costly to purchase, weighty, run hot, and probably have a noisy fan chugging away half the time. So not really similar to Android and iOS at all. This is the mass delusion that Daniel is trying to point out to you if you would but try to comprehend it. And I mean that nicely.

25 miloh { 09.16.11 at 11:09 am }

I’m sure there will come a time when a tablet is the only computing device even power users will need. With something like Thunderbolt, simply dropping the thing into a dock could instantly provide USB, multi-monitors, audio, Ethernet, etc. Imagine picking up the main-chassis of your desktop computer and carrying it with you, using its built-in touchscreen and battery to continue working. I can see this happening, just not yet. At least, not as effectively as people would like.

26 qualar { 09.16.11 at 3:20 pm }

@duckie

Don’t be so condescending. Let’s just wait and see shall we.

27 tundraboy { 09.19.11 at 5:45 pm }

“You mean I can get a Phone with Windows, a tablet with Windows and a laptop or desk top with Windows? Wow!

And the Metro interface is the same across all devices so I don’t need to learn three different things? Double wow!

I guess, I can buy an app once and install across all three devices?

No? Wait, Microsoft Office runs on Windows 8 doesn’t it?

On the desktop. But not on the tablet. But the tablet runs on Windows 8? But it doesn’t run the app that is for the Windows 8 laptop.

Oh the tablet probably will, but only if it’s an Intel tablet and not Arm tablet. But they both run Windows 8. And they’re both called Windows 8 tablets. But they’re different machines.

What’s an Arm?

Hmm.

Do you sell iPads?”

Engineers think it’s so neat to call your whole OS product line a single name because then you get to solve the puzzle of figuring out which Windows OS goes for in which form factor and which app will run on which OS.

For the rest of the buying public that’s just an intimidating jumble of complexity.

Microsoft being Microsoft.

28 The Mad Hatter { 09.25.11 at 6:54 am }

Apple set a clear expectation for what the iPad would be good for, and users happily bought it as a tablet, not as a notebook replacement.

I use my 64GB IPad as a notebook replacement. Works great, weighs less, and is a hell of a lot more portable.

Mac users weren’t led to believe the iPad would run Mac apps, and were further aware from the get go that the iPad wouldn’t do everything you might expect of a regular MacBook or even a low end netbook.

But the IPad will do virtually everything that a Mac will do. Sure there are limits, but I’ve never found them to be an issue. My MacBook spends all of its time on a desk now, the IPad is my most commonly used computer.

Android tablets are being returned to stores at alarmingly high rates by users who think they will serve as a cheap replacement for notebooks.

This statement is just plain wrong. Android tablets aren’t being returned. This is because anyone who compares an IPad to an Android tablet buys the IPad. Its less expensive, and more capable.

You can’t return what you didn’t buy.

Wayne

29 Mike { 09.25.11 at 3:14 pm }

@The Mad Hatter

That’s not quite accurate. I know a couple friends who bought Android tablets because they were iPad-like (or at least that’s what the advertisements claimed) and they quickly realized that the experience was nowhere close to an iPad’s build quality, battery life, or depth of apps. The tablets are now sitting on a table, gathering dust. But yes, they aren’t being returned, but more importantly, these people aren’t buying them again. So really, in the end, Apple gets their customers, once the cheapskates realize that what they bought was a waste of money.

As for an iPad doing everything a Mac does, that’s only true if all you did was require some light text editing, web browsing, maybe some photo editing work. Anything requiring modeling, programming, and obviously anything that requires a mouse for extended periods would be better off with a Macbook. And we can’t forget that MacBooks run Windows, without having to log into some server to get access. It’s great that you got an iPad to replace your Mac, but for me, if anything, I’m starting to appreciate my Mac more because of my iPad. Thanks to Lion, I don’t need to worry about saving documents in Apple applications (most apps don’t support auto-save on Mac yet), I love Mission Control, and while full-screen apps aren’t used much, it’s nice that they’re there. And I realized that browsing Safari is just so much nicer when you can swipe to go backwards and forwards in browser history. I miss that on my iPad, where I have to hold up the screen and browse by tapping. Of course, this is preference, but to me, the iPad is just supplemental. Because the Mac will always be used for heavy duty work and the iPad for lighter tasks that may or may not require a computer.

I will note one really big benefit with the iPad, however. It’s ability to be able to be written on by a stylus is a godsend. I can now take notes by handwriting formulas or whatnot and mix in typing if I wish to make the text cleaner. So that is the primary benefit of my iPad… that and a way to watch videos on the go, usually when I’m a cardio machine and I want to watch something while I workout.

As long as people can migrate their workflows to non-legacy software, then great. For the rest of us though, iPads are simply supplemental to our experience of interacting with regular computers. Especially when the newer Macbook Pros have awesome battery life and are only a couple pounds heavier and far far more powerful at rendering stuff like large PDFs.

30 The Mad Hatter { 09.25.11 at 5:18 pm }

@Mike:

Are you sure those people are sane? I haven’t seen one Android tablet that has sold for less than an IPad. The biggest joke in one of our local electronic stores is the line of expensive Android tablets, with the less expensive IPad on the end. Everyone buys the IPad.

I do know a couple of geeks who managed to buy the $99.00 WebOS tablets that HP decided to sell off cheap. Those were a decent deal. Heck, I would have liked to pick one up to mess around with.

Wayne

31 Mike { 09.26.11 at 8:52 pm }

@The Mad Hatter

They were Android 2.2 tablets. So while they are technically capable of the iPad experience with a 10.1″ screen, software-wise they are definitely inferior. Tablet in question was on sale, the Viewsonic gTablet

http://www.viewsonic.com/gtablet/

For around $250. Not that it was any good, but it did fool a couple of people at least into buying it, because the ads make it look like it could do what an iPad does. On paper. In practice, the OS wasn’t built for a tablet interface and the manufacturer is basically pushing out hardware without the software capabilities. And far worse battery life, both active and in standby time.

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