Microsoft Publishes iPad To Windows 8 Tablet App Design Comparison For Developers

Microsoft’s Metro design language comes into its own on Windows 8 tablets more than on the Windows Phone. The new desktop OS has been designed with tablets in mind and since the iPad is the best out there, developers will be replicating/porting their apps from the iPad to Windows 8 (or at least that’s what we all hope). Application design is a significant reason behind an app and platform’s success. And when I say design, I don’t mean the color combination or images but the user experience and user interface.

Earlier today, Michael Gillett retweeted a link to a case study published by Microsoft comparing the interface components in the iPad and Windows 8. The side-by-side comparison is quite helpful in providing developers a quick look at how some of the app functionality provided in iPad can be offered in Windows 8 while sticking to the Metro principles.

The case study takes specific use cases to explain how things are done on the iPad and how Microsoft has in some cases improved them in Windows 8. The case study is quite nicely presented filled with images to assist you understand the text. If you’re into app development or into design, it’s quite a fun look at the two platforms.

HP Throws a Hail Mary, Combines Two Dying Business to Revive Both

HP, the personal computing giant of yesteryear, which has seen sales of its PCs decline over the last couple of years, is planning to restructure its business in order to make it more cost efficient and reduce costs, according to a report by AllThingsD.

It will be moving its Imaging and Printing Group (Printers) under its Personal Systems Group (Personal Computers), with the new larger division reporting to a single head.

HP’s printer business was one of its most profitable ones, but had seen sales decline over the last couple of quarters. Its PC business has also not been doing very well, as worldwide desktops sales have slowed down and are expected to decline going forward. Both businesses combined added up to more than 50% of HP’s total revenues in 2011.

HP was planning to spin off the PC division or sell it to someone like IBM under its previous CEO Apotheker’s management, but the new CEO, Meg Whitman scrapped that plan.

HP’s printer business has much higher operating margins than its PC business, but given the product synergies and the overlapping target customer base, it may actually be a good call on its part to combine the two to cut costs, improve margins and maybe improve sales.

The future of HP’s PC business depends on how well it capitalizes on the ultrabook and tablet trend, following the launch of Windows 8 in late 2012.

Rumor: Google Nexus Tablet to be Priced at $149

Ok, right after the rumor last week that Google had chosen Asus to build the Nexus tablet, with which it plans to dominate the tablet market at least in terms of market share, here’s a new one: Google is aiming to launch the Nexus tablet for as low as $149.

Apparently, the Nexus tablet will be a lower spec’d version of the Asus MeMo 370T, the $249 quad core Android tablet which was unveiled at CES 2012 and had all of us drooling over the price/performance ratio.

However, instead of the quad core Tegra 3 processor, the Nexus tablet will be powered by a cheaper processor, to bring costs down.

The Nexus Tablet may be announced at the Google I/O 2012 event in June, or at the CTIA Wireless show in May. It’s likely to ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but if the rumors stating that Google may launch Android 5.0 Jelly Bean at Google I/O 2012 are true, then it could very well come with Jelly Bean.

It may be no iPad killer, but the Nexus tablet may be just the device that Google is looking for to finally give it some control over the tablet space which is currently ruled by Apple. The Nexus tablet may come just in time before the launch of Windows 8, which will be Microsoft’s first serious attempt to enter the tablet space.

Windows 8: Embrace Or Reject?

Windows Logo

Microsoft made the “Consumer Preview” (beta) of the next version of their Windows operating system, Windows 8, available on February 29, 2012 in Barcelona. Since then, they also tweeted that they had over one million downloads within the first 24 hours. Needless to say, the interest in the new operating system is very high. It is so high that the casual users are screaming “I love it” and some of the power users are screaming “This is a piece of confusing mess”. Here is my take, trying to take a step back and wondering aloud, if there is a method to the madness.

One of the biggest changes in Windows 8 is the removal of the Start Menu and the replacement of the same with the Start Screen. Not only is the medium different – the Start Menu is exactly that, a menu, whereas the Start Screen is a screenful of brightly colored tiles with animations showing photos, notifications, etc. – but also, Microsoft has made it difficult/impossible to revert to “classic” style. Microsoft has made it clear, there is no going back, and this is the way to the future. This is the cutoff from the past and Microsoft’s entry into the PC-Plus era. “Touch first”, “fast and fluid” and of course, “no compromise”. The latter has been the topic of a lot of controversy, as you will see later in this article.

Rumor: Google to Launch 7 inch Android Tablet with Asus

Everyone and his grandmother has heard this rumor by now, which states that Google is apparently working on a 7 inch Android tablet to capture market share in the budget tablet space and prevent Amazon, as well as Chinese manufacturers, both of which it has no real control over, from dominating the space.

Even though the rumor has been reported by Digitimes, whose track record could inspire a sequel to “Dumb and Dumber”, it does seem to be a likely move by Google. Android tablets have been getting slaughtered in any price point even remotely close to the iPad, mostly because of one reason – they suck.

If Google wants to enter the tablet space and gain market share, it would have to use a similar strategy to the one it used in the smartphone market – targeting the budget conscious consumers.

According to the rumor, Google is working with Asus to launch a 7 inch tablet (we’re not sure whether it will be christened the Nexus Tablet) which will be priced at $199 to $249.

Apparently, Google chose Asus because HTC wasn’t willing to impair its brand image with cheap tablets, Acer didn’t have the in-house R&D capability, and Samsung can’t seem to design any tablet which doesn’t look like a rip-off of the iPad (OK, the last part may not really be the reason why it didn’t choose Samsung, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind).

The Google-Asus tablet will presumably run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and will be the first tablet to use the Google Play Store which was unveiled earlier this week.

iPad3 Specification: Improved Display, Camera, and Processor

Apple has just unveiled iPad 3. The conference is still going on, but no major surprises so far. The new iPad features a higher resolution display, improved camera, and a significantly faster processor. We have already discussed the US launch prices of various iPad 3 models. Listed below is iPad 3’s hardware specs.


iPad3 Specification

241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4 mm dimension.
9.7-inch multi-touch capable capacitive screen with a resolution of 2047 x 1536 pixels (Retina Display – 264ppi).
A5X processor (Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9) with quad-core graphics (probably PowerVR SGX543MP4).
5-megapixel iSight camera with 5-element lens, backside illumination, and hybrid IR filter. The new camera supports video recording at 1080p. Image resolution is 2592 x 1944 pixels.
4G LTE support for AT&T and Verizon.
Bluetooth 4.0.
10 hours battery life on 4G, and 9 hours on 3G.

Nokia Thinks A Tablet “Would Be Good For The Company”

With Nokia looked upon by many as one of the best-quality Windows Phone handset manufacturers out there, it should come as no surprise that people are hoping that they’ll enter the tablet business.

Though careful to not confirm any plans to produce a device at this time, they did tell Pocket-lint that “a tablet would be good for the company” during a one-on-one briefing at the Mobile World Congress with Niklas Savander, an executive vice-president at the company.

“The tablet is an interesting market for someone like Nokia because it is not cannibalising handset sales, it is cannibalising PC sales. If we are going to be in that market we need to have a [different] point of view, because being the 101st maker isn’t really a commercial or consumer proposition,” said Savandar. He is emphasizing the need to be unique and different from the others, so that Nokia can be a top tablet manufacturer. One can argue that the design and build quality alone would set the company apart from competitors.

He was quick to note that there are no solid product plans yet, though: “It is a potential growth market for someone like Nokia, but there are no plans so far.”

Perhaps, prior to investing in the development of a tablet, they wish to see how Windows 8 — and ARM tablets that will utilize the OS — will fare when it hits the shelves later this year.

With hardware quality being an important factor in purchasing a tablet for some, I think that there’s definitely a market out there for a beautiful, well-built Nokia tablet. Being spoiled by the hardware build quality of iOS devices myself, I hope that there will be comparable options when it comes time to purchase a WOA tablet.

HP Looking To Launch A Windows 8 Tablet For Businesses By The Holidays

On Wednesday during an earnings call, HP CEO Meg Whitman stated that we can expect HP Windows 8 x86 PCs by this holiday season. According to reports, Whitman stated at a small gathering of “entrepreneurs and executives” that HP plans to release a tablet device targeted towards business and enterprise users by the end of the year. Presumably, it will not be an ARM device, but rather a full-featured x86 device.

“It is not really a tablet market, it is an iPad market” exclaimed Whitman. Whether she was referring specifically to the enterprise sector, or to the general consumer sector, she would be right in either case. Surely, HP intends to try to steal away some of that marketshare with x86 Windows 8 tablets for the enterprise, and ARM tablets for average consumers.

She also claimed that iPads and iPhones are currently insecure.

“There is a big trend to BYOD to work; which is all well and good until there is a security breach,” she said, referring to people increasing bringing their own devices such as iPhones or iPads to use on the job.

“We are going to provide an alternative.”

What’s interesting is that she broadly specified “devices”, and mentioned the iPhone in her example. I don’t want to read too far into this quote, but is she hinting at HP possibly making phones — Windows Phones — sometime down the road as well? Perhaps after the webOS flop, they didn’t want to back out of the game entirely. Seeing that Windows Phone does have traction, potential, and enthusiasm, it’s likely that they’re contemplating using it as their next mobile OS platform to complement their Windows 8 tablets.

Windows 8 Tablet Success: It’s the Ecosystem, Stupid!

Windows Logo

A lot of the details around Windows on ARM (WOA) architecture were revealed via a recent blog post by Steven Sinofsky, the President of Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft. Once WOA details were out, the discussion then turned to whether WOA tablets would truly compete with the iPad or not. Would the presence of the Desktop environment, albeit in a restricted fashion, make it clunky? Is it truly no-compromise, considering that today’s software will not work on those tablets? The arguments go on.

What should be recognized though, is that unlike Apple, Microsoft does not really build the WOA tablets, so it relies on its partners to build them. It can be debated whether Microsoft *should* build a tablet themselves or not, but it is clear that they alone do not control their destiny.

So, what will ultimately determine the success (or failure) of WOA tablets? The ecosystem, of course! Microsoft has done its part in building a touch-friendly OS, bringing a touch-first mentality to building apps, creating a development environment which will let apps work on “all Windows devices”, and built a marketplace which will help developers reap the benefits of being in front of hundreds of millions of customers all over the world.

I discuss three aspects of this ecosystem reliance which will determine how well WOA (and more generally, Windows) tablets do.

Windows 8 on Kal El tablet

OEM designs

The iPad has been a phenomenal success for a variety of reasons. One of them is the design and the build itself. When you pick up the iPad you can feel that a lot of thought was put into the shape and the dimensions of the tablet. Many Android tablets come off feeling cheap, but the iPad feels exactly the opposite.

What the Windows OEM partners will have to do is go beyond just the iPad. They will need to think hard about the design and come up with something that does not look like a cheap knock off of the iPad, and no, that does not mean just adding a microSD card reader and USB ports. Having those connectivity options is a nice advantage, but the tablet itself should feel good to look at and hold in the hands. These tablets will have to manage sturdiness and long battery life with lightness.

Finally, just because they can, OEMs should refrain from making tablets in all kinds of sizes (yes, I am looking at you, Samsung). There is an advantage in offering a choice of sizes, but there is also a practical limit to what should be done in reality. Don’t confuse the customers with too much choice!

Why Windows 8 tablets Are Going to Have a Tough Time Toppling the iPad

A new report by Digitimes suggests that the first generation of Windows 8 tablets powered by Intel could be priced at $599 to $899. We can safely assume that the $599 ones will be the budget equivalents with low end hardware configurations, while the $899 ones will be the high-end ones, which will compete with the iPad 3 (or the iPad 4 if it is launched in October, as rumored) and Google’s flagship Nexus tablet.

Windows 8

Going by notebook pricing in the past, this seems increasingly likely because of a multitude of reasons.

1. Windows: The average cost of a Windows license has been around $150 in the past. We don’t expect Microsoft to slash prices of its most profitable offering significantly.

2. Intel processors: Intel desktop and notebook processors are much more expensive than the standard ARM processors currently used in notebooks and smartphones. It’s very likely that they won’t be able to undercut ARM processors to attract manufacturers.

Apple currently makes the iPad 2 for around $325, and likely spends another $25 for shipping, retail, marketing etc. After all expenses are accounted for, it makes a profit of $150 on each iPad 2 16 GB unit, and more on the 32 GB and 64 GB variants.

However, Apple outsources all its manufacturing to ODMs like Foxconn and Pegatron, and controls all aspects of its supply chain to procure components at a much lower price than any other manufacturer.

Given this dynamic, it is reasonable to assume that any other manufacturer would have to spend much more to make a device that would rival the iPad.

Add the cost of a Windows 8 license and the additional cost of using an Intel processor, and it’s easy to see how any Windows 8 tablet by Intel would be priced in the $599 – $899 range.

However, as we have seen already, tablets that expensive don’t really sell much. When Apple is already offering an excellent tablet at $499, there is no way customers will try anything else that is priced much higher without any compelling reason.

To reduce prices a bit, manufacturers could go with ARM processors, but then their tablets wouldn’t support x86 Windows software, which is currently one of the major selling points for Windows 8 tablets.

If Microsoft does decide to bring down the license price for Windows 8, it would be leaving money on the table for each notebook or desktop sale. If it doesn’t, it won’t be able to gain the traction it needs to be successful in the tablet market.

With Android tablets now focusing on the low-end tablet market, and the iPad dominating the $500 price point, there is no way manufacturers would be able to sell enough Windows 8 tablets at a much higher price range.

This is why I think that Windows 8 is much better suited to touchscreen ultrabooks than standalone tablets. It’s hard to see a win-win scenario for Microsoft in the tablet market – one in which it beats the iPad in terms of market share as well as profit generated.