There is a lot of speculation as to whether or not Windows 8 will be a flop or a smashing success. I think what many of my fellow pundits say about Windows 8 being better on a tablet than it is on a desktop is spot on, but isn’t the tablet being hailed as the computer of the future?
Microsoft doesn’t release a new operating system every year. In fact, a new consumer-grade version of Windows generally comes out every three to five years, with some exceptions. Microsoft is responsible for making software that has a long lifespan and future trends in mind. Windows 8 is no exception.
One thing we absolutely need to get past is the idea that Windows 8 on a tablet is just a tablet OS. It’s actually a full-featured desktop operating system capable of running multiple programs in sync while integrating with peripherals and other external hardware. iOS and Android are still very different in that regard. They may be expanding their reach in small increments, but I have yet to see a tablet-ready OS that could feasibly power a scanner, external webcam, and external drives with as much ease as Windows 8.
Even the RT version of Windows 8 has some clear advantages over a dedicated mobile OS. Applications made for the desktop using the new code base can work seamlessly across desktop and mobile platforms where a developer would have to generate two different applications otherwise. A program built for OS X may not run on iOS. Likewise, software made for one Linux-based operating system isn’t likely to run on Android without considerable changes.
Windows 8 gives Microsoft a head start on a market that is set to explode.
The idea that Microsoft has to make it possible to truly replace your laptop with a tablet is intriguing. The only thing really keeping laptops relevant is an increase in hardware performance and the use of an integrated keyboard and trackpad. The Surface includes both of these on a digital screen cover. Many other tablet makers are building their own conversion docks that enable users to convert their tablets into laptops with ease.
Why wouldn’t Windows 8 be considered a success in this regard? It’s a natural fit in this growing space.
If I could avoid carrying around a laptop with me when traveling, I would. A tablet could fit in more places and give me immediate access to my data without having to find a surface on which to set it down. I would be mobile without giving up the conveniences of a desktop-class operating system.
Android and iOS are coming close to bridging that gap, but they’re not there yet. Windows 8 may be a change from what Windows users are used to, but it delivers on a promise to bring a desktop operating environment to a tablet while others are sharing the operating system between tablets and phones. This choice is important, because it will undoubtedly breed more innovation in the tablet market during the next year. I’m willing to bet that either Android or webOS will make a giant leap toward extending the platform to include more desktop-class applications and accessories. Isn’t that reason enough to support Microsoft?
What do you think? Is 2013 destined to be the year of the Windows 8 tablet? Will you be picking one up when Windows 8 comes out?