NEWS ANALYSIS: Microsoft likely will show a version of their Windows 8 RT operating system on a Microsoft-branded tablet during its June 18 press conference in Los Angeles, but it won’t be the final product design.
When Microsoft introduces its new Windows 8 tablet on Monday, June 18 at a media briefing in Los Angeles, the device it presents will be a technology preview device, not a finished product, said Craig Mathias, principal analyst for Farpoint Group.
The new device will run Windows RT, which is a version of Windows 8 that is stored in CMOS on the device and will also include, among other things, a version of Microsoft Office.
Mathias said that there may be several different Windows 8 tablets at the introduction, and that he expects them to be more business-oriented than the Apple iPad. The iPad really isnt a business device, Mathias, said. Microsoft will approach this from a business direction.
The real question is whether or not the new tablet will be as easy to use as an iPad and whether or not it will be perceived by customers as being as good or better in value when compared with the iPad. To accomplish this, Microsoft will have to create a tablet that is at least as thin and preferably thinner than the New iPad. It will also have to have a user interface that is as intuitive as the iPads and as responsive.
In addition, the Microsoft tablet will need to have features that the iPad doesnt have and cant get, but that users want. And Microsoft has to deliver all of this at a competitive price. It needs to be in the $395 to $495 price range, Mathias said.
This is not a big stretch for Microsoft, Mathias said. Microsoft obviously understands the business market and they have the server side nailed down. One advantage that a Microsoft Windows tablet would have would be the ability to connect to standard servers, print on standard network printers, and interact as a network client.
It would seem that the Windows 8 tablet format is already pretty well-established by Microsoft and OEM partners. Tablet maker PaceBlade was showing a Windows 8 tablet at CeBIT in March and the Windows 8 interface, even that early pre-release version, was smooth, responsive and intuitive. In fact, when I used it at the PaceBlade stand at CeBIT, it already seemed like a product ready for work, rather than a technology demonstration. Windows 8 lent itself so well to the tablet form factor that it just seemed natural.
If youve used a Windows Phone, then you have a sense for what its like. But the larger screen and higher resolution on a tablet make the Metro interface much easier to use than it is even on the Windows Phone.
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.