Last night Microsoft formally announced its entrance into the tablet fray, with two Windows 8 tablets manufactured by the Redmond company.
Even if you have an Android tattoo, or have changed your last name to Jobs, this is an important announcement and a very, very good thing.
First and foremost I’ll be up front about my level of excitement for Windows 8. I think it’s going to be an good product and despite the inevitable crying about learning curves (no more start menu), it’s going to be the first true hybrid OS meaning it will function the same on any device. Apple is trying to shoehorn iOS into its desktop system which may work but so far with Lion and Mountain Lion I have been unimpressed.
Another major feature that is a plus for Microsoft is they are forcing apps to have standard channels of communication. Meaning they will be able to talk to each other and share information. For example if you think of two iOS apps, unless they have code written into them, they’ll never know they exist. Microsoft is forcing all apps to have at least some basic lines of communication which means you’ll be able to share data across apps much better.
But why is this important to Droid and iOS users.
1. Microsoft might finally figure out that hardware matters – Yes it’s a hard lesson to learn considering they dominated the personal computer market for years using the opposite thinking, but in today’s market hardware matters. People want a great experience and that includes the physical parts of the device. For years Microsoft killed Apple in computer sales because Microsoft would sell their OS to anyone and everyone who was willing to pay. While it gave them lots and lots of numbers you ran the risk of the OS not working right because the guts of the computer suck.
For Android users this is beneficial because they are falling into the same situation with their OS. Android appears on hundreds of devices and while they’re winning the sales numbers competition, people can have a bad experience because they buy a cheap phone. With both big companies now directly producing devices we may see Android start to reign in manufacturers and hold them to a higher standard.
2. Two flavors means twice the chance you’ll find something you like – The Surface will come in two versions, one that is more consumer based (it will run on an ARM based processor) which means cheaper, and one Pro version that will run a full blown version of Windows 8. I think this is interesting because MS is acknowledging that there are people who want work devices and people who want fun/play devices. Apple chose to talk the middle and while they did an excellent job, time and time again I find myself asking why they didn’t lean just a little more in one direction or the other. The other cool thing about the Pro version is it will run all your old programs making it very enticing for companies who already are heavy into Microsoft software. This may start to push Android and Apple into more business uses.
3. Competition is always good – As an admin of a school’s Learning Management System, I have a very good view of why competition is a very good thing. Without competition companies get lazy. They get bloated, and they start to forget what they did to get to popular. With another major player in the tablet market it will make everyone work to get better, to steal ideas and ultimately improve their product in order to keep your business.
All in all this was a very good announcement for the tech industry, and one I’m very excited about to see.