Microsoft May Drop Desktop in Windows 8 Tablet

When Microsoft announced Windows 8, they showed that it contained both the familiar desktop environment, as well as Metro, their Windows Phone 7 tile interface. According to a recent column by Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft may scrap the desktop interface on the tablet version of Windows 8, only affording the user the Metro interface instead. From ZDNet:

However, if my Windows Weekly co-host Paul Thurrott is right, Microsoft has rethought that plan and is leaning toward cutting the Desktop from Windows 8 ARM tablets. That would mean only Metro-style apps would be supported on that platform. (Thurrott just dropped that bomb while we were taping Windows Weekly on December 1.)

While some writers—such as John Gruber—focused on the hardware issues faced with running classic Windows apps on an ARM tablet, my issue was actually using an interface not originally designed for touch. I have had the displeasure of operating both my Mac and Windows machines via Splashtop Remote on my iPad, and it is anything but productive. While I am sure the hardware is one reason to not support classic Windows apps on a tablet, for me the bad experience would be the main reason.

Bill Gates’ Response to iTunes Music Store Launch

While reading Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs, I came across an e-mail excerpt (full version here) sent by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates the night Apple announced the iTunes Music Store. I have edited for conciseness:

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wed 4/30/2003 10:46 PM
To: Amir Ma3~dimehr; Dave ~ester
Cc: Will Poole; Christopher Payne; Yusuf Mehdi; David Cole; Hank Vigll
Subject: Apple’s Jobs again.., and time to have a great Windows download service…

[…] I am not saying this strangeness means we messed up - at least if we did so did Real and Pressplay and Musicnet and basically everyone else.

Now that Jobs has done it we need to move fast to get somethlng where the UI and Rights are as good.

I am not sure whether we should do this through one of these JVs or not, I am not sure what the problems are.

However I think we need some plan to prove that even though Jobs has us a bit flat footed again we move quick and both match and do stuff better. […]

This e-mail reminds me of the WWDC 2004 banners proclaiming “Redmond, start your photocopiers.” It’s nice to see Bill realize they missed the boat, and that they need to catch up, but where is the drive to push out a service that beats Apple’s latest offering? Phrases like “we need to move fast to get somethlng where the UI and Rights are as good” only reaffirm that Microsoft—at that time—was still content with mimicking rather than rethinking.

Forrester Bullish on Windows 8 Tablets: Too Late to the Party

It appears Forrester is bullish on Microsoft Windows 8 tablet prospects:

On tablets, Windows 8 is going to be very late to the party. […] For tablets, though, Windows really isn’t a fast follower. Rather it’s (at best) a fifth-mover after iPad, Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, HP’s now-defunct webOS tablet, and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. While Windows’ product strategists can learn from these products, other players have come a long way in executing and refining their products — Apple, Samsung, and others have already launched second-generation products and will likely be into their third generation by the time Windows 8 launches.

Does that mean millions of business users won’t give it a shot in tablet form? Probably not, considering many businesses:

  • Are usually slow to adopt new versions of Windows
  • Stay with Windows for backwards-compatibility and familiarity

What about consumer adoption? What are the chances they will ignore Windows 8 on the tablet because it is late to the party? I don’t believe time is all that important. Take the Kindle Fire for example. Compared to existing tablets—Android based, the BlackBerry PlayBook and HP TouchPad—it was the first to actually garner considerable demand at launch, which was only two-weeks ago. It obviously wasn’t because it was early to the party, but rather because it was desirable, and I believe Windows 8 tablet has the potential to be desirable.

Experience Windows Phone 7.5 on Your iPhone or Android Phone

Are you an iPhone or Android phone user that would like to experience the Windows Phone interface without commitment? If so, you are in luck. Microsoft has released a web-based demo, allowing many users the ability of exploring Windows Phone from the comfort of their own smart phone. Not all browsers are supported, so your mileage may vary.

Microsoft’s TellMe Vs. Apple’s Siri

Last week, Craig Mundie—Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Officer—told Forbes that he was not impressed with Siri, claiming that Microsoft has shipped similar technology in Windows Phone—via TellMe—for more than a year. He agreed with the reporter that much of Siri’s hype is “good marketing”, and that “Microsoft has had a similar capability in Windows Phones for, you know, more than a year.” From the interview:

Both the iPhone and Windows Phones have shipped with speech-to-text converters for years, and were able to handle predefined voice commands. What sets Siri apart from previous attempts is its ability to understand natural spoken language.

TechAU decided to test Craig Mundie’s claims that Siri is no different from TellMe outside of marketing. What their demonstration shows us is more than Siri’s ability to understand natural language, but also how it excels at speech-to-text conversions:

Out of four requests, Microsoft TellMe was not able to correctly convert the speech-to-text once, whereas Siri performed flawlessly.

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