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A Week with Windows 8 tablet

by Thomas Murphy  |  December 18, 2012  |  4 Comments

I have been using a Windows 8 tablet for a little over a week now (not for this post though).  It is an Acer Iconia W510 and generally it has been a pleasurable experience.  This is a full Windows 8 machine with Intel Atom processor, ability to doc to a keyboard/external battery combo to use as a laptop (I don’t have this, I plan to use it with a bluetooth Microsoft Wedge keyboard in the future).  I have Office 2013 and VS 2012 loaded on the machine (this is not a giant developer desktop) and they run well.  I mainly have used VS to connect to my TFS Azure instance to enter and update tasks.  But I like that I can fire up the debugger and just run direct on the device rather than over a connection, etc.

Office 2013 comes with support for tablet (finger) and keyboard/mouse support (changes the spacing of items and sensitivity) and it works great.  I like running full Outlook vs. the Windows 8 mail client (though I have run the mail client on my home desktop for a little more than a year).  Neither in some ways are as fast for certain things as my Windows Phone (selecting and deleting lots of mail).  Utilizing the combo of Office and SkyDrive is clean and simple making it easy to move between my desktop and the tablet keeping work in synch or doing shared edits with others.  Note, I am looking at this purely as a personal productivity situation and in comparison to the iPad that I have used in the past.  We are a MSFT Office shop so there are a lot of documents, presentation, spreadsheets that get shared and passed around for review and right now this is a “challenge” on an ipad. 

A downside is that Windows 8 devices are not “standard” sizes…ie you can’t walk into the local office supply store etc. and find the wall of covers/carry cases, etc that occur with products that have a thinner variety of options.  However other elements of the system are generally standard: micro usb, hdmi, microSD slots are all nice.  The anomaly here is that the power connector (because it is designed for their docking keyboard) is a non-standard connection. 

Stability – still needs work.  I would say I “reboot” daily.  That means I am essentially cycling power.  MSFT is dropping regular updates to Windows update.  I can say from an Apps perspective that so far they all work on the tablet where I can’t say the same on my desktop.  App vendors need to do a better job of defining support requirements or raising a flag when they fail rather than start and tombstone. 

Apps, for me, it is fine but I am not always worried about the latest cool thing and unless the App is really awesome it doesn’t make a lot of sense vs. just using the web site.  I think this is more an issue for Phones where real-estate is constrained.

The user experience, I have been using Windows 8 for over a year on my home PC but while I like the Windows 8 experience, there are non-intuitive things and little to guide you to short cuts, gestures, etc. and I think as the number of Apps grows there will need to be work on how you organize and manage them.

Last note, since this is a fun toy, I love the integration of Windows 8 through Xbox Smartglass to my Xbox. It acts as a remote, provides side by side enhanced show information and connects to all my xBox live information. 

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Category: windows-8  

Thomas E. Murphy
Research Director
15 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

Thomas Murphy is a research director with Gartner, where he is part of the Application Strategies and Governance group. Mr. Murphy has more than 33 years of experience in IT as a developer, product manager, technical editor and industry analyst. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on A Week with Windows 8 tablet

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  3. Aleksis says:

    Did the update to Win8.1 resolve any of the issues you’ve mentioned here?

  4. The 8.1 release does make improvements.

    As to issues I had:

    stability – the OS has been generally stable and apps themselves have improved in quality. I have a Windows 8 – keyboard/mouse desktop too and do find that fewer apps want to run on this system.

    availability of apps – this has improved a lot but (and windows phone is the same way) because the platform is still WAY Behind iOS and Android in adoption Microsoft has been able to get developers to port but not always to really take advantage of the platform or in some cases to maintain that port. And some apps (Facebook for instance) have interesting behaviors at time – ie opening the browser to facebook at times rather than just doing the action in the app.

    usability – this is where I expect things to continue to improve especially for mouse and keyboard – some of this is just “understanding” ie Windows + C brings up the charms panel…ie how you learn the shortcuts. The improvements in what goes on the desktop and how you manage those was positive. It will be interesting to see how the next update plays.

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