October 25, 2012
Windows 8 is coming soon. Tomorrow (26th October) in fact.
Microsoft are expected to spend a whopping $1.5 billion to market and advertise Windows 8 globally as well as shelling out millions to make its tablet a success. Yes that’s right, Microsoft is diving headfirst into a completely new business model. Usually letting other people create the hardware, Microsoft has decided that the best way to showcase it’s revolutionary new software (Windows 8) is by controlling the whole experience. Software, hardware and retail.
So what’s Microsoft’s niche? Apple’s tablets are designed to capitalise on the iPhone’s familiarity, Amazon’s tablets drive purchases from the Amazon store and Google is still wholly focussed on search and data collection. Does Microsoft have the capability to take on the big players?
Let’s take a look firstly at the Surface. The ad spot for Microsoft’s Surface tablet focus is the Surface product design by showcasing one of its main USP; the magnetic snap-on keyboard.. one thing the iPad currently lacks. Ever tried powering through your emails on an iPad, no? Because it would require way too much effort. Microsoft’s foldable, snap on keyboard provides the consumer with a beautifully designed tablet that’s also practical. This tablet is therefore not aimed solely at the entertainment-seeking consumer but those who see tablets as fitting practically into every aspect of their everyday life, but don’t wish to compromise on style.
So where does the Surface design notably differ? Firstly, the front is covered edge-to-edge in Gorilla Glass, sounds tough? It is. So tough in fact, that Steven Sinofsky (President of Windows) even made it into a skateboard. Secondly, the kick-stand, ‘snapping’ securely into place as the ad so clearly highlights. Thirdly, the cover that doubles as a keyboard. The touch keyboard weighs a mere 208g with a magnetic mechanism, which you’ve guessed it, ‘snaps’ into place.
So how does the software look on the hardware? The new Windows 8 interface creates a completely different ecosystem, which has a touch-friendly focus. Microsoft has always put PC Desktops first, but this Software is definitely optimised for touch. The thing that made Windows Windows was, well, windows. It was a graphical user interface with windows, icons, menus, and a mouse pointer aka ‘WIMP’ computing. Windows 8 no longer even has a start menu but rather a start screen (pictured below). If you want to launch an application, you do so from the start screen which is populated with personalised ‘live tiles’. They update automatically. Another thing Microsoft now have over Apple. Instead of having to launch the application to see what your notification is about, the lives tiles automatically update to let you know the weather, Facebook notifications, emails, missed calls, news headline and whatever information you personally wish to see. Distracting maybe, but great or as Microsoft phrase it, “spend less time searching and more time doing”.
Personalisation is the core concept. The tiles chosen, their size and how they are organised are user defined. And wherever, on whichever device the user logs into, their personalised start up screen will pop up. Nifty.
So Windows 8 is clearly kicking its predecessors, Windows 7 conservative ass and I haven’t even started about its swiping actions, charms and seamless app interaction which makes using it both easy and aesthetically pleasing.
So where can you get the Surface complete with Windows 8 I hear you demand? Currys and PC World are opening their flagship London store at midnight on Friday in an attempt to generate hype and a stampede similar to this oh to familiar scene outside every Apple store every time a new product is launched..