In Windows 8, Microsoft Has a Winner

Samsung has a winner with its Microsoft Windows 8 powered ATIV Smart PC Pro 700t (XE700T1C, a device which is part Ultrabook and part tablet in one. I consider it to be the perfect combination of both worlds, allowing users to do everything they need with a single device. There is no longer a need to wait till you get to a secondary computer to do “real work” as this one does all the things you might need. It has a full array of ports allowing you to plug in a memory stick or hard drive. It runs Flash in its browser allowing you to do all the things which iOS will not. How many tens of thousands of iOS apps are just poor renditions of what webmasters used to create using Adobe’s Flash after all?

Then there are all the PC applications like Microsoft Office which just run – no new version is needed.

TMC’s Tom Keating just reviewed the ATIV Smart PC Pro 700t and he loves it. I have used it for a while as well and am just as impressed. This computer is fast – it brings up web pages a tad more quickly than a fourth generation iPad! And the screen is about 98% as bright as the Retina display on the iPad. There are a lot less pixels on the Samsung but the difference is indistinguishable to Tom and me in picture after picture we examined.

Perhaps the biggest complaint I have for Samsung is the name – it’s too long (I have to look it up each time I need to reference it).

The biggest challenge with the software is the switching between user interfaces – Windows 8 Metro and the traditional desktop we are familiar with in Windows 7. It gets confusing. Moreover when you want to run Flash in Metro, the site has to be approved by Microsoft first. So you have to leave the “easy touch” interface and then come back if you want to watch a video on a site like TMCnet.

There are a number of reasons why Apple is beating Microsoft when it comes to mobile – design is one of them and so is the slickness of the UI. But one less obvious area where Apple is winning is simplicity. Microsoft’s problem is still that things are too complicated and the learning curve is higher than what is needed on an iPad or even Android device.

And this is where Microsoft has to continue to focus. I love having less devices – I carry an Ultrabook, iPad and iPhone to conferences and meetings and would like to ditch one of them. The corporate security and other business networking features of Windows 8 will likely give this and similar devices a huge push in the enterprise – but ease-of-use is still an area of improvement for Redmond. One which it has struggled with for years. With Windows 8 and Metro, it is likely about 80-85% of where Apple is with iOS. The pivotal question is whether consumers will weigh all of the amazing features of Windows 8 which Tom details quite well more than the 15-20% usability gap which is likely always going to remain when a device is running 2 separate interfaces.

If you’re wondering what Tom might think about all this – fear not, I asked him for his closing arguments:

The dual-mode Metro/Modern UI + Desktop interfaces may indeed cause some usability concerns as you mention Rich. However, there is always a trade-off of features vs. usability. It is true Apple has made iOS very touch-friendly, but you cannot run the full Mac operating system or the full Mac applications. Microsoft has melded the desktop operating system with a touch-friendly operating system. Switching between the two takes some getting used to, but I would not prefer a single unified user interface. Some things are better suited for touch (Metro/Modern UI) and some things are better for desktop mode like Photoshop, full Outlook application, Windows Explorer, etc. If Microsoft had tried to kludge the desktop UI to all be in Metro I would have never switched to Windows 8. I guess you could say I like that Microsoft gives me the freedom of choice, while Apple has always been a control freak limiting choice. Sure, an easy to use UI is great, but when you have to compromise on so many features, for me it’s an easy decision – Windows 8 is the better choice.

Eventually “markets” decide “market share” but it does look to Tom and I like Microsoft has a winner with Windows 8 and the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700t is a very powerful yet portable device which is free of most every compromise made on iOS and Android devices.

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