I have in my possession a Surface, an iPad, and an ASUS T300 Android Tablet. After having spent time with all three, I look at the pluses and minuses of them, from my perspective, which means that there are opinions in here that are just that, opinions.
Tablets are the new big thing. Everyone wants one, and plenty of companies are making them. Some tend to be designed for specific things (Nook, Kindle) while others make what seem like empty promises to me. I started out with a Nook Color e-reader not long after it came out. I had figured that it would be the tablet of choice for me. Problem was, the 7″ screen and lack of apps, especially free (Ad Supported) apps made me think of getting something else.
That something else came from my work. As we were getting iPads and starting to support them at client sites, they gave me one. this was for me to play with, learn about and use so I could support them. I enjoy the iPad experience. It is quick, and solid. I don’t like Apple, their holier than god and we know what is right for you attitude, and the lack of decent tech apps. Video playback on it has been nice on trips, but I am limited to the Apple formats, as usual.
The Surface is the newest of the Tablets I have. I really had high hopes for this machine, and maybe in the future it will reach those aspirations, but not at the moment. Right now, I deal with the frustration of not finding either the apps I use or an equivalent. Flip Toast is ok, but has bugs (They have told me they are working on fixing them). I can’t find decent Network tools, most apps that I can get free with Ads on other platforms, cost money, or are more expensive than they are on other platforms. Then there is also my Nook issue. I have the Nook app, or my Nook Color on everything else. My Library is there on all my other devices. Microsoft, which bought an 18% stake (IIRC) in Nook has no Nook App for Windows 8. In Fact if you search for Nook in the App Store, you get 2 choices as of writing this article, Kobo or Kindle. So much for partnerships. Don’t get me wrong, there is good about the Surface. Office works nicely, the hardware is responsive and the tile system looks nice. Plus there is the keyboard cover, which is pretty sweet.
Both the Surface and the iPad I got through my office for testing and learning purposes. We want to make decisions on what our sales and service techs are going to use going forward. Honestly, I would lean to the Surface, because of Office, and because of the ease at which it integrates into a Microsoft environment. I can access network shares easily (even though I cannot join an RT device to the domain), and it will do everything that our sales and service teams need. The iPad integration we were trying with a Mac server and we just could not get it to do what we wanted.
The ASUS Transformer T300 is a personal item. It was a birthday gift back in Sept. To tell the truth, I love it. Outside of Flipboard not being available for it, I have everything I want or need on it right now. Yes, I am using Pulse on it, but the lack of new sources I like, and the lack of aggregation from the social media world, makes Pulse a bit annoying, especially in regards to World/U.S. news. Still, I have everything else, including a free Office Suite (which is amazingly useful in its own right). The only drawback to the T300 as compared to the Prime, is the plastic back. I also got a 3rd party case/bluetooth keyboard for it which works as nicely as the Surface’s keyboard cover.
My recommendation right now to people would be the Android Tablet. The T300 does it all, and while a bit sluggish at times, is still is plenty responsive. There are more free apps available for it, and you are not tied into iTunes or Apple’s network. The Surface might be the thing in the future, bight right now, it doesn’t have enough to make it worthwhile, especially on price point. The T300 costs under $400 for a 32GB model. The iPad and Surface (with Type touch cover) are both at $600 for 32GB (Without the Cover the Surface is $499 for 32GB).
The world of Technology is a fickle one. You can be a darling one minute and a hated evil empire the next.
There is a lot of talk going around on the technology websites. With all the announcements made recently there has to be. You have Microsoft’s Surface, Google’s Nexus 7, Apple’s new MacBook, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. As always there is much debate about what these things mean, not only to the world at large, but in terms of what a company is or is not. These opinions help shape the future of tech, and what company’s bottom lines will be. The problem is that those writing opinions are just that, opinions, but people take them as facts.
For instance, lets look at Microsoft and its reputation as an “Evil” empire. This thought, which started back in the 90′s, when Apple was on life support and when Microsoft was trying to outflank any competitor, mostly by using integration with less superior products. There was an Anti-Trust suit, Microsoft had to capitulate to oversight and allowing use of its APIs fairly. The tech world wanted Microsoft broken into multiple companies, like AT&T had been many years ago(and that turned out so well). Here we are now in an age where the world of technology is well more than just PCs. A world where overall, Microsoft is not that big of a player. Yes it still is the dominant PC operating system. The world of mobility though belongs to Apple and Google. The world of the internet belongs to Google and Facebook. Microsoft’s name and slips seem to measure bigger, get sounded louder, and last longer than any slip from any of these other companies.
Take a look at security and privacy. Microsoft has been working for years, and getting much better, at security. Third party applications, such as Flash and Java, have been the big holes into Microsoft systems recently. Yes there are still vulnerabilities found in Microsoft’s software, but the have gotten pretty responsive about patching those holes. Apple recently had the Flashback malware, which came through a Java exploit. A Java exploit which had a patch out from Oracle for 60 days before Apple decided to push it to the OSX machines out there. Apple has control over the updates that get pushed down to its devices. It doesn’t like playing with others. As a result, it has now changed its marketing about Macs and Malware, removing the idea that Mac’s do not get viruses from its marketing. There was a lot of talk about Apple’s problems with security, but overall it did not hurt Apple as a company. The average person didn’t even know about the whole deal. If it was Microsoft the whole world would have been down their throats and never forgotten.
For a second example of the hypocrisy in the world of technology, we can look at Tablets. Microsoft has announced it is making its own tablet called Surface. Most tech writers are pleased with this idea, but the OEMs are pissed. How dare Microsoft produce a tablet of its own. Yet when Google announced its own Tablet, the Nexus 7, these same OEMs had no issue with it. Apple produces the iPad, with utter control over it, and OEMs don’t complain. So why be up in arms over Microsoft? The issue at hand is that Microsoft has been burned by its partners on non-PC’s as of late (I won’t get into the whole HP PC stupidity). Think about it, Microsoft created a tablet type computer almost 10 years ago, besed on specific types of hardware, and the OEMs screwed it up, and overpriced it. Apple comes along with the iPad and its a revolution. Microsoft had the Windows CE phones (I had one and loved it back in the early 2000′s). The OS eventually got a bad rep as it became bloated, but when Microsoft fixed things with Windows 7 Phone were the OEMs ready to get back to producing items with it? No. For that matter, OEMs which have done the same thing with their support of Linux, claim to be supportive, and claim to be coming out with new products based on Microsoft technology, yet either come out with one item that is not pushed in the marketplace, or don’t ever come to market with the item. Now add on that Microsoft has its own store (like Apple), and you can understand why Microsoft would get into making a Tablet of its own.
The reality of it all is that people are letting certain things from the past cloud their judgement. They are not basing everything on the current facts only. Truth be told, Apple is a more controlling and “evil” empire because of its control than Microsoft is. Google has been shown to have a ton of privacy issues, as much if not more than Microsoft. Microsoft gets held to a higher standard because of their past and the Anti-Trust suit more than they should at this point. For technology to really grow right, we need to hold everyone to the same standards.
Windows 8 has been unveiled, OSx is Roaring, and Ubuntu is trying to create a Unity. These new OS’s give us a peek at the future, but what does it really say?
Over on ZDNet Ed Bott wrote a nice article on Windows 8. I’m not going to go into it in detail, but the Article and the screen shots got me to thinking, what is the future of the Operating Systems in general? Ubuntu and Windows have come up with new GUIs, and they are different. Geared toward simplifying navigation, are these becoming too simple? Are we getting to the point of making something that a fool can use, and only a fool will use it?
I am not against change, as long as there is a good reason for it. Making a GUI more user friendly is not a bad thing. The big problems I have with the way Ubuntu, and now Windows are going about it though worries me from a support standpoint. How much more difficult is it becoming to find the deep areas that those of us who do troubleshoot machines use? How much more training will we need? How will this affect how people use the OS in a business environment?
The OS that has changed the least in GUI appearance over the years is Macintosh. The basic layout, and where you find things has been essentially the same going back to its beginning, with just some upgrades to that classic look and feel. Apple boasts about how easy it is to use a Mac, and from an OS standpoint, they are right. You don’t have to learn a new GUI with every update. You have your bar up top which allows for the classic drop down menus. They added the dock at the bottom, but you don’t have to use it.
Unity, the new look kills off the classic menu structures to get at your programs. It takes more clicks to find something that is not docked. The more elegant look actually becomes more complex. When you log into the OS, you can choose to go back to the Classic look, but it is not prevalent on how to, although it is simple if you know where to look. Still, the more complex sets of clicks to find an installed program can be a big hindrance to acceptance. Also realize the look doesn’t add anything to security.
Windows 8 poses a bigger question. With it being meant for touch screen, although you can use a mouse and keyboard, and the look and feel being more toward Microsoft’s phone OS, how is this going to complicate finding files, finding software you install? The desktop space is a premium but, as we all know, you put too much there it becomes hard to find what you are looking for. Also what about software that is not on the desktop? How about file exploring especially if you are on a network where items are kept on multiple network drives?
These questions, and where the companies want to steer the computing world are really what will shape the future, and also cause problems. Too much change at once is not good, and change for its own sake usually causes more problems than its worth. Only time will tell what the answers are but, from first glance, it seems as if making the look the same across all platforms is happening, and from there, maybe you get into a situation like Chrome OS, where it is basically a browser, and nothing is kept locally. If that is the case, you can port your GUI look across multiple devices easy, but then who owns your information since it will not be stored locally? Its something to think about.