Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why Wait For Windows 8?

I had a friend this week show off his new Lenovo Tablet PC that he got for work.  It wasn't something I haven't seen before.  I once had a tablet for work and for what I needed it to do it was great.

But along came iPad and the image of the tablet that Microsoft was trying to define was shattered.  Turns out people wanted to do a lot more than just be able to take notes on a virtual notepad.  This is a recurring problem for Microsoft.  You may not remember but before smartphones we had Pocket PC phones.  It was essential a combination of a phone and a PC but never the twain would meet (well maybe not NEVER).  The phone and the operating system were separate things that occasionally worked together.  The iPhone came along and shattered THAT for Microsoft too.

Anyway, back to my friend.  He lamented that he couldn't make his tablet be more like tablet-like.  He complained that even though he had a touch screen he was still bound by the way Windows 7 lets him interface with the computer.  I had to be the bearer of bad news.  Windows 7 was only their second incarnation to embed tablet functions.  All the while they were trying to build a better PC operating system, they were losing the ground war on tablets.  And by losing I mean getting straight up massacred.  In short, Windows 7 wasn't capable of offering the interface he was looking for.  Microsoft realized they missed the boat and thus Windows 8 will be focusing on a tablet interface.


I did offer one glimmer of hope though.  That perhaps there's software available to make a Windows tablet mimic the functions of today's traditional tablet interfaces.  That's how I found FrontFace.  Check out the video preview below:

I kept digging and found another one:  ExoPC.  They take things a step further.  They even have a whole app store!

I found this video that compares the two:

While it looks like ExoPC came out on top, it looks like the ExoPC GUI is available only on the device they sell.  Sooo again I dug deeper.  Turns out at some point ExoPC stopped making the software available for download but the path to the download remains active.  You can download it here.  Surprisingly it's freeware.  Just in case they got cheeky and moved the file I downloaded a copy myself.  Ok, just installed it (oh the magic of blogging).  It's pretty slick.  Check it out if you have a chance.

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