Metro, Win 8, UltraBooks and Me

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This week at TechEd, I scored big.   In a run of luck I have never experienced before I somehow won in completely random drawings – 2 computers.   One of them is a Samsung Series 7 Slate PC running Win 8 RP (Release Preview), and a Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook that I am typing this on.

This is now in addition to the iPad, and Macbook Air I brought to the event.  So I have a fair bit of tech in my backpack coming home now.

First the Slate –

Not going to bore you with specs as you can read on the interwebs what they are, but the basics are: Core i5 SandyBridge CPU, 4GB ram, 128GB SSD, Wifi-N, and a 11" screen.

Its good, and immature, and capable, and hot, and powerful, and dynamic, etc… I can think of adjectives all night for it.   One thing it isnt – an iPad.

Smaller than my Macbook Air, better screen than my iPad (and the MBA in my eyes), lighter than either of them, but much hotter than the iPad, and worse battery life than the iPad.

This is the first device I can fully leverage the Metro interface in all its touch glory… and much glory there is.   Metro on Win8 RP is many time better than I thought it would be.  I’ve been using Win 8 on systems since the Dev preview back almost a year ago.  Metro and a mouse just lack the response that you need to see value in it.

Metro on a tablet? – brilliant.   So much potential for this interface, that once apps are coded for it, and you can fully leverage it the more it makes sense.   

The Desktop (non Metro) on the tablet (I don’t have a BT keyboard with me so I am using all onscreen stuff… forcing me to use it as a tablet and not a convertible PC) is surprisingly good, and workable.  The main feature you lose surfing the web or using forms in Desktop mode vs Metro app is that you don’t get automatic screen text box pop ups as you do in the metro versions.

Want to hear the more twisted part?   I can run my tablet as a Hyper-V server…  yep, tablet with a hypervisor on it… sweeeet.  🙂

Why its not quite an Ipad:

The iPad is brilliant at very specific tasks, and prepackaged super specialized applications.   The Slate is meant as a general PC/laptop but with tablet functionality ( or vice versa).  Metro apps have ever potential of rivaling iOS apps in how they are handled and executed.   Desktop apps while they are unlimited in their flexibility and interoperability (something NOTHING apple offers on a tablet can do), they are less cohesive or … tablet friendly.

If I am checking my email, surfing the web, twitter, etc…   I would rather use my iPad or my iPhone… just because it’s there, and ready to go.   But thats right now.  Give MS a year or so to build the ecosystem (and subsidize it to own market share as they are keen to do) and I can see myself ditching the iPad quickly.

A device for the future?

Possibly, Because right now, its VERY close to being great, and the more software is built around this ecosystem that MS is creating the better it will be.   Unlike an iPad where yearly you are told you need to upgrade, realistically you can get 2+ years out of this hardware and still probably have a great tablet at that point.  Since unlike apple, you can install anything you want on it!

The windows tablets with Windows 8 are going to age like wine… they are going to be a bit bitter and unfamiliar at first, but give it some time and I think (like with many things) MS may be late to the party… but they are the ones who always end up owning the party when they want it.

Biggest Problem:

I keep on touching the screen on the Dell and wondering why its not working. 🙂

I will post about the Dell XPS next time.  I am still figuring out how it matches up to the Macbook.

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