5 Comments

Summary:

As Microsoft and its partners get ready to hit the market with Windows-based tablets to compete with the iPad, my thoughts have turned to the all-important out-of-box experience (OOBE) that will create consumer’s first impressions of such products. Windows and tablets just don’t mix.

Win 7 Tablet setup

As Microsoft and its partners get ready to hit the market with Windows-based tablets to compete with the iPad, my thoughts have turned to the all-important out-of-box experience (OOBE) that will create consumer’s first impressions of such products. Tablets are different from PCs in the way they are perceived, probably due to the lack of a keyboard. The first impression is formed by taking it out of the box, turning it on and tapping away on the screen. Windows-based tablets fail miserably in this regard, while every mobile OS-based tablet I’ve tried does a great job.

This is foremost on my mind as I received an unusual tablet today (to review) and the process to get it running to evaluate properly has taken me hours. I won’t identify the product here — that will be done in a proper review — and frankly, the frustration isn’t the fault of the product. The hair-pulling has been all thanks to getting Windows 7 going.

This tablet is rare in that it runs not only Windows 7, but also Android. It’s an older version of Android (1.6) and it’s not customized for a large screen like the one on the tablet, but that’s not a shortcoming in this instance because Android is a mobile OS designed to be used on touchscreen devices like this tablet. Getting operational was a simple matter of hitting the power button and selecting Android for the boot OS. The Android tablet was running in seconds, and pretty nicely at that.

Then came the Windows side of the device. I had to select Windows in the dual-boot screen that’s part of Windows 7, and it was a show-stopper. This is a tablet, and because the touchscreen wasn’t active prior to Windows actually running, and there’s no keyboard, the simple process of hitting an arrow key to select “Windows 7″ from the boot screen was impossible. Game over.

I literally had to attach a physical keyboard just to hit an arrow key to select Windows as the active OS. How many consumers are going to go to that trouble? Those that do will then be faced with the next step, the time-consuming Windows Update process to get the brand-new tablet to the current version of the OS. That was the typical one-hour download and installation of (in this case) 56 OS updates to be current.

Then came the process of downloading and installing anti-virus software so the Windows tablet wouldn’t be exposed to the dangers of the web: another 15 minutes gone by. The setup process was complicated by the fact that some of the dialog boxes with instructions extended off the bottom of screen. I couldn’t tap “OK” to keep going at times, as the button wasn’t visible. I had to hide the Windows taskbar so the button was exposed.

The first boot on each platform was extremely telling: Android  was less than 15 seconds; Windows 7 took almost two hours. These two scenarios were not unique to these platforms, and were performed on the same hardware. The tablet form is tailor-made for the mobile OS, and Windows just can’t compete with that.

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  1. Ronson Jellbocko Friday, October 15, 2010

    That is no surprise as 7 is made for desktops and notebooks. Although review not posted I am willing to bet this tablet does not meet the high standard set by the mighty iPad.

    Netbooks and even notebooks are feeling the pain from the huge success of the pad. Best Buy, Target and Walmart selling iPads are quickly making it ubiquitous across the country. I cannot wait until the cheaper 7″ iPad starts showing up in Airport kiosks and 7-11 quick stops for purchase.

    Most people can get along fine with just an iPad, they don’t need a wannabe pretender like Android when iOS4 punks it silly. The netbook and notebook makers are already whining about how much sales they already lost to the Apple iPad. Steve was right as always, while the PC makers like Dell, HP, Acer, ASUS have been caught with their pants down and their shortcomings thoroughly exposed for all to see. The world looks to Apple in the mobile space for leadership these days while Android does nothing more than copy copy copy and copy some more. Basically Android is a leach that feeds off of Apple’s tail.

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  2. I tried the Hanvon Slate yesterday. I was very impressed – it’s nothing short of awesome.

    Forget about phone operating systems. Windows is the way to go.

    I had absolutely no problems using Windows 7 with that 10″ capacitive screen.
    I tried a cheap Android tablet afterwards and it was so much harder to use than the Windows tablet.

    While I don’t think more expensive Android tablets are harder to use than Windows tablets, I also see no point in paying 1000$ for an Android tablet when the same amount of money gets me a Windows tablet that’s just as easy to use but so much more powerful.

    Microsoft and Intel are right. Maybe Intel’s current Atom processors combined with Windows aren’t ready for the mass market yet, but the future belongs to Windows tablets.

    And please, NEVER tell me again that Windows isn’t good for slates. That’s a lie.

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  3. I look forward to the full review. It sounds like there are problems with the Windows installation process. While you are talking about the OOBE, your reference to a 2 hour “first” boot time for windows is confusing and will be misunderstood and misquoted. (A post on GBM reference thsi post and has started a treasd about the 2 hour boot time.)

    What is the Windows boot time after the inital installation?

    I belive the unit you are refererencing will be announced today. Will the actual shipping units have a full install of Windows or require installation as you suggest.

    For android users, a preconfigured install of Windows would be taken as a negative (crap-ware).

    If this unit was shipped with Windows pre-installed, what would the OOBE be?

    Regarding the windows installation process, it sounds like there is room for improvement, mostly on MS’s part. Dialog boxes should work at any reasonable screen resolution. This would not have been a problem with WIndows pre-installed. The shipping version needs to have WRITEN, HARD COPY INSTRUCTIONS FOR INSTALLING WINDOWS. THis would be a help to the less technically savy users. Us geeks would luagh at them and ter tehm up because we knew better. “Instructions? … Instruuctions??? … Geeks don’t need ne stinkin’ INSTRUCTIONS!”

    Your comment regarding security software is valid, but misdirected. MS security esential could easily be automticaly installed or preinstalled, if it was legal to do so. Thank/Blame the lawyeres/legislators.

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  4. James, you really did not give our mutual friend enough credit on the dual boot process. The home and return buttons function as “down” and “enter” respectively in the bootup process.

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  5. Hi James,

    I have this very same tablet and I was up and running in less than one minute. Not sure what your problem was as I didn’t experience the same problem. I found it VERY easy.

    I have to say that I’m rather surprised by how fast the unit is. I have been using it for 5 days now here at a conference in Italy and everyone has been fawning over the machine.

    Have you used it yet with Thinix Touch? That’s a very different experience – do make sure you review it with that running with Windows 7 as that makes a big difference to the tablet experience.

    Whilst the iPad has an interface that blows away Windows 7, the Thinix makes the tablet experience a LOT better. Give it a go and let us all know what you think. I’ve also configured it so that when I’m using Windows 7 only that the text etc is a lot bigger and easier to use as a tablet.

    I’m happy with it so far and I’m not a Windows person (I use a MacBook Air and the iPad). Btw where this device beats the iPad hands down though is the multi-tasking…that made life a lot easier at the conference.

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