A score of Windows 8 tablets were showcased at Computex this year, most of which adopted the hybrid design as if they wanted to bring back the netbook era. These tablets looked chic and seemed powerful with their ability to transform from a sleek tablet to a powerful keyboard-clad computing device. Enter Microsoft’s 'BIG' announcement that compelled us all to ‘wear and tighten’ our speculative caps. But all Microsoft had to say was: “This will be a major Microsoft announcement — you will not want to miss it”. Following this announcement, rumours surfaced about a new tablet from Microsoft - touted to be an iPad-killer. Yes, Microsoft’s own tablet, and why not, with competitor Google building the Nexus tablet (Google branded). Speculations and rumours just don’t seem to end; some speculate it to be an Xbox tablet (in that case Microsoft could have unveiled it at the E3).
Adding fuel to the speculative fire is Nokia, who have also put up an image on their official Facebook page with the date reading 06.18.12, which means that the Finnish company also is planning on something for the same day. So, is Nokia launching its new smartphone, or is it a new tablet from the Microsoft-Nokia partnership along with Microsoft announcing some content partnerships? But didn’t Nokia call the Windows tablet report ‘misconstrued’ earlier? On the other hand, Nokia wouldn’t steal Microsoft’s thunder, and it could rather be a collaborative event. And so, we will have to wait until Microsoft spills the beans on the announcement. However, recent speculation has raised our expectations from the Windows 8 tablets - be it Microsoft’s own tablet or other Windows 8 tablets. The Windows 8 tablets showcased at Computex had some nifty specs, but we yearn for more. Here are a few features that we expect and speculate for the Windows 8 tablets.
Whether it’s Microsoft’s own in-house tablet or a Windows 8 tablet, good connectivity could help the software giant win those extra brownie points. Microsoft could raise the connectivity bar by making all their tablets support backward-compatible USB 3.0 standard ports. Another advanced feature that it could bring to the table is Thunderbolt, which is aimed at swifter connectivity with other peripheral devices. While a couple of Windows 8 devices may feature Bluetooth 3.0 or Thunderbolt, we expect all manufacturers building Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets, along with the mystery Microsoft tablet (if it happens to be true), to feature it. Android and iOS devices have been there and have been dealing with a fair share of criticism that have come their way in the mobile world. Whether one likes it or not, Windows 8 devices will be judged, compared, and will even face criticism for the minutest dislikes of its users and experts.
Content has become one of the essential factors that not only allures users, but also keeps them hooked on the device. We’ve seen Amazon and Barnes and Noble, companies known for ebook readers, sell their devices like hot cakes owing to content access. The Kindle Fire is known to run their device on Android and sideline all Google services over its own. Microsoft had earlier invested in Barnes and Noble, surfacing another wave of speculation that the new Microsoft product is being developed in conjunction with Barnes and Noble. This means either Microsoft is crafting a Kindle Fire-killer (Amazon and B&N are rivals) in the form of a new B&N tablet, or plans on making some cool B&N content available for Windows 8 users. We would like to see the former. The tablet could be an eReader-tablet with lots of content accessibility. Moreover, we can consider this possibility as we've already seen the Microsoft's Courier Secret tablet. Moreover, Microsoft doesn’t have an appetizing App store, at least not when compared to the mighty Apple App Store or even the Google Play store. We also expect Microsoft to make content accessibility easier, be it to apps, videos, music or other content.
Microsoft's own tablet on the way?
Office 2010 Apps
Amidst explaining Windows 8 like there’s no tomorrow, the company recently gave a glimpse of the Office 2013 on Windows RT. While Office 2013 has a little while to go until it is made available for users, Office 2010 apps are speculated to make it to Windows tablets. Microsoft clearly planned for a seamless experience across all platforms, including desktop where it rules. There have been reports about Office 2010 being the first Microsoft desktop application to come to Windows 8 platform, so we expect it make it to Windows 8 tablets too.
The minimum specs requirements for the Windows 8 tablet are fine, but with Windows tablets rumoured to carry higher price tags. The specs need to attract tech savvy users. There are requirements of minimum 1366 x 768 resolution, 720p or above camera, one USB port, Bluetooth 4.0, speakers and accelerometer, but the company may have implemented some strict rules for the battery life too. It would be nice to see the Windows 8 tablets with some additional gigabytes on the internal memory front, compared to other tablets available in the market. Also, a spec sheet that supports effective multitasking.
Even if the speculated Microsoft tablet is true, we don’t know if Microsoft will opt for Windows 8 or ‘Windows RT’ ARM-based tablet (if it is ever launched). Windows 8 tablets are likely to come integrated with the Ivy Bridge and the processor could preferably be dual-core, as quad-core-Ivy Bridge is a demanding combination for the battery life.
A slew of Windows 8 tablets were displayed at Computex, but ‘mum' was the word on its pricing. We expect Microsoft tablets to feature competitive prices (inclusive of the detachable keyboards in case of hybrid designs), rather than hefty price tags. Pricing is going to be one of the essential make-or-break factors for its tablets. Earlier, it was believed that with the new OS, Microsoft plans to change its strategy for the pricing structure. It was rumoured to charge OEMs around 1,953 for Windows RT. However, it reportedly was not true, and the Windows RT will cost OEMs somewhere between 80 and 95 USD, while around 4,734 is the most commonly quoted price. A sub-$500, which is approx. 27,914) Windows RT tablet is out of question, while it is expected to be priced between approx. 30,569 to 44,490. So, we could expect Windows 8 tablets to be slightly more expensive. This would put it in the high-end tablet market and draw constant comparisons with the reigning iPad. This would also mean that the low-end tablet market, which is expected to grow in developing countries will continue to be dominated by Android.
Although we have seen some nifty features already available, we think Microsoft can put forth a promising device if it adheres to some of the factors mentioned above.