The touch first, mobile computing friendly nature of the default Windows 8 experience has necessitated the need to rethink and redefine PCs. Windows 8 has changed how Windows manufacturers are approaching their new range of products as the release date, October 26 draws closer. This is evident in the slew of devices and products announced, especially at the ongoing IFA 2012 trade show.
Here are the trends evident in how the Windows PC ecosystem is getting redefined to stay relevant in this mobile computing era.
Touch, Touch, Touch
The two biggest change to Windows in this version are the new start screen and the full and comprehensive support for touch gestures, including multi-touch gestures. This means the whole Windows ecosystems has to respond to this new input method for interacting with PC devices whether they are tablets, notebooks or hybrids. Even the most traditional of Windows devices therefore need to support touch based gestures for controlling your Windows PC.
This is a big change and it is evident in new Windows PC hardware announced recently. There is a noticeable predominance for basing design and functionality around touch. The screens of new PC hardware are being designed with materials which are responsive to touch or enhance touch capabilities of existing touch-enabled products. Existing touch based components of the Windows PC ecosystem like touchpads and mice are being redesigned to support multi-touch gestures.
Examples of this abound at IFA 2012. Acer’s Aspire S7 and S5, HP’s Envy TouchSmart and SpectreXT ultrabooks and Sony’s VAIO T and VAIO E are all touch enabled.
One Device. At Home, At Work, On the Go.
Versatility within the Windows software ecosystem has always been one of the main advantages of the platform. However with Windows 8, there is now also an increased need for versatility from the hardware running Windows.
These new devices have to be versatile enough to perform business and office productivity functions and also seamlessly transform into mobile computing devices either for entertainment or productiviy on the go. Although this has previously been touted as part of the sales pitch for some Windows devices, the software now truly allows for this to happen more seamlessly. Windows 8 allows for a single device to be used for office productivity, entertainment and media consumption or productivity on the go, more easily.
Manufacturers are responding with the trend evident from the product ranges announced for Windows 8 at IFA 2012. These products attempt to combine the best of mobile computing and the versatility of the Windows platform, to make the ultimate portable Windows PC.
The Asus Vivo Tab RT, the Dell XPS 10, Samsung ATIV Smart PCs all feature detachable keyboard docks. These allow them to switch between full blown producitivity machines and entertainment and media consumption easily. The Acer Iconia W510 is outfitted with a cradle that allows the display to be used with a keyboard and mouse input or tilted back for easier touch control.
Power Efficiency and Improved Battery Life
Approaching the design of a PC as a balance which includes mobile computing requires making battery life one of the priorities. Mobile devices, smartphones and tablets, have infinitely better battery life than laptops. Power efficiency for mobile computing is not an after thought but a necessity driving demand for products. In order for PCs to become more mobile computing friendly, power efficiency had to improve.
The biggest change in this direction is evident from Microsoft itself, by adding support for ARM processors into Windows 8, in addition to existing x86 processors from Intel. ARM processors are still more power efficient than Intel processors. This allows manaufacturers to product devices with battery life that are much, much better than the devices currently within the Windows ecosystem.
This power efficiency is not available only on ARM powered devices, as traditional Windows laptops, are also getting more power efficient. Each iteration of Intel’s processors bring improvement in power efficiency. Intel’s next generation Atom processor for example powers the Samsung ATIV SmartPC, which promises 13.5 hours of battery life. The Samsung Ultra 5 Series, uses a traditional processor but promises about 8 hours of battery life on par with some tablets, while Samsung’s flagship Series 9 promises 9 hours of battery life.
Device manufacturers are also using accessories like detachableable keyboards and cradles to extend the battery life of these devices by using them as battery extension packs. The Acer W510 is claimed to have around 18 hours of battery life thanks to its keyboard which has an additional battery.
The journey to redefine the PC ecosystem to become more versatile and mobile computing friendly, seems to be on the right track.
Share your thoughts. Can Windows 8 power Windows PCs to truly become the “No Compromise” all in one platform, for the new mobile computing era upon us?