Do the HP & RIM Tablet Failures Impact on Windows 8?

Considering the failure of HP’s WebOS powered TouchPad, and RIM’s Blackberry tablet, one could consider that there is no space for other contenders behind Apple’s iPad and Google’s Android OS.  I’m not sure that I agree.

The executives of HP and RIM were naive at best, and plain stupid at worst.

RIM’s tablet could do basic functions like email and calendar without being paired with a Blackberry phone.  That shrunk the market radically.  Version 2 would be better was the promise, then why the hell did you release version 1?  I listened to The Guardian’s Tech Weekly webcast last week and a RIM executive was being hammered by a fairly mild journalist.  Even RIM’s employees are rebelling against the morons who are drunkenly steering that ship.

Then over in HP land we have a who other class of maroon.  HP went and bought WebOS, the successor to PalmOS and declared to the world that it would be their tablet and phone OS.  Hello?  Is anyone there in 1996?  Is the Macarena still number 1 in the music charts back there?  WebOS went on “sale” and it turns out that no one wanted it.  The Pre3 phone was unwanted by any of the networks, and went on sale this week in Europe with no announcements.  Sales were so bad that HP terminated WebOS operations last night.

Where did it go wrong?  Both HP and RIM were convinced that they could use their corporate and government market penetration to drive huge sales.  There’s 2 issues with that.

Consumerisation of IT

The IT department is not driving the sale of tablets in the business.  IT admins hate supporting them because they don’t fit in with anything.  The end consumer is driving the use of the iPad at work; they want something friendly, light, and an experience that they can share with their friends/family.  Some stodgy business tool is not in their buying plans.

Applications

Imagine you bought a PC and could not run any applications.  How would doing business with Notepad work for you?  Not well, I’d expect.  But HP and RIM expected you to use their platforms with no app ecosystem.  They didn’t encourage an app developer community.  That impacts things generally.  But let’s dig deeper.

Are Microsoft Discouraged?

Hell no!  If anything, this proves something:  if the business is going to embrace tablet technology then they want an application platform, and they want it to be hardware agnostic.  If I develop and use some app on a Toshiba tablet, I want to make sure that my colleague in Paris that has a Sony tablet can work with me.  If I use a Toshiba OS and they use a Sony OS, then we cannot collaborate.  Sure there’s “the cloud” and web based apps, but we no that things aren’t really that simple; they should be but they aren’t.  And the PC isn’t dead; I sure don’t want to use a tablet 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  If I run a PC then I also want to use the same apps.

Windows 8 accomplishes this.  It will be hardware manufacturer agnostic.  It will give us the same HTML5 and Javascript OS platform across laptop, PC, tablet, and even netbook.  Wave 15 (Office and SharePoint vNext) even will support HTML5 and Javascript.

I think (this morning) that true tablet PCs will go through an evolution process.  Evolution looks unkindly at specialists.  When the environment changes, the specialist dies out.  Windows is like a fox; it is a true generalist, found almost everywhere, always able to adapt because it runs on so many vendors hardware and platforms, and suits the needs of so many.

RIM’s and HP’s tablets were true evolutionary mistakes.  What I do find surprising it that the executives or designers of either corporation were deluded, drunk or stoned enough to think that either of these tablets had a snowball’s chance in hell to succeed.  If I was a shareholder, I’d be considering suing them for negligence and demanding my money back.

EDIT:

I should have wrapped this up.  I believe that if Microsoft doesn’t screw up Windows 8 on ARM, in other words, if it is good enough to keep users happy, then it’s manageability and it’s shared application platform with the PC will make it the winner in the business that HP and RIM desired and failed to achieve with their Dodos.

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Thinking About Buying a Windows 7 Slate PC? Check the Screen Resolution First

Then make sure you read this:

“To take advantage of the Windows 8’s side-by-side window view, that requirement rises to 1366×768”

Windows 8 will run on Windows Vista/7 hardware but you need to be aware of that graphics requirement for side-by-side.  Check the screen resolution of any slate PC you were considering to ensure that you will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 next year.

For example, have a look at these current machines:

Machine Maximum Screen Resolution Windows 8 Side-by-Side?
Asus Eee Slate EP121 1280 x 800 No
Toshiba WT310 1366 x 768 Yes, but … *1
Gigabye S1080 1024 x 600 Not a chance!
HP Slate 500 1024 x 600 or 1024 x 768 You must be kidding?
Acer Iconia Tab W500 1280 x 800 Snowball’s chance in hell
Lenovo IdeaPad P1 1280 x 800 (not RTM yet) The computer says “no”
Fujitsu STYLISTIC Q550 1920 x 1080 480p, 720 p and 1080i – Impressive! *2

That Acer is nearly €500 from a UK online reseller, and is around $549 in the USA.  I’d sure want to know that I could install Windows 8 on it next year if I spent money on it now.  I’m actually quite stunned that of the big names I found with Windows 7 slates, only Toshiba and Fujitsu have one with the graphics requirement for Windows 8 side-by-side. 

*1 It’s been rumoured that since the announcement the device, Toshiba did a 180 and cancelled their slate PC plans.  Oh well!  Kinda makes sense considering the hardware would have limited sales with anticipation of true Windows 8 tablets in 2012 and more suitable hardware with alternative OS’s right now.

My advice:

  1. If you can wait, then wait until Windows 8 is released and ARM (system on a chip) tablets are released.  You’ll get great battery life, a lighter machine, Windows 8 support, and your lap won’t be burned by a flat PC.
  2. If you want the true tablet experience now then compare the iPad2 (I have the iPad 1 and love it, watching movies on the go, or reading from Kindle) with one of the many Android devices such as the Motorola Xoom (my cousin bought one recently and he raves about it, including the ability to insert and use an SD card with media on it).  The expected Amazon Android device will also be rather interesting (October allegedly).
  3. If you really want to buy a Windows 7 slate PC (not a true tablet IMO) then check the screen resolution first and make sure it supports 1366 x 768.  That’s not looking so good.  If you’re using it for business and want to enable BitLocker then you’ll really want a TPM 1.2 (or later) chip.  But that’s a whole other conversation … *2 By the way, Fujitsu’s machine also has a TPM chip option.  I guess that makes the Fujitsu STYLISTIC Q550 the best option as an enterprise slate PC if you really must buy one now.
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System Center Update Catalogs for Third Party Products

Ever notice how many problems are caused by drivers or firmware?  Ever notice how often Adobe releases a new version of Reader or Flash to solve a security issue, and how many legacy versions are running on your network – thus making your Windows Updates process pretty irrelevant?  Ever wish you had a way to centrally deploy fixes for those problems?

One of the nice things about System Center Configuration Manager and System Center Essentials is that up can potentially distribute updates for just about anything.  For example, SCE 2010 has a wizard for adding catalogs for Dell, HP and Adobe products.  That means their system updates become something that can be distributed via Windows Updates!

Note: You would not want to do this for Hyper-V hosts – remember to treat them like change controlled mainframes.  Use your ability to filter update approvals using groups to control which machines will receive these updates automatically via Windows Update.

You are not limited to catalogs from the above companies.  You can even create your own catalog using the System Center Updates Publisher.  And some companies like IBM provide catalogs that you can add using their provided URLs.

Irish Tax Breaks on Energy Efficient Dell Servers

IrishDev reports that the Irish government has added 5 Dell servers to the Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) scheme.  This allows the purchaser to write off 100% of the purchase price of energy efficient servers against the profits of that year.  The models in question (there are limited specifications) are:

  • PowerEdge R210 with Intel X3470
  • PowerEdge T310 with Intel X3470
  • PowerEdge R410 with Intel X5570
  • PowerEdge R610 with Intel X5570
  • PowerEdge R710 with Intel X5570

You might know that I prefer Dell and HP (my personal favourite) servers to everyone else purely because of the level of System Center integration that is available.  If you’re a Dell house and you are considering a virtualization project (Hyper-V, Xen, VMware) then these are the models to consider to make the most of your energy, minimise your carbon footprint, and maximise consolidation.

You can search for approved products on the SEI site.  It appears the only approved storage systems are from EMC and only 2 HP servers (HP DL360 G6 5570 and HP DL380 G6 5520).