Desktop Operating Systems Don’t Belong on Tablets

Another quick one for tonight.

Over the last decade and a bit, we have seen Microsoft attempt to get the tablet form factor to be a success in the marketplace but a Windows tablet just didn’t get any legs. I believe this is due to three reasons:

  1. Computing power at the time was insufficient for something as scaled down as a tablet,
  2. What was possible in terms of physical form factor was far from ergonomic,
  3. Desktop operating systems don’t slim down gracefully or adequately for tablet or mobile devices.

Putting aside whether or not the Apple iPad is a good device, I believe part of its success has come as a result of scaling up a mobile OS that has only the most critical functions required by an operating system. Attempting to go the other way doesn’t work as tablets are never as powerful as a low end desktop and may be on par with an entry level netbook (and we know how slow they are).

Scaling up allows frugal use of limited resources and the ability to gradually increase capability and performance over time as hardware continues to improve. Attempting to scale down a desktop OS would be like trying to fit an elephant into an esky. Attempting to do too much on a limited platform is quite obvious to a user and leaves little room for growth.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft finally gets the message and brings out a tablet with its Windows Phone 7 OS on it. Mobile phones running the OS are yet to be released but early sneak peaks look quite promising and could translate to the tablet fairly easily. I reckon HP will eventually bring out a WebOS tablet which would be an interesting prospect and give the iPad a run for its money. We’re also starting to see Android slates enter the market like the Dell Streak.

It’s going to be an interesting twelve months I reckon!

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