Tag Archives: tablets

Microsoft should split Windows into two separate OSes


This is Windows 8’s Metro mode. It literally doesn’t have windows anymore.

Microsoft is trying to walk back some of the polarizing aspects of Windows 8 with updates to the OS, but the real issue is the fundamental mistake of trying to make one OS that can run on traditional desktops and laptops, while also running on tablets and smartphones.

Microsoft needs to split Windows into two separate OSes. Windows 9 should look and feel like Windows 7 with new features and refinements. Forget Windows 8 and 8.1 entirely.

The Metro mode (the entire look on Windows smartphones) should be spun off into its own OS without the Windows name. It doesn’t have to be called Metro, but Microsoft needs to come up with a fresh name for its mobile OS.

I use Windows 8 every day at work. It’s not that bad as some would have you believe, but I like it less than Windows 7. Shouldn’t every release be more enjoyable and better? I consider Windows 7 to be the best version of Windows ever. It has a pretty clean windowing UI, it’s stable and secure and generally just works.

Windows 7 is an OS that really appeals to Microsoft’s core audience. Why mess with it?

I have my Windows 8 machine set to boot straight to desktop mode, and I have the start menu back; so it’s pretty similar to using Windows 7. But every now and then you accidentally open up an app or file in Metro mode, and it’s a really disorienting experience when one of my monitors is in metro mode and the other is in desktop mode. It really is one of the worst and most inexcusable computing experiences you can have today.

The core issue of Windows 8 is that it tries to merge two pretty good UI concepts together, and in the process makes both worse. I like Metro as a tablet and phone UI. I like the Windows 7 UI for desktop computing. It’s when you have to use Metro on a desktop or Windows 7 windowing on a tablet that it all goes to hell.

This is a pretty nice phone UI. I would not want to use this on my dual-monitor desktop in my office.

This is a pretty nice phone UI. I would not want to use this on my dual-monitor desktop in my office.

Microsoft has a new CEO. He doesn’t have to save face like Steve Ballmer might have tried to. He can simply say that Windows 8 was a mistake , and we’re going in a different direction.

The time is now to end this failed experiment to create one OS to rule them all.  Make Windows 9 the best traditional Windows it can be. Aim it at businesses and people who want to use the same OS they use at work at home. Focus on networking and cloud support (integrate OneDrive even further into the OS as a major selling point), improving multithreaded support (make it easier for developers to harness 4-12 and more core computers) and improving the file system.

The UI concepts of Windows 7 are pretty good. You can iterate on the UI and add new features like Apple does with OS X, but there is no reason to get away from windowing for desktop computing. It’s a conceptual model that works well, particularly for power users and work that benefits from multiple-monitors and multitasking.

Microsoft should then spin off Metro into its own OS without the Windows name, while still using the Windows kernel. This is what Apple does with iOS, and it works very well. Apple executives have recently come out and said that merging iOS and OS X into one OS would be a waste of time.

The needs of a user vary drastically by context. When someone is trying to edit two spreadsheets side by side his needs are very different then when they are trying to get directions while walking around a city. There is no reason to believe that tablets will replace laptops, so why not an OS that assumes that?

I use OS X at home, and think Mavericks is what Microsoft should be aiming for, not Windows 8. Mavericks is the best desktop OS I’ve ever used, and, while I really like iOS, I wouldn’t want to use iOS on my desktop computer.

Apple has shown Microsoft the path forward. Make the best desktop OS with windows you can. Make the best mobile OS without windows you can.

It’s that simple.

Episode 72: Rancid dog fooding

Dog food this.

Dog food this.

Blackberry’s CEO thinks tablets are on the way out in five years.

We don’t really agree.

We then discuss will we see larger, more pro sized tablets? And what about wearable computing.

We also discuss Siri vs. Google Now. We think Siri has some work to do.

Also, are students Internet addicted? We bring this up because Paul Miller has just returned to the Internet after a year away.

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Episode 69: A home with Facebook on your phone?


We discuss Facebook Home and who would want Facebook all over their smartphone.

We think there is a market for Facebook Home, but a lot of people won’t like it. It’s pretty though.

Jeremy then asks, “How many more versions of Windows will we see?” A lot of change is hitting the PC industry.

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Episode 57: Jeremy doesn’t do Dallas


We discuss 3D printing coming to a Staples near some of you.

3D printing is going to be one of the next big things in computing and manufacturing. We delve deeply into this. We also discuss some of the darker implications of 3D printing. Could you print a gun at home?

We also discuss the expected demise of The Daily. This doesn’t mean that tablet, iPad or non-print journalism can’t work. It just means The Daily couldn’t work.

This leads us into a discussion of The Magazine, which is an iPad-only news publication that is making money.

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Are blog posts and online journal articles the new textbooks?

How much longer do textbooks have in the classroom?

There has been a big push to digitize textbooks, add in more interactivity and make them available in new ways. But is the concept of the textbook itself fading?

I’m taking two courses currently in graduate school. One has a standard textbook that is only available in paper format. The other has no textbooks and all the readings are either websites or PDFs. We’re clearly in a transitory phase, but I think the future is clear: packaged textbooks are on the way out.

Class readings, however, on a desktop or even a laptop don’t present a good user experience. We’re used to and enjoy the experience of reading books and textbooks. We’re used to the crisp typography. People can get lost in books for hours.

How many people really enjoy reading a 30-page PDF on their computer? A paper textbook wins that contest every time, even if the content is identical. You can’t just lay back and enjoy reading on a laptop like you can with a paper textbook, and most laptops are much harder on the eyes than print. We can’t underestimate how much harsher traditional computing displays are on the human eye than print is.

But we now have better options than our computing forefathers. I do my course readings on my iPad. It’s high pixel density display looks very similar to print, and is easy on the eyes. It’s a pleasure to use for long-form reading, and I can carry many textbooks worth of information in a small package.

Using an app like Instapaper, I can save the Web and journal articles to read later and throw them into a folder to keep them all together. I also have a device that allows me to look up further information while I’m reading. If I come across something in a paper textbook that I don’t understand, there isn’t much I can do. On my iPad, I can get out of my readings and search the Web for answers.

Journal articles are increasingly found online, professors and researchers are starting blogs and websites and academic-focused projects are popping up all over the Web. Where once textbooks were required for learning in most subjects, the Web and the Internet give us access to information from all over the world, across disciplines and cultures.

Professors can mix and match journal articles, blog posts, podcasts, news stories, etc. to form an up-to-date curriculum. They can easily add in new readings during the semester if something comes up. The idea of a textbook being out of date doesn’t apply in a world where professors can pick and choose from the best of the Web.

As education becomes more expensive, we can’t forget the savings to students. The textbook industry is a racket that sees students pay hundreds of dollars per semester on books and get back tens of dollars after the semester is over.

The Web is full of great free resources. It’s easier for a professor to start a Website than it is to write a textbook. It’s also a lot easier to get feedback and iterate with a website than it is with a textbook.

Tablets and smartphones are helping to make this a reality in a way that wasn’t possible five years ago. Laptops aren’t good enough. They’re not great for long-form reading. The iPad with Retina Display is, and we’ll see more high pixel density displays on the horizon that help make reading on computing devices a lot more pleasurable.

One of the things that I really like about using Web readings for teaching is these readings allow students to interact with authors. A professor who makes blog posts instead of book chapters can allow people to comment on his work. Students can poke and prod and the professor can respond. Textbooks will never offer that experience.

Now imagine a student asked to read five different blog posts from five different professors from around the world. In one week, a student has the ability to interact with five different experts. Blogs, websites and social media allow for a kind of free-flowing interactivity that can bring vigor to the learning experience.

We needed better, more portable and more readable devices to make this happen. Now that we are finally starting to see them, I believe we’ll see a lot more professors and teachers assigning students Web readings. As students take to this kind of reading, we’ll see more professors writing blog posts instead of book chapters.

Maybe the next step to taking the Web reading experience to the next level is for someone to make an app that allows students to group Web readings and journal articles together by g\class and project, while also allowing for easy social annotations. The biggest thing missing from Web readings is that Web browsers don’t allow for notes and highlighting. Let’s make this happen.

Comscore: Kindle Fire is the majority of Android tablet market

The latest Comscore numbers show that people are embracing proprietary Android tablets much more than stock ones:

The Kindle Fire, introduced to the market in November 2011, has seen rapid adoption among buyers of tablets. Within the Android tablet market, Kindle Fire has almost doubled its share in the past two months from 29.4 percent share in December 2011 to 54.4 percent share in February 2012, already establishing itself as the leading Android tablet by a wide margin. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab family followed with a market share of 15.4 percent in February, followed by the Motorola Xoom with 7.0 percent share. The Asus Transformer and Toshiba AT100 rounded out the top five with 6.3 percent and 5.7 percent market share, respectively.

The mobile phone market is not the same as the tablet market. These numbers make that clear. While the Kindle Fire is Android based, it’s a proprietary fork of Android. I think we’ll see more forks like this in the future.

Android is having trouble getting traction in the tablet market, and the one Android-based tablet that is gaining traction is following the Apple tight-vertical model where one company controls hardware, software and digital media content. It makes for a seamless experience.

Tablets are becoming much more than consumption devices (I’m writing this on an iPad), and it appears that users want a tight experience that works well. Stock Android is certainly more flexible than a stock iPad or Kindle Fire, but it offers a vastly inferior user experience for the average user.

What is good design? It’s how something functions. I can hand an iPad to a lot of people who never really got how to use a PC and they’ll be better able to get the most out of the device.

Many people never really enjoyed the PC era. Those devices were too complex with good software, services and content too hard to get. These new post-PC devices are easier to use for the average person.

That’s exciting. It really is.

$45 tablet in India sells out in week

The Indian government sponsored tablet sold out in less than a week, and already preorders are beginning on a next-generation tablet.

These are essentially cheap, underpowered Android tablets (compared with other tablets), but it has a price that many people can afford. The Kindle Fire is taking off because it is selling for $199, but that’s still several times more expensive than a $45 tablet. These cheap tablets will not replicate an iPad experience, but they have the ability to bring computing and information to many more people.

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) sold for about $200 and was billed as a way to get computers into the hands of more children, helping them learn and develop new skills.  I believe that a cheap tablet fits much better for these educational goals. Tablets naturally are good reading devices, particularly for textbooks and websites. Tablets in addition can be cheaper to build, more portable, easier to carry and have better battery life.

These tablets in India are government sponsored, but it won’t be long until a good tablet can be built for $100 or so, without requiring a subsidy. These tablets will be great for developing countries and provide a better experience than a cheap laptop could.

Indeed, the majority of the $45 tablets sold in India went to students. How long until every student in the U.S. is equipped with a tablet to use? How long until cheap tablets make their way into more developing countries, helping to educate the next generation?


Verizon CEO: Shared data plans coming next year

Engadget is reporting that Verizon will begin offering shared data plans in 2012, allowing families and devices to share one pool of data.

There are two big use cases that people want shared data for. First, families have been sharing minutes for years, so why not data? By allowing familes to share data, more people will get smartphones. A lot of people are reluctant to dabble in using data for $30 a month (Verizon’s monthly charge for 2 GB of 3G data and the only data plan they offer on smartphones). 2 GB of 3G data is more than the vast majority of people need on their smartphones, especially first-time smartphone owners. AT&T says that 65 percent of their smartphone customers use less than 200 MB of data a month.

The second use case is for sharing data between multiple devices. Instead of purchasing a data plan for each device — say a smartphone, tablet and mobile wifi device — users could purchase one pool of data and use it across all of their devices. I used to have a data plan on my iPad, but I got tired of managing two different data accounts — one for my iPad and another for my iPhone. It was getting really expensive, and I would often use up the data on my iPad and have plenty of data remaining on my iPhone. Now the iPhone offers the ability to tether data from the iPhone to the iPad, and I do use that from time to time, but it’s a great way to drain your phone’s battery and not as good of solution as sharing a pool of data between my iPhone and iPad.

If I could buy a giant pool of wireless data and use it across a bunch of devices, I would. Instead, I have cut down on my data usage because it was getting too expensive and too difficult to manage several different accounts with the same company, all while I was having too much data on one device and not enough on another.

Hearst has about 400,000 digital subscribers as users embrace tablets

Reuters is reporting that Hearst Magazines expects to each 1,000,000 digital subscribers by the end of next year:

The launch of Newsstand in iOS 5 seems to have helped spur more digital subscriptions on the iPad. Newsstand is a central place on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch that allows users to subscribe to and manage magazine and newspaper subscriptions. New editions show up each day, week and month automatically and a user’s subscriptions show up on a bookshelf in a very user-friendly format.

Newsstand is not a feature designed for expert users. Expert users already knew how to easy manage their news subscriptions. The beauty of newsstand, however, is how it is allowing more users to enjoy news content on their iPads.

Part one was making a device that could work well for magazines and now part two is making it really easy for users to subscribe to and manage magazine subscriptions. There are high hopes that Amazon will be able to done the same with the Kindle Fire in the future. Other Android tablets are not seeing many digital subscribers to magazines and don’t have a good way to subscribe to and manage magazine subscriptions.

The current 7-inch Kindle Fire is not a good magazine reading experience, but Amazon is expected to release an iPad-sized tablet next year.

The quality of news apps on the iPad is all over the map. Some are just digital versions of print, while others are embedding in a lot of interactivity and multimedia. Some news apps are extremely hard to use and are a substantially worse experience than their own websites on the iPad.

It will be very interesting to see the quality of news apps in a few years.

Tablet users watch video 30 percent longer than desktop OS users

Even mobile users watch videos longer than desktop OS users. This has implications for content and user expectations:

Tablet users averaged 30 percent more viewing time per session compared with desktops, according to data released this week by Ooyala, a provider of video services to major brands. Tablet users also tended to be more engaged, finishing videos at nearly twice the rate as desktop users.

For each minute of video watched on a desktop, tablet users watched for one minute 17 seconds, an average of 28 percent longer than desktop viewing. Video completion rates on tablets were also 30 percent higher than non-tablet mobile devices.

Video ads generate a lot more money than banner ads. Same with audio ads. This could be good news for content producers moving forward, and it’s important to understand how users on different computer platforms consume content.

Keep an eye on these trends.