There is far too much focus on the Apple iOS vs Google Android war – so much so, everyone is missing the very important battle that is actually occurring.
Microsoft Windows vs Google Android. The computer operating system market has for a long time been a three way battle, with Windows dominating, Apple’s OS X clawing away share but at a very low overall level, and open source Linux trailing long behind with the hard core geeks.
Today though, the desktop market still resembles that same battle, where things are changing is mobile. And I don’t mean mobile phones. I mean any mobile computing device. Notebooks (Laptops), Netbooks (those small 10inch and lower laptops), Tablets and Mobile Phones.
So with Apple doing so well in the Tablet market, and Android the only real competitor, everyone assumes that is the war. In fact, what Android is doing is building a compelling operating system for the future of tablets and smartphones which for all manner of fact can easily be a netbook or notebook operating system.
I write this article using ‘Polaris Office’ which is pre-installed on the ASUS EeePad Transformer. How is it so easy to type (as compared to the trouble and error prone ‘on screen keyboard’ of most tablets)? Easy – This is a netbook. If you were to walk past me now you’d certainly assume I was typing on a netbook. Unless you noticed me swipe or touch the screen – because the screen on this netbook is actually a tablet all on it’s own. The processor, operating system, storage are all located behind the screen, so it’s just like any other Android Tablet.
However, when I grab what looks the left overs like a netbook snapped in two – the keyboard – I can clip the screen on and begin work as a netbook.
So why do I think Microsoft has trouble ahead?
When Netbooks first came out – notably the Asus EeePC – you had to pay top dollar for a windows version, the linux version was dirt cheap. But Linux – well, its no good. For the average user that is. So Windows took off, and Netbooks today are a familiar site in stores and on the steets running windows.
Today though, Google Android is a serious contender as a Netbook operating system. I predict a flurry of Google Android 3.x powered Netbooks in store soon.
Ironic given the history of Windows own 3.x operating system which existed at the dawn of the internet age.
Let me be clear, I’m loving this ‘netbook’. Android is a great system with a full keyboard and some power behind it. I can do all the things most Netbook users are doing, typing, surfing the web, email and photos etc. I just don’t NEED windows.
Windows 8 looks great from the previews we’ve seen. Don’t be confused though, they’re not targeting Apple users. They’re targeting the future of all mobile devices, to ensure they have a viable alternative to Google Android in the ever growing low cost small form factor portable computer market.
So, what have Microsoft got to do to make Windows compelling? Progress. Windows is essentially still an outstanding operating system, and with the history that it has the foundations from which it is building are excellent. They can’t afford to sit still.
What has Google got to do to make Android Compelling? Life their game. Yep, I am loving the operating system generally, but it’s always going to be those small niggling little problems which slow the uptake. Take for example this article. I started writing it on the EeePad using “Polaris Office” Perfectly fine. Once I worked out how to select text and copy (not as easy as you’d think – being a ‘tablet’ operating system, it’s wanting you to touch and hold then select – with a mouse and trackpad control you want to click, drag and select. Not so easy), the problem I had was getting that text outside the ‘office’ suite environment.
While I could easily paste the text again in the same or other ‘Polaris’ office documents, If I switch applications, to my Gmail or wordpress website back end, press, hold and wait, the ‘paste’ option never appeared. In fact what I got was a message telling me ‘nothing to paste’. I mean really? Are you kidding me?
This is a fundamental function of an operating system and software, so the two are clearly not in sync.
Niggly – yes, fundamental – yes. Does it have potential – hell yes.
So, what of the EeePad Transformer. $599 for the 16Gb WiFi only tablet, and $799 for the 32Gb WiFi tablet with Keyboard dock/transformer. Frankly, it’s just too pricey! There is no windows licencing costs in there and the technology just doesn’t justify the hike.
Plus, when you compare the price to the iPad which still leads far and away in terms of Operating System and App quality it’s a tough ask.
However, if you’re edgy and want to set the trend for the future the EeePad transformer is something slick, it’s a great device and there is serious potential with it.
You need to have good access to WiFi or be carrying a decent smartphone with hotspot capability to make the most of it being WiFi only.
Overall, I’m impressed – Impressed by the innovation, and the concept, and what the future might hold.
The ASUS EeePad Transformer is on sale now, and is well worth a look.