Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Microsoft’s old headache

I recently blogged about some of the great stuff Apple ought to copy from Microsoft Windows RT and “paste” into its iPad. RT proves that Apple doesn’t have a monopoly on great design thinking.

But Apple isn’t likely to worry much about RT. Why? In a nutshell: it takes more than a slick OS to make a great tablet. It also takes uniformly great hardware.

Windows could have been so much more over the years if only the hardware builders who license Windows would have put as much effort into their products as Apple (which controls all aspects of both its hardware and operating systems).

Here’s my experience.

I tested Windows RT on an Asus Vivo Tab RT. It’s nothing special. It sports a typical plastic back and feels a little flimsy compared to its iCompetitors.

Unboxing proved needlessly painful. I dutifully followed the instructions Asus provided to get me started (as you might expect from a technical writer like me), starting from page one. I turned the tablet on and expected to start configuring it. A few seconds of such behavior ended abruptly when the Vivo Tab powered off.

I plugged it in to charge the battery and read more of the manual. On page eight, owners are advised to charge the tablet for eight hours before first using it on battery power. Page eight, people! Organizational mistakes in a brief getting-started guide were soon joined by spelling mistakes (!?!?) in the setup/configuration screens.

The cover on the box shows both the tablet and a keyboard for it. The box contains the tablet, but no keyboard. Yes, I’m a little disappointed.

I’m trying to figure out what “Limited” means when I see that word above the Wi-Fi signal. Based on usage in a few different places, the Wi-Fi radio might be substandard compared to the ones in my 2008 iPod Touch and my MacBook Pro.

Asus packaged “software” (i.e. “crapware”) in the Vivo Tab RT that adds nothing for me. These included Asus Camera (there’s already a camera app), Asus Web Storage (there’s already SkyDrive) and Asus Vibe Fun Center (which doesn’t interest me at all). Kudos to Microsoft for making it easy for me to uninstall this stuff.

I have yet to get the flash to work when I take pictures in low light. No settings for the flash can be found in the Camera app or on general RT settings. (I think I simply got a unit with a wonky flash.)

Asus priced the Vivo Tab RT in iPad territory, a recipe for less than spectacular sales if the history of Research In Motion’s PlayBook is any indication.

Maybe Microsoft foresaw such issues and decided to give Asus and other Microsoft licensees a wake-up call with its Surface tablet (which I haven’t yet tested). Let’s hope manufacturers get the message.

Do you have a Windows 8 tablet? If you do, what do you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

1 Comment
  1. Page EIGHT? Yikes! Not smart. You’d expect at least some extra piece of BRIGHT paper warning you at the least?! And the flash and crapware…oiy! :< Just not giving you the warm'n'fuzzies you need to "brag" about Win8 to the masses! :).