Windows works with Samsung Slate - review

2012-11-15 13:02
Microsoft has been advertising the features of Windows 8 as a mobile and desktop operating system. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Microsoft has been advertising the features of Windows 8 as a mobile and desktop operating system. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Microsoft's new windows operating system presents a definite shift in the way the company operates, but many users will not recognise the new OS as Windows at all.

Windows 8 is designed for tablets and mobile devices from the ground up and works best on a touch device although deep down there are still hints of Windows - but very deep down.

Most users are familiar with the bloggers' take on the most unique feature: The redefined Start Experience that Microsoft has advertised as a brand new interface.

Without getting into the merits of why it was necessary to revolutionise the traditional Windows start-up, it is worth noting that while the new start takes some getting used to at first, on a touch device like Samsung's 700T slate, it is quite clever. It relies on sweeps from the screen edge to accomplish tasks.

On the PC though, the OS takes some doing as the experience doesn't translate as well and it takes some doing with the touch pad before one feels completely comfortable.

Mission

The Live Tiles present user information is an easy way and let's face it, most people who use a Windows machine like easy. Remember the hassle of Windows 2000 and the memory guzzling demon that was Windows Vista? Windows 8 will grow on you, albeit slowly at first, given the competence of Windows 7.

Apps feature prominently in Windows 8 and Microsoft is clearly on a mission to convince its traditional corporate user base that it can offer the convenience of the tablet with security protocols that will put it managers at ease.

One of the things that will be challenging about using the OS is learning the multiple gestures which are locked into the software and you cannot change the locking area... that may be a Windows 9 feature.

Swipe from right of screen and you have instant access to system settings and devices like printers. A top sweep results in a context menu and all the way down closes the program. A short swipe from the left docks programs in a dual screen feature.

The desktop app that you find on the Start presents the more traditional Windows look with the Recycle Bin, File Explorer and Internet Explorer visible.

Yes, IE has made a comeback in Windows 8 and Microsoft is confident that this time, users will use the browser for more than just downloading Chrome or Firefox. It's been optimised for HTML 5 and is purported to be a better overall web browsing experience.

One of the cool things about Windows 8 is that even on a tablet (or slate), it suffices to create content, rather than just consume it. It doesn't believe it's a tablet, rather, it acts like a PC, but without the keyboard.

Advantage

Be sure that Microsoft will not stop with the OS in this format: MS Office will no doubt also get the mobile treatment and Microsoft is hoping to entice users into its store where you can download programs and try before you buy.

Naturally, it's early days yet, but Windows Phone users will have a distinct advantage because the operation of Windows on phones, tablets and PCs is closely matched.

Windows will happily connect to your Facebook account and pull in and share content directly, with the need for an extra app as is the case with the Android platform, for example.

Microsoft has also encourages its users to connect to the SkyDrive service which saves content in the internet cloud so that pictures and messages are instantly available across multiple devices.

The Samsung 700T slate is more than a tablet - it's virtually a slimmed down laptop that the road warrior can effectively use to get work done, rather than play games.

It has 64GB hard drive, 4GB of RAM, Intel Core i5 processor at 1.6GHz, and weighs 850g - it's no lightweight - in more ways than one.

Battery life


To augment memory, you get a micro-SD slot and there's even a USB port for flash drives and accessories. It's got a massive screen at just under 30cm.

In the minus column, though, all the power of the Slate may give it bragging rights over tablets, but battery power could be better.

Despite the OS being able to suspend applications when not in use, observed battery life was little better than a regular laptop, at about five hours on one charge.

Windows 8 does many things differently to the traditional PC, but the key will be how well the OS markets itself to PC users as well as mobile devices.


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