The biggest disadvantage of running Windows 7 on a tablet computer is the battery life of the devices. This isn’t the fault of Windows but is the fault of the hardware its designed to run on. Existing Intel and AMD chips will run out when running Windows 7 for around 4.5 hours. The arrival of Windows 8 running on ARM designed chips will extend this, we presume, to seven hours or more and bring Windows tablets in line with the battery life you would expect from an Android tablet or the iPad.
But what about the benefits of running Windows 8 on an Intel or AMD-powered tablet? While the masses might flock to the new ARM tablets, I believe there is a very strong case to be made to buy yourself a Windows tablet using existing hardware, and get it before Windows 8 is released. Let me explain.
Windows on x86 and x64 hardware has many advantages that the new ARM version will likely never have. The most obvious of these is the ability to run full desktop applications, and having used the Samsung Series 7, which is the demo tablet Microsoft gave away at the BUILD conference where they unveiled Windows, and having used Windows 7 on another quad core tablet, I can say that this is actually a far better experience than you might expect.
The additional benefits though come in the form of support for additional hardware. This includes printers, TV tuners and much more besides. I have two tablets, an HP TouchPad which gets the general lounging on the sofa use, and a Windows tablet. What I can do with the Windows tablet that I could never do with the TouchPAd is place it in a charging dock with a USB TV tuner plugged in the back and use it as a bedside television.
At the moment the success of a tablet rests solely on the quantity and quality of the apps available for it, and I find this disappointing. It means that tablets are essentially very limited in functionality. With full support for all the hardware available for a standard PC you can greatly expand the usefulness of the device, and get much more for your money; let’s face it tablet’s still aren’t cheap.
The downside with this is that when Windows 8 becomes available, all the tablet manufacturers and PC manufacturers will be wanting to create machines using ARM chips. This will make them power efficient, slightly cheaper and better for consumers. Those companies will at the very least scale back the models they provide that run on existing x86 and x64 architecture and may even cease production of such models completely.
At the moment there are some excellent Windows 7 tablets available (I even have one to give away this week) but you might want to think about buying one before WIndows 8 launches if you want to be able to harness the full software and hardware potential of a PC with the device. If you don’t buy one now, you might find you simply can’t in less than a year.