The Inherent Advantages of Windows on x86 and x64 Tablets

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.

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7 Responses to The Inherent Advantages of Windows on x86 and x64 Tablets

  1. Stormdude124 November 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    A give away? I’m In 

  2. Watts November 17, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    wow, great tip. Another way to do it is to wait a few years and look for one of the intel tablets on your favorite garage sale website, they should be even cheaper.

  3. Brian Vistaunet November 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Hmm–I would argue that because of the lack of support for traditional Windows apps on ARM tablets, there will be huge demand for Intel and AMD devices. Of nothing else, Enterprise will drive this demand–I’d expect to see laptops and the next generation of ultrabooks featuring touch screens that can be removed as a tablet, or at least swiveled to lie flat of the keyboard.

    Intel has made huge advancements in chip efficiency recently, which should be coming to market next year, so long battery life with an Intel multi-core chip should be a reality by the time Windows 8 is released to hardware makers.

    • FrederickL November 19, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

      I agree with you, I think that the author is being a little alarmist. Apart from anything else there is a huge potential in the business sector for windows based tablets with a proper touch interface *if* they can run their existing programme library on them. I also think that the very latest offering from Samsung (their “Series 7″) shows the potential for improvement in the battery-life of xx86 based devices. Tests/reviews I have read have been talking about approximately 6 hours for Sammy’s offering and that from a tablet running win7 on a Core i5 with 4 Gb of RAM! I strongly suspect that if you did load the RTM of Win8 when its available onto that device one would notice a significant improvement on that. Furthermore Samsung have already said that they will be launching a “Series 8″ next year and I am certain that other manufacturers equally keen to get into the business sector on tablets (which they have not really succeeded in doing with Android) are well aware that it will be crucial to offer tablets that integrate straight into company systems. On your final point both Intel and AMD are indeed working their behinds off to produce chips which deliver without killing the battery – back half of 2012, beginning of 2013 are likely to see some very interesting developments in this area.

  4. Keith November 18, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Very generous of you. 
    Been thinking about getting a Windows 7 Tablet, but don’t know which one to get.

  5. KeithWin8 November 20, 2011 at 4:05 am #

    Just been reading an article at http://www.thewindowsclub.com that Nokia will be releasing a tablet with Windows 8 on it (June 2012) .
    I wonder how many more will announce they are releasing a tablet with Windows 8 on it.

  6. grs_dev November 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    This article with all due respect is baseless and slightly dangerous because it’s the kind of nonesense that could easily misguide novice users and or provide biased media unfounded amo.

    a) Microsoft demoed an early build of Windows 8 running Microsoft Office on ARM! Not sure where you get the concept that Win8 on arm most likely will not run desktop apps.

    b) The gadgets and hardware components you describ available for a PC in the traditional form factor only exist because there is demand. There was never much of a demand for the TouchPad.

    c) Why would there be no tablets for anyone to buy a year from now? Are you implying that demand is going to deplete projected inventories?
     

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