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  • nagi603 - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    (The points can largely be said wbout iOS and Android as well)

    Semi-long-time Windows-based tablet user here. I use my current mostly as a note taking platform, with an old OneNote (I found the ribbon menu of the newer ones horrible and simply worse in all of my use-case scenarios). So that is strike one agains RT.

    Strike two is that I also use it sometimes for work, meaning I have to have a very stable and fast-ish multitasking system with flash-enabled browser, graphical program, full Visual Studio and the such. Completely impossible on RT.

    Strike Three is that I sometimes load up some games from steam. (Point and click games are perfect for pen enabled tablets)

    (Plus strike four that the RT version doesn't have the wacom pen I use for note taking and such.)

    So backwards compatibility is a grave issue for me. Right now the only thing I might be able to use an RT tablet would be some very light recreational activities.
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I haven't commented in the old article.
    I use my tablet for university related stuff (I'm a student), note taking in lectures, having all the material at my hands without carrying around tons of books, watching movies, listening to music or playing a game during recess or commute. I have an Android tablet that was good at the last few things. But I still carried around my laptop if there was a class where I actually had to do work (excel calculations, look up larger .pdfs...). And when taking notes became more important, I got myself a Samsung XE700T1C with an active digitizer. That is the dream computing device for me currently. The battery life is enough to last me through a day at the university most of the time. If it is a longer day, I just grab a seat next to a power outlet and charge it for one lecture and it gets through the day again. The active digitizer is a godsend for me, the power is all there and the programs we use can be run well as well. The games I can play on it are still very enjoyable, BlueStacks can be run when I want to, but I still have an Android smartphone, so that's what I use for Android apps most of the time.
    So for me, legacy support trumps price and convenience most of the time. I have some things that Android simply can't do. And I have enough that Windows does infinitely better (I have a huge library of games and older steam games that are better than 99.5% of all smartphone games) that the price difference is well worth it most of the time. I could have gotten an Atom XE500T for the active digitizer and excel support. But that thing was too limited in its performance for my games library. So I would have carried around more than one thing again.
  • mike8675309 - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Personally working in businesses focused on manufacturing, distribution, and shipping I see some places where tablets could fit. Some places where x86 would be crucial and others where it wouldn't make a difference. But in general it seems like a very niche market that I don't see being easy to expand until more software is available. Reply
  • apinkel - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Simple question. Complex answer. The key is proper management... selecting the platform that is the best fit for the environment, putting effective processes in place to manage the initial rollout (training, feedback of needed enhancments, priority management, etc.), handle on-going support issues after the initial rollout is complete, having a pro-active enhancement process to insure the platform stays viable for the long term, and finally having the strength to make the hard decisions when (not if) the platform is no longer the best fit for the environment. Reply
  • apinkel - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    An addition to this point about backward compatibility that I forgot to include in my original post.

    I don't think there is one right answer to the backward compatibility issue. It really involves being aware of the environment, taking a real, honest look at the available options, taking them for test drives, and finally selecting the option that fits the best.

    And lastly a follow up to the final note in my first post. Often time the hard decisions about putting a platform to rest are made by things outside of your control. Mismanagement, mergers, or the eventual end of life of the business itself. Nothing lasts forever (at least anything that's man made) but even when this end-of-life occurs the lasting effects of that company's work (good or bad) live on in subtle ways.
  • Granseth - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    A work tablet that is supposed to coexist with my workstation can be all OS's that manages to do the job.
    If it also would do the job of my workstation (in a kind of docking station) x86 and windows compatibility would be very important as a lot of my software is only written for Windows, and secondary but also important is the factor of economy, it's very expensive to upgrade all the software I use in one go.
  • ZeDestructor - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    For me its purely a question of power and capability. I need a fairly fast machine that can do everything I need to do on the move:not taking, light gaming, reading, video, music, browsing, multitask properly, some programming (software and HDL for uni and hobby) and run real, full Linux. Oh and have a great keyboard.

    That really leaves me with two reliable options in the market: Lenovo's X series tablet or Dell's XT line, and of the two, Lenovo's machines trumps the Dell by having a Wacom digitizer.

    Sorry no HP love, not after the overheating turd the 2760p is they dared to release nor the truly shit keyboard on the consumer tm line. That tm2 hurt me so bad. Even worse than a MacBook keyboard. T_T
  • bcutter - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Work predominantly involves use of Microsoft Office, Outlook, SharePoint, Lync, Skype. In addition I prefer to stick with one ecosystem, as it works better and easy to manage plus my comfort zone. As a tablet I find Surface to be a better fit compared to others, with similar interface to my PC, use of roaming profiles and Skydrive. Multi-user, file system, network folder access is a huge plus. When it comes to creation, the traditional multi window mouse optimized desktop still rules - its the consumption where touch has slight advantage. Surface providing both interfaces makes it much more powerful.

  • TwiSparkle - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Backwards compatibility isn't a particularly large concern for me. The lack of a compiler/IDE on any ARM platform is. I'm currently a college student and even though ARM is less powerful I could deal with it for when I am on the go. Reply
  • Ikefu - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I would say very important. As an engineer it goes without saying that I use large amounts of custom Windows based programs to interact with equipment, drawings, and compiling code, but its also needed in the office environment.

    For instance, many of our clients use custom programs for their training. I'm sure it could be converted to iOS or Android but when you see that many people still use outdated versions of IE (due to lack of interest in investing the time it takes to make sure all corporate internal webpages don't break) then it becomes apparent that they definitely won't want to do an OS or Architecture switch.

    For typical home use, Android or iOS work fine because there is very little the average user does that doesn't have an alternative app available to replace the Windows version (Unless you're a programmer/hobbyist like I am but we tend to be the exception and not the rule). However, in the business world there are lots of custom programs around that need to be addressed. So unless every company starts adopting cloud based virtual machine servers you can remote in to from Android or iOS I see the need for backwards compatibility with Windows applications to be essential. Someday that could change, but the platforms/form factors are still to new for many companies to make the switch.
  • trane - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    It depends on your occupation. Some can get by with productivity suites just fine, while others need solutions like Autodesk Revit or Adobe Premiere Pro. For the latter, the reality of the situation is that hardcore productivity apps are only available on the Desktop. Hence x86 and Windows are a must today for engineers, artists, architects, accountants and a pretty vast base of professionals.

    iOS or Android - even if we were to remove the Desktop these would still too simplistic compared to Windows 8.1 Metro for productivity. I am sure a lot of people can get by, particularly writers and managers, but again, Windows 8.1 has the advantage. The biggest deal in 8.1 as far as I am concerned it finally brings viable and flexible multi-window multi-tasking to a bonafide touch interface.

    Looking further, I see no reason as Metro matures to see the likes of Office first, then Photoshop, followed by the likes of Solidworks or Maya looking at the long term, heading to WinRT. Looking at a similarly long term, I would expect ARM to bridge the performance gap. So there will come a time where Windows RT would require some serious consideration. In this future, I wonder if Android or iOS can catch up to Windows as a powerful and fully featured OS?

    But today, there's no doubt in my mind. For my work, give me a Haswell Y series tablet running Windows 8.1.
  • Da W - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I could not do office work with anything less than Microsoft Office - full microsoft office. Right now it means x86 compatibility, with enough power to be enjoyable (baring atom from the list) and a fair price that isn't highway robery (looking at you samsung), it feels only the Surface Pro is good enough for what i do.

    However, i could see a thin and light ARM powered tablet (windows RT or Android) being used with an heavy x86 docking station (think quad core haswell + GTX780M) and you can replace anyone independantly since they remain compatible form a generation to the next. The docking station is desktop replacement oriented and hooked to 3X24" monitors, external speakers and wireless keyboard+mouse. For travel a simple surface-type keyboard cover does the job. If any OEM makes one of those i'm a buyer.
  • Flunk - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    For me, it's not at all important. The older systems that we use all have interfaces that are totally unusable on a tablet, everything is far too small to tap and they try to jam too much info on the screen.

    Web applications, however are totally usable so it doesn't really matter what kind of tablet it is, we can support it. So from my perspective as long as the HTML5 support is good enough it everything else doesn't matter.
  • keithzg - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    For me, backwards compatibility with x86 applications is semi-important. That is to say, backwards compatibility with x86 *nix applications. It's a bit annoying that Android doesn't support a normal Linux userland, and I've yet to find an X11 server that isn't junk for it. So that's been annoying (ironically often making my cellphones, which are Linux+glibc-based Nokias, more practical on paper---what I wouldn't give for a Harmattan tablet), but not overly so, as many commandline programs at least will compile and run on Android or have been ported, and although no terminal emulators are as good as the Nokia ones there are some fairly decent ones. So for my work---for which I'm the entire IT department for a small company that develops Windows software, so we're rather strictly bifurcated with Linux on the servers and Windows on each developers' desktop---I end up getting *more* backwards compatibility that actually matters to me on Android. I desperately hope that the Vivaldi tablet comes out sometime soon, however.

    It's not like my job doesn't involve Windows; I'll sometimes be at someone's desk and they'll be complaining about weirdness in Microsoft Access, and I'll have my tablet with a few sessions open connected to our MySQL server running on Linux. But what my tablet needs to interface with and play nice with is x86 Linux servers, not x86 Windows desktops.

    I know my use-case isn't necessarily a *standard* business use-case, and I'm stretching the description a bit here, but I felt it was worthwhile to give a different perspective.
  • yougotkicked - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    As a computer science student and beginner developer, I honestly feel that backwards compatibility impedes progress, especially in new platforms like android. There is no shortage of developers in the world, and forcing them to make new apps rather than let old ones dominate the market through popularity alone is strictly good for the market.

    As a user, I can understand some people's desire to keep the same work environment. But the way I see it if you can get used to using a tablet after a lifetime of using the mouse and keyboard, you can get used to using new software interfaces as well.
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Sure you can, but is it worth the time and effort? On developer and user side? That answer is surely not a resounding, general "yes". Reply
  • yougotkicked - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I'd say it depends on what the changes are. If it's a microsoft office style update where they change things just to sell a new looking product, it's not very worthwhile. If it actually improves the user experience or makes the software easier to maintain, then it certainly is.

    I'm not saying things need to change just for the sake of change. But new and better things shouldn't be blocked just because some people don't like learning new things.
  • A5 - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Dumping backwards compatibility is a good way to get your IT guys to murder you in your sleep. Not to mention a huge waste of resources if your old software already works.

    You'll learn that once you leave school.
  • Sushisamurai - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I have to agree, loss of backwards compatibility would waste time and money (training staff, buggy software/technical support, new license purchases, software/developer adoption to the new standard, IT training/knowledge to adapt to new software/hardware), not to mention a layer of redundancy lost in the transition as you already had a prior, working solution that everyone was comfortable to and trained for Reply
  • yougotkicked - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I see my comment was a tad over simplified. I'm not suggesting that every program available to a platform needs to be unique to that generation of that platform. But if google wants to change some data structures in one of the android Java libraries, they shouldn't bloat the new library with legacy support so some apps will be compatible with the new release. Those apps would still work on the devices they are being used on, and the developers can restructure parts of the app to work with the new version.

    In short, I don't think backwards compatibility is universally bad, far from it. I just think current trends put too much value on supporting old software, and forcing users and developers to update more often could do the industry some good.
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I'm not interested in another tablet without backwards compatibility.

    I have an ipad 2 and didn't think backwards compatibility was going to be an issue. But I'm pretty disappointed in the ipad overall. I find it more or less useless and at this point it's just a youtube player for my kids and a facebook reader for my wife.

    The lack of flash actually sucks for me in a big way. I also still find a fair number of websites that don't work right on the ipad. I've recently had problems adding/authorizing users with logmein or using travelocity (as some examples). And most of the apps are half-featured, eg Vidyo's video conferencing app can join a meeting but doesn't have all the presenter/organizer functionality, xprotect (video surveillance) can log in a view, but can't change any settings. Lots of stuff like that.

    If it had backwards compatibility I could make those things work when necessary. As it is now I can't ever just take the ipad because I have low confidence I won't run into a situation where it won't be able to finish.

    Windows 8 x86 is really the only choice I think I'll be satisfied with. But the current atom sucks and I wasn't totally satisfied with the first gen i series offerings. So I'm hoping to see some good stuff soon.

    I'd like the tablet apps to get better but we aren't even close to being there today.
  • A5 - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I won't ever be able to use tablets at this job due to what we do, but being able to natively edit MS Office documents would be critical.

    I don't think Xilinx ISE is getting ported to iOS any time soon, so this discussion is purely academic for me.
  • tech6 - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    For those that rely on legacy apps, it is an important consideration but for me it is not. All I need is Office compatible productivity apps, good email and a full feature browser. Reply
  • Sushisamurai - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    What a complex answer to such a simple question. In our private clinics, we've always been wary of upgrading our computer systems that have no backwards compatibility (take the transition from XP to Vista, horrible). With that being said, the transition, based on the OS and it's developers, can be a lot smoother. We unfortunately use a lot of custom software, and development for it on newer OS's take longer, as well, due to their complexity, we would lose valuable time and money lost in the transition to a new system. Not to mention a layer(s) of redundancy (and new license purchases), as our previous system was working, and the staff was trained to use it, and the IT guys are dealing with a familiar system. We wouldn't mind switching to a new OS with no backwards compatibility so long as its a perfect world switch, with no hassles or bugs, with similar interfaces to the old software with enough benefits to justify the cost - in a perfect world. In an imperfect world, given the choice between two systems of similar price, one with no compatibility, vs one with, we would always choose with. Mind you, we would factor in the costs of switching with the no compatibility solution, ergo, new systems usually lose out if they have no compatibility Reply
  • Sushisamurai - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Mind you, as new standards come out, previous companies will develop software for those new standards/solutions to stay competitive, however, every new rendition is not always bug free - we've far too often run into issues where the new software can do some things better, but some things don't work as well as previous versions or were excluded, adding more 'work' / inefficiencies, or just outright not compatible with our current system. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Job: university, electrical engineering department

    What we're using in the offices is Microsoft Office, Matlab, AutoCAD, Origin, Labview, Ansoft HFSS, Phoenix OptoDesigner, some larger programs I forgot and a bunch of smaller tools. If tablets are to be taken seriously here we need backwards compatibility. Sure, we already run heavy-hitters on simulation servers.. but setting up and maintaining significantly more of this would be some serious effort for questionable gain. And would make us depend much more on the network and data availabilty to the users. Sure, "the cloud" is a solution to this problem.. but not exactly plug & play yet (again more work to set up and maintain this, server and user side).

    It's easier if tablets are just ment as special purpose devices (note taking, etc.). But then they'll always just play the 2nd fiddle to the workstations and users don't like to transition between devices (unless this was completely painless.. all open pdfs and stuff transferred to the other device).
  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    I use an XPS 10 as both my work and personal tablet. For work, I mainly use it to do webmail and view Office files, largely spreadsheets. We also have maps on PDF, and the Reader app does the trick there. For my work use, RT gets the job done.

    For personal use, it's mainly browsing and email. I won't begrudge anyone who wants to game--and I do, but I usually do that on a console, if I can even find the time. I had an Android tab, which was good for most things, but I found that I rarely played those FAODs, and the document viewers all sucked in comparison to Office 2013.

    Top off the fact that I got this XPS10 for $230 open box, and I'm more than happy with RT, and that's BEFORE the 8.1 update (which includes Outlook RT for free, btw).
  • domboy - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    To me, the question isn't so much a matter of backwards compatibility with Windows x86, which I do this is important, but more with the artificial restrictions placed on some of the tablet the OS options available. Windows RT and iOS are locked down, Windows 8 and Android (and soon more linux distros) are more open with what you can do with them. Yes I do find some backwards compatibility very useful, and for me this is why Windows RT without the desktop app restriction is so much more useful. Things like putty can be quickly and easily recompiled, some .NET 4 apps can run unmodified on ARM (KeePass2 for example). This enables some backwards compatibility in a sense. But unless Microsoft re-thinks this boneheaded decision, I think Windows 8 on x86 is going to end up being the tablet of choice for Windows users, maybe even win some existing android or apple tablet owners. I'm not sure about Andriod vs. Ubuntu touch etc, but all three of those can be molded to the users preferences much more easily (though with Android you still have to root it). If you don't care for the applications in the official app store, you can download and install your own, or get an alternate application downloader (Steam for example). You can't do this with iOS or RT in their official state. Reply
  • domboy - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    In defense of Windows RT I should mention that Microsoft did get some things right. Mostly notable are Office RT and enabling Flash in IE 10. While technically not backwards compatibility in and of themselves, they would have been considered backwards compatibility issues if they had not been included. It's hard to imagine a Windows OS which cannot run Office. And having flash enables backwards compatibility with the web in a way. Reply
  • altintx - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    It's not important. Just plain not.

    Use the tablet primarily to augment things the desktop does poorly. Pandora on tablet is far better than any other UI I've found. Calendar on iPad better than our groupware software. Use it for testing webapps on a mobile screen. Use it for flowcharting and prototyping, again, because those apps are better than my desktop options. And use it at meetings.

    Meetings are the only situation where I'm disconnected. There, iPad beats a laptop because of the decreased weight and increased batter life. Typing is not awesome. But the overall benefits trump that. (The relatively small amount of note-taking I do is probably also a factor).

    I've tried using iPad to code, like several other commenters have mentioned, and it falls flat in that capacity. To make that work, it'd need a keyboard, and a physically bigger screen, and multitasking, and a half dozen things like that which stop it from being a tablet. So I can use it, it helps, but I have no illusions about it replacing my desktop.
  • dgingeri - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    Well, not so much with apps themselves, but with the equipment I use, yes. I have a great need for a decent serial terminal (and drivers for serial to USB adapters) to talk to switches and raid arrays. Remote desktop for both Windows and Linux is useful, whether RDP, VNC, or SSH, as well. I suppose the apps that would handle that would need to be, but I'm not objecting to moving to a different app to do the same thing. Reply
  • Sam Jost - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    In my opinion the end customers do not care which OS is running on their devices. They will just ask their software provider which devices are supported and buy those. Sometimes they'll might try to convince the Software Provider to Support something Special, but without the Software they won't use anything.
    So I'd say important is what the Software companies to Support for workplace customers. A lot are going the HTML5-Route which will work on most devices (more or less good). Depends on the Software used, though.
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Backwards compatibility is EXTREMELY important. I regularly use programs from the *90s* let alone more recently, for both work and home (and of course play).

    Ergo while an RT tablet actually would be fun to play with, and could kind of do a lot of my basics, there's no way it could replace real Windows as my primary or work PC.

    Not to mention how many CURRENT programs run on x86, that will NEVER be ported to RT because of it's closed nature.

    Heck, I can easily watch shows from my Tivo on a Windows 8 tablet, which an RT tablet can't do without transcoding...which a Windows 8 tablet can actually do, and again RT can't.
  • hlovatt - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    I use my iPad all the time. I have found that Safari, Mail, Notes, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote on the iPad interact well enough with the rest of the work infrastructure that is heavily Windows XP/7 centric to not be a problem.

    I use a Mac Book Pro as my desktop machine and find that automatically syncing of the above Apps between my iPad and my Mac great. This easy sync'ing easily trumps any compatibility issues.

    To open the debate up further I don't think running a desktop app on a tablet is a good idea. The great tablet apps, like the ones I listed above, don't have the same UI as their desktop versions and that is why they are great. I read all these comments from people wanting to run desktop on a tablet and I suspect that they have not tried a really good tablet with really good tablet specific software to see how good that combination is. Also when you have used tablet specific software you dont want to go back to lesser UIs on tablets, for many tasks it is actually better on a tablet than the desktop (general web browsing, mail, presentations, etc.).
  • Ytterbium - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    In my job legacy is critical, the apps I use are only used by a few 1000 people in the world, there is no motivation for application developers to build a new app for a platform that will only sell a few 1000 copies & my company isn't prepared to pay the full price for development. Reply
  • A Geologist - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    I should have replied to the original article, I just remembered a brief stint in industry between undergrad and postgrad where I did use a tablet for work. First backwards compatibility and then hardware requirements.

    I worked as an exploration and mining geologist for one of the biggest resource companies between degrees. Windows backward compatibility was a non-negotiable requirement, the software packages for data base input, resource modelling and GIS were all Windows only. These are software packages that had been developed over the last decade or two and are all huge, clunky, massively powerful and maddeningly complex. Going over the code and recompiling for another operating system just isn’t going to happen, so for my usage scenario x86 and Windows is a requirement.

    As for hardware features, we used tablets mainly as data capture devices and had docks for them back at the office so they served as our workstations for non-demanding workloads. Things that were essential; was good battery life, good WiFi reception, a stylus (imputing data onto spread sheets designed for work stations is difficult with fingers and a lot of places we used the tablets our hand were dirty, wet or covered in protective gloves so the stylus was doubly useful), a daylight readable screen and x86 windows for all the software we needed to run. Things I would have liked but could live without would be a camera with flash (taking photo’s of an underground mining face with annotations we could have added right then and there would have been a massive time saver), accurate compass, gyro, accelerometer and barometer would also have been nice and saved hauling a lot of mapping tools around all over the place. Waterproofing and touch screens that worked with wet fingers would also be nice but a good protective covers served us pretty well.

    For us tablets were great because they saved a lot of time transferring hand written field measurements to databases back at the office and we had access to maps, engineering and mine models anywhere on site that was covered by the company’s WiFi.
  • mahck - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    I basically answered this in detail in my comments on the previous question but I'll do a bit more elaboration here too.

    For my organization (and I suspect this also applies to a lot of large enterprises) backwards compatibility is NOT important for a companion device but IS important for a primary computing device - these are two different tablet segments. And while I still don't see it being the norm where a typical new employee is issued a tablet instead of a PC, I think we are close to being able to do that.

    Most large organizations have made significant investments in things like CRM, ERP, BI, etc. And even if a number of these systems are primarily web-based, there always seem to be some legacy applications that rely on x86. Until an organization is able to retire its legacy apps and move to SaaS or whatever, x86 will be a requirements for many users. If it's not supported on their tablet then they will also need a PC. Of course users in smaller companies may not share these constraints. Is backwards compatibility important? That depends on which part of the tablet market you are looking at.
  • Eric S - Monday, July 01, 2013 - link

    Existing Windows apps (not designed for tablet form factor) do not run well on any tablet, but if you need to run them there are options for the Apple iPad. You can use Citrix or a similar product to use Windows apps directly on the iPad. If it is an in-house .net app, you can port it to the iPad with Xamarin. Most of the time tablets don't need to run the same software as PCs because they are normally used for different tasks. iPads are by far the most popular tablet in the enterprise and are usually easier to manage by the IT department. Reply

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