7
Nov

Windows 10 delivers a uniform computing experience regardless of application type

Back in 2001 Microsoft introduced the first application layer support for Intel’s then new line of 64 bit CPUs for consumers. But in the 12 years since the first release of 64 bit Windows, not much headway has been made to replace “win32” applications with 64 bit solutions. As Joe Bellfiore demonstrates during the Keynote presentation for Microsoft’s Tech Ed Europe 2014 event, with Windows 10 Microsoft has approached the task from a different angle: trying now to make sure user enjoy the same satisfactory experience, regardless of whether or not an application is written for 64 bit CPUs, or not.

Leaving aside, for the moment, the question of what’s really changed, under the Windows 10 hood to make this happen, the result Bellfiore demonstrated is certainly preferred and likely to win Microsoft new fans for Windows 10. This writer is participating in the Windows 10 Preview effort. It is now possible to open so-called “tile” apps and run them directly alongside legacy Windows applications without issue. In contrast, the Surface 2 RT experience leaves a lot to be desired and, for most consumers, would likely fall somewhere substantially below the “acceptable” level.

But perhaps Bellfiore could have simply presented the vastly improved performance of this latest version of Microsoft’s O/S without the associated claims about everyone sure to “love” it. Enterprise IT organizations are more likely to approve use of this O/S anyways simply as a result of the better stability of the O/S and the job Microsoft has done to stabilize system performance regardless of application type.

The webcast recording of Bellfiore’s presentation captures the enthusiastic response of the audience as Bellfiore demonstrated the new capability to copy and paste between applications running within Window 10’s GUI and a command line. So it’s safe to assume a number of converts over to the Microsoft view of the future of desktop computing were made during this section of the Keynote.

On a related note, Bellfiore’s demonstration of how the tile desktop has been built into the Windows Key display is worth noting. A highlight of the Windows Preview experience has been the improved accessibility of tile apps via this new view.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

19
Mar

Intel’s Reference Design for 64-Bit Smart Phone and Tablet Computers Attracts Positive Reviews from Mobile World Congress, 2014

Intel hasn’t enjoyed much success in the mobile market for smart phones and tablets. But on February 24, 2014, in a press release titled “Intel Gaining in Mobile and Accelerating Internet of Things”, Intel announced the launch of its ” . . . 64-bit Intel(R) Atom(tm) processor for smart phones and tablets . . . ” (quote is an excerpt from the press release). A reference design of a smart phone built on this processor and board showed up at Mobile World Congress. This prototype, running the Android KitKat OS, was well received by reviewers at the conference.

One of the reviews, Intel Merrifield Smartphone Reference Design, was published by Mobilegeeks.de. on the same day the Intel® published the press release for the 64-bit Atom solution. On several occasions the Mobilegeeks reviewer notes what she takes to be a major improvement in the product (as compared with Motorola’s Razr i, I would suspect), specifically the shorter length of the phone, which permits one hand gaming. There are quite a number of these reviews online. I did not find any strongly negative comments on the reference design.

So, if the mobile community actually warms up to this platform, what’s the impact for Intel? In my opinion, a right answer will be, necessarily complex. It’s certainly a positive to have a well received reference design, but the announced list of OEMs (ASUS, Lenovo, Dell and Foxconn) for this chip solution, with the exception of Leonovo (and only as the result of its plan to acquire Motorola Mobilty from Google), have zero footprint in the consumer smart phone manufacturing market. In my opinion the absence of a leading smart phone manufacturer will be a very hard obstacle for Intel to overcome. The choice to build the reference design with an Android KitKat OS will likely exclude Nokia from the list of likely targets for the platform.

Therefore it makes sense to assume, perhaps, three quarters of minimal sales for this product line as a significant smart phone manufacturer comes to the surface. At the same time each of the announced OEMs offers several table computing products. Expect to see the 64-bit Atom chip solution, with the Android OS, popping up in some tablet designs.

But HP (conspicuously absent from the above list of OEMs) just released two tablets with the 64-bit Atom processor, BayTrail, running Microsoft® Windows 8.1. You can read a review of the tablet in an article published on the PC World web site, titled HP ships first 64-bit Windows 8.1 tablets with Intel Atom. So it’s clear tablet OEMs on the Windows OS side of the market are keen on the 64-bit Atom BayTrail cousin to this solution. These sales will likely ramp up faster, but for a smaller overall market (focused on business end users).

Disclaimer: I’m long Intel.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

17
Mar

HP Introduces 64-Bit Tablets, but are the Price Points Too High?

Intel® 64-bit Atom processors in a BayTrails configuration provide the processing power behind HP’s new ElitePad line of tablets for business computing.

The début of tablets running Windows 8.1 o. 64-bit processors is certainly a significant event for Intel, which promised accelerated efforts to beef up its presence in the mobile computing markets for tablets and smart phones.

But each of these tablets, with WiFi and Cellular data communications capabilities, carries a retail cost of at least $909.00, which makes any of the models more expensive than even Apple’s iPad Air tablets (the iPad Air with 64GB and comparable data communications capabilities carries an online price, via the Apple Store of $829.00 as of March 19, 2014). The effective price penalty, baked into the HP ElitePad, is not a promising development for Intel. I’m not sure whether the higher price is the result of HP passing through higher cost for 64-bit Atom/BayTrail solutions onto the consumer, or not, but the end result will likely be the same — anemic sales for these tablets.

PC World recently published an opinion on these tablets. In an article written by Agam Shah, titled HP Ships First 64-bit Windows 8.1 Tablets with Intel Atom. Shah published an estimated retail price of $739.99 for the basic model, which I did confirm on the HP SMB web site.

Competitive pricing is certain to be critically important to the success of Intel’s efforts to establish a position in the 64-bit tablet market for CPUs. Apple clearly owns the high end of the BYOD business market for these tablets. I would argue even the HP Elite Pad price mentioned in Shah’s review, $739.99, is still too high. Neither Intel, HP, nor Microsoft will benefit when the cost, for business users, to enable BYOD hardware with a native Windows 8.1 OS, exceeds the cost of the present market leader (let’s not forget the iPad Retina Mini, which includes a 64-bit processor, Wi-Fi and/or cellular connectivity, and 64GBs of storage at a retail price of $729.00). I would argue the Windows OS, while certainly a potentially valuable feature, is not critical for business consumers using Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud offers.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved