Hey folks! I don’t spend a ton of time talking tablets on the blog any longer, but I had some free time to distill some of the thoughts and random cartoon scribbles from my sketchbooks that I’ve had in the past few months. I see things going in a certain direction.. and so.. I present:
Hello readers! Welcome to a special edition Cartoon MEMO to MICROSOFT, by tableteer & mobile technology enthusiast, Chad Essley. If you work for Microsoft, (and I know some some of you must from your ip addresses) or even if you know someone who works at Microsoft or any of the other companies I mention, take the time to forward my blog post along, to them will you? I’m hoping to send out a few laughs, and maybe even spark a few ideas concerning the future of Windows on tablets.. Are you prepared for a multi-page rant thoughtful and insightfully delightful article, filled with cartoon illustrations? Good! Read on!
This post will feature some exclusive full color, print resolution posters, that you can print out and adorn your office walls with. Hang one by the office water cooler anonymously. Slip one under your manager’s door! Tack one under your co-worker’s windshield wiper. Put one in a friend’s burrito. You know you want to..! And here’s the first one: ( Click HERE for a printable PDF ) 2.5mb
But ahem.. let’s move on.
I’ve been a huge fan of Windows since having to wean myself off the now defunct Amiga computer, and in the beginning, I was pretty unsure about the whole thing. Many IRQ confilcts, blue screens, and many years later, Bill Gates introduces the Tablet PC! What’s more, it ships with the holy grail for artists and people who love to write longhand the Wacom digitizer! I couldn’t believe my eyes. The little orange notepad looking computer Mr Gates was holding was the culmination of many components, all in one portable computer. XP came along, blue screens disappeared, and I waited. In 2003, the right machine came along. The Motion Computing M1200. ( Later, I upgraded to the M1300.. a very similar slightly more powerful machine.) The Motion machine was one of the new slate style devices, that I spent many hours doodling away on, finally untethered from my desktop. Windows XP, while not incredible, (but being a giant leap forward from 98!) ran everything I threw at it, flawlessly. People ooh’ed and aah’ed at the coffee shop.
As a creative guy who uses Windows exclusively, (gasp!) the bleating became almost unbearable with each passing year. Finally, Apple caves to consumer demand in the most Wal-Mart-esque way possible: The Ipad, running its Iphone OS, much to the disappointment of the digital artist community worldwide. Steve Jobs goes on record saying “If you see a stylus, or a task manager, they blew it.” Steve and Apple then go on to launch a bizzare war on Adobe’s Flash, with Steve posting, almost exactly a year ago today his “Thoughts on Flash“, a most profound and egotistical assault on the flash mobile plugin for Iphone / Ipad, beating his chest about how flash isn’t “open”. Steve’s forked tongue notes performance, security, battery life, and the final whopper..that “Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice.” -not for touch screens. Something Adobe quickly proved 100% totally incorrect. Steve does note that :there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on Apple’s own App Store, and many of them are free”. Come into our store. We have free stuff. But to use our free stuff, you have to purchase our shopping cart! Banning flash means protecting Apple’s App Store revenue. Pure and simple.
The mac crowd even dreamt up it’s own solution, the Modbook. The folks at Axiotron will take your existing expensive Macbook, and take the keyboard off, and hack it into a custom case with a wacom digitizer behind the lcd. (I’ve never used one, but from what I’ve read, the experience is no better than buying any one of the amazing and finely manufactured true Tablet PC’s out there that have been evolving for almost a decade.)
I became a DIY tablet promoter. A fanatic! I thought, the best way to fight the throngs of nay-sayers, would be to use the technology daily in my professional work. And so, cartoonmonkey.com evolved into half online sketchbook, half tablet & gadget technology reviews.
So recently, I had read an article by Jesus Diaz of Gizmodo.com titled “Why Photoshop for Ipad signals the End of Desktop Computing.” ( I did a double take.. whaaa! )
We are witnessing the beginning of a new computing era, after the punch cards, the mainframe, the command line PC and the mouse with its graphical user interface. And, thankfully, there’s no way to stop it.
Ho boy. Where to begin.. I think in many ways, Mr Diaz is right. Consumers, and we’re talking pure consumers.. will probably all move to a tablet like device. Will the keyboard vanish? No! I know that having on screen keyboards, is quite the cost saving measure these days, but I personally can type about three to five times faster on an actual keyboard. (Or when writing longhand for that matter.) The touch screen is novel, but at some point, when you want to do anything with any precision, you’re going to need an active digitizer, and a real keyboard. The touch screen ipad works as an entertainment device, and very possibly a perfectly usable desktop processor (with an added keyboard).. but beyond that, this new class of low powered mobile device is eating into innovation on the top end of things.
WAIT. Come back. Microsoft. I’m not done with you yet.
Lately some screenshots of the Windows 8 interface have leaked out. And my first reaction? Sure it’s a kind of evolution of the Windows I use daily.. and I like to respect others work and all, but seriously.. MS..
A comment from the above linked site: “
Seriously. Who told Microsoft that it would make a good interface?
Not designing an interface is not a good interface design. They’ve just taken the lazy way out and essentially not included an interface design – just throw EVERY SINGLE BUTTON in the user’s face. It’s utterly ridiculous.
Microsoft, I loves you man. But it’s time for something radically different. (And not “radical” in the parlance of the 1980′s either, so stop it. No you don’t get me!) That isn’t to say that I won’t plod on using your new ribbon interface for everything.. it’s just that I’ll get tired of it. I may move on to something that makes more visual sense, and well.. an OS that’s easier on the eyes. And brain. Design by committee, (and I suspect these screenshots are very very much a product of that) almost always leads to failure.
It’s time to find an entirely new interface that’s modern, engaging, and filled with nice animation. Yep, you need to hire and trust .. animators. (I can’t believe I’m saying this.) You see, in simple things about Windows, like screen rotation for instance, another company has you beat before the fight’s even begun. When I hold a Tablet PC, and want to rotate the screen, I do it, and BONK! The screen totally goes black, before clumsily popping back to the right orientation. This is confusing to the average human. Confusion = fear and loss of trust in the end user. What just happened? Where did everything go??! These sorts of jarring effects, put people on edge. Take the Ipad as an example. Perfect, smooth screen rotation. The eye can follow everything smoothly. Nice animation that eases in – and out of it’s motion. Beginning gently, speeding up, and settling to a smooth stop. No one wants that weird grid interface that you have going on with the ZUNE or new Windows phone. To quote Alfred E Newmann: “Yecch!”
Look, Apple has a bunch of nose in the air animators hired to follow just this sort of thing! They feed them latte’s all day, and give them rosewater sponge baths on their foreheads whenever they show the slightest stress!
The icon designers at Apple are inscrutable!
I know Microsoft has never been about hardware in the past. (Sure you guys make a great mouse and arc keyboard or two..) But it’s time to get serious about it now. For the tablet thing to really work, you need to buy a company like HTC, or at least emulate them closely. They’re making the sexiest Android phone hardware at the moment, and would probably be a great candidate to make the Windows tablet of my dreams. The de-facto Windows tablet should come directly from the designers at Microsoft! Whip Wacom into shape, and make them innovate a little. Have you ever torn apart a Tablet PC? I have! The Wacom digitizer could stand to lose some weight, if at all possible. I understand there are a lot of electromagnetic fields to deal with here.. but guys! It’s 2011.
Take a look at the Ipad, and make a fully functional Wacom digitizer (please GOD don’t try and save cash, and make it NTRIG) in a body as slim as the Ipad 2.
3: Get into bed with Android & Wacom.
(Heck, why don’t you just BUY Wacom?)
And, I’m kind of freestylin’ it here.. but listen to my wild ideas here, will ya? Some day, things will converge. Long battery life and truly powerful computing power will be the norm. But for now, winning the hearts and pocketbooks of the nation is going to take some extra cunning. We all love running our full desktop os on these tablets, we really do.. but sometimes..
Eat a little crow here Microsoft. Do a good thing and embrace Android a bit. A dual boot machine with two features: One side boots into a full Windows OS, the other side of the machine is an instant-on Android tablet. Long battery life for casual surfing, -boot into Windows to get your work done. The Wacom digitizer should be a Tablet PC exclusive.
They’re killing the Tablet PC.
Ever so slowly, it’s happening. Maybe we can stop it. Maybe YOU (Microsoft) can stop it. It might help to read some cartoons. Read on..
Once upon a time, Apple and the mobile phone guys had a brainstorm. Hey! Let’s take these low end processors, and shoehorn these streamlined, low power operating systems onto tablets! These new tablets are fast, cheap and out of control! Here’s why they’re killing off the desktop and Tablet PC market.
Hardware: Cheap chips!
Desktop computers have begun to top out, everyone knows that. Why, your grandmother probably sends her e-mail on a laptop that has so much computing power, it could fly six space-shuttles at once! And she probably got it on sale for $300 at Bestest Buy!
Even Wacom has jumped on the Ipad bandwagon! Introducing it’s Bamboo stylus for the Ipad. Sigh.. Just when you thought a company had integrity, when for years touting the fidelity of it’s Wacom digitizers…
But let’s get one thing straight. The Wacom digitizer itself will always be more precise than drawing on the Ipad’s capacitive screen with a piece of capacitive foam. Most people don’t know this. But with the Tablet PC being assaulted from all sides, it’s your job citizen, to go forth and spread the truth! Flash isn’t bad, the pen is OK, and the Ipad is a toy for consumption. Got it?
(Hey, I bought a POGO stylus for my HTC EVO Android phone, and I was a moron for thinking it could work.) Don’t feel bad. $20 down the drain. But you can save the others! Move!
Wacom has a new product in the works that’s INCREDIBLE. It’s called the Wacom CyberKitten stylus. Only 39.99 plus shipping!
We’ve all watched cat videos on our Ipads, but we could never pet them! Well now you can! With all the precision and feeling of a real cat. Don’t be left out in the cold! Get a CyberKitten Stylus from Wacom, today!
With Adobe testing the waters with subscription models, and releasing Ipad specific versions of Photoshop, you have to wonder what direction the company will try and take things. There are only so many features you can add to a product before it becomes redundant. In the future, maybe you won’t be able to purchase software from Adobe, you’ll have to rent it month by month. I personally hope this direction they’re taking is a huge failure. Hellooo Gimp, in that case.
If you do create an App Store ( And I’m sure you already have one ) make sure it doesn’t look like doo-doo. Break out, and do something totally beautiful, easy to navigate and new. Trust an animator, will ya? I’m not saying what I did down below here is amazing or anything, just.. a bit different from that weird “fun” corporate look you always go for.
So honestly, we’re in a weird phase in the development of tablets. Apple threw a huge spanner into the works with it’s Ipad being so popular. People want the size / weight and portability of the Ipad, and the simplicity of a mobile OS. Hardware wise, SXGA+ and high resolution screens on new Tablet PC’s are weirdly, nowhere to be found. Wacom makes no effort to promote itself, or tell you which of the tablets in the world it’s technology is in..
I’m getting a little tired, and running out of steam on this whole thing, but I hope it’s been an entertaining read, and given you some thought to the direction things are going, and a few possible ways to innovate or strike out in new directions, while avoiding the mistakes of the past. I’ve gotten angry. I’ve gotten angry and used my angry voice! And I hope none of you take it too seriously.
In the end, good folks at Microsoft.. when it’s all said and done, and I go to fork out cash on this new and wonderful, amazing thin new Tablet PC with the next iteration of Windows on it.. Hopefully you can smile and finally say to yourselves: