Week in Tech: The calm before the storm: iPad mini, Windows 8 and Surface
Anticipation is in the air, as not one, but two industry giants prepare to make the upcoming week one of the most exciting in recent memory.
Three, if you include the earlier than expected UK launch of the much coveted Amazon Paperwhite, as we raved about in our hands-on review on 25 October.
Apple and Microsoft are the real titans duking it out though, with everyone else trying to steer as clear of the shockwave as humanly possible. Apple gets to go first, and while technically its big announcement is still under wraps, in practice everyone knows it’s the iPad Mini.
A few more surprises are expected though, with a new Mac mini seeming likely, and a couple of others firmly in the ‘hope’ column. A 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina display is a distinct possibility. Apps finally making it to the Apple TV seems less likely, but would be great. Tim Cook standing down in favour of a robotic clone of Steve Jobs called ‘iLive’… that’s a 30/70 bet. Still, might be worth a flutter!
Having lost its appeal against the UK High Court Of Justice’s ruling, Apple is being forced to apologise to Samsung. Worse, it’s being forced to apologise in Arial. Not even the dignity of Helvetica!
For such a style-focused company, the only worse fate could be having to do it in Papyrus or Comic Sans. It might feel better about the fact that its shame is shared though. As we said, “It’s a bittersweet win for Samsung, as the original ruling concluded that its tablet designs were not as ‘cool’ as the iPad, and that point still seems to stand.”
Where does Microsoft want to go today?
Microsoft on the other hand has nothing to worry about right now except making one of the biggest bets in its history, by not simply launching the Surface tablet as its iPad competitor, but redesigning Windows itself to be arguably more suited for touch controls than the traditional mouse and keyboard combo.
It’s too early to say if this the duo will usher in the next iPad, or the next Zune and Vista, but early reports are positive. We finally know how much Microsoft Surface will cost, price-wise, and while there are definite questions of compatibility between versions that need explanation, it’s not biting off a ridiculous amount. Early predictions suggest it selling 3 million units just in the remainder of 2012., and of course many more over the course of 2013.
Many questions still remain though, not least whether Microsoft’s gamble of pushing Windows on the desktop towards a more touch-friendly interface is going to pay off or alienate old users, and whether its official app store can give the new platform a suitable headstart.
In our comprehensive Windows 8 review, we said “keep an open mind, spend some time getting used to the charm bar and the Start screen. Once you do, we defy you not to be impressed by Windows 8.”
That said, we couldn’t not mention “The new experience and interface is far from universally popular.” If you’re unsure where you stand, don’t forget that you can still download the Release Preview and try it for yourself. Alternatively, check out our guide to the main differences in Windows 7 vs Windows 8.