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Windows 10 laptops still better than tablets
Posted on 6-Jul-2016 15:59 by Bill Bennett. | Tags Filed under: News.

In hindsight most users agree Windows 8 was a stinker. Many thought so at the time.

Windows 8ís reception so traumatised Microsoft the company drew a clear line under the operating system. To emphasise this, Windows skipped a version moving direct from 8 to 10.

One reason desktop and laptop owners didnít warm to Windows 8 was because of its touch screen features. Not only could most people not use them on their existing devices, but the touch screen apps and features were often confusing in a non-touch context.

It wasnít much better on a touch-screen PC. Switching between two modes was awkward.

Tablet or desktop OS?

Windows 8 made more sense on a tablet.

When Microsoftís Surface arrived we saw what the software giant had tried to do. While it wasnít perfect, Surface with Windows 8 was a plausible alternative to iOS or Android tablets[1].

Android and iOS were born mobile. They were phone operating systems first. Although moving them to tablets wasnít seamless, it was straightforward.

For Windows the transition was rougher. Itís no accident that if weíre strict about the term, most popular Windows 10 tablets arenít tablets at all.


They are hybrids. No-one considers buying a Surface Pro without also buying a keyboard at the same time. The same applies to models from Huawei and Samsung.

You never see people using Windows 10 tablets in the portrait phone orientation. They are almost always used in landscape mode. Like laptops.

Surface Pro users look like they are using laptops, because thatís how they are working. Hybrid tablets are, in effect, an alternative laptop design.

While you could say something similar about the iPad Pro and some Android models, at least they keep their born-mobile operating systems.


You can sit on the sofa with an iPad Pro in the portrait orientation. Sure, you can do the same with Surface, but itís not as natural.

If Surface and other Windows 10 hybrids are, in effect, a different take on laptop design, they have a few obvious disadvantages compared with more conventional laptops.

First, they are expensive. Surface Pro 4 prices start at around NZ$1850 if you include a keyboard.

Thereís a big performance jump between the cheapest model and the lowest Intel i5 model which would take the price up to around $2000.

Ultrabooks better value

You can get a lot of conventional laptop for the same money. Prices for Ultrabooks with an Intel i5 processor start at less than NZ$1000. Or you could buy a lot of iPad or Android tablet.

Second, Surface Pro battery life remains terrible. This may not be the case with the Huawei and Samsung hybrids.

Not only do you get a less active battery life from a Surface Pro 4, but the battery doesnít last long on standby either.

Battery woes

You can flip the power off on, say, the HP Spectre Windows laptop ó review coming soon ó†and know there will be plenty of juice later in the day, or the next day or the day after.

Thatís not the case with a Surface Pro. Come back later the same day and you may need to bring the charger.

Third, while Windows 10 hybrids can run most of the vast Windows software catalog, there arenít many tablet optimised Windows apps. You end up doing everything in the Windows browser.

That may not be bad for you. You may prefer to work that way. But it is not the same smooth experience youíll get with an Android or iOS tablet.

When there are Windows 10 tablet-style apps, developers give them less love. Developers update Windows tablet apps slower or less often than their Android or iOS versions. Theyíre not being difficult, they are responding to market demand.

Dog’s breakfast

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Windows 10 tablets is how they display non-tablet Windows apps. At times the screen is a dogís breakfast.

Load up a tablet-style app from Microsoftís Windows Store and youíll get crisp text, clear lines, smooth graphics. All good.

Now go and load an old-school Windows app. Thereís a chance the text is tiny, not resized to account for the high resolution screen. If thatís not the case, then instead of showing larger text, the pixels from small text sizes are blown up leaving blurry, hard to read writing.

Windows 10 laptops better than tablets

Why does this postís headline say Windows 10 laptops are better than tablets? As weíve seen, Windows 10 tablets are used in much the same way as laptops. Yet, apart from weight, they donít have many obvious advantages.

Meanwhile, they have poor battery life and there is not much decent Windows 10 tablet software. It isnít the focus of this post, but most laptops also offer better keyboards.

Thereís nothing foolish about buying a Surface Pro 4 or any other Windows 10 tablet. The best are fine devices. Iíd consider one for my use. Hybrid sales show Windows 10 tablets hit a nerve with customers.

Yet four generations on from the first Surface models, they still havenít met their full potential. Windows 10 tablets could be an incredible productivity tool, but they are not there yet.

  1. We shouldnít forget Windows RT. More confusion perhaps, but overall a more tablet-like experience. †?
This story was first posted at

Filed under: Microsoft Tagged: hardware, tablet, Windows

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