Picture a situation where there is finally some degree of universality in the experience present on non-iOS portable devices. No Android forks, dropped support, proprietary app stores, or anything fun like we’ve been dealing with. A situation where it doesn’t matter if you’re running a glorified smartphone or a fully powered laptop with keyboard, touchscreen, and everything else a user might want, the superficial differences will be minimal. That’s the real appeal of Windows 8.
Android has been great for smartphones. There’s no denying that. It is even doing a good job of stepping up for the tablet market. It is, however, a completely fragmented experience that can be amazing in one instance and horrible in another depending on the choices that hardware providers make regarding OS forks and upgrade restrictions. Already Windows Phone 7 has seen things like Netflix support that Android users have at best partial support for if they are lucky. Hopefully Windows 8 will see enough support to make a difference.
All information available so far points to a Windows 8 release date in early 2012. The earlier, the better, will probably be the philosophy, but Microsoft cannot afford to release a flawed OS at this point if they are to have any hope of encouraging widespread adoption. Already there are any number of incentives for tablet users, including the intended compatibility with existing Windows Phone 7 apps and the Metro tile interface that while strange on the surface for PC users will make the platform more mobile-friendly than ever before.
There is no word yet on the general compatibility of the device or where we can expect to see early OEM adoption, aside from Samsung. Apparently the upcoming Build conference should include the reveal of Samsung’s first Windows 8 Tablet PC. Given Samsung’s relative tablet success to date, which has been prominent enough for Apple to take them to court to avoid competition, it isn’t at all unreasonable to expect big things.