So the most recent Windows 8 preview is out:
Initially my thoughts are pretty generous. The new Windows 8 stuff looks like a well thought out system, but then they also show a full version of Windows desktop running on this touch screen laptop.
While I wonder about how well a system like this would do (partially built for keyboard and mouse but crammed into a tablet, but also a system obviously built for touch expanded to a desktop) my real questions go deeper than the UI.
Tablets (at least all of the ones that I know of that aren’t just convertible laptops) all use solid state storage. This is good for several reasons. First, it keeps a device small and light. Second, it makes devices faster than a slow rotating harddrive based system would be. Solid state storage is ideal for tablets, but it also has its drawbacks.
At the moment, solid state storage is expensive. At tigerdirect.com, solid state harddrives with 120 GB run around $300, if you search for regular harddrives, your first results show 2TB for a mear $80. That’s 16 times the storage for about 25% of the cost!
The cost of solid state drives is typically the reason you only see tablets with 16 - 64GB. Of course solid state harddrives will come down in cost eventually, today they are only affordable by the masses with less capacity.
So coming back to a Windows 8 tablet, how much storage will just the operating system take? If you take Windows 7 and add more onto it for the touch stuff you’re looking at a significant chunk of storage. My Windows 7 VM (with only a couple added programs) takes up more than 20GB of storage.
So without any files, I’d expect Windows 8 to take up the same amount of storage. Not including any programs. Not including huge music/video collections.
One of the reasons iPad has been successful is because it is so affordable, its base model starts out with 16GB. Most of that storage is free when you get the device. For Windows to provide the same amount of free space on a Windows 8 machine they would have to have at least 32GB. Of course that is still in competition with iPad and its upper models, but it also means that Windows tablets can’t compete with the lower models on price.
Perhaps I’m blowing this out of proportion. Maybe an OEM will make an inexpensive model with lots of storage and still beat Apple on its pricing. What do you think?