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Why Microsoft needs to fix its broken tablet mode in Windows 10 (before it's too late)

In 2016, Microsoft achieved OneCore, a unified platform kernel designed to provide a cohesive Windows experience across form factors. From the desktop contexts of Surface Laptop, Surface Studio or Surface Pro (in laptop mode), to augmented reality with HoloLens to the tablet modes of Surface Pro and Surface Go Microsoft is striving to make Windows 10 one OS for all. Conceptually the idea is great.

The execution, however, falls short due to limited developer support, a weak app ecosystem and an underdeveloped touch user interface which all leads to a less than ideal tablet experience. Windows 10 with millions of legacy desktop apps and multiple input modalities is unmatched for productivity. Still, Apple, Google, and Samsung boast superior tablet experiences and more robust app ecosystems. And their quests to make their productivity options more competitive is ever so slowly narrowing Microsoft's entrenched lead.

Ironically, this path to challenging Microsoft's productivity forte was paved by strong touch and ever-evolving tablet experiences. Furthermore, Samsung's Infinity Flex Display that expands a smartphone to a 7.3-inch tablet emphasizes an evolving touch experience that is allowing rivals to progress in a hybrid phone-tablet device category. This accomplishment, also bolstered by a strong tablet UI and ecosystem, beats Microsoft's long-rumored and somewhat similar Surface Andromeda project to market.

An evolved touch and tablet experience has proven critical to Microsoft's rivals advancing their productivity computing strategies as well as bringing ambitious new form factors to market. Microsoft needs to fix its Windows 10 Tablet Mode before it's too late.

Today's smartphones are PCs - and that's an opportunity for Microsoft

Windows diminishing impact

As iPad Pro, Chrome OS, web-based productivity suites and smartphones continue to evolve, the role of powerful Windows desktops becomes less important for many users. Windows PC alternatives are increasingly meeting users computing needs. Unfortunately for Microsoft, this reality highlights the dominant role of touch-centric mobile operating systems like Android and iOS and less powerful desktop OSes like Chrome OS in the everyday lives of users.

These alternative platforms and ecosystems accommodate specific productivity tasks while remaining closely tied to a touch-centric mobile UI. Some users become more convinced that Windows' desktop-centric, touch-unfriendly OS is overkill for many computing activities. This "reassures" users that touch-centric UIs are more relevant for most of their present and future needs. It also bolsters user investment in these platforms and ecosystems as they become more productivity-centric and introduced to users at younger ages (i.e. school).

Microsoft is improving its productivity tools like To Do, Microsoft Teams, Office 365, updates to Windows 10 and more. In relation to much-needed improvements to Windows 10 Tablet Mode, however, Microsoft is still falling short. Our deep-dive into the next Windows 10 update 19H1 reveals that Microsoft has not moved the needle at all toward improving Windows 10 tablet mode. That's bad news for Microsoft's present and future touch-centric computing investments.

5 things Microsoft can do to improve Windows 10 Tablet Mode

Microsoft is hiding its tablet behind productivity

Microsoft recently launched Surface Go as "a Surface for everyone", which is also a Surface Pro in almost every way except for its smaller size. Unlike Surface Pro's "most versatile laptop" productivity positioning Surface Go is positioned as a leisure tablet.

Microsoft is pushing Surface Go as the Surface that is always with you for watching videos, listening to music and surfing the Web. This tablet focus seems bold, brave or perhaps a little out of touch considering Windows 10's comparatively poor tablet ecosystem and experience.

Perhaps Microsoft's marketing focus on watching videos, web surfing and listening to music is supported by data as most used tablet activities. If so perhaps that emboldened Microsoft to push a tablet, supported by its productivity messaging, against better tablets that are not as good at productivity. Either way, Microsoft is hiding its tablet weakness behind its productivity forte with Surface Go and Surface Pro while doing nothing to improve its touch-centric tablet experience.

For Samsung, Google and Apple the beat goes on

Meanwhile, Samsung is advancing its mobile computing strategy into a hybrid phone-tablet via its Infinity Flex Display supported by its successful touch UI and ecosystem. Samsung's One UI supplements the experience.

And Google's recently announced native Android support for flexible displays provides a foundation for touch-centric, context conforming mobile computing:

See more

Furthermore, Apple is rumored to be working on a folding phone concept which if it launches will also take advantage of a mature touch UI and mobile ecosystem. Microsoft is falling way behind here.

Without a mature tablet mode Microsoft:

  • Is slowly losing ground to productivity scenarios fueled by less powerful mobile OSes.
  • Does not offer a competitive slate tablet experience.
  • Is being beaten to market with hybrid mobile form factors that bridge phone and tablet categories.

Tablet mode is Surface Go's biggest weakness

Will Windows Core OS fix things … next year?

Microsoft's Windows CoreOS is rumored to be a "more" modular version of Windows and that can be tailored by OEMs to specific devices for specific experiences. CShell is a UI that will provide a seamless experience between device states.

Perhaps Microsoft is reserving advances in Windows 10 tablet mode for improvements that are planned for Windows 10 CoreOS in 2019. If so that could improve the UI experience. Microsoft still needs to build an app ecosystem, likely through PWAs, Project Centennial and developer support to round out the Windows 10 tablet experience to coincide with Windows CoreOS and ideally a Surface Andromeda 3-in-1 (phone-tablet-PC) .

That would take an aggressive commitment to its mobile computing touch experiences, however, that Microsoft has yet to prove it has.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

  • I really hope for them that they will improve tablet mode ... I recently bought the surface go and while the hardware is quite cool, the user experience I had with it was nothing short of terrible ... laggy, unreliable and inconsistent. My old Surface 2 running Windows RT was such a pleasure to use in comparison ... it's really a shame. I do hope that they have secretly doing some C-Shell stuff and they are going revamp the Windows Experience in 2019 ... because what they have right now might just drive me to go all Apple ...
  • Surface devices sales will start soaring if they can provide same exact edge gesture based tricks like in windows 8.1 tablet UI. Windows 8.1 sucked in desktop UI but its tablet UI was way ahead of its time. iPad pro proves it.
  • I agree. Windows 8 had the Charms bar, and side swiping gestures (which were ahead of what both iOS and Android had for multi-tasking and navigating at the time, if memory serves). It was short-sighted to detach them from the entire UI design. They would have matured naturally with the whole system by now, in my opinion.
  • So I read these comments, knowing that Windows 10 has the same Gesture set that Windows 8 did, and wonder why people think it does not? I am all for improving on what Windows 10 offers, but to look at Windows 8 as 'better' is just not accurate. Is this because the first release of Windows 10 in 2015 didn't have all the gestures and nobody has noticed they were added back in, along with several new ones that go far beyond what Windows 8 offered? Truly curious...
  • Windows 8 had a natural way to get to start through the charms bar, which offered a big, well placed start button. In Windows 10, I have to reach to the bottom right of my screen and tap a much smaller start button. Also, Windows 10 puts a system back button in the taskbar requiring you to again reach to the bottom right of the screen to tap a little button in most apps.
  • Windows 10 does not have the same gesture sets, are you talking about Edge browser vs. the tablet IE browser in 8? Those might have the same. W8.1 has the start menu that you can zoom in and out to change context, allowed you to choose multiple tiles to resize and move, etc. The running task on the left swipe allowed you to "half swipe" to get a running preview of apps on the side. Then on the right you had the charms bar. Both of these allowed you to hold the tablet in both hands and perform these tasks with your thumbs. W10 tablet mode is mostly useless. They need to either fix it or get rid of it. The problem with MS is they keep adding features that no one is asking for to push usage that few are interested in doing while ignoring fixing features that users actually keep asking them to fix. The start menu, tablet mode, etc need to be fixed badly.
  • The Windows 8 geatites were intuitive and placed front-and-center. They were activated using the thumbs or one finger and were the primary way to navigate (not an add-on to a mouse pointer) while holding the tablet between both hands. It wasn't just the gestures though, it was the features they exposed (Settings, Search, etc.) and how they enabled you to take actions of the device quickly and more naturally.
  • Hidden UI elements are never a good idea. Almost nobody that wasn't familiar with Windows 8 knew about the charms bar or swiping in from the edge. The charms bar also had it's own problems.
  • I'm not sure how those unfamiliar didn't know. Because when you used a Windows 8.X tablet/pc for the time once you signed in the first thing it did was to show you how to use those things. So, if you're saying people willfully ignored those things that's their fault. Not Microsoft's.
  • Granted, that was added in 8.1. W8 was terrible. I manage Windows Server 2012 R2, which still has the W8.1 UI and its amazing how bad of a desktop UI it was. Great for tablets but why would you think this was good for desktop and server? La, la, land.
  • Yeah but every UI had hidden elements or actions (see the iPad and iPhone and their "new" gestures). That's where advertising and user engagement at the store comes in, to expose the hidden. You are right though that there were some issues, but a natural evolution would have taken us far beyond those issues by current iterations.
  • Windows 10 tablet mode perfectly... yes perfectly... fits the use case for both Surface and OEM manufactured 2 in 1s. They are laptops... first and foremost... tablets second. And that is absolutely the right path for Microsoft to be on. To prove it to yourself, just go down to the Apple store and try to make yourself walk out with a $1627 iPad Pro for use as your daily driver (specs... 12.9 inch, 256GB, WiFi + Cellular, its Rubbermaid $200 keyboard, and $130 "pencil"). If you do make it home or back to the office with one, come back and tell us how great that "tablet mode" is after you finish whipping up your first major document, spreadsheet, or presentation. Rather than "fix" tablet mode, Nadella will... and should... stay the course. Microsoft's future is rooted not in small form factor mobile... but in its productivity focused past... i.e laptops... laptops with eSim, mice, trackpads, game controllers, and soft supple keyboards. ;0)
  • @Ferris Bueller. Have you used the following devices and o/ses:
    1)a Windows RT device?
    2)The pre-release version of W8.
    3)Windows 8 and 8.1 on a 40"+ TV as a desktop monitor?
    4) have you actually used a touch screen laptop using W8.x and W10?
  • There's a reason why W8 adoption was so poor. To give you an example we never even remotely considered purchasing laptops with W8 on them in my company of 1000+ employees. In IT we piloted it enough. But we quickly realized it would have been a disaster of epic proportions. The adoption rate for W8 shows that hundreds of thousands of other IT shops concluded the same thing. W8, as hard a pill as that is to swallow, was the perfect example of MS trying to be something they are not. W10 corrected all of that by returning to fundamentals, while keeping the best parts of W8. And that's been the whole flavour of Nadella's tenure... a return to fundamentals... doing what MS does best. The results? The 2 in 1 market has blossomed, slowing the decline in new PC sales. Lenovo's killing it, HP's killing it, Dell's killing it, Surface is killing it, and subsequently MS' stock price is killing it. Why? Fundamentals. Doing what you do best. Laptop first... Tablet second... the wrong course for Apple and Google but... the right course for Microsoft.
  • This is a very facile analysis. The reason why Windows 8 adoption was poor is not that Microsoft lacked the technical capability of designing a good OS. The decision was simply a strategic disaster.
    Imagine you have close to 1 billion devices running your operating system. These are all systems designed and made before the touch revolution; now imagine you create a touch-first operating system and force this new OS to close to 1 BILLION NON-TOUCH devices worldwide. These devices are used to run governments, companies, hospitals, gas stations...and then try to justify forcing your users to try and awkwardly navigate this new OS through their traditional input methods.
    Now go and look at the newer touch-based devices that came out later, like Surface. Everyone praised the touch interaction to the point that today, everyone agrees Windows 8(.1) had a much, much better UX when it comes to touch compared to Windows 10. People are asking Microsoft to bring those features back to Windows 10. I remember I uninstalled Windows 8 within an hour of installing it on my laptop (and my friends got mad at me because "you never try new things!") but I was amazed at how well suited Windows 8 is on a smaller tablet. Microsoft panicked. They saw the rise of the iPhone and Android, and in a chaotic state of mind, decided "WE NEED A TOUCH OS!" regardless of who was actually going to use it.
    To sum up Microsoft did good things and bad things, in both fundamentals and in their adventures. You can't use the basic argument "fundamentals good, everything else bad". They started pretty good with Windows Phone, for example. They messed it up later on.
  • Again... windows 10 has the perfect amount of touch support for Nadella's laptop first... tablet second... focus on ppl who like to get stuff done... approach. The people complaining about tablet mode are probably not even using Win 10 in tablet mode to begin with. I use it in true tablet mode (just tap the big blue "Tablet mode" button in the action center people) at least one or two times a week... without a mouse... and without a trackpad... and usually with a pen... and it's perfectly fine. Swipe from left... Timeline... Swipe down and dock by dragging to the left or right... Swipe from the right... Action Center. Click in a textbox... virtual keyboard. Tap the start button and walla… a full screen start menu that looks exactly like it did in Win 8. BTW you can set the default even in laptop mode to have a full screen start menu if you wanna go back so bad. What exactly are we missing? And once more... it's this perfect balance between laptop and tablet that has ignited 2 in 1 sales, and prevented enterprises from almost feeling forced to cling to Windows 7 forever or heaven forbid switch to Mac OS or Linux.
  • Bullshit, if anything, not enough people using tablet mode are complaining because obviously, Microsoft hasn't received enough complaints to actually do anything about it. Non-touch users aren't going to go out of their way to complain about a mode they don't even care about. And this is no excuse for why the touch UI is plain bad compared to Win 8, Android and iOS. Adequate should not be what Microsoft is aiming for, and it's insulting to users especially since we know Windows 8 did it right. And using it one or two times a week is laughable. During Win 8 I bought a 8" Dell Venue 8 Pro, I used that as a tablet 99% of the time. The OS was fast and fluid even on this 2GB ram Atom device, decidedly low spec even for the time, but it was fluid. Modern IE was a great touch browser (it was also great on my desktop PC connected to a TV), but eventually the lack of an adblocker and more processor and ram intensive websites meant it was unbearably slow. All of the basic OS parts worked well: the lock screen, the virtual keyboard, gestures to switch apps, gesture for the charms bar, easy access to Start through the charms bar, gesture to swipe to All Apps, a slider to change display brightness, etc. It was all just plain better on Win 8. And the thing I don't get is most of those things could apply to Windows 10, there was no reason the desktop improvements meant taking away better touch UI. Some examples: The Start Screen: how difficult would it be to add swipe left to access All Apps? That's how it was done on WinPhone 7/8 and 10mobile, and it was an swipe up in Win 8. Task/app switching: swiping from the left should cycle through applications starting with the most recently used. Swiping from left and back should open Task View. Which was how it was done in Win 8. Accessing Start Screen: This one is easy, the solution is taken right from Win10 Mobile, Task View in tablet mode should have the Start Screen as the first option. The current swiping up for the sliver of a task bar and pecking at the puny Start icon in the very bottom left is just not ideal when using a tablet. Unresponsive virtual keyboard: It's improved in 1803 and 1809, and personally since upgrading to a more powerful Surface Go it's worked much better. But it it still doesn't register keypresses sometimes for no good reason. Again this is a 'they got it working just fine in Win 8 and somehow in Win10 it turned to trash' for no apparent reason? Lock Screen: PIN pad doesn't show up after swiping up from the lock screen. Need to double tap the text field for some reason. This is just inexplicable, it's worked since WinPhone7 but they can't get it right in Win10? My Surface Go now has Windows Hello, but on occasion it fails and I have to type the PIN. Why the heck is the pad not showing up automatically after swiping up to unlock? None of the above would take away from the desktop experience, and were working fine in Windows 8. How can people not complain about the poor touch UI in this case?
  • Totaly disagree. Windows 10 is much less touchfriendly than WIndows 8.1 was. In windows 10 there are not gestures, its pre-mapped laggy animations. Windows 10 is "tapping- friendly" not touch friendly, there are zero gestures, everything is so small. You cant zoom in start, or switch by gesture to all apps, in Windows 8 there was perfect charms bar, big Time with date when you released charms bar. Verry good switching between apps. IT WAS PERFECT.
  • Windows 8.1 also runs so much better and smoother on my Surface 3. Windows 10 is simply not optimised for tablets.
  • I've always thought that Windows 10 should've been the precursor to Windows 8. It would've allowed desktop users become familiar to a touch centric ui and then Microsoft could've iterate touch/gesture based computing for the ideal environment of having one operating system across multiple form factor devices. There misstep was trying to force their users into an eco system that wasn't fully realized yet. If you look across the android and ios devices over the years, you see a general consensus of gesture based input that Windows 8.1 originally had and some would say concepts were stolen from. The secrecy of Andromeda has me wondering if there are more ui concepts that haven't been realized yet or if it's so far behind current iterations of their competition that Microsoft haven't created anything worth showing or mass produce.
  • That is not a coherent argument against improving tablet mode. Improving the tablet experience in no way diminishes the laptop experience.
  • The Surface Go is actually a really good example of what you talk about - I have owned Surface Pro devices for years now and have an i5 2017 model which is a great device overall. The problem with the Pro has always been that it wasn't really that good of a tablet for me....At times I thought it was due to the OS, but really it's down to the size. The Go is actually a perfect middle ground, big enough for productivity but small enough to be a tablet. I think an iPad Pro would suffer in the same ways a Surface does as a tablet. The Go is the first really good hybrid device for those who want something in the middle - The Pro is very much better as a portable lightweight laptop. The Go is the hybrid dream achieved and what they mostly need to do is keep making it faster, very slightly reduce the bezels to provide a larger screen in the same form factor. I am replacing my main portable computer (Pro) with a Go because I mostly do my "real work" at a desk anyway and have a desktop PC for that too. When I do need to be on the Go I don't want to carry around multiple devices, the Go can replace an iPad and a Surface Pro/Laptop if you can live with the smaller screen (Which is largely based on how often you are planning to use it out and about) They can still improve tablet mode but I don't think it's a big issue like people make out - A gesture to get to the home screen would be nice but I don't have many other wants right now. Honestly, it's the size of the device that suddenly turns Windows 10 into a better tablet - Here is hoping more companies like HP and Dell will introduce smaller, Surface Go type devices now MS have proven it can be done, and the Intel Gold CPU has been proven good enough for every day work
  • @Ferris Bueller.
    Sigh... you are once wrong soooooooo many levels, conveniently forgeting facts and aspects doing so doesn't simply mean they don't exist.
    First of all you have not answered any of my questions, therefore I cannot take your points and comments with any sort of weight of experience behind them.
    Secondly, in regards to W8 you are by factor 100 totally incorrect. The reason why W8 was poor is because it was too much too soon and had fundamental design flaws for instance the power button was only accessible via settings in the charm bar. Plus, touch was still in nascent stages and there were not many affordable touch screen devices. In addition there was no out of box wizard when Windows 8 was released.
    Best parts of W8, are you fricking kidding?
    These DO NOT EXIST in W10, the best part of W8 were the gestures, the touch screen controls, the touch centric UX of the browser. The tablet mode in W10 are as best is as useful as a paper mache umbrella in a hail storm - not fit for purpose.
    The whole of Satya Nadella's tenure currently be summed the following:
    1) The CEO who totally annilihated the mobile division therefore chopping of any moment UWP would have had. Through that Microsoft also lost the co-creators of Pureview - Juha Alarkhu and his compatriots (One of them now works at Apple).
    2) Windows has been superceded by Android as the most interacted o/s.
    3) We have seen massive spikes in preventable bugs and issues due to the fact the Quality assurance and programmatic testers were fired. Thus relying on developers to do the design, implementation, testing and reiteration. Which is exhausting itself and to programmatically test for quality assurance on top of that is IMPOSSIBLE.
    4) The accomplishments you just touted they began under Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates. Had the RROD and Surface division write down occurred under Satya Nadella, we would not have seen the Surface Headphones nor Xbox one X.
    All these are direct factor from the cost reduction policies and short term profit grabbing policies put in place through out Satya Nadella's tenure.
    5) He is also responsible by extension for the fact the xbox one x had hardly any first party titles as many first party studios were closed.
    6) He is also responsible by extension for the state that Cortana is in right now through the lack of investment in localisation.
    7) He is also responsible by extension for the lack of Microsoft pay available globally.
    8) He is also responsible by extension for the US centric mantra.
    9) He is also responsible by extension for hamstringing the Surface Pro 6.
    10) He is also widely "famous" or "infamous" for saying he did not see the value of more than two ecosystems.
    11) He famously said if OEMs don't build phones, Microsoft will... next thing you know they don't...
    12) Also we have the "famous" consumer retrenchment which baffingly they thought wouldn't impact them this badly.
    13) Through his tenure we have actually seen developers actively drop support for Windows...
    14) Thanks to his cost cutting policies, Build attendees no longer get the swag that they pay for through the obscene ticket pricing, it's now becoming a mandatory attendence point through the competition mentality.
    Microsoft has a tendency to over react and W10 is a classic case of over reaction, perfect for Desktop users and utter tripe for touch users whereas W8 was almost perfect for touch screen users and utter tripe for desktop users.
    Here is the kicker, when Steve Ballmer was being forced out by the board due to the Nokia D & S acquisition. Satya Nadella said, he was on board with the acquisition as he initially was against it. Once he got the job - what is the first thing he did?
    He axed the ENTIRE mobile division as RESULT the Lumia 950 and L950 XL launched with soo many bugs it was so shocking - there are no words to describe it.
    The only thing Satya Nadella can be credited for his growth of Azure, acquisition of Xamarin and the stock rise. Nothing else, not even the Linkedin acquisition - which does not even a UWP app planned let alone a PWA and the same applies to Mixer.
    If you still believe Microsoft is "pursuing the fundamentals" which is really software... than you are more naive than a horse being led to water as at least the horse would have the tendency to know when they are being misled.
    Last thing to note, Satya Nadella's mantra is "to enable everyone to do more" and to "start loving windows" that's hardly the case.
  • You have Excellent!! points here, but unfortunately, desperate fanboys and MS do not/did not give a damn about any of it. The level of mediocrity in MS's execution since Nadella took the lead, is mind blowing. With every step they take, another two or three are one foot over the other. Their current planning is catastrophic. Their short minded, short term profit thinking is beyond stupidity. A company that constantly reorganizes within a year is a clear sign of bad management and blind walking!
    The quality of Windows has gone one gives a damn about this OS! their guinea pig insider program is nothing but a pathetic social network of ninja cat and useless features requests. All major companies have their faults, but the level of stupidity and mediocrity MS has reached, is beyond any sort of measure.
  • MS does headphones now, and 2-in-1s and desktop all-in-ones. That's are not their "usual forte"but they are making a success of it. Windows 8 rollout was badly thought through, in my opinion. It was a UI design disaster/
  • Headphones? I agree that they are a success but in such a small profit segment that they are virtually meaningless. I agree about 2-in-1s but already ms are being gazumped yet again by foldable releases from other companies. Under Nadella there appears to be only one direction for MS in the medium and long term and that's down. Why the board has not screwed up its courage before now is just unfathomable
  • Absolutely 100% disagree. The start menu in desktop mode is garbage. You can't select multiple tiles, sometimes you uninstall an app but a black tile remains that you can't get rid of, there is no ability to zoom in and out in the start menu like you could in W8x, etc. The W10 settings UI is dumbed down to the point of uselessness, its slow and buggy. To get anything more detailed done you have to go to the x86 shell. And tablet mode is complete garbage, I never use it even on my SP4 in tablet mode. W8.1 is a much better tablet mode UI, allowed most features via your thumbs while holding the tablet with both hands, the start menu was far better, etc. There is a LOT of room for improvements for 10. And a small form factor would be far better off with the W8.1 UI then 10.
  • Totaly disagree. Windows 10 is much less touchfriendly than WIndows 8.1 was. In windows 10 there are not gestures, its pre-mapped laggy animations. Windows 10 is "tapping- friendly" not touch friendly, there are zero gestures, everything is so small. You cant zoom in start, or switch by gesture to all apps, in Windows 8 there was perfect charms bar, big Time with date when you released charms bar. Verry good switching between apps. IT WAS PERFECT.
  • I'm not an Apple user or fan, but you can almost feel the synergy between their hardware and software products in the review videos of the the iPad. They have mastered and refined their idea of a tablet UI over many iterations. To deal with the slight dissonance in using Windows on small tablets, you need to think of it as a mini desktop first (requiring the keyboard and trackpad). In your case, unfortunately, this defeats the idea of the Surface Go as a tablet first. You should be able to choose to use the device exclusively as a tablet (consumption/ entertainment device) and not be flummoxed by how it feels to use.
  • You are talking about something completely different. The UI exp. compared to a particular laggy hardware. Then you are comparing an Intel processor that is slow but can run x86 apps with RT that might have been faster but was pretty much a dead end product without x86 emulation. In fact the biggest reason Windows 10 S mode is a fail is that you can't run a browser outside of Edge.
  • Yup Windows 10 is much less touchfriendly than WIndows 8.1 was. In windows 10 there are not gestures, its pre-mapped laggy animations. Windows 10 is "tapping- friendly" not touch friendly, there are zero gestures, everything is so small. You cant zoom in start, or switch by gesture to all apps, in Windows 8 there was perfect charms bar, big Time with date when you released charms bar. Verry good switching between apps. IT WAS PERFECT on Windows 8.1
  • I can't understand the fact that why is it so hard to employ windows 8.1 tablet mode + Win 10 destop mode. Windows 8.1 tablet mode was awesome even later iOS and macOS copies some gestures and UI element from it. But MS abandoned it before it could take off. Windows 8.1 didn't get any chance to prove itself due to lack of touch screen windows laptops and 2 in 1s. Just give user a option to use Win 8.1 Tablet UI via a toggle button in setting at least test this feature with insiders.
  • Because nothing scrolls lateral.
  • Just make that an option if you want to scroll vertical or laterally. But remember that the 8.1 start menu pulled up a zoom mode with a vertical scroll.
  • Absolutely agree. Give us a choice of using 8.1 Table UI. Well, for me I still use 8.1 on my SP3. Loved it from the start and still loving it to this day. When I tried Windows 10 tablet mode on my other laptop it was horrible. I knew at that moment I would never upgrade my SP3 no matter what features Windows 10 might show.
  • I recently got my Surface RT back from my nephews, and I'm amazed at how much better that interface is than Windows 10's tablet mode. Sadly, there are even fewer apps in the store for it now. This is a perfect case of "be careful of what you wish for." I really hope people are happy that they got their Start menu back, because that is what truly doomed the evolution of Windows.
  • Of course it isn't; 99.9% of Windows users are happy with the PC experience, and don't give a hoot about the touch experience... A good touch experience is necessary in order to capture Google and Apple customers; not to please W10 PC users.
  • Exactly, but Windows users are not a growing segment. If Microsoft wants to grow their user base, small touch screens are the largest market in which Microsoft can only grow.
  • An entire article about the bad W10 tablet mode, and not a single example of what's wrong... I have a Surface Pro, and while I use it as a tablet 75 % of the time, my gripe isn't with the tablet functionality of W10 (which could certainly be better, but is nowhere near as bad as it's made up to be), but with the lack of tablet support in Edge. Windows hasn't got a lot of apps (programs yes, apps no) compared to its rivals, and it never will; tablet mode in W10 is reliant on perfect browser laptop-to-tablet conversion. Microsoft needs to focus on getting the Edge tablet experience a LOT more polished, and fast! Above all else, this will make or break any version of the Andromeda device showing up in the near future...!
  • Apps are programs. “App” is just short for application. Application Programs. It’s all software. We used the term “app” 20 years ago. We had DOS apps and we had WinApps.
  • I think many people make a distinction between apps and application (programs) by the significance of the functionality. Apps are those narrowly focused things that likely could be replaced by a web function/site. The Starbucks app for example. Applications, or programs are more significant pieces of software, such as the Office products, or Photoshop and the like. On phones/mobile devices, we predominantly have apps, while on desktop windows, we tend to use more applications. You can of course get apps out of the MS Store to run on your desktop, but the hardware tends to be overkill for the task. This just my way of distinguishing between apps, and applications. Certainly not codified anywhere, and many refer to any piece of software trivial or substantial, as an app. Those folks are just too busy to say the whole word, LOL (ironically)
  • There's no need to rehash the issues because by and large they're the same ones reported since Win 10 Release Preview; a link to a previous article outlining the problems would have been nice. I would say most people include not having a good touch browser as an overall tablet mode problem. Modern IE in Win 8 was so good. It's frustrating Microsoft can't get Edge back to that level. Especially when they are continuously improving Edge on Android and iOS.
  • "a link to a previous article outlining the problems would have been nice." Lazybum...there are actually two very bold links with pointing finger icons pointing to previous articles that outline those issues. At the end of section titled Windows diminishing impact you'll see: 5 things Microsoft can do to improve Windows 10 Tablet Mode And at the end of For Samsung, Google and Apple the beat goes on you'll find: Tablet Mode is Surface Go's greatest weakness Hope this helps.
  • Ah I missed those, for whatever reason, I find those hand icon lines look like spam ads and skip them automatically, lol
  • The Modern IE in Win 8 is absolutely the BEST!!!!! I love using it everyday!
  • Best comment of this article. Edge is the biggest culprit in windows 10 tablet mode. If MS just port Modern IE of windows 8 or add same gestures in edge then it will be blessing.
  • Just having Edge switch to having the address bar etc. at the bottom would be a nice improvement, also a gesture to get back to the home screen when in tablet mode - I think they are pretty much the main things I want from Tablet mode now. Other than that some additional apps would be nice but that isn't going to happen in most cases so just need to find alternatives or get by with the browser - Which is okay if you use it as a laptop-first and tablet-second device I guess. I would just like to see Netflix add the "cast" / remote control option you get on all Android and iOS devices - Not sure what technology that uses (Don't THINK it's Google Cast) but Windows is the only place that doesn't exist.
  • I get where you are coming from but I think it is apples and oranges. Compare Edge with Chrome or even FireFox and it falls short. Compare Edge to a mobile browser of any of those and it is far better. Edge on a tablet is actually an awesome browser. I think they need to decouple it from the OS to allow for independent updating and managing the sync outside of OneDrive sync. They also need to improve bookmark management. But page rendering is getting better and better. Frankly there are no longer any pages I go to that Edge does not render correctly anymore.
  • I think Ms has given up on tablet mode. I reported a problem (system tray is cut off the screen view when switching to tablet mode when scaling is enabled unless start menu is visible when switching to tablet mode.) back when I first got the Surface 3 and they still have not fixed the issue in the current build... Don't think it will change....
  • Sadly I agree with you. They need to simply stop all new feature adds, that no one is asking for, and just fix and improve the ones already in the product. Frankly I would love to see widgets in the start menu, like the preview we saw out of China during Windows 8x days that had expandable tiles that you could interact with such as email and such. Such a waste.
  • Microsoft needs a mobile OS. Period. There is a reason why Apple did not just move ALL of MacOS to phones/tablets. There is a reason Google did not just take desktop/server Linux and put it on a phone. They both took subsets of the desktop OS in question. That Microsoft is still trying to move desktop/server Windows to a mobile form just shows that - at this extremely late date - Microsoft STILL does not get it. One size does not fit all. It never has and never will. Clothes, cars, pizzas, houses and everything else come in different sizes for a reason. To think that the same software is going to run fine on a server and a phone is as silly as making one shirt that fits everyone from newborn to NFL lineman. Uh huh. Right.
  • What exactly is 'mobile'? Is an international capable eSim in the ARM powered, leather clad, Lenovo Miix 630 mobile? Is Surface Go with a traditional LTE Sim-slot mobile? I'd argue yes on both accounts. And not only are they mobile, but they're mobile devices you can actually do something with.
  • That's a rather limited, short sighted, definition. Thankfully Nadella in his genius has seen the future for us. Look 5 to 10 years out and you'll see why he's right. Phones have run their evolutionary course. Apple and Google are already trying to create the "what's next" by increasing screen size more and more and more. Now they're trying to force the "foldable" market. But with foldables, you can still get absolutely... nothing... done. Just with twice the screen size to mock you.
  • @kojackjku roflmao, cheers needed that laugh. To be honest I don't think Ferris realises the ramifications of what he is saying.
  • Phones have run their course and laptops are the future? I don't think you have that right if that is what you are saying. Adding LTE to laptops isn't new or revolutionary.
  • :)) Too much kool aid for ya?
  • Microsoft's problem was not that they haven't gotten "tablet mode" right with Windows 10, it's that they didn't support Win 8.1 long enough to allow the hardware technology to catch up before capitulating to the desktop world forcing the retention of an outdated UI, keyboard and mouse interaction over touch in a revolutionary UI that could and did work on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices. Microsoft has a tendency to incubate new and revolutionary technical ideas only to discard them before they have a chance to mature fully across the developer and user stacks just because some of those are slow or refuse to accept changes, adapt the environments, and adopt the new technology.
  • Agreed. Moving from Win 8.1 to 10, they made the right move with most of the desktop mode changes to appease adament desktop users, but there was absolutely no reason to nuke the tablet experience. Even in desktop, I wish they kept the corner gestures (or at least made it an option to turn back on). I'd love to be able to use the left corners to open task view and the right corners to open the action center. Those mouse gestures worked great in a single monitor situation.
  • The problem of W8x was that they forced a mobile UI on to laptop and desktop users who hated it. It should have always been a tablet mode UI only and a start menu for the desktop. I run Server 2012 and the 8x UI on server is simply stupid.
  • I thought the live tiles were meant to be the ultimate touch interface, coming from Windows 8 and Windows Phones 8. They only exist in Windows 10 because they were carried forward from the earlier OS. What purpose do they serve in Windows 10, really. Who stares at their Start Screen waiting for the tiles to flip. Besides, the stagnation of that concept (no exploding tiles, deep-linking, etc.?) had made them next to useless for many people, I guess. On Windows 10 Mobile, it's another story altogether. Since it is the only way to navigate it just makes sense and can be rightfully compared against iOS, etc., but not on the desktop. Microsoft needs to resolve the Frankenstein UI situation somehow.
  • I totally agree. Live tiles had and have a lot of potential, but because Msft preferred to be copy catting Android its development was cannibalized and Live Tiles now feel like some obsolete legacy to me. We better get something very customizable like Msft Launcher for Android on Windows.
  • Live Tiles had nothing but potential because they were just severely gimped widgets. There was so much functionality that could be added so they someday might be as useful as full widgets.
  • "I don't see the need for a third tablet OS experience." -Satya Nadella
  • I'm going to refrain from saying much as I most likely will end up typing a comment filled with profanity.
  • If they dont get new management, Microsoft is done,..its a shame but, they are too late..
  • Microsoft's management has never been better. If you want to prove to yourself that Nadella's laptop first... tablet second... approach is the right approach, just try to plan your next vacation, search for a new job, a new apartment, or make your next major purchase (appliance, car, home, electronics, etc.) on your tablet or worse yet your phone, and come back and tell us how great the touch only experience is.
  • I do all those things on my 6.4" phone well before my Surfacebook. Apps make all those tasks so much smoother and easier. Heavy typing and Office work is when the Surface comes out. Simple things like you listed are all easier on a phone.
  • that just bullshit.
  • True, but since I'm rocking a Lumia 950xl I can't do anything phone'y u listed either. I need to rethink my choices in life it seems 🤣
  • @YeahRrright. You could use Microsoft pay... buuut that's US only >.<. Only viable option right now would be get a fitbit that supports fitbit pay if switching platforms is not an option.
  • @Ferris Bueller do your self a favour, go outside and enjoy the fresh air. Whilst you're at it lay off the kool aid man, it's not doing you any favours.
  • Microsoft had it right with Windows 8.1
    They just didn't stick with it long enough.
    Now it's too late.
  • I still don't really understand what people are complaining about with tablet mode. I use my Go in tablet mode all the time and it works great. I had an RT as well, and feel like the new interface is a much better compromise that works well in either desktop or tablet mode. Whenever I see one of these articles saying tablet mode is "broken", it doesn't seem like they list specifics about what they mean by that. Obviously the app store is lacking. And obviously non store apps are not tablet optimized. But that was the case with RT as well, and will be unless windows tablets take off. What do people want changed about tablet mode, specifically?
  • I want the touch keyboard to stop being hit or miss, meaning it doesn't appear or go away when expected. Its slow. It adds weird characters or spaces in some apps for no reason. I want the bugs to stop, like if I have two apps opened, close one, close the other, Surface just shows dimmed desktop and hangs for like 10 seconds before showing start menu. When there are 2 apps opened in tablet mode and you ask Cortana to play music nothing will happen, cause it seems pc doesn't know how to open Groove. There are countless more issues, the feedback is there in the hub. Does msft even acknowledge it?
  • I hope Andromeda, Polaris and so on wil be to market fast enough to be able to recover ground before being on edge devices becomes out of reach for Msft.
    I was thrilled by the launch of the go and had it on my list to buy it this black/cyber whatever, but only the heading and the first comment above made me realize that my mother in law no longer needs the traditional Msft productivity stuf, but wants to carry along to friends an family a device to show of (360) photos, listen music, watch YouTube and control the upcoming smart stuf in her home. So, change of plans, she is going to have my Galaxy Tab S3 with pen and LTE.
  • I honestly never understand what anyone is talking about when they say these things about the tablet mode, it's a blown up version of Windows Phone, which was AWESOME and I don't get where the failing is for Tablet mode, is it the fact that you can only have 2 apps open at the same time like it was in windows 8? Is it the large touch focused tiles of the start menu or is it the fact that everything else in windows is made specifically for mouse and keyboard because ppl don't get that they can change the apps between modes? Windows can handle all of it and do more but ppl squander it because they act like it doesn't work. THIS NARRATIVE IS A MYTH. Whatever U_U
  • I think it's already too late. Microsoft now has the third most used operating system and if IBM is smart Windows could become #4. I think part of the problem with Windows 8 in the business environment was that at the time it was released businesses were largely mired in trying to migrate off XP still and 8 was just too big a leap. I think a better solution than chucking it all would have been to build a legacy mode (aka I'm too dumb to figure this out mode). And by late 2012 Microsoft had largely lost the consumer and they aren't getting them back.
  • I have an HP Pro X2 for work and I'm running 1809. The tablet mode is absolute rubbish. Quite often at the log in screen, the onscreen keyboard doesn't show forcing me to pull out a keyboard, and yes I have Windows set to start on tablet mode. The onscreen keyboard won't appear automatically for Win32 apps when focus is set to an input control. This includes Teams and Outlook. When the keyboard is brought up, the app won't shift itself around to avoid the onscreen keyboard hiding the area where I'm trying to enter text. WinRT apps work so much better in this respect. If Microsoft couldn't be bothered improving the touch interface they'll lose plenty of customers including enterprise. We run thousands of PCs and are trying to move away from Windows. Not just because of the poor tablet experience but the whole Windows experience is simply so poor. Despite Microsoft's claims of productivity, any gains there are nullified with slow, poor tablet/desktop experiences. With LTE in our tablets and notebooks, we already deliver our business apps via Citrix (things like Cerner Power Chart). Microsoft seriously needs to rethink the sunsetting of UWP Office and the gimped touch UX of Windows.
  • What makes Windows different from the other OS from Apple and Google is that it is the same Windows on the desktop and tablet. Apple and Google have two separate OSs -one for desktop and one for mobile whereas Microsoft is making only one version of Windows 10 for both desktop and mobile.
  • IBM? huh? Because of Nadella we see...
    * Azure giving an old school beating to AWS...
    * an Office 365 subscription model that is absolutely flourishing...
    * the sweetest Surface lineup ever... even one that many Apple fan boys are praising in reviews...
    * OEM 2 in 1 sales that are driving pc sales skyward again...
    * Windows 10 being widely adopted in consumer... but more importantly in the enterprise...
    * an Edge browser that is faster and more standards compliant than any of its competitors...
    * a Bing search engine that is aesthetically beautiful and... a multi-billion dollar (yes billion with a B) revenue generator...
    * developers returning to the MS Store with productivity driven apps and AAA games...
    * Xbox and big Phil winning the console wars from a respectable second place with popular 1st party exclusives and an ingenious Game Pass model...
    * salvation for GitHub... Microsoft never needed to be the next Google or the next Apple. They needed to just start being themselves again. Nadella wisely realized that and had the humility and courage to refocus the company on what they do best... productivity. And because of it Microsoft has never been stronger.
  • ???? Welcome to 2018, we are not in 1998... Azure, Office365, Surface, XBOX etc. all major contributors to the MS P&L
  • My two surfaces are pretty much gathering dust right now. They are utterly useless thanks to Nadella's mismanagement of Windows on touch devices. Thanks to Nadella I'm now a daily Android user. Even if they throw that f... out and somehow fixes tablet mode I think the devs have tired of Nadellasoft's shenanigans and won't come back. F... you Nadella!
  • "This "reassures" users that touch-centric UIs are more relevant for most of their present and future needs." I see this as a crucial sentence in the article. I am not defending Microsoft in having it's current emphasis still non-touch UI. And I am extremely frustrated that Microsoft after all those years (2018 is almost at it's end) still is not converging on mobile activities. I find the sentence mentioned crucial while it points out exactly what currently is happening. Somehow we make each other mad with the thought that touch interfaced UI's will successfully enter the landscape for productivity. The exact meaning of this "productivity" remains unsaid. To keep this discussion clear we should define this productivity concept more clearly. I sense at least this concept is getting blurred. Productivity in the creative sector (photo, film, art) is something completely different from the definition of productivity in companies. For the latter the information density is simply too large to be able to use a touch interface as a productivity tool. Maybe this can be different for the creative sector. That Microsoft remains relatively save in that corporate productivity segment does not exempt her from taking care for her mobile touch integration. While still king of the hill in the productivity segment the Microsoft domain is more and more becoming an Island. But I think this is an independent development from touch UI providers that would be entering the "productivity" segment. The island forming of the Microsoft domain is worrying enough in itself however.
  • Finally a realistic look at MSFTs failings. I really hope they are doing something to remedy the situation...
  • Get rid of the live tiles. They haven't moved the needle and few people care about them outside of the core Microsoft followers. Look at what iPad is doing and try to improve on it.
  • This is how we got into the mess in the first place. Window 8 was too far ahead of it self in tablet mode less desktop till 8.1.
    Which Lead to Windows 10
    to have a subpar? Tablet mode experience sure it works, but That's about it.
    No starting over, no killing off tiles.
  • I purchased a surface go, and if anything makes me want to toss it to the ground and stomp on it, is trying to pay bills or shop using the edge browser in touch screen mode,
    you cant navigate the dropdown menus with your fingers as the rest of the worlds touch screen experience can do. also on screen key board getting in the way of my typing in different documents or forms!! I must attach a mouse or keyboard. not quite the experience that would describe a tablet . as of now I'm not happy. with the state of my $600.00 surface go!! another Microsoft 80%
    project. so many years of lip service and dumping successful and half baked products. don't know what to thin any more. enterprises are indeed running away from the brand Microsoft, and they laugh.
  • I find the same activities very painful on my iPhone too, and my wife finds them equally painful on her iPad (which she otherwise loves for things like Candy Crush and Instagram). That's why we use a laptop (or in her case her Lenovo AIO) and a mouse (easily the greatest accessory of all time) when we want to get things done. To add to it... my high school daughter wouldn't even attempt using a tablet (sans mouse) for schoolwork. It's a nonstarter. It's not MS. It's the form factor itself. A touch-only device is only capable of so much. Its primary purpose is consumption. Panos and Nadella should be applauded for realizing that and taking the Laptop first... Tablet second... "path less traveled" with the Surface line (Robert Frost). Their genius will make "all the difference" in the next 5 to 10 years.
  • I'm not sure what's so bad, I regularly use my surface pro and Dell Venue as tablets, and have no issues, do I prefer keyboard and mouse .. yes, is windows 8 better on tablet … probably (to some users but not all). So for me its a non issue however, I think the option to switch to a more windows 8 type experience should be given.
  • I also cast my display from surface go to my TV the image shows up letter boxed on the TV, I have to extend the display to get a full screen to enjoy a movie. Once you connect your keyboard and extend your screen your are working without a screen to manage things. Not easy, another frustrating adventure!
    Complements of my surface go. Yes I expect thing to be simple and function.
  • I also cast my display from surface go to my TV the image shows up letter boxed on the TV, I have to extend the display to get a full screen to enjoy a movie. Once you connect your keyboard and extend your screen your are working without a screen to manage things. Not easy, another frustrating adventure!
    Complements of my surface go. Yes I expect thing to be simple and function.
  • After using this Note9 for a week I'm all in on it. It does everything I need it to do for 80% of my daily computing. I still need Windows for serious tasks. I've come to the realization that a DUAL BOOT Andromeda device would be THE perfect pocketable device. A foldable Android device that also ran Windows, would be the killer device for EVERYONE. This is fact, and I'm glad I have finally come to this realization.
  • Man, you are about annoying AF. Something like a roach.
  • Dear Jason, The title is spot on, but the tone of your story too strong. I don't think it takes a more agressive stance on Microsoft's part to improve upon its current tablet (UI/UX) experience. But it is a fact that the windows 10, even compared to windows 8 is a half baked experience. I don't think it would talk too much effort to adress some longtime lingering major issues that span all the way back to the start of windows 10. The writing was on the wall from the start. The weight this carries on possibly a better tablet experience on iOS and android, the lack of an app ecosystem in windows 10, at this point, for me is only a symptom of the lack of a solid tablet UI experience. Microsoft just doesn't have the basics covered. Now this, to me, doesn't mean Microsoft developers need to run into a panic on this matter. But it should become a priority in its current roadmap. Other innovations currently being cooked up for windows are frankly a toxic deviation of focus of what is important now. Microsoft has had a nice run of innovative an quickly implemented bombardment of features, meanwhile leaving a foundation only half finished, sooner or later it will collapse. Out of risk of an unforseen collapse, I think the foundation needs to be strengthened first in order to accept the next big steps Microsoft has planned. I do hope Microsoft isn't running a cold and can still smell the coffee. Microsoft needs to wake up. It's been three years too long.
    With the tablet mode experience today I think microsoft should add room to adress three things: -The UI: make it a more well rounded tablet UI touch and pencentric. This means
    -adress half baked gestures and supported animations currently in use, for both landscape and portrait orientations. Among the biggest that multitasking in tablet mode simiply doesn't carry over from landscape to portrait (and vice versa) and the apps can not be snapped one above the other, especially in portrait mode.
    -updrading the startmenu and livetile experience. This is a great UI and has a lot of potential and flexibility for personal and professional productive usecases. It also makes the experience unique to the competition. Amongst others being able to edit multiple live tiles, be able to personalize individual tiles at the control of the end user more, add more live tile size, interactive live tiles, and be able to pin any filetype as a live tile should be adressed and implemented. -fasttrack inline pen-to-text translation fields for textboxes all over the UI for a more immersive pen experience. And also fastrack improving language pack Swype recognition algorithms for a more fluid virtual keyboard experience. The rate of improving the Swype autosuggestions recognition is worse than windows phone 8 and 10 in my experience. Microsoft and their partners, today make great hardware. But the software UI is falling behind on the experience, today.
  • At last i can agree with jason. For yonks nadella has been ignoring the reality that windows is being attacked by companies that are much more attuned to consumers and their desire for touch ui systems. Nadella really stuffed up when he killed of phones because that's the entry point for computing and he's left the back door and front door open for companies that are now eating microsoft's meal ticket of the last 30 years.
  • Sounds about right. And, it's frustrating.
  • Tablet Experience with Windows 10 is really terrible. Windows 8.1 Was only True tablet OS, and it was perfect. Clean fast gestures, animations. With windows 10 its everything laggy, clutchy unresponsive, and ways less touch friendly.
  • IMO, W10 would benefit from a better tablet more, there's no doubt about that.
    But, as we've seen with the stop of W10M, Nadella doesn't care about stopping everything for a few years before jumping ahead.
    Andromeda will come, we don't know when, with a new UI.
    Then, this UI will probably be merged in the W10 we know, some time after...
    As they won't update our W10 to coreOS immediately, for safety, it will take some more time
  • They've lost developers. It doesn't matter what they do, they wont get apps and iOS and Android will. That's the reality and MS knows it. I think that's why they aren't really pushing touch any more and its why Andromeda isn't here and probably wont ever show up.
  • Why Microsoft needs to fix Microsoft before its too late.
  • My take on this is that Andromeda needs to be a coherent ui across all form factor devices no matter what size display. Without this improvements over tablet mode in windows 10, Andromeda will surely be a complete failure.
  • "Microsoft is hiding its tablet weakness behind its productivity forte..."?? More like they try to hide it, but users are not blind.