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Rii
14-09-2011, 03:40 AM
In what should come as absolutely no surprise, Microsoft is pushing for full-on integration between XBL and Windows 8. Here's the possibly-machine-generated spiel from Major Nelson (http://majornelson.com/):


We are confirming that we will be bringing Xbox LIVE to the PC with Xbox LIVE on Windows. We are very excited about Xbox LIVE coming to Windows 8. Xbox LIVE brings your games, music, movies, and TV shows to your favorite Microsoft and Windows devices. Bringing Xbox LIVE to Windows 8 is part of our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy.

Of course it's unlikely that this'll extend to anything actually useful such as cross-platform play or the ability to play X360 titles on Windows.

EDIT: So here is sum footage:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS60SDXD88o


Other Windows 8 links that may be of interest:

Ars Technica - Windows 8 tablet environment preview (http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2011/09/hands-on-with-windows-8-a-pc-operating-system-for-the-tablet-age.ars)
Ars Technica - Windows 8 desktop environment preview (http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2011/09/hands-on-with-windows-8-a-tablet-operating-system-for-the-pc-age.ars)
MSDN blog - Building Windows 8 (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/)

soldant
14-09-2011, 06:32 AM
The developer test is out today as well. Grab it here if you're feeling brave (MSDN site, no subscription needed). (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps/br229516)

I really don't think they'll have 360 games playing on the PC, I mean most of the latter ones would be on direct to metal (or close to it) programming by now, right? Can't imagine how easily that'd translate without massive performance overheads. Also: incoming DRM rage!

KauhuK
14-09-2011, 09:25 AM
I bet you can stream games from xbox to pc so you can play xbox games on your small pc screen. Kinda useless. I hope it's not something fully integrated to windows 8. I dont have xbox and I doupt I ever will have.

Jac
14-09-2011, 11:36 AM
Most likely they are gunning for a slice of steam pie with this. Can't really see any other reason for it.

Can easily see them offering direct download games on the next xbox to bypass retail outlets aswell.

Mistabashi
14-09-2011, 04:59 PM
It's nothing new, they're just integrating Games for Windows Live into their OS in an attempt to compete with Steam et al.

Calling it "Xbox Live" is just a continuation of their stupid re-branding / convergence - GfWL is already hosted at xbox.com (don't ask me what kind of moron thinks it's a good idea to call a PC games service "Xbox Live").

It sounds very stupid to me, and no doubt it will fall flat on it's face like every other time MS have tried to re-launch GfWL. The fact that this inevitable aborted foetus will remain embedded in the operating system worries me to be honest. At least you can uninstall GfWL...

Smashbox
14-09-2011, 05:23 PM
More broadly - can any of you brainy tech-wizards tell me what Windows 8 will mean for games? Is this Vista II or is this important... or is it too early to tell?

KauhuK
14-09-2011, 08:51 PM
More broadly - can any of you brainy tech-wizards tell me what Windows 8 will mean for games? Is this Vista II or is this important... or is it too early to tell?

For gamers I doupt there is much. Many things have been improved though for example file transfer and moving is much better now. But that does not much benefit gaming.

Megagun
14-09-2011, 09:28 PM
Having played with the Developer Preview earlier today, I can say that I'm impressed, although I forsee problems with the "Start menu" as it is implemented now (it pops open that Windows Phone 7-like interface with a few applications shown), and I think that the way they differentiate between the Metro and Desktop interfaces is a bit odd right now (Desktop apps close like they do in Windows 7 by hitting that shiny red X button, yet how exactly the Metro apps close is still a mystery to me).

That said, the mere prospect of an 'app store' for Metro applications may mean that we'll finally see proper package management in a future Windows operating system, which would truly be a gift from the gods themselves (no more need for Steam, Origin, et cetera; every game hosts their own repository that your Windows installation updates from, regardless of what retailer you bought a game from).

I also enjoyed the Metro-like interface that appears from the right side of the screen when you click the "Network center" icon in your tray bar. No more tiny tooltip-esque popup window where you have to select what network to connect to; instead you'll be greeted with a nice green bar on the right side of the screen that lists all wireless APs you can connect to. Looks amazing (kind of like this (http://static.arstechnica.com/09-13-2011/windows-8/settings-2.png)), and I bet a lot of applications that are primarily controlled from the tray bar can make great use of this (RSS readers, anyone?).

Since Metro is the main new thing in Windows 8, I don't think it'll mean a lot for PC gaming. A lot of the games included with the Developer Preview are cross-platform games that can be played on PC, Phone, or Tablet. It seems, to me, that Microsoft are really looking into bridging these three platforms. Not sure what they're going to do with the Xbox now, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're going to bridge the Xbox and PCs in the future. I also wouldn't be surprised if the Xbox is going to get a Metro-styled interface whenever Windows 8 gets released.

My prediction for the future: the next Xbox will be a PC made by Microsoft, installed with the newest version of Windows, tailor made for gaming and media-centering on a big TV. For all intents and purposes, it'll be a PC, only not customizable.

EDIT: I've tested the Developer Preview with some friends on one of my friends' laptops. In total, we toyed around with it for about an hour or so. I haven't installed the preview yet, myself, but I do plan on doing so later on. I also have yet to watch the keynotes. Don't know when I'll get around to that (Ballmer is NOT someone I enjoy listening to) but I do plan on watching them.

EDIT: In general, Metro felt a lot -to me- like Unity and Gnome 3 felt when compared with Gnome 2: I bet you're either going to love it or hate it. However, it also felt a bit more like KDE4 does nowadays: if you don't like it, you can (probably?) turn off the things you dislike, or avoid using the things you dislike.

EDIT: Shouldn't this be in "General", rather than in "Tech Help"?

J Arcane
14-09-2011, 10:47 PM
Metro is fucking godawful, and the other stuff is minor cosmetics and under-the-hood changes that could've been added in a service pack.

Unless a hell of a lot changes in the next year, this thing will be Microsoft up to it's bad old tricks again. I suppose it's too much to have expected two good MS OSes in a row.

Rii
14-09-2011, 11:55 PM
It's funny because "minor cosmetics and under-the-hood changes that could've been added in a service pack" is a pretty good description of Windows 7 from Vista.

And Metro looks far better than iOS/Android to my eyes; makes the tablet decision easy. Course that still leaves the choice between ARM and x86...


More broadly - can any of you brainy tech-wizards tell me what Windows 8 will mean for games.

No more than Win 7 did I expect. Except for this XBL business however that pans out ofc.

soldant
15-09-2011, 02:22 AM
I still haven't played with it, intending to give it a shot on my laptop later today.

But what Rii is saying is correct: in reality Windows 7 was more of an upgrade to what was started with Vista. I don't know if it would have been possible as a service pack but the difference in the kernels are much smaller compared to the jump from XP to Vista, which was like the jump from Windows 98 to XP. People seem to forget that it was a big jump (and a HUGE gap without any desktop Windows release, which was the exception to the rule of "release something every 1 to 2 years" that prevailed throughout the 90s) and part of the crap performance with Vista (in gaming at least) was due to driver manufacturers having to start almost from scratch with the new Windows Display Driver Model being implemented, which was an integral part of getting DX10/11 up and running and which is why there's never going to be a DX10/11 on XP.

I don't know why people are expecting Windows 8 to be a super-massive upgrade to Windows 7. Does nobody else remember the 90s? Or the release of Win XP for that matter, when the exact same bitching was going on about XP as what people went on with when Vista came out?

Megagun
18-09-2011, 02:52 PM
Having just watched the BUILD Conference day 1 keynote (http://channel9.msdn.com/events/BUILD/BUILD2011/KEY-0001) (no Ballmer! YAY) I can say that I'm quite impressed with what they've done. Windows 8 seems to perform better than Windows 7, does more than Windows 7, and re-introduces the important 'up' button for the Explorer. They've also made significant changes to the Task Manager, added some performance testing tools, and now allow you to 'refresh' your PC by essentially getting rid of all your non-windows-store applications.

There's also some pretty neat syncing things when you log in using a Windows Live ID (which you can optionally enable). If you attach your Live ID to Facebook and such, photos uploaded to Facebook will be accessible directly from any Metro application simply by browsing your 'photos' library.

There's quite a lot of nifty stuff they're doing, especially for developers. I'd really recommend that you folks watch the keynote, as there are a lot of things I missed when experimenting with the Developer Build myself.

slick_101
19-09-2011, 04:15 PM
I think its really nice how they are incorporating XBL into windows 7 it means all my console friends I can chat to easily (if it works like the parties) and hopefully more cross platform games (like CS:GO and shadowrun) . But something did annoy me was how it seemed like they were just trying to say Xbox LIVE as many times as possible.

icupnimpn2
19-09-2011, 10:24 PM
I would seriously consider an iPad-like Windows 8 device as my next PC. Unlike iPad and Android devices it would play my existing game library. I could pick it up and take it with me to the couch so's as to spend some time with my lady rather than being bottled up at my desk. But at my desk I could drop it into a dock and have a more traditional PC experience. Yes, that's pretty much the iPad experience except there'd actually be a library of software that I want to use. And the Windows 8 OS is supposed to let you launch programs and apps without loading Explorer, which I hope would make for more efficient use of resources and processing power in-game. If the devices are compatible with existing USB devices, you could easily attach a gamepad and have a nice portable emulator player. Output to a TV with HDMI and the thing will be a sweet portable movie player.

Yes, again, a lot of this can be done with iPad, except there you need all sorts of workarounds or special peripherals, as I understand it.

soldant
20-09-2011, 11:01 AM
Unlike iPad and Android devices it would play my existing game library... And the Windows 8 OS is supposed to let you launch programs and apps without loading Explorer, which I hope would make for more efficient use of resources and processing power in-game.
Windows 8 on a tablet will probably run via ARM CPUs because they're low power. Current laptops aren't great for gaming (well, the ones that you can actually carry around with you at least) and trying to shove all of it behind a screen into a tablet form factor isn't going to happen. You'll probably see the same sorts of games as you do on the iPad. If they do stick to the current x64 CPUs from Intel/AMD they'll also be low power (probably ultra low voltage variants like they use in the ultraportable ranges) and unsuited for games requiring hardware acceleration.

Secondly, unless it's a planned feature (and I doubt it) Explorer is still very much alive in Windows 8. The new Start Screen just sits over the top of it. Explorer itself doesn't stop loading up, it's still sitting there in the background. Explorer isn't that big of a memory hog that you gain much by not running it, unless your system is pathetically underpowered.

I'm totally with you that a decent tablet aimed at using the new Windows 8 interface will be enough to stop me from using my iPad and abandon it all together, but it's not like a Windows 7 tablet will be a desktop PC (or even a high powered notebook) in tablet form. They can't just suddenly overcome the constraints of heat and cooling.

Also, Windows Phone 7 isn't exactly a great platform (none of the Windows Mobile operating systems are, and I've used a few) compared to Android and iOS, so I'm wondering if Microsoft can really break into the tablet market when the bulk of people apparently want a cut-down device, not a full blown desktop OS.

Rii
20-09-2011, 11:53 AM
^ You're forgetting Atom (and its AMD equiv.) there. Sure it's slow by x86 standards and power-hungry by ARM standards, but it'll suffice for a lot of things, esp. given Intel's manufacturing advantages. The tech story over the next decade is largely going to be one of packing current high-end desktop levels of horsepower into ever smaller and more efficient packages rather than MOAR HORSEPOWER per se, so I don't think it'll be too long until an x86-based tablet can couple the ability to handle most PC games with reasonable battery life and thereby suffice as a desktop replacement.

Here's (http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/09/next-gen-intel-cpus-to-improve-mobile-graphics-battery-life.ars) a brief look at Intel's roadmap:


Coming in the second quarter of 2012 will be Ivy Bridge, a 22nm die-shrink "tick" to Sandy Bridge's "tock." Ivy Bridge will benefit from Intel's new 3D tri-gate transistor technology, offering as much as a 37 percent power efficiency improvement along with what looks like serious integrated graphics improvements. Following that in 2013 will be the 22nm Haswell architecture, which promises "all day" laptop battery life along with up to 10 days of what Intel is calling "connected standby."

It's all about efficiency: Intel knows the desktop is dead. Atom is the stopgap but they're looking to drill down the high-end architectures to tablet-level ASAP.

soldant
20-09-2011, 02:19 PM
^ You're forgetting Atom (and its AMD equiv.) there.
Saying it's "slow by x86 standards" is an understatement. People don't want a sluggish tablet, it's one of the reasons why tablets have only really made an impact since Android/iOS have come out. The progress is promising but still has quite a way to go.

There's no doubt that with increased time comes increased efficiency, but I seriously doubt that Intel or AMD will manage to bring out anything especially fantastic for Windows 8's release or the immediate time afterwards. And of course as hardware marches on, so does the software.

Intel can toss out roadmaps and make promises but until the tech actually materialises and goes into production it's not worth much. Not to discourage or detract from their work, but there's still a long way to go.

Megagun
20-09-2011, 03:08 PM
Also, Windows Phone 7 isn't exactly a great platform (none of the Windows Mobile operating systems are, and I've used a few) compared to Android and iOS, so I'm wondering if Microsoft can really break into the tablet market when the bulk of people apparently want a cut-down device, not a full blown desktop OS.
Windows Phone is not Windows Mobile. At all. Although Windows Phone 7 is perhaps technically the next step in the evolution of Windows Mobile 6 (I bet they share quite a bit of code), everything feels and looks completely different. Whilst Windows Mobile was aimed at the enterprise market, Windows Phone is designed for regular consumers. I agree with you that Windows Mobile is damned awful, but Windows Phone 7 is actually quite impressive.

J Arcane
20-09-2011, 06:34 PM
Until Intel can get an x86 chip running without a fan for 12 hours on battery and without being warm to the touch, you will never see a mainstream x86 tablet.

ARM is used in everything mobile for a reason. It's because the Acorn was awesome, and the ARM chip runs quick, cold, and low power like nothing else on the market.

CuriousOrange
21-09-2011, 01:04 AM
Windows Phone is not Windows Mobile. At all. Although Windows Phone 7 is perhaps technically the next step in the evolution of Windows Mobile 6 (I bet they share quite a bit of code), everything feels and looks completely different. Whilst Windows Mobile was aimed at the enterprise market, Windows Phone is designed for regular consumers. I agree with you that Windows Mobile is damned awful, but Windows Phone 7 is actually quite impressive.

I absolutely love WP7. I'm abandoning my Android phone at my first opportunity to switch over too. I picked up an Android only for my girlfriend to get a WP7 the same week and it's so much nicer to use. And it's like Next Gen, and I'm a sad nerd.

soldant
21-09-2011, 03:49 AM
I agree with you that Windows Mobile is damned awful, but Windows Phone 7 is actually quite impressive.
I'm still not impressed by it, I find the interface absolutely ridiculous. Sure it's different to Windows Mobile but a lot of their decisions still remind me of those days. I do agree that WM was enterprise-based, but I mean who else had a smartphone back then?


Until Intel can get an x86 chip running without a fan for 12 hours on battery and without being warm to the touch, you will never see a mainstream x86 tablet.
Exactly. It's also worth noting that some of the ARM processors approach the comparative capabilities of some of the Atom CPUs, while also using much less power. You're absolutely right, the ARM architecture is fantastic for mobile devices and if Win8 successfully supports it, then it'll probably end up becoming the better of the mobile operating systems around today. But I don't see it becoming a full desktop-class OS on an ARM platform like some parts of the Internet are suggesting.

What Apple/Android devs successfully did was make a tablet which was not trying to be a smaller PC. Once they stopped trying to do that, battery life and heat stopped becoming a problem and the devices stopped being borderline useless. It's no coincidence that previous tablet-form factor PCs didn't take off. Sure the technology is getting better (like with Atom) but it's still the same problem as before; the x86 solutions are still underpowered.

Rii
21-09-2011, 07:42 AM
Until Intel can get an x86 chip running without a fan for 12 hours on battery and without being warm to the touch, you will never see a mainstream x86 tablet.

So ... next year?

Intel is pushing Medfield (Atom SoC - 2012) for smartphones - I don't think they'll get anywhere with it, but there's more chance they will than that this phone (http://www.engadget.com/2011/09/13/andy-rubin-shows-off-medfield-based-android-phone-at-idf-2011-r/) has a fan in it - to say nothing of Silvermont (Atom v2.0 - 2013) for tablets. Hell, by the time Broadwell (14nm shrink of Haswell - 2014) arrives the high-end x86 stuff will probably be fanless too, at least in dual-core variants.

It's funny how short folks' memories are in the tech sector, and the assumption that just because something didn't work at one point means it won't ever work. The Celeron went from being a useless piece of shit to like-a-Xeon-for-one-tenth-the-price in the space of one generation. Nintendo was laughed at for sticking with awful solid-state media with the N64, and yet Sony today is going back to solid-state media with PS Vita. Times change.

J Arcane
21-09-2011, 08:44 AM
My memory is long enough. I remember the pie in the sky they promised with Atom, with Sandy Bridge, with Larabee, and God knows how many other damn things over the years.

The bottom line is, Intel is big on promises, shit on delivery. They make desktop PC chips, and barely manage to get laptop chips out that don't suck, and that's pretty much all.

I'll believe the x86 smartphone when it actually happens, and I have it in my hand. You're talking about a device that needs to perform with zero lag-time, last for 12 hours+ on a charge, run completely cold without a fan, and the bottom line is, x86 was never fucking built for that.

What we will get, if we get anything, is an x86 chip so stripped down it basically might as well be ARM because nothing x86 written in the last 20 years will run on it in any kind of speed, it'll get 6 hours battery life tops, and probably still get hot like the first couple generations of Android phones did.

Rii
21-09-2011, 09:01 AM
You're talking about a device that needs to perform with zero lag-time, last for 12 hours+ on a charge, run completely cold without a fan, and the bottom line is, x86 was never fucking built for that.

There are so many things in this world that were never built to do the things they're now doing (or would've long since been superceded if performance/efficiency were the predominant factors) that I wouldn't even know where to begin, although certainly one can find several examples in the humble PeeCee, such as the D-SUB connector which dates back to the Korean War, or USB/mini-USB which was never intended as the de facto global power/charge standard for <5W devices that it has become.

x86 hasn't been the most efficient way to do anything for decades. And it hasn't mattered because its there and works well enough. Efficiency, performance and other metrics don't exist in a vacuum, rather their import varies according to real -world applications. Smartphones can't compete with feature phones for battery life and guess what? Nobody gives a shit. We're not at all far from the point at which x86 will indeed be adequate for most applications. Some people will care that their x86 Windows tablet only goes for 12 hours on a charge whereas their ARM tablet can get double that ... a lot of people won't.

J Arcane
21-09-2011, 10:10 AM
I AM talking about real-world applications, the device I describe already exists and is possible with existing ARM technology. It's called an iPad 2, and it controls some 90% of the tablet market, largely because it does everything I've outlined, while weighing barely more than a pound and looking damn good doing it, and costing less than the Android and Windows competition. It has murdered three competitors already because they couldn't live up to consumer expectation set by the dominant platform on the market right now.

There is a reason that MS is jumping on the ARM bandwagon in Windows 8, it's because it actually does the job, instead of promising to do the job and failing to deliver every single time. Tablets are not a new market, they've been around for years, and they've all run Windows, and they've all run x86 chips, and they all sucked and cost too damn much money. And a company like Microsoft, seeing the iPad and the impact it's having in the mobile computing market, is not stupid enough even with Ballmer in charge to simply sit and hope that Intel will pull diamonds from their ass and somehow produce an x86 iPad competitor.

The bottom line is, in the tablet market, if you cannot do what the iPad does, and for less money, you are toast. And that is why Windows 8 is Metro-tastic, and why it supports ARM, and why the first Windows 8 tablet that actually sells for beans is going to be running Metro-only apps on an ARM chip.

Rii
21-09-2011, 11:25 AM
I AM talking about real-world applications, the device I describe already exists and is possible with existing ARM technology. It's called an iPad 2, and it controls some 90% of the tablet market, largely because it does everything I've outlined, while weighing barely more than a pound and looking damn good doing it, and costing less than the Android and Windows competition.

And it is to the tablet of 2020 what the Model T Ford was to motor car of 2010. You're talking about this race as if it's already over when in fact it's only just begun. If the iPad was going to stay where it is Microsoft wouldn't give two shits about it, the reason they're moving is because over the next decade tablets are going to supplant the desktop PC entirely. And guess what: to do that they're going to have to be capable of doing rather a lot more than the iPad or Android-based tablets are today. Even the basic hardware capabilities aren't there yet: wireless output to external displays is key to realising the potential of the form factor.

ARM-based Windows 8 tablets almost certainly will sell more than x86-based Windows 8 tablets. What of it? The question is whether x86 will have a place in the market, and the answer for those not wearing blinders is 'yes'. This is an x86 gaming forum FFS.

soldant
21-09-2011, 01:28 PM
The question is whether x86 will have a place in the market, and the answer for those not wearing blinders is 'yes'. This is an x86 gaming forum FFS.
I think you're missing J Arcane's (and by extension, my) point. This isn't to debate whether or not x86 systems will exist in the future. Neither of us suggested that x86 would die a horrible death once Windows 8 comes out. What we're saying is that the chance of Intel developing an x86 chip with decent performance at the kind of battery life and heat output expected from a tablet is pretty low, and borderline pointless when we've got ARM chips ready to go that will do the job. People at large have demonstrated that they want a quick, lightweight system as a tablet, and Intel are going to have to push REALLY hard to do that. A RISC solution like ARM makes sense, and Microsoft know that and thus are embracing the platform. The old days of tablets being just PCs but in slate form are dead, and with very good reason.

Tablets aren't the focus for 3D PC gaming the likes of which most RPS players partake of. That isn't going to happen for a long time thanks to our reliance on heavy duty GPUs. It doesn't matter if this is an x86 gaming forum, tablets aren't the primary market for the majority of the gaming that RPS forumers get into. We're still going to have our towers for quite a while yet. There's no reason not to embrace the ARM platform as a lightweight tablet solution. The focus of Win8 from a tablet perspective isn't to provide a full desktop OS with a Start menu and so on, that much is obvious from Metro/the new UI.

Rii
22-09-2011, 03:13 AM
What we're saying is that the chance of Intel developing an x86 chip with decent performance at the kind of battery life and heat output expected from a tablet is pretty low

On the contrary, it's a near certainty. The question is how rapidly it will be achieved and how competitive the results will be with contemperous ARM-based solutions vs. demands imposed by software.


and borderline pointless when we've got ARM chips ready to go that will do the job.

It isn't pointless as there's an enormous catalogue of specialised software - professional and creative software, games - out there built for x86, the same factor that has kept the architecture going as long as it has. If tablets are going to redefine personal computing then they'll need to acquire the ability to run that software one way or another.

It could be that ARM continues to predominate and stuff like Photoshop and SPSS will eventually migrate over, or it could be that x86 gets its foot in the door early enough that by the time that great tidal movement away from traditional PC platforms really gets underway (which in turn will require the relevant hardware capabilities to be in place and proliferating throughout homes and workplaces, call it ~2015) there's no need to recode anything. Which one will actually happen is very much up in the air. Both, most likely. Different classes of machines for different types of users.


The old days of tablets being just PCs but in slate form are dead, and with very good reason.

I disagree. There were two primary issues with previous Windows-based tablets: the major one being that the UI wasn't up to the task, which Windows 8 will fix, and the second being that the technology (x86) wasn't up to the task, which time will fix in the near future. There is no evidence to suggest that people actually consider not being able to do much with their tablets to be a selling point.

Looking at the failure of previous Windows-based tablets and concluding that the future must necessarily lie in iPad-esque devices is like looking at the frailty of early aeroplanes and concluding that they'll never amount to anything in the face of the graceful zeppelins.


Tablets aren't the focus for 3D PC gaming the likes of which most RPS players partake of. That isn't going to happen for a long time thanks to our reliance on heavy duty GPUs.

Except that there's a significant and increasing proportion of games that don't demand anything like the horsepower modern gaming PCs offer, and integrated GPUs are becoming more powerful all the time. Playstation Vita and iPad are both running the same GPU architecture. It won't be too long before we're seeing tablets offering performance categorically superior to that of the current-gen consoles.

Also on the subject of GPUs and tablets/smartphones: as the significance of the GPU increases, the efficiency advantage of ARM over x86 diminishes.


It doesn't matter if this is an x86 gaming forum, tablets aren't the primary market for the majority of the gaming that RPS forumers get into. We're still going to have our towers for quite a while yet.

Personally I expect that the desktop PC I put together this year (i5 2500/6850) will be my last. I anticipate replacing it with a tablet in ~2015. Could well be a Windows 9/x86-based tablet.


There's no reason not to embrace the ARM platform as a lightweight tablet solution.

Where have I ever suggested otherwise? There's a good chance my first tablet will be Android/ARM-based and come from whatever line-up Amazon announces in the next few weeks. If not then the #2 candidate would be a Windows 8/ARM tablet next year.


The focus of Win8 from a tablet perspective isn't to provide a full desktop OS with a Start menu and so on, that much is obvious from Metro/the new UI.

Forget the UI, it absolutely is a full OS and - in addition to the Metro aesthetic - that's what appeals to me about it. Apple is all about control, Google is an improvement, but seemingly more about the freedom for manufacturers/carriers to screw you than the freedom of users to avoid being screwed. Ironically it appears Microsoft is going to wind up being the most user-supportive platform vendor here.

J Arcane
22-09-2011, 04:33 AM
Except that Microsoft has suggested that Windows 8 tablets could be all-Metro-all-the-time, the Metro Marketplace requires MS approval, and MS takes a 30% cut (they've still yet to confirm whether they'll take a cut of in-app purchases). They've already done precisely this on Windows 7 Phone.

Thus far, MS' plans for the mobile marketplaces have been no more open than Apple, and in some ways, less.

soldant
22-09-2011, 06:16 AM
On the contrary, it's a near certainty.
Sorry, I probably should have qualified that such that I didn't mean "under any conditions" but rather "within a timeframe that actually matters." I mean you could drop in a low power chip with the speed of an old 486DX but who would care?


It isn't pointless as there's an enormous catalogue of specialised software - professional and creative software, games - out there built for x86, the same factor that has kept the architecture going as long as it has.
Actually this I think is the main issue. If the iPad/Android systems have demonstrated anything it's that people don't want what you're proposing. They want easy to use devices primarily to view content. If they want to type up a document, they use their desktop or laptop. And the high quality professional and creative software is going to demand a fair bit of grunt that isn't going to be readily available in tablet form factors, especially as the software keeps evolving. Photoshop and friends aren't likely to migrate at all. The desktop towers, despite what some are saying, aren't going anywhere yet, especially not in the creative or gaming sectors. Even then, the migration of common end-user tasks to ARM is possible and possibly desirable.


...and the second being that the technology (x86) wasn't up to the task, which time will fix in the near future.
Getting that x86 technology to a useful point is going to keep taking more time. Although it's true to say that what happened in the past doesn't always mean it'll be the same in the future, but it still sets a historical precedence which acts as a fair judge of progression. As for "not being able to do much": they can do plenty with their tablets now. The main barrier is the closed operating system environment thanks to Apple/Google's insistence on a walled garden (though Apple is FAR worse).


Playstation Vita and iPad are both running the same GPU architecture. It won't be too long before we're seeing tablets offering performance categorically superior to that of the current-gen consoles.
I actually was referring to the major PC titles, I mean beyond Minecraft et. al. The current consoles are getting a bit old but having said that they're also RISC-based systems (PowerPC architecture IIRC) which is why their performance endures. If anything they're an argument for efficient platforms as opposed to the all-consuming, multi-utilitarian x86 behemoth.


Also on the subject of GPUs and tablets/smartphones: as the significance of the GPU increases, the efficiency advantage of ARM over x86 diminishes.
I could just turn your "tech advancement" argument around on you again and claim as the demand increases better technology will be developed. Alternatively, I could go 'citation needed'. Or are you simply referring to GPUs lagging behind in the efficiency category?


Personally I expect that the desktop PC I put together this year (i5 2500/6850) will be my last. I anticipate replacing it with a tablet in ~2015. Could well be a Windows 9/x86-based tablet.
Personally I'm not sure whether to agree or not. While I don't doubt that tablet PCs will increase in number and Windows 8 will probably play a big part in that, I doubt you'll be replacing our hot, power-hungry boxes anytime within the next 8 years or so. Unless... you know, you only ever play Minecraft. In terms of games requiring a decent amount of CPU/GPU grunt (like ARMA2 as an extreme example, or RO2 as less extreme) I doubt you're going to find tablets within the next few years that keep up with that demand. Which might be why the consoles will win as a gaming platform in the future... as horrific as that prospect is.


Where have I ever suggested otherwise? There's a good chance my first tablet will be Android/ARM-based and come from whatever line-up Amazon announces in the next few weeks. If not then the #2 candidate would be a Windows 8/ARM tablet next year.
Well, we have just spent the last page or so arguing back and forth over whether ARM is useful for Win8...


Forget the UI, it absolutely is a full OS and - in addition to the Metro aesthetic - that's what appeals to me about it. Apple is all about control, Google is an improvement, but seemingly more about the freedom for manufacturers/carriers to screw you than the freedom of users to avoid being screwed. Ironically it appears Microsoft is going to wind up being the most user-supportive platform vendor here.
I never claimed it wasn't because I'm well aware of the underlying architecture. But they've made significant strides to present the OS as a tablet-centric OS, that much is obvious. And as J Arcane has pointed out, if things run like they currently suggest, that Metro UI is going to be tied to the new Marketplace, which is going to be yet another Apple-style walled garden. Probably wouldn't matter if the desktop interface remains functional (and I can't see them locking tablets into the Metro UI only, if that happened it really would be a cut-down OS) but it's still something to bear in mind.

icupnimpn2
22-09-2011, 07:06 AM
Secondly, unless it's a planned feature (and I doubt it) Explorer is still very much alive in Windows 8. The new Start Screen just sits over the top of it. Explorer itself doesn't stop loading up, it's still sitting there in the background. Explorer isn't that big of a memory hog that you gain much by not running it, unless your system is pathetically underpowered.

Maybe I mis-remembered what I'd read here:
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/09/01/179245/Windows-8-Desktop-Just-Another-App


"Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division, said this week that Windows 8 will let users treat the traditional desktop as 'just another app' that loads only on command. When it unveiled Windows 8's UI in June, Microsoft said it would feature a 'touch-first' interface to compete in the fast-growing tablet market. Underneath that, however, would be a traditional Windows-style desktop. 'Having both of [the] user interfaces [work] together harmoniously is an important part of Windows 8,' Sinofsky said in a blog post on Wednesday. The Metro-style UI — the one inspired by Windows Phone 7's tile-based design — will be the first to show up when a user boots a device. At that point, users reach a crossroads. 'If you want to stay permanently immersed in that Metro world, you will never see the desktop — we won't even load it (literally the code will not be loaded) unless you explicitly choose to go there,' Sinofsky said. 'If you don't want to do ... 'PC' things, then you don't have to and you're not paying for them in memory, battery life or hardware requirements.' If using a conventional PC with keyboard and mouse, Windows 8 users will run an 'app' to load the desktop, he said. 'Essentially, you can think of the Windows desktop as just another app.'"

My brain was making a connection that maybe if explorer weren't loaded a bunch of the background services and etc that take up resources in the desktop environment might be suspended while not in that view.

soldant
22-09-2011, 08:55 AM
My brain was making a connection that maybe if explorer weren't loaded a bunch of the background services and etc that take up resources in the desktop environment might be suspended while not in that view.
From my experience with Win8 what they're describing here (as people seem to be interpreting it) isn't exactly what happens. A lot of services and things still start up (which is usually what people complain about, not explorer per se but it gets the blame because it's a nice, visible process). If I start up the dev preview on my notebook and immediately bring up Task Manager, Explorer is still running (using about 10.7MB of RAM but zero CPU time). If I kill the process, the whole UI (including Metro) vanishes.

I'm not certain on the technical details but killing "explorer.exe" as people think of it (i.e. the UI aspect) probably wouldn't do much except wipe the interface like it does now. The real issue are worthless services loading up. That said, man Win8 boots quick on my notebook using a slow HDD! If this performance carries through, we'll all be pretty pleased.

Rii
12-01-2012, 01:41 AM
So CES has brought us some Medfield stuffs. The news? The news is that Intel is ready to play ball.

Anandtech

There's only a single version of Medfield being announced today: the Intel Atom Z2460. The Z2460 features a single Atom core with a 512KB L2 cache, a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU and a dual-channel LPDDR2 memory interface. In a world where talking about four Cortex A9s and PowerVR SGX 544MP2s isn't uncommon, Medfield starts out almost sounding a bit...tame. But then you see its performance.

[....]

The actual values are pretty astonishing as well. Sub 20mW idle, sub 750mW during a call on 3G and although not pictured here, Intel's internal data suggests ~1W power consumption while browsing the web compared to ~1.3W on the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S 2. I've done my own measurements on 4S web browsing and came up with a very similar value.

The performance and power data both look great for Medfield. You would think that this data, assuming there's nothing fundamentally wrong, would be enough to convince a handset maker to actually give Intel a shot. You'd be right.

In addition to disclosing Medfield performance data, Intel is also announcing partnerships with both Motorola and Lenovo. The former is a broad, multi-year agreement stating that Motorola plans on creating many devices based on Intel silicon - the first of which will be a smartphone due out before the end of the year. Tablets will follow at some point as well.

Lenovo on the other hand will actually be taking and tweaking Intel's own Medfield reference platform, and releasing it in China in Q2.

All of this is exactly what Intel needed: a start.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5365/intels-medfield-atom-z2460-arrive-for-smartphones/1

I HOPE U LIEK HUMBLE PIE OM NOM NOM

soldant
12-01-2012, 04:28 AM
So CES has brought us some Medfield stuffs. The news? The news is that Intel is ready to play ball.

I HOPE U LIEK HUMBLE PIE OM NOM NOM
"AMD BULLDOZER WILL LIKE KILL EVERY SINGLE OTHER CPU OUT THERE OMFG LOL INTEL YOU'RE SO DEAD LOOK AT THIS DATA!"
"Bulldozer sux lol Intel win."

"INTEL ATOM CPUS ARE GONNA MAKE NETBOOKS REAL BIG EVERYTHING WILL GO SMALL LOL LOOK AT THIS DATA"
"Atom sux lol."

I've seen a bunch of things like this pre-general release followed by disappointment in the tech. The comments in that thread are more interesting. It's a great step forward but your original dream of a full x86-64 operating system replacing your desktop is waaaaaay off. Particularly if ARM bring out something better.

DigitalSignalX
12-01-2012, 05:26 AM
Unless someone is giving away touch screen monitors, win8 seems like it will be a gigantic flop only used by OEM PC owners. Win7 does most everything right, or can be modded to such a state easily. Convincing ppl to upgrade will be a very long road.

Rii
13-01-2012, 04:24 PM
I've seen a bunch of things like this pre-general release followed by disappointment in the tech.

I'm sorry to tell you this, but it's J Arcane and his ilk who're out on a limb here, and that limb is getting shakier all the time. My thesis was that x86 has a place in the smartphone/tablet world vs. omg x86 so inefficient neva happen! Well, guess what: we have partner announcements from Intel now coupled with hard numbers for Medfield that clearly indicate a useful degree of performance coupled with acceptable power consumption. At this point, to sustain the remarkable scepticism offered to date one has to be suggesting that Intel is flat-out lying about their platform. Not fudging the numbers or cherry-picking benchmarks, but flatly making shit up.

As I've already indicated, my expectations for Medfield - and Intel's, I suspect - are quite modest. At best it'll get them a toehold in the market, probably one limited to the partners whose support they've bought; it is indeed nothing more than a promising start. The fact that even this small step -- Medfield in 2012, rather than, say, the brand new out-of-order Atom architecture coming in 2013 -- is enough to unhorse the X86 IN MY ARM SPACE? UNPOSSIBLE! crowd is testament to just how divorced from reality that opposition always was.

And actually what happened with Bulldozer was that disappointing early benchmarks were released and the fanboys were all over it claiming bad motherboard firmware or fairies were responsible and not to worry. So when you try to dismiss the import of these numbers from Intel, guess who you're bedding down with?

Tams80
13-01-2012, 05:37 PM
While mobile solutions in the future may eventually be able to run what we can run on desktops now; if desktop technology continues to improve, software (namely games) is developed that utilises said improvement is created and there is demand for the improvements then there will desktops. If the 'high end' of desktops is not utilised, then we may see the 'death' of desktops as mobile devices catch up in what can be achieved on them.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was a new 1080p craze (4k looks likely to be the same all over again, though I don't know if it looks as good as 1080p looks over 480p), then there will probably be demand for more powerful computers. That said unless something else is developed other than games that use this increased power, then most people will probably move away from desktops.

At the moment, it would seem it is the GPU industry that is causing mobile solutions to be kept back, even APUs. It doesn't matter how powerful your CPU is if the GPU isn't good enough. Sure they are getting better, but not as quickly.

Rii
14-01-2012, 01:15 AM
While mobile solutions in the future may eventually be able to run what we can run on desktops now; if desktop technology continues to improve, software (namely games) is developed that utilises said improvement is created and there is demand for the improvements then there will desktops. If the 'high end' of desktops is not utilised, then we may see the 'death' of desktops as mobile devices catch up in what can be achieved on them.

There'll always be the games and other software to make use of the high-end hardware, but they will constitute an increasingly irrelevant proportion of the picture, continuing the trend that has been underway for several years already. What growth there is in the consumer PC world is in laptops, and of course that growth pales in significance to the explosive rise of smartphones and now tablets.

On the software side the last five years have seen the rise of games from indies and small publishers - most of which aren't nearly as computationally or graphically intensive as traditional mainstream titles - coupled with the near-total stagnation of the high-end on account of the dominance of the console market. There'll be new consoles along soon enough, of course, but the 'relief' they'll bring to the high-end PC market will be short-lived, not least of all because there are several indications that Microsoft/Sony don't plan to push things nearly as far with the next generation as they did with PS3/X360. Meanwhile the iOS gaming scene continues to enjoy healthy growth and an increasingly proportion of titles from publishers like EA are being made with iPad versions in mind.

Intel can read the writing on the wall, that's why they're trying so hard to worm their way into the phone/tablet space before it gets locked up like ... well, like Intel has had the PC industry locked up for the last couple decades. It's not just about Atom, even the high-end chips are drilling down to lower thermal target points. From Anandtech:


With Lynnfield Intel made it very clear that it's possible to get high-end desktop class performance out of a 95W part. While the 130W chips were still faster, the majority of enthusiast users would get by just fine with Lynnfield. The move to Sandy Bridge highlighted Intel's move away from 130W TDPs for high-end desktop processors and down towards 95W. As I noticed in my transition to a mobile quad-core SNB notebook as my primary workstation, I believe this generation of 130W CPUs will target a smaller portion of enthusiast users than the previous generation. The trend is definitely downward, towards lower TDPs.

Haswell is where Intel's architectures take a dramatic turn. Ivy Bridge is a derivative of the Sandy Bridge architecture, which of course was designed for that 13 - 130W range. Haswell however is a brand new architecture. It'll likely look similar to Sandy and Ivy but its target TDPs will be shifted down. In mobile, Haswell designs will be set at 10 - 20W. That's not the lower bound of the design, just the target for mobile. What does that do to the rest of the scale? Intel presented this slide at its analyst day earlier this month:

In Sandy Bridge, mobile occupied the 35 - 45W range - roughly the bottom third of the architecture's target. Around Haswell two things happen: the mobile design drops and the Atom design target moves upward.


Atom will service a new expanded range from ~800mW to 8W, leaving Haswell to address the ~10W and above market. Multiply that number by 10 and we have our upper bound of 100W - which isn't much different from the 95W we see today for high-end SNB SKUs. That being said, I do believe we'll see a lot more focus around 65W in the desktop.
- http://www.anandtech.com/Show/Index/4371?cPage=4&all=False&sort=0&page=3&slug=intel-ultrabook-meet-the-new-thin-and-light-notebook (http://[URL)]

Rii
25-01-2012, 11:27 AM
Even the basic hardware capabilities aren't there yet: wireless output to external displays is key to realising the potential of the form factor.

http://img577.imageshack.us/img577/6668/azurewavedockingzonebox.jpg (http://www.anandtech.com/show/5456/wilocity-demonstrates-60-ghz-wigig-draft-80211ad-chipset-at-ces)

OH ITS ON NOW

This technology + Windows 8 = the end of tablets' infancy and the beginning of adolescence.

No doubt 802.11ac/ad is also what's behind the rumours of a rapid iPad 3 -> iPad 4 churn.