Earlier this week, Microsoft took wraps off of their next version of Windows, dubbed Windows 10 (for more than just hijinks it'd seem) and it certainly seems an ambitious project, one that already appears to right many of the wrongs that Windows 8 bought with it. You might be wondering why we're talking about Windows on an Android site, and the answer is pretty simple; Windows still matters. Windows Phone 8.1 is a pretty solid mobile platform and while the app support still isn't where a lot of people would want it, it's certainly not the joke that many people think it is. Never mind all that mobile stuff, many of us use Windows on our laptops to install custom ROMs, get work done, pay our bills, browser the web and so on. I run Windows 8.1 on my gaming rig and frankly, I'm not that impressed with it. With Windows 10 however, it seems that Microsoft is finally delivering on their promise to unify the whole platform and when it comes to the tablet, Google should be taking note.
I dislike Windows 8.1 not because of the modern UI that Microsoft introduced, in fact I quite like it, but it's absolutely useless for a desktop user like myself. Bringing live tiles, arguably one of the most useful features of Windows 8 to the start menu on the desktop seems like a no-brainer to me and I'm sure it'll please a lot of desktop users all over the world as well. The same goes for the enhancements with tablets, while Microsoft wants us to think that a Windows tablet makes a great desktop, that hasn't been always true of Windows 8 and Windows 10 aims to clear that up. Microsoft also has some pretty powerful branding on their hands with the Windows 10 name. The picture above should pretty much spell out what Microsoft is aiming for and if it's a smooth launch, then Windows 10 could be a big danger to Google, specifically where tablets are concerned.
I have an Android tablet and I use it a lot of the time to deal with email here and there, browse the web and watch YouTube. What I don't do with it however is get anything done on it, and this isn't because I don't want to, it's because the experience isn't great. I would love to get a Bluetooth keyboard hooked and get some (almost) distraction-free writing done on my tablet, but the experience just isn't there. We use Drive here at AH a lot, and we have a number of speadsheets to keep track of things, and Sheets on a tablet is awful, sadly. The UI on Android tablets was – in my opinion – downgraded when Google introduced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. What used to feel almost like a desktop and made good use of the display quickly became a plaything; Android's potential on tablets was cut down to a great web browser and content-consumption experience.
It doesn't have to be like that, ask anyone that has a Windows 8 tablet (those proper PCs with the x86 chips in them) and you'll hear stories of them getting things done and generally doing the sort of thing that we all thought we'd be doing with tablets. If Microsoft, a company that's best known for teaching us how to use a thingymajig we move around on a mat, can develop a decent touch-friendly tablet operating system, why can't Google do the opposite? Mouse and keyboard support are built-in to Android and they work well, but even on a Nexus 10 or a Galaxy Tab S 10.5 it feels like we're moving around a mouse for no reason. The UI is just the phone UI, blown up, and it didn't used to be like it, and it shouldn't be like that going forward.
If Google want Android tablets to really take off and give Apple something to worry about, they need to make them attractive targets for developers to create quality Android apps, not give developers an easy out by blowing up a phone app. Apple is facing the same problem with the iPhone 6 Plus; how to make better use of the added screen real estate, and Google need to address this pretty soon, otherwise Android tablets are going to lose some serious ground to better-featured, more useful Windows 10 tablets.