Hmm. The more I look at this, the more I'm actually starting to think things might not be quite as rosy as they look. Apparently there'll be a split app store between ARM/x86 apps,
You're a little off. There will be 2 separate types of applications sold. But they aren't ARM/x86. But more Metro vs Desktop.
Desktop apps are the x86 apps. They are what you may be running on Windows 7 right now. They are sold in a traditional way, and with an option of an app store. In that app store, MS gets no % of revenue from the sale. The applications can be sold in an app store, 3rd party website, real life store, etc. Just like you traditionally buy computer programs. They cannot be run on ARM processors because they were specifically programmed for x86 chips.
The Metro apps are apps that are created using the WinRT API. That WinRT API allows any apps written in it to work on any Windows 8 compatible device running the Metro UI. This app store will be more like the "app stores" that you may be used to. With MS getting a % of revenue per sale.
rumours that the ARM versions won't be able to run the desktop OS properly because of limited horsepower, and the issue of cost.
It's not that. It's because ARM processor architecture is fundamentally different than x86/x64 architecture.
ARM likely won't have the Desktop app at all. Or if they do, it will be very limited since it won't be backwards compatible.
A full-on Windows 8 tablet is basically a small, portable PC with a lot more hardware than a normal slate (those fans, for instance - which themselves will need more juice, so more expensive, higher cacpacity batteries).
A "full on" Windows 8 tablet is basically a laptop without a keyboard attached. Heck, there will still be laptops sold too. Someone who buys one of these is the same person that would normally buy a laptop.
But not all tablets are "full on". Many will be ARM based. And these will be no different than any other ARM based tablets you see around.
More hardware means more cost, so non-ARM W8 tablets could be expensive, whereas the cheaper ARM tablets/netbooks might be hindered by performance issues (ARM W8 hardware has apparently been very locked down at BUILD).
They won't be any different in cost than any other ARM tablet you see with the required sensors. ARM tablets are already pretty expensive. Well, compared to cheap netbooks.
And btw... Windows 8 will run on a cheap Netbook with an Atom processor and 1 GB or RAM. The OS uses under 300 mb of RAM when on. Compare that to Windows 7 which uses around 400 mb.
And there's one big issue that I suspect a lot of people on here won't be bothered by as we're all quite tech savvy, but a lot of general users will be - confusion. I write a tech column for a newsletter for an organisation where a lot of the members aren't that tech savvy and/or are a bit older on average, and in my latest column I wrote about Windows 8. The response? A lot of people flat-out hated it. They hated the idea of touch being the default, hated the idea of essentially two faces for some programs and two ways to do everything, hated the idea of having to learn an entirely new way of interacting with a desktop. Hated the idea that so soon after Windows 7 (which was so soon after Vista) there was another major upheaval coming. And they REALLY hated the idea that if they owned a Windows PC they might have to buy the same apps again for a Windows 8 tablet if it was on the "wrong" architecture.
Desktop mode is almost the same as their current PCs. And all of their current programs will run on it.
They don't have to buy a tablet. And if they do choose to buy one, they can make a choice if they want one that can double as a full PC, or if they want something that is mainly a consumption device. Choice isn't bad.
These people just need to know that nothing is being forced on them. They can choose.
I'm seriously hoping MS has thought of concerns like these and has plans to tighten things up a *lot* - especially in the x86/ARM area. Because I have to admit one email I had from one reader summed it up pretty well "I don't get it. Why are they forcing full Windows on to a tablet? If I want a small computer I'll buy a laptop or a netbook. I can have one of those now, and very cheap. Having a full computer isn't what I want a tablet for. And if I have proper work to do, I don't want a desktop PC that thinks it's a tablet either."
As I said earlier... choice.
That person could buy an ARM tablet and won't have the full Desktop computer.
Or, if they don't want to own a laptop AND a tablet, they could just buy an x86 based slate. Then they have both.
It matters what they want. They can buy something that fits their own needs.
I think that one phrase, "I don't get it", could come back to haunt them if they don't 100% nail this on price, performance, compatibility and most of all usability.
There will be a wide range of devices spanning many price points. And there will be basically 2 kinds of Windows 8 devices.
1) Full computers
And for those 2 kinds, there will be many choices of each.