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Microsoft Portables Apple Hardware

The iPad vs. Microsoft's "Jupiter" Devices 293

harrymcc writes "A dozen years ago, Microsoft convinced major manufacturers to put Windows CE inside devices that looked like undersized touchscreen personal computers. The platform was code-named 'Jupiter' and shipped as Handheld PC Pro, and it flopped — it turned out that people wanted full-strength notebooks. But in retrospect, it was a clear antecedent of what Apple is doing — much more successfully — with the iPad."
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The iPad vs. Microsoft's "Jupiter" Devices

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  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @05:35PM (#31850372) Journal

    It's actually quite funny to see how similar and in some aspects even better it is (and for a product 12 years ago!). Apart from the obvious (larger price and more weight), the older product actually has 12-16 hour life compared to iPad's 8 hour life. There's also dial-up modem (remember how bulky those were?), more apps, syncing software, and multitasking. 640x480 resolution and touch display.

    Pretty awesome for a product in the 1998, considering it even beats iPad at some aspects. Oh and Windows CE also let you install any app you wanted (there was a lot of freeware apps too), not just something Apple didn't block from AppStore or where you have to pay for every app you want, no matter how simple task it does. And you also could program your own apps to it.

    But what comes to current generation tablets, I'm waiting to see what happens with Courier. The two touch-screen booklike sure is something a tablet should look like []. I mean, you're supposed to hold these with your hands and on top you, while laying on sofa or bed. It's a lot more natural to hold them like a book, either for browsing the internet while having a game or IM window on the other screen or just to read an ebook. The non-book feel of tablets has turn me off. I have a bad feeling they will want to go the Apple route and have only App Store-approved apps like with Windows Mobile 7, but I still hope for the best. The ability to have what applications you want or code your own is a really importantant one.

  • Apples and Oranges (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moogied ( 1175879 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @05:38PM (#31850418)
    Modern systems like the Ipad(and various replicas using linux & windows) face entirely different issues. Older systems were incapable of most productive features at the time. PC's were used to do "power hungry" things like run excel and word. There was almost no way an older system could run those in anywhere near the same level.
    Now even my G1 can read and let me edit spreadsheets. My blackberry as well. Also we live in the age of web 2.0 and cloud computing, most of the crap people do on the internet is pretty processor friendly.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @05:44PM (#31850492)

    The reason the iPad is more successful than the Handheld PC Pro is because the iPad looks like a giant iPhone, while the Handheld PC Pro looked like a small laptop.

  • The iPad has a lot of value added because wireless internet is everywhere.

    Also the small weight difference counts for a lot.

    $499 is still a little more than I want to pay, and I do care (unlike most people) that it is locked down.

    But I would happily pay $300 for a similar device that is wireless only, the iPad is a temptation for me.

    if it started at $999 no way in hell. Especially if it was attached to 1998's internet, the added value of the iPad is almost entirely that it is now a decade later, and th internet has more value than it did then.

  • by GlassHeart ( 579618 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @06:02PM (#31850708) Journal

    It's similar in some respects, but not in several that really matter. One, don't take 3G/WiFi for granted, because that feature (obviously nothing unique to iPad) is a game-changer compared to wired networking. Two, 1024x768 is another game-changer, compared to 640x480, as anybody who is old enough to witness that transition should remember. Three, the content that you can consume, starting from music and video to the Internet itself, has also changed dramatically since 1998. Not to mention that the PV-5000 is also more than twice as heavy, twice as thick, and twice (more if you consider inflation) as expensive.

    Geeks have a tendency to look at specs and see quantitative differences, but often it is more important to see if the quantitative difference is big enough to become a qualitative difference. For example, a laptop is not just a lighter all-in-one desktop with a battery.

  • Re:Expectations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DdJ ( 10790 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @06:04PM (#31850744) Homepage Journal

    I was actually very surprised that Apple is even making a keyboard dock, as it makes it look more like a laptop.

    You may have just explained why the keyboard dock forces the iPad into portrait mode instead of landscape, and why the "Pages" word processor only exposes all of its features if you're using it in portrait mode. When the thing is actually attached to its dock, standing there with a screen that's taller than it is wide, and an extreme mismatch between the width of the display and the width of the keyboard, you cannot mistake it for a laptop.

  • Courier (Score:2, Interesting)

    by joh ( 27088 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @06:25PM (#31850964)

    If you really try to look at the Courier videos with an analytic eye you can't fail to see that this is just about "how to look good in a video". The user interface looks breathtaking -- because it is. There is no reason nor rhyme to the UI, it's a show of things you'd never discover how to use them on a real device. Every gesture and every touch and everything else does something different on every screen. Everything of this is convenient in the very moment it is done, yes. Because it's just a show-off and made to look this way, not to work in any way.

    If there was one thing that teached me that MS is totally without anything real to offer it was this video. It's a concept of an artist, not more. Basically it's an ad for something that doesn't exist and can't exist in this form.

  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @06:37PM (#31851068) Journal

    Well, the base charge for developer license and a Macintosh system limits freeware authors. They also need to submit it to Apple, pay their fee and hope it gets approved. If Apple rejects their app they have no way to give it to users. Is that the kind of closed computer systems you want to live with?

  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @06:39PM (#31851086)

    I don't know, but when I discovered that the iPad can't print, even to a printer plugged right in to their "AirPort" hub, which supports printer sharing, I decided to pass on getting any of the iWork apps.

    Fuck including a camera. Lack of printing is my biggest disappointment with the device.

    That said, it's fantastic for the tasks I actually bought it for (mostly VNC), so I'm mostly happy with it. I just won't be selling off my laptop unless iPhone OS 4 addresses my few nitpicks like the printing issue.

  • Re:Apple is Evil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CharlyFoxtrot ( 1607527 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @06:45PM (#31851142)

    The argument is that Apple wants control over the user experience. As so many have pointed out the hardware of the iPhone and iPad is hardly revolutionary but the way you interact with these devices is, it is the distinguishing characteristic. So they want native apps developed with the platform in mind, not programmed for common denominator meta-platforms like Flash or Java.

    And they certainly don't want to get into the position where they can't change or deprecate APIs because some third party layer would break and a whole host of applications would stop working especially in this stage where they are still working out where they're going with this touch thing. It's been claimed [] (read that article it's quite good) that Apple has been forced to alter their plans for OSX in the past because vendors had them over a barrel :

    "This isn’t some perceived risk, I can think of incidents where Apple reverted OS changes, dumped new APIs, or was forced to committing massive engineering resources to something it did not want to do because a Must Not Break app vendor told them to."

    Clearly Apple is bitter over some past goings on and is planning some insurance that won't happen again now they're still top dog.

  • Well, yeah. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @07:00PM (#31851322) Journal

    Caveat: I'm not a MacHead. I think the iPhone is a shiny toy that barely deserves to be called a phone. The iPad as it stands now is a rather lackluster first effort that would have failed immediately without Apple's mindshare behind it.

    That said, the problem with Jupiter was not the concept. The buying public didn't just decide that there was no use for a tablet back then, but suddenly there is now.

    The problem with Jupiter was that it ran WinCE.

    The issue was pretty much the same then as it was when Microsoft very nearly missed out on the netbook explosion. Namely, Microsoft didn't have an (current at the time) OS with a sufficiently low resource footprint to run on the device. So they dust off WinCE, again, and consumers find, again, that WinCE has the same interoperability issues as any random free Linux distribution, except, you know, not free. Besides being ugly and less advanced than just about anything. And so the device, through no fault of it's own, fails in the marketplace.

    And Microsoft learns again that the core reason we run Windows is that everyone else is running Windows, and some other OS, that looks like Windows but isn't really, is not going to fly.

    They got the netbook market back partly through strategic decisions -- extending the life of XP -- but netbooks still had to become faster and more power-hungry -- bending the original paradigm a bit out of shape -- to allow Microsoft to compete in that arena.

    Hardware and battery technology has improved, and Microsoft with Windows 7 seems to actually have gotten the message that you can't just pile on the bloat with each new release and expect Moore's Law to save you. I suspect there will be some new tablets limping along with Windows 7 Home on the market in a very short time. But I wouldn't be surprised at all if Microsoft blew the dust off WinCE and gave it one more go on the tablet form factor. Hope springs eternal, especially if you believe your own marketing copy.

    However, on these devices, the real competition is from lighter weight operating systems with a sufficient collection of integrated applications, and these days that means Android or iPhone OS. As has been said many times in the past, the only product Microsoft has to compete in this area is (still) WinCE/PocketPC/WindowsMobile, and the user experience on that software platform is dismal. Windows 7 provides a sufficient experience, but is probably too resource hungry to run on a tablet of reasonable size and cost with reasonable battery life.

    On the other hand, I thought for sure Microsoft was going to lose the netbook market, and here we are today with most netbooks running Windows. It'll be interesting to see what rabbit they pull out of their... um, hats... this time.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:00PM (#31851822)

    It's actually quite funny to see how similar and in some aspects even better it is (and for a product 12 years ago!). Apart from the obvious (larger price and more weight), the older product actually has 12-16 hour life compared to iPad's 8 hour life. There's also dial-up modem (remember how bulky those were?), more apps, syncing software, and multitasking. 640x480 resolution and touch display.

    You would be far less impressed if you remembered what Windows CE, its multi-tasking, and its apps were like back then. You would wince (har har) even more if you remembered what LCD displays were like back then.

    Windows CE, especially the 2x series, was half-assed and its apps would not impress you. Part of the problem is that internet wasn't ubiquitous like it is today. That's not the 98 tablet's fault. There's most of the usefulness of the tablet gone right there. Windows CE could multitask, but the apps didn't even have a close button! Basically you just used apps until it croaked and you had to reset it. If you guys thought Windows 95 was bad... hah. Try to imagine that without the Start Bar.

    Oh yeah, forget about going to a web page and installing an app from it. You couldn't even do that on PocketPC successors years later. I'm not even certain they ever got around to supporting it with Windows Mobile. You had to download an app on your Windows machine, run the installer, then run ActiveSync to get the app going on your CE device. Make sure to know what sort of processor your machine uses, btw, so you know which one to install.

    Forget using the net on it. Even if you did manage to somehow jam a cable into it and get it on the net, Internet Explorer on Windows CE was a joke then and it almost certainly wouldn't work now. No wonder the thing had good battery life, no wireless or video playback to drain it!

    The LCD displays would drive you mad. They had no useful black level. They ghosted. They were desaturated. They'd flicker like mad if you touched them. You could technically 'touch' them but you wouldn't have the gestures that you do today. Even if you did, things would ghost so bad that you'd spend a good deal of your time scrolling to find a landmark. You can forget about watching video on it.

    Your definition of 'better' only works if you really really really oversimplify the bullet points. The fact is if somebody handed you the Courier then handed you an iPad, the iPad is the one you'd find an actual use for. Probably more than one simply for the reason that it has a built in wireless connection.

    Pretty awesome for a product in the 1998, considering it even beats iPad at some aspects.

    Microsoft got its ass handed to them by the much simpler Palm Pilot back then. That should give you an idea of how 'awesome' it was to have all those features of multi-tasking, installing any app you want on it, and so on. Ultimately these things sell by what people envision themselves doing with them, not by their ingredients.

  • Re:Expectations (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:49PM (#31853676) Homepage

    I think that's pretty insightful. In trying to understand what Apple was doing with the iPad I had come to the conclusion that it wasn't meant to be used as a full computer any more than Microsoft intended the XBox to be a full computer. I hadn't drawn the connection between wanting to use it as a computer and geeks trying to hack everything. I mean, there are people who are seriously upset that Sony isn't supporting Linux on the PS3 anymore.

    I'm not making fun of geeks for wanting to do that sort of thing. I understand it, and think it's a good impulse to want to take things apart, see what makes them tick, and repurpose them to make them more useful. However, it is a different mindset. Most people who buy game consoles buy them so they *don't* have to screw around with a computer. It's like, "I don't want to built and maintain a gaming rig, figure out all the compatibility issues, and then figure out how to connect it to my TV. I'll buy a console and I'll just use it to play games and maybe watch movies and a couple other things, and things will be simpler." Meanwhile there are geeks out there who are deciding which game console to buy on the basis of which allows them to screw around with it the most. Setting up a gaming rig is too simple, so they want some crazy custom hardware that they can poke around in.

    That's not my concern with the iPad though. I've come to recognize that it's supposed to be a device, and not a computer. Still, I'm left with the uneasy question: if we start down this road, how many devices do I end up with? You know, like am I supposed to get a phone and an MP3 player and a camera and a game console and a internet streaming set-top box and a word processor and a home server and a... what? I don't know. The nice thing about computers is that you get one device that can do all sorts of things. If we're going to start supplanting computers with devices that only do a few things, than how many devices do I need?

    How many devices need to have their own storage? How many need their own individual data plans? How many need their own GPS? How many should i be carrying at any one time? And when those questions are answered, you have to keep all your data in sync, or else decide what goes where and devise a backup strategy for all of it. I know, nobody is forcing you to buy all of these devices, but all still strikes me as poorly thought out, especially since we're talking about Apple. Like if I have an iPhone and an iPad then I have 2 devices that do most of the same things and have most of the same hardware, but not quite. A Mac mini hooked up to a TV will more or less do what an Apple TV does, but not quite as well, but on the other hand it can support Flash and Silverlight content whereas the AppleTV can't.

    I mean, Apple is clearly heading in the direction of selling appliances/devices, but I just don't think the division is thought out terrifically well. There are big overlaps and big holes. I feel like Apple should select a random set of their target audience and do a study on how these devices are actually used, as well as how many things their customers want to do but can't.

    Sorry, it's a bit of a rant and I might not be making sense at this point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @03:22AM (#31854798)

    You can say that $999 then is the same as $1300 today, or you can say, that a low end laptop for the home market cost $2000 in 1998 ( and a desktop did cost $1000. So you can say that PC prices has been halved or lowered more.

    If you say a low-nd Desktop PC costs $350 today, then the iPad is 1.5 time as expensive (relatively) than the Jupiter was. And the Jupiter was half price of a cheap laptop. The iPad is more expensive. So here the iPad is relatively twice as expensive as the Jupiter was. So compared to the computer market the iPad is way more expensive than the Jupiter was.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.