Windows "8" on an old school Tablet PC

Long term readers will know I've long been a fan of the Tablet PC. Having owned two and certainly would have owned a few more if the budget had been more favourable. My first was a Toshiba Portege M200, and my most recent has been a Motion Computing LE1700. Windows XP SP2 was really great at making a PC usable with a pen. Windows Vista took that a step further and really developed a lot of the things we take for granted today, a handwriting recognition engine that learns and of course pen flicks. Enabling you to make quick gestures to scroll up and down a page, or navigate back and forward, among others.

Windows 7 however - bar slightly better performance on low end systems - took a massive step backwards with Internet Explorer 8. Pen flicks which by then we had all grown to love broke, badly. Scrolling up and down just didn't work in IE8 when using standards modes, that remained the case with IE9 despite me almost constantly hassling the IE team over it. You had to move over and grab the scroll bar. Urrggh.

Now however with the "touch-first" focus on Windows 8. I'm pleased to say pen flicks work properly in Internet Explorer 10, and it has really brought new life back to my LE1700. Unfortunately neither of my tablets support hardware accelerated graphics in Internet Explorer - so many of the Metro style apps run with near-unusable performance if they run at all, the LE1700 only has an Intel 845 which only ever supported WDDM 1.0. But at least we've got a browser that works properly again on Tablets (before Firefox or Chrome fanboys start, neither of those have ever worked properly on Tablets).

I've got one of the lower-end original LE1700s, Core Solo @ 1.2Ghz w/ 2GB of RAM. But it has the higher resolution 1440x1050 screen. Day to day operations work great, like they did on Windows 7. Start up time is much faster and having a picture password is a welcome improvement, and in many ways works faster than the finger-print reader.

However out of the box I ran into an issue where the CPU was being pegged at 100% by NT Kernel & System, which I successfully tracked down to be an issue with the "Standard Enhanced PCI to USB Host" driver - which I've now disabled. The classic desktop stuff works as great as it ever has, and better in many ways. Not having to go all the way down into a corner to get at the Start menu is a nice feature since my pen lives in my right hand often at the right-side of the screen.

There are consistency issues and general usability issues with the new Metro UI however. It isn't possibly to scroll the Start screen by dragging with the pen at all, nor by flicking the pen. In fact flicking left and right actually moves the currently selected tile. You have to use the scroll-bar instead. Kind of annoying, but then some applications behave differently, some you can click and drag, while others you can hold the right-button to bring up the scroll functionality, and some you just can't seem to move at all without the arrow keys or page up or page down. This is an area I hope they'll be looking at. As it is kind of a breaking deal if you're using an active-digitiser based tablet, although I understand that isn't exactly the key market they're after any more.

3 comments

Comment from: Phil J [Visitor]
Phil J
5 stars

Thank you so much for this post. I work at a state university where we use 8 Motion LE1700's and after installing Win 8 Dev preview I was having the same 100% CPU utilization issue you described. With that resolved the tablet is incredibly fast on Win 8.

1st November 2011 @ 18:15
Comment from: trainman261 [Visitor]
trainman261

I guess you're on a pen-only system. I've just recently gotten a windows 7 tablet (the lenovo X230T convertible) and I have to say, when you're using your fingers, it's amazing. Increase the size of the caption buttons and the window padding and you're fine. That is to say, with only a pen, it doesn't work the same way - this thing has a pretty nice pen, but it doesn't work the same way the finger was. Which doesn't bother me at all, I rarely use the pen for interacting with the computer, I use it almost exclusively for handwriting etc, because I have the finger input method. I guess I can see, though, it wouldn't be too great with just a pen. Basically, with fingers, you can drag to scroll, but that doesn't work with the pen - only flicks work with the pen. And then, Internet Explorer doesn't like some...
On the other hand, it seems Windows 8 hasn't solved your problem - personally, I can't stand Windows 8, it's going way backwards - not in terms of the look, which is great, but in terms of functionality. You can't even look at more than two windows at the same time!!! Not to mention, it seems like Microsoft is locking down the Metro interface, and Windows on ARM, just like Apple locks down their iOS devices - no installing stuff on YOUR device unless approved by MICROSOFT. I'll decide what I'll run on my system, thank you very much. Seems like an operating system to skip. Windows 9 had better be an improvment on Windows 7, not on iOS, like Windows 8.

17th July 2012 @ 21:41
Comment from: Matt [Visitor]
Matt
5 stars

Nice, do you know anyone who's tried Windows 8 on an LE1600?

19th August 2012 @ 11:29


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