Now that I have been using Windows 10 on my Venue 8 Pro for a week or two, I can say unequivocally that Windows 10 can work on a small tablet. Microsoft’s Continuum efforts are paying off, and it is definitely possible for an operating system to be desktop-oriented and then switch to tablet mode without too many issues.
Windows 10 Issues on the Venue 8 Pro
There are issues, however. The following are my top six thoughts regarding the past couple of weeks:
- The on-screen keyboard during log-in has lately stopped reflecting on the keyboard itself that a key has been pressed. (i.e., there is no momentary flash of highlighting to reflect a key press.) I don’t know why it does this, because this wasn’t a problem upon initial installation. It still works, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem in other apps, but having some sort of visual confirmation that a key-press has been registered is fairly desirable.
- The WiFi connection decided to stop working randomly one day, and troubleshooting did nothing to resolve the problem. There were no issues with the driver, and the router was working fine. It just…stopped behaving. And then it fixed itself. Which is great and all, but unreliable WiFi is discomforting, especially for a device so heavily reliant on having a constant WiFi connection.
- Likewise, using the stylus continues to be a hit-or-miss proposition. I will say, the Dell Active Stylus appears to be smoother and more responsive than it was under Windows 8.x. But, it still works only to the level of “more often than not.” Which is mostly okay. Except when you’re really trying to take notes on it and it stops registering input. The Windows 10 settings page for connected devices does not present options for pens or styli, and searching for pen settings will launch the legacy settings interface underneath the full-screen interface. When you finally find them, you discover that A) Windows 10 thinks that touch and pen input are not enabled on the device and I need to contact my device maker, and B) that you can calibrate a pen regardless. Perhaps that interface is keyed to the old Tablet PC form factor with different touch and pen technology, and I’m seeing it because I forced Windows 10 onto the device rather than letting Dell handle it for me. I don’t know.
- Closely related, and lots of people said this would happen, but not having the swipe-in from the right launch the charms bar is taking some getting used to. It’s not so much that the Charms bar was particularly great, in of itself, but at least it was easy to find where the app-specific settings were. Without the Charms bar, you need to either swipe in from the top or the bottom and hope that you find them.
- The new OneNote that comes with Windows 10 is just not as pleasant as the Modern version that was in Windows 8.x, the one with the radial menu.
- Eight inches really is probably too small for long-term handwritten note-taking.
To Mars and Beyond
All in all, despite the gripes, it’s fine. It’s the stuff in this list, though, which really show just how rushed Windows 10 was. At about the time Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would launch on July 29, it became very clear that Windows 8.x was the spaceship that Microsoft had wanted to take to Mars after finally getting into orbit, but that they expected to be able to build it as they rocketed there. In other words Microsoft slammed a nice new kernel in the Windows 7 frame, gave it some outrageous styling and controls, left the dated upholstery inside, and launched it into orbit. It got to about the level of the ISS before the pilot said “I will turn this spaceship around and go home if you don’t give me a fully functioning desktop interface,” and Microsoft had to acquiesce. In the process, Microsoft removed the weird styling they had given their spaceship, slapped a fresh coat of paint on it, gave it some additional functionality, and called it Windows 10, leaving the ratty old interior intact. They’re still going to Mars (and maybe even further) after a quick pit stop, but I hope they still plan on continually building the thing as they head there.