A problem with the Windows 8 ecosystem AKA All I want is a dock

Microsoft Windows 8 has many great things about it, and some things that could be better. It has as many naysayers as it does great features and, as you probably know, I’m certainly not one of them. I’m a fan of it’s new tile interface (matches my Lumia 920 very well), it’s new sync features, it’s inclusion of an “app store” and more…but I do have an issue with it, and that is is the ecosystem.

This is an area that Microsoft can’t directly control, however I feel they must surely be able to take action to improve the situation. The situation is this:

I’ve got a Samsung Ativ Tab, the Windows RT device released a couple of months ago. It’s a great device: it’s sexy, it’s light, it’s quick, it’s got Office – I’m a big fan. I love using it in it’s tablet form but the other week I noticed the dock connector on the bottom of the tablet and thought about all the extra things I could do with a keyboard attachment too.

Samsung Ativ Tab Connector Here’s the dock.

I got into work and emailed one of our distributor partners to find out how much the dock would be, it’s availability etc. – and this is there the story starts.

The reply was quick to come back that I would need AA-RD8NMKD/UK, but that’s listed as being for the “Windows 8 Pro versions only” so no dice. I pointed this out and waited for the correct part code to come back. I chased up a few hours later to be told that there isn’t a dock available because “the RT version comes with the keyboard” – which isn’t correct.

I also asked our Samsung account manager who came back with the part code for a generic bluetooth keyboard!

I’m now at a loss as to whether this dock even exists and if it does, how on earth one is supposed to buy it. This kind of thing is surely going to put consumers off moving to one of these devices – if someone with direct access to distributors and even the manufacturer can’t get a straight answer, how is someone’s mum/auntie/dad/niece/brother going to fare in PC World?! There will either be so much confusion they just decide not to bother OR they’re sold the wrong item, causing them inconvenience and giving a better experience of Windows 8. (In this scenario, it’s doesn’t matter if it’s RT or 8, Samsung or Microsoft – it will be seen as the fault of Microsoft and Windows 8).

I’m confused as to why the item I was originally given is listed as “only for Windows 8 Pro devices” – what’s the difference? A hardware manufacturer surely isn’t going to incur the extra cost of changing the manufacturing process for two such similar devices? I can’t see that it’s an OS level issue either?

After much searching I’ve managed to find comparable pictures of the 2 devices:

Ativ Tab

image

Ativ Smart PC

image

The top device there is clearly designed to have the ability to dock – so why can’t I find one anywhere?! Is it that they share the same dock? Is the Ativ Tab add-on simply not released yet? So many questions!

A “regular” consumer would have given up on this about a week ago and at best decided to get a different Windows tablet (be that RT or Pro) or, at worst, gone and bought an iPad.

If anyone reading this can shed some light, that’d be great 🙂

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