Either Microsoft is not serious about competing with their would-be OEMs and is simply using these Surface tablets (see: Microsoft previews own ‘Surface’ tablet) as aspirational designs (smirk) for the PC assemblers of the world to attempt to emulate or they just drove beleaguered HP, beleaguered Dell, and the rest of the desperate, low-margin PC assemblers straight to Android (which isn’t exactly killing iPad).
Microsoft’s problem is exemplified with that Windows 8 Pro/Intel thick, fan-laden slab. It’s a “tablet” that desperately wants to be a laptop, so that Microsoft can continue to ride their Mac-ripoff Windows gravy train a bit longer. They’re hopelessly hooked on Windows and Office revenue streams. A “tablet” with an identity crisis is not the future, that is Microsoft’s desperate, hence weak, attempt to cling to the past. They just can’t let go. When they need to reinvent themselves, they simply can’t bring themselves to do it. This is what happens when you put the sales guy in charge.
Steve Jobs: Apple had a monopoly on the graphical user interface for almost 10 years. That’s a long time. And how are monopolies lost? Think about it. Some very good product people invent some very good products, and the company achieves a monopoly. But after that, the product people aren’t the ones that drive the company forward anymore. It’s the marketing guys or the ones who expand the business into Latin America or whatever. Because what’s the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business from is yourself? So a different group of people start to move up. And who usually ends up running the show? The sales guy… Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason. But by then the best product people have left, or they’re no longer listened to. And so the company goes through this tumultuous time, and it either survives or it doesn’t.
BusinessWeek: Is this common in the industry?
Steve Jobs: Look at Microsoft — who’s running Microsoft?
BusinessWeek: Steve Ballmer.
Steve Jobs: Right, the sales guy. Case closed.
(Excerpts from a BusinessWeek interview with Steve Jobs, October 12, 2004)
Microsoft’s “Surface” is the type of thinking that kills companies (see Kodak, for just one example). If Microsoft were really sure of themselves in Jobsian fashion, they would have devoted all of their efforts to Windows RT/ARM tablets. (Ever notice how when Apple holds a special media event, they have rock solid specs, pricing, availability dates; the works?) But, Microsoft are not confident in their direction, so they’re wandering all over the map; clinging tightly to their “partner” Intel while dipping a toe in ARM’s water. Microsoft are throwing a bunch of vapor, sorry “VaporMg,” at the wall to see what sticks and, by doing so, they risk knocking off everything, including, and especially for their bottom line, Office. The more iPads in workers hands – and the vast majority of Fortune 500 enterprises are piloting or already deploying iPads – that do not have Office, the quicker Microsoft’s bloated office suite monopoly dies.
Microsoft’s bifurcated, ill-defined Surface “tablet” will only serve to introduce more confusion into the marketplace and that is a very good thing for Apple. The more confusion, the better it is for Apple’s iPad. iPad will continue to offer the only known quantity in the market, the only true “tablet” with any real developer support, and the only one with a massive and vibrant ecosystem (both hardware and software).
Apple’s iPad is the only tablet into which any sane person or business would ever invest their hard-earned money. If your company ever buys Microsoft Surface tablets – either of them, but especially Windows 8 Pro/Intel ones – get your resume ready. You’re stuck at a place that’s prone to making horrendous decisions and is hopelessly mired in the past.
As if they needed it, Microsoft’s “Surface” debacle is even more good news for Apple.
SteveJack is a pen name used by a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and, when he feels like it, a contributor to both MacDailyNews Takes and the Opinion section.
ZDNet Sr. Tech Editor Perlow: Microsoft’s Surface has catastrophe written all over it – June 19, 2012
Microsoft previews own ‘Surface’ tablet – June 18, 2012
Microsoft touts ‘major’ June 18 event said to showcase Windows RT tablets – June 15, 2012
ZDNet’s Kingsley-Hughes: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is an awful, horrible, painful design disaster – June 8, 2012
Analyst meets with big computer maker, finds ‘general lack of enthusiasm’ for Windows 8 – June 8, 2012
Dvorak: Windows 8 an unmitigated disaster; unusable and annoying; it makes your teeth itch – June 3, 2012
The Guardian: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is confusing as hell; an appalling user experience – March 5, 2012
More good news for Apple: Microsoft previews Windows 8 (with video) – June 1, 2011