Microsoft’s Suicide, er… ‘Surface’

By SteveJack

Microsoft’s Suicide.

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.

Related articles:
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


  1. Microsoft Surface was previously known as the Big Ass Table. I guess we call it the Big Ass Tablet now?

    No retina display: check.
    Less than the standard 10 hours of battery life: check.
    Hundreds of dollars more than the iPad: check.
    No large volume of software written specifically for it: check.

    Seems like the have all the bases covered, unless I miss something.

    1. to be fair we don’t know how much it will be… But it will have office on it, “what more does a Microsoft user use? Isn’t that it?” says Balmer 😉

      1. It seems obvious to me he used deduction to arrive at his conclusions.

        First, it was obvious to see it had no retina display, the display is crap. If it did have something even close to a Retina display you can be sure they would have never stopped telling people.
        It’s highly doubtful that it has a 10 hour battery life as pretty much no one has been able to get that in their tablet but Apple. That makes it’s a pretty good assumption that Microsoft (a company not known for pushing technological boundaries) probably doesn’t have a 10 hour battery in there either. This also falls into the category of something Monkey Boy would have been yelling incoherently about, if it existed.
        Microsoft is not that experienced at making hardware so it’s a safe bet they don’t have the extensive supply chain that Apple does, so their products are probably not going to be cheaper. That mixed with Microsofts history of haphazardly throwing in every “feature” they can, it’s probably up there in price or at the very least not competitive.
        There is no large volume of software written for the ARM version of the Microsoft Tablet, there just isn’t, thats not even something you have to guess at.

  2. There is not enough character space in this comment area to talk about what a major fuck up it is that Microsoft is doing what it has done 😉 I’m wondering if Apple will even bother suing them for the blatant things that are ripping off… It might be better to let it hit the market eventually and just self destruct, LOL… Well don’t Balmer, keep up the good work!

  3. I like it – at least we can file our created work, and sync it properly to a desktop. Finally, a company (Microsoft) that gives more than lip service to making tools for people that need to get some work done. Apple’s Michael-Douglas Greed-is-good focusing only on those product lines that build up its $100 billion cash stash is what causes Apple to give the thumbs up to people that need, not only to create work, but to file that work, and sync it properly to their other computers.

    1. “Microsoft … making tools for people that need to get some work done.”


      Microsoft! Making tools that allow people to get work done! Oh God, my sides hurt.

      As somebody who spent years trying to get work done using Microsoft’s worthless excuses for products, let me tell you that shitty user interfaces combined with atrocious programming are not conductive to getting work done.

      Tools that work are conductive to getting work done, and Microsoft is not in the business of making these.

    2. Hey, RR, ever heard of the word ‘Dropbox’? I respectfully suggest that you look it up, many, many people use it successfully to do precisely what you are talking about. They’re obviously a lot smarter than you are.

  4. No really Apple Fan Boys tell us how you really feel. Come on now, this website is a portal for Apple Kool-Aid drinkers to express opinions that are not valued added as they are simply one sided. I do use Apple products and Microsoft products and they both have their Pros and Cons. The Surface does not appear to be a iPad challenger but more of a ultra book alternative. If nothing else it runs full OS and that is a good thing for the 1.3 billon Miscrosoft users who might look to ditch their laptops for one of these.

    I like the form factor, I like the fact that they did not copy any iPad design points and frankly I like the fact that it will be branded a Windows product.

    There is room for a healthy Apple and Microsoft in this World as at the end of the day we all benefit from conglomerates having to compete amongst themselves.

    1. Pat,

      You sound like an obnoxious little prick who deliberately chooses to offend others (otherwise, you would have started your comment with your fourth sentence).

      When you arrive from another planet and look at Apple and Microsoft, you may see your ‘Pros and Cons’ (what’s a ‘Pro’ with a capital P? or a Con?) and believe these two are engaged in a fair competition. However, for us who have lived on this planet for a few decades, we know a bit about the history behind the two companies and how each of them attained the position they now have.

      Microsoft did NOTHING to deserve its market position. Their only efforts in innovation are now showing in their mobile platform, where they finally decided to abandon looking at the other guy for design ideas and created something original. The platform is still pretty much an inconsequential disaster, and the newly announced vapourware device of yesterday seems to be headed the same way. Whatever ultrabook means is unclear (it is defined by whoever claims to sell “ultrabooks”), but it is unlikely this new Microsoft device will appeal to anyone, as it sits squarely in no man’s land between notebooks, netbooks, sub-notebooks, “ultrabooks” (whatever that means) and “tablets” (read: iPads). It has no major advantages of any of these platform, but most shortcomings of all of them.

      To paraphrase Steve Ballmer, it may sell well, but I’m sure Apple likes their own strategy; they like it a lot…

        1. Ughh – this old argument. Gates did not write DOS. Apple gave Xerox shares in the company to use their GUI code – which they promptly re-wrote to be better.

            1. Oh, no, you don’t! Your comment was written purposefully, to insult people who commented on this page. When you say Apple fans, that refers to those who are on this forum (people who like Apple as a company and usually own Apple products). When you say Apple fanboys (or fanbois or Fan Boys, or whichever misspelt way you wish to put it), you are most certainly referring to the group in a derogatory way.

              I’m not quite sure what difference would it make to “say this to your face”. Is your statement to imply that you present yourself as physically menacing? In other words, would I be so intimidated by your physical presence as to think twice about saying what I think about your insulting comments????

            2. You are a piece of work and appear to be well suited to a sheep like lifestyle. Your perspective is so not Apple like as you come across as a conformist and that is not what Apple is about. Contrarian points of views are what Apple is about.

            3. I have no problem with “contrarian” points of view (I present them myself here often); I have a problem with those who purposely offend others. And you made it a point to offend a large group of people.

      1. Sure thing tuff guy sure thing. Apple Fan Boys are disciples to a brand and that is never a good thing. I love my Apple devices but also see huge upside in products made other companies including Microsoft.

    2. “The Surface does not appear to be a iPad challenger”

      That’s the point. Microsoft intends for the Surface to become the king of the hill, which won’t be happening. And so much fun is being had at their expense.

      So, you’re actually in agreement with the Apple Fan Boy Kool-Aid Drinkers on this.

      “it runs full OS and that is a good thing for the 1.3 billon Miscrosoft users who might look to ditch their laptops for one of these.”

      Why would the 1.3 billion Microsoft users look to ditch their Windows laptops for what is essentially a really crippled Windows laptop?

      “I like the fact that they did not copy any iPad design points”

      Black rectangle says you’re wrong.

      “and frankly I like the fact that it will be branded a Windows product.”

      That worked well for Windows Phone.

      “There is room for a healthy Apple and Microsoft in this World”

      Being that Microsoft’s goal is and has always been to destroy its competition and become the only player in the market, it’s actually much better for it to be sickly. You want to know where a healthy Microsoft gets us, look at the choiceless innovation wasteland that was the 1990’s computer industry.

  5. I think it looks alright, the idea of a USB port, sd reader and a hdmi port is one up on the iPad in my eyes, I don’t find the retina screen useful at all to be totally honest and we don’t know how much it’s gonna cost. Very one sided report in my eyes, still love my iPad 3 though.

    1. The HDMI port for the iPad is located on the Apple TV. For those people who think that they need an even thinner view of what is on their iPad, they can wirelessly print it (although I really don’t know why they think they need to print anything). For those who think they need to transfer files with a USB stick, think WiFi or BlueTooth instead. There is an SD card reader available for the iPad.

    2. There is a USB port available for iPad in the Camera Connection kit. Why no on-board port? I can think if 2 reasons: 1) space. 2) more importantly, battery life/disappointment due to incompatibility. Most USB devices draw power from the port. Either those will not function, which will tick off or otherwise confuse consumers, or they will draw enormous amounts of precious power and the abysmal “battery life” will tick off consumers. The attachment makes sense, because we know exactly why we have it, and aren’t trying to hook up a Lexmark printer or mouse to it.

      1. I agree. USB 3 probably draws more than 2 for all I know.

        AND if it runs Flash, which I have read it will, I hope the battery is up for that.

        Battery life ( the amazing days of use of my original iPad and incredible standby time ) are a huge plus in a tablet/ultrabook IMHO.

    3. Shaun, I find it hard to believe you actually have an iPad, because no sane iPad user wants to be tethered to a USB or HDMI cord. If I want a computing device to have cords, I’ll just use my MBP.

    4. If you actually read the specs on Microsoft’s website, the USB port will only function with devices specifically made for Windows RT. So it is not a general purpose USB port the way many seem to think.

  6. The Intel version will need the keyboard/trackpad to work, as such it’s basically a laptop with the computer hardware behind the screen rather than under the keyboard. It’s not even a laptop though because you can’t use it on your lap unless you balance it on your legs on it’s little stand. As such you must use it on a table or other flat surface meaning that apart from being able to carry it from one location to another with ease, it’s as flexible as a desktop.

    That’s without even considering the quality of it in use.


  7. While Microsoft got 99.9% wrong with this pair of tablets, they did have one innovation: the 3mm thick multi-touch cover that doubles as a keyboard. If it worked in both layouts — landscape and portrait — it would have been a real winner, but even as it is, it is still innovative. Yes, there are other keyboard covers for the iPad, but none of them are as thin or as integral to the device.

    1. When you close a laptop, the keyboard (or monitor, depending on your preference) DOES become a “cover” This is just a laptop with a very thin keyboard.

  8. This has the smell of Microsoft’s Courier tablet. Pure vaporware. Just to “prime the pump” as monkey boy says. But what he really means but can’t say is “we need developers because we don’t have nearly enough”. “Without them we are dead in the water”. “So lets use this vaporware that we never plan to release to get these developers on board”. Don’t be a sucker.

  9. “They just can’t let go. When they need to reinvent themselves, they simply can’t bring themselves to do it.”

    Unlike Microsoft, Apple was and is able to let go – of OS 9 in order to move to OS X, of its Motorola/IBM Power PC in order to move to Intel, even to dispense with components some would surely miss – at least for a while: SCSI, floppy drives, optical drives, even USB ports (on their iPads).

    Microsoft is still tethered to the Windows metaphor, legacy code and APIs, and the “business strategy” of vaguely promising something better than what’s out there today.

  10. M$ tried to copy Apple one more time but this time it’s different. Instead of copying one product the iPad they had a better idea. A 2 in 1 product a bridge between the iPad and the MacBook Air. Basically a bad iPad, too heavy and no autonomy, add a stylus to remind us it’s M$ after all and a bad laptop with a crappy keyboard and running the upcoming windows 8.
    The design reminds me the OQO, they probably hired some engineers after OQO filed for bankruptcy. The least to say it’s nothing new. It looks like HP, Acer, Toshiba or Dell in a lucid moment refused to produce this s… So M$ so sure of themselves decided to run for it M$ style aka vapor ware style. No date, no price, no autonomy. Good old M$. They could have announced Office 13 but it must be too far in the dev process which means at leat 18 months.

    M$ used to be like King Midas changing everything it touches in gold now it’s definitely the opposite.

    M$ style = suicide

    Another product to bury after Zune, phone kids, etc…

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