Apple’s revolutionary iPad vs. Microsoft’s anti-tablet ‘Surface’

“For ten long years Microsoft tried to get us to use their desktop operating system on a tablet device,” John Kirk writes for TechPinions. “What we really wanted, they told us, was the brain of a desktop in the body of a tablet. Didn’t work.”

“In 2007, Apple introduced us to the first modern tablet to use touch – and only touch – as the user input. They called it the iPhone. Three years later, Apple introduced us to the iPad, and while the tech world sat on its collective hands, Apple proved that size really does matter – at least when it come to tablets,” Kirk writes. “Now here we are just over two years later and what is Microsoft telling us with the introduction of the Surface Tablet?”

“They’re telling us that what we really want is a keyboard so that our tablet can be used more like a notebook computer. What we really want is a pen so that our tablet can be used like a PDA. What we really want is a kickstand so that our tablet can stand more like a notebook computer,” Kirk writes. “What we really want is a trackpad so our tablet can BE a notebook computer. (A trackpad on a tablet computer? Really? Just think about how redundant that is.)”

Kirk writes, “Do you think for even one second that Apple – who had a two year head start on Microsoft – could not have added a kickstand, added an integrated pen or added an integrated keyboard to the iPad? Apple did not neglect to do those things… they CHOSE not to do those things.”

Read more in the full article – recommended – here.

Related articles:
Microsoft’s Surface tablets provokes ‘sense of betrayal’ among Windows PC assemblers – June 20, 2012
Fox News: Copier Microsoft is doomed to fail with Surface tablet – June 19, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface tablet destined to be as successful as the Zune – June 19, 2012
Surface: Why Microsoft’s big mystery turns out to be a big mistake – June 19, 2012
Microsoft’s Suicide, er… ‘Surface’ – June 19, 2012
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. Nice Sondheim reference 🙂

      “There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit
      And it’s filled with people who are filled with shit
      And the vermin of the world inhabit it
      And it goes by the name of Redmond.”


  1. While I give credit to Microsoft for having the balls to create the hardware and software themselves and build them for each other, they will only get the ignorant to buy it.

    Their approach was sound, but their vision is flawed. Thus, this will go the way of the Zune, eventually.

    Furthermore, buy creating an ARM tablet AND and Intel based tablet, microsoft is creating a maze for customers. They will be unable to distinguish which apps can run where, and many users will be unable to run legacy windows apps. New apps for ARM will not be available very quickly, and the AppLack will kill MS.

    The higher end Intel Based tablet…. It will remain to be seen if the tinkerers and nerds will install linux on it, but I bet that’s what it will be used for.

    Now… If someone can Hackintosh that tablet… I may be willing to give it a spin.

    1. Most consumers only want a web browser, facebook and a few high-profile apps.

      I suspect the intel-based one will be priced high enough so that only businesses and tech-geeks buy it.

      Customers will likely only see compatible apps in the app store. The Windows 8 interface is different enough and people are conditioned enough by the iPad so that they don’t expect a tablet to be able to run legacy apps.

      1. Businesses may have stayed too long tethered to Microsoft, but no longer. They’re using iPhones themselves, and are rolling out apps for the iPad. They’ve experienced those greener pastures and they’re not going back to the swamp. They’re not stupid.

      2. Perhaps that will be the case, but the confusion caused by one tablet being ABLE to run those legacy apps and one not being able to run them will create a vortex of hell.

  2. Not sure how one would do market research for a market that for all practical purposes didn’t even exist prior to the iPad. If anything, the market was telling us that people didn’t want tablet devices.

    At any rate, with the iPad, Apple choose to not try to be all things to all people. While with the Surface, MS appears to have listen to those who complained about what the iPad lacked.

  3. Designer – We have this new laptop, it has this lousy keyboard that no one will like, but it’s removable.

    Marketing – I’ve got it, well call it a tablet, not a notebook.
    Okay now, about software developers, how do we support them?

    Designer – No problem. We have two models with different OS’s . . . and two completely different CPU’s.

    Marketing – {face palm on forehead}

    Sales – Multiple colors? I can sell that!

  4. I call BS. Lots of people buy Bluetooth keyboard add-ons. The Surface keyboard add-on is one of the most elegant I’ve seen. If Apple had done this, people would buy it in droves.

    I bet if you checked out the best-selling accessories, they’d be covers and stands… followed closely by keyboards.

    How many people buy the Apple smart cover? Why? Because they want to stand it up. Again, the Surface kick-stand is elegantly built into the body, it’s not exactly obtrusive.

    Lots of people who are doing fine work prefer a stylus to write on their mobile device. The fingers are designed to hold tools they are not optimized for dragging things. Outside of moving pennies across a table, what else to the fingers drag? Usually, the whole hand is involved, which is why the pen was invented. Finer motor control using a conjunction of different muscles.

    Whether the surface tablet will be a commercial success or not is another thing, but I think you will see a decent-sized business adoption.

    Developing on the .Net stack is still much easier than doing native application development in Objective-C and XCode. Though XCode has some neat UI tooling and have recently been doing well to emulate Visual Studio’s IDE and making their developers lives easier recently, they still have a lot of ground to catch up on.

    What’s important to take from this is that if you take off the keyboard cover, and fold in the kickstand, you still have a standard tablet.

    The only thing that the keyboard does in this case is provide screen real-estate. But by not making it an integral part of the unit, developers can’t depend on it… so apps should remain optimized for both.

    In the end, what you can take from this is from a hardware point of view, this tablet does NOT suck.

    I would LOVE a keyboard like that for my iPad. Unfortunately, Apple may find it difficult to replicate, as they would require bluetooth and a way to charge it, ultimately making the cover thicker.

      1. There is no way in hell you could use that on your lap – so you will have to have a table or desk – maybe they could sell you the old Big Ass Table to put it on..

    1. Use an iPad then come back and comment – you’ll look far less ignorant.

      “Outside of moving pennies across a table, what else to the fingers drag? ”
      Use an iPad you’ll find out. No need for stylus!

      “How many people buy the Apple smart cover? Why? Because they want to stand it up”
      Really? And I thought I bought a cover to protect it from knocks. Silly me

      Yes bluetooth keyboards are good if you need to type lots of text regularly – I use one a few times a week – but would I use one like the surface design? Nope.

      The iPad is versatile and can be used however you want. But the surface wants you to use it one way…so why not use an air? Seriously how does it beat an air?

      I hope you enjoy your surface…eventually.
      PS don’t forget to get the optional virus protection upgrade, external battery pack and office software

      1. @ploth: I own an iPad2. I love it. It syncs beautifully with my iMac. That doesn’t blind me to other tablets.

        You’re missing the point about human interfaces. However, perhaps I wasn’t clear. In a human context, fingers aren’t optimized for dragging things.

        As for the smart cover being used to protect it, it doesn’t do a great job… it’s decent, but not great. So, yes, silly you. My iPad had a nice crack in it from hitting a corner that the cover did nothing to protect against. Kids!

        It IS a great stand that doubles as a screen cover, but only partially helps against knocks. Apple has addressed this in its newest version, if you noticed. It now has a full cover.

        As for a Surface vs. Air. The Surface is the same thickness as an iPad. Quite a bit different from an air. In addition, as it would appear, the keyboard/cover will be an accessory, meaning you have to PAY for it. Much like the Smart Cover.

        As for virus protection, since apps are sandboxed, all are curated. The RT version will likely have as many virii as an iPad.

        I DO find it curious that they said nothing about battery life. I think that is the clincher, to be honest. My guess is that the battery life isn’t as good (or they’re still optimizing it). This is the one thing that may come back and bite MS.

        I ain’t planning on buying a Surface. I just HATE people who hate on things without being objective and looking at how this will fare in the real world (outside of {platform} fandom). I think this tablet is a pretty solid offering.

        1. I don’t think your points are that strong. They certainly may be your personal preferences, but in general, they aren’t quite accurate. Vast majority of people buy the cover because they want to cover the screen while not in use. They’d have likely preferred to get a cover that will cover the whole body (like the new one), but with the SmartCover getting so much publicity, it was in most cases an impulse buy.

          As for keyboards, one in hundred iPad owners having it would likely be an optimistic guess. And that keyboard is fairly rarely used, since iPad is really NOT a laptop.

          The point is, this Surface, has, on the surface (no pun intended) some very cool things, from that keyboard/cover thing, to the little kickstand thing, to the stylus thing. As intriguing and cool as these may seem, they essentially dilute and distract from the purpose and mission of a tablet. The reason iPad is so immensely popular (and iPad owners are so overwhelmingly satisfied with it) is because it does NOT have those unnecessary features. There is no doubt that some small subset of general audience will be thrilled to have precisely those special features. Much like there is a bunch of people who are thrilled that a 4.5″ Android phone is available, and would love Apple to make a large-screen iPhone. But it is clear that Apple knows how to get things right. What Jobs kept saying throughout the years remains true today; it is now how many features you include; it is how many you eliminate. Cutting away fat until you’re left with the most intuitive, simple and functional device that satisfies greatest number of people. With the excess fat all around, Surface has very little chance of doing that.

          1. Predrag wrote: Apple knows how to get things right. What Jobs kept saying throughout the years remains true today; it is now how many features you include; it is how many you eliminate.

            True elegance.

          1. Keyboards with travel (feedback) are more intuitive than an onscreen keyboard, but I agree that in general keyboards are not intuitive. Pens are better. Our hands are completely engaged when holding a pen.

            We have the fine motor control in our finger tips and the palm that supports the shaft of the pen. The breakdown is that most screens aren’t pressure sensitive to the degree that we have when writing.

            They are a specialized tool good at doing a specific task.

            Styluses are also bulky and inconvenient. However, anyone who has tried to write with their finger for any length of time knows that a tool (pen) works much more efficiently. They serve as a bridge, translating what the hand is good at (finely controlled minute fine movements) into legible writing.

            Check out this page for an apple interface engineer’s opinion:

    2. I’ll agree with you. The Surface looks cool, and it obviously shows that Microsoft has some balls. But it’s all about execution. I have my reservations about whether the keyboard really works and how functional and smooth everything will be. Apple will probably beat them in a year or two with something that’s conceptually superior. I’m also betting that Microsoft is taking a loss on these products like they’ve done with the XBox. Don’t get me wrong, I think these things will sell, but Apple will keep the ball rolling with satisfied customers and dominance of the display industry.

  5. Hey, whatever happened to the Courier tablet? A truly “amazing” concept that was quietly killed before it reached market. The “trial balloon” comment seems right on, Courier redux. “Let’s give them two screens! A kickstand! A keyboard/cover! Whatever might get us some press coverage and convince people we are still relevant! Just so the MS faithful (and IT cavemen) can say, don’t buy an iPad — just wait for the Courier/Surface/whatever, which will be much better than the iPad!” Someone should do a mash-up of the Courier and Surface announcements. A drowning person trying to get one more lungful of air.

    PS: Doesn’t a kickstand take space, making the device thicker than it needs to be? Wouldn’t it be better to have that “feature” as an add-on — e.g., a stand-up case for those who want it? Ditto the keyboard? Some people (me) find the on-screen keyboard just dandy. Is that really a “feature”?

  6. If you fear losing your keyboard security blanket, then the iPad is not for you. Apple products are for people trying to “push the human race forward”**. They did it by adding a mouse…

    “The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things.” [San Francisco Examiner, John C. Dvorak, 19 Feb. 1984]

    …and, now, the time has come to eliminate the keyboard.

    “the iPad will eventually be regarded much like Apple TV – a product that Jobs should have left on the drawing boards.” [“Why the iPad will fail to win significant market share.” ~ By Donovan Colbert, February 23, 2010

    The greatest difference between Apple and Microsoft are the words from 1997. It is STILL an incomprehensible concept by aging Microsoft engineers, unwilling to let go of the past, and whose vision extends as far as their cubicle, with their job security built upon the philosophies of “status quo” and ruts.

    **”Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
    Apple Inc. “Think Different” ad campaign of 1997

  7. I kinda like the keyboard. It doesn’t get in the way and is as thin as most case covers. There when you need it. No doubt it is way easer to type with one…that’s why apple released a keyboard dock (portrait only, FTL) with the iPad. That keyboard is the only thing they got right. I use my iPad for work, and occasionally need a keyboard (typing in landscape is hard for me unless you peck at it with two fingers)

    1. No doubt Ipad accessory makers will make an ipad keyboard cover long before MS get their surface to market.
      Yet again during an MS conference one example froze and had to be switched with a backup. That tells you something about the OS stability.
      The battery life wasn’t even mentioned and they had no software apps to show – contrast that with Appl 3rd gen 3D mapping etc. etc. They are, for obvious reasons a long way behind on the development curve and the question is – will they stick the course or bin it if initial sales are poor. The trouble with coming 2nd is that the slow build of expectation isn;t there – people have the iPad to compare it with and if it doesn’t stack up they won’t invest. Can MS subsidise the price to gain market share – when iPod started to come under threat Apple reduced the price or bought in a cheasper price point version and killed the competition.
      Finally the iPad works because it doesn’t have all the peripherals, so adding them isn’t necessarily a selling point.

      1. I can show you videos of Macs crashing on stage as well and I personally love my Mac.

        I can also show you stereotypical comments about any product.

        I prefer to keep an open mind and I prefer to try something myself. If you want to base you judgements based on what you view on the Internet, go ahead. I read reviews and forums and they do have influence, but again I prefer to try things myself.

        Once again has anyone tried a Surface? I’d like to hear your comments.

        I’ll form my opinions and comments once I’ve tried one.

  8. They want you to keep the keyboard permanently attached because the screen is crap and doesn’t respond to user input when running IE 10 (citation available).

    Additionally they expect everybody’s going to be clamouring to type on a screen with height just five inches off a table. Never underestimate the astonishingly pitiful idiocy that is Ballmer’s brainchild.

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