Microsoft vs. Apple: A tale of two keynotes

“It was a pretty cool week. We saw product introductions from Microsoft and Apple. Microsoft went first, their big product unveil was Surface Studio, a desktop version of the Surface line, that’s nothing like any PC I have seen,” Michael Gartenberg writes for iMore. “Apple followed up with new MacBooks Pro in both 13″ and 15″. They look pretty awesome in terms of specs, beautiful screens, and some improved aesthetics.”

“The biggest difference between the two presentations is how I felt afterwards. I came away from Microsoft’s event wanting a Surface Studio and Surface Dial. I’m not the target demographic. I don’t do the creative work Surface Studio is optimized for. I do want to do those things. I want to create cool stuff, directly manipulate a screen that folds down or interact with it when it stands up,” Gartenberg writes. “Apple’s event was great. A Tim Cook update, a Jonathan Ive product ‘birth’ video. Lots of specs, and some interesting demos from Apple execs and product leads. While the new MacBooks Pro are no doubt among the best, if not the best notebooks on the planet, I still find myself wanting more.”

“Touch ID is a welcome addition but I don’t look at it and feel inspired. I don’t feel like I can take the Touch Bar and aspire to something new,” Gartenberg writes. “That’s a major contrast to how I felt after seeing GarageBand and iMove for the first time. Those made me feel like I could be the next Legend or Spielberg if only I had those apps.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Despite the depressing, vacuous zeitgeist of 21st century America so far, feelings still aren’t more important than facts.

Apple’s strategy is right and Microsoft’s is, as usual, wrong.

The competition is different…they are confused. “They chased after netbooks. Now they are trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs. Who knows what they will do next? I can’t answer that question, but… we have a very clear direction and very ambitious goals. We still believe deeply in this category and we are not slowing down on innovation. We have been really hard at work on the Mac and we have exciting new products.Apple CEO Tim Cook, October 22, 2013

As we wrote of the new Touch Bar during our live coverage of Apple’s MacBook Pro event, “This is the smart way to have Multi-Touch on your personal computer, as opposed to the stupidity of smearing fingers all over your Retina display.”

Apple does touch right and, as usual, Microsoft does it wrong – as we’ve been patiently explaining for many years now:

To us longtime Apple watchers, Cupertino seems to be saying, “Multi-Touch on the screen only when trackpads are not part of the device.”MacDailyNews, November 19, 2008

Does it make more sense to be smearing your fingers around on your notebook’s screen or on a spacious trackpad that’s designed specifically and solely to be touched? Apple thinks things through more than other companies… The iPhone’s screen has to be touched; that’s all it has available. A MacBook’s screen does not have to be touched in order to offer Multi-Touch™. There is a better way: Apple’s way.MacDailyNews, March 26, 2009

The key mission of Apple’s new MacBook Pros – October 28, 2016
TIME Magazine: Apple’s new MacBook Pro Touch Bar is an inventive new way to get work done more quickly – October 28, 2016
Apple does touch right and, as usual, Microsoft does it wrong – October 28, 2016
IBT: Apple’s MacBook Pro Touch Bar is the coolest thing ever; will change the way we use laptops – October 28, 2016
Wired hands on with Apple’s New MacBook Pro: It’s a whole new kind of laptop – October 27, 2016
CNET on the new MacBook Pro: Apple’s amazing strip show reinvents the notebook – October 27, 2016
Hands on with Apple’s new MacBook Pro: Looks and feels so good it’s unreal – October 27, 2016
Apple debuts three new TV ads for all-new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar – October 27, 2016
Apple unveils groundbreaking new MacBook Pro with revolutionary Touch Bar and huge Force Touch trackpad – October 27, 2016


  1. Maybe not MDN. sJobs famously lauded Star Trek technology, even calling it an inspiration for the iPad. The MS Surface desktop is exciting. It’s just like the bridge of the enterprise. There’s no gorilla arm problem here — because it folds down nearly flat with your desk. So it’s the best of both worlds. Essentially it’s a massive iPad that also turns into a massive desktop iMac.

    Sorry but that’s awesome to me. BTW, I have a feeling it still works just fine with a mouse and keyboard. It’s not like you have to touch it if you don’t want to.

    1. The touch bar on the MacBook pro looks great, but there really is no logical reason to not allow the user a touch screen as well. Well I say no reason, obviously Apple won’t created a MacBook with a detachable screen/iPad (in the short term) purely down to a sales decision. Apple want you to buy an iPad and a MacBook. I the consumer want a single elegant device and I want to choose when and how to use it. As you say Nerd Beautiful there is no Gorilla arm with the Surface studio and you don’t need to smear the screen with finger prints as you can use a Stylus. But of course Apple want the consumer to buy both an iPad pro and a iMac. The competition is slowly catching up to Apple, at some point I believe Apple will be performing a U-turn in this particular issue and allow us to have interactive screens as well as touch enabled keyboards. The consumer will eventually win. I hope Apple wake up and stop insisting on being so rigid.

    2. The Surface Studio PC is the future of the desktop. And Microshaft delivered that future today. Apple cannot do this stuff because they are hopelessly hamstrung with 2 different operating systems instead of 1.

  2. Well, for starters, when ever Apple present a product, they bring on developers to show their real life applications running real life task on the new apple product. Like when they bring and Adobe representative to present the Adobe Photoshop editing a picture using the new emoticon bar.
    But when ever Microsoft presents a new product, they show some computer animation of a person working on a simulated environment making some who knows what task on who knows what program. Like the new Surface desktop were the pretty girl is using the dial device to select “I don’t know what” to perform “I don’t know what task” in a “I don’t know what Program”.

      1. Ok, that’s good. They presented one comic book designer.
        So, did they presented a well know comic book designer? is real or fake representatives like the ones Samsung uses (unknown actors)? I mean. so if microsoft did presented a real life application solving real life tasks like Adobe photoshop, productivity applications (like office), or some other well know application that does exists then I think Microsoft and Apple presentations are even.

    1. MS showed their VR actually working off of a real website: the user places a stool for sale in his place to see what it looks like.

      Panay scribbled out a paragraph in Word on the Studio and the paragraph erased. Etc.

      They didn’t just release awesome hardware, they supported it by Creators Update for software.

      MS hit a home run. I hate Windows but they outdid Apple in every way.

      That puck is very cool and a perfect analogue companion in a connected world full of multi-touch screens.

  3. While Surface Studio is cool but Surface Dial is A shitty addition.I can only see hindrances in that input device. Surface Studio is great for designers but so is iPad pro. While I love the Surface Studio package. Its really Microsoft which is the pain in the ass. It a magnet for Virus and Bacteria if you can imagine one. Its just pathetic. Most of the time you can’t do anything in a window pc, but keep on upgrading your antivirus updates.

    1. As you say the surface pro is great for designers and as much as I like the iPad pro, the surface pro opens up a miriad of new opportunities. As you say the big draw back is that it only runs Windows, which I refuse to use. When I showed my gf the video for the surface pro, she was absolutely inspired and was convinced it was an Apple product. That tells you all you need to know. Apple should have built the Studio Pro (or similar), when vertical it would have been an iMac, when in artist mode it would have been an iPad. it’s a shame a real shame.

  4. The desktop Surface seems like the perfect form-factor for a limited number of users (illustrators), and doesn’t look all that useful to the vast majority of users..

    But if you actually ask an Illustrator, they will tell you they want the ability to change positions like they can with an iPad form-factor. The only people who might want this, already have a better option.

    1. Limited number of users? Students (my 4 kids from elementary to High school gravitate to my surface pro 4 to practice their penmanship, draw out math problems, type up essays, brainstorm with the pen, etc..) , Engineers (Electrical (me) , Mechanical, etc…), photographers (edit in light room with mouse and keyboard then with pen in Photoshop).. Everything with 1 device. We have ipad, MacBook, and android tablets at home yet the surface gets the most use. My kids love the idea of a Surface Studio for the above mentioned and then some. I don’t think that’s limited number of uses.

      1. …now bolt your Surface Pro to a semi-adjustable base. That form-factor makes it less usable than a tablet (certainly for illustrators).

        That was my point. Touch is great for mobile devices, and not so great on the desktop.

        1. I felt touch was not really good for desktop use till I started using my HP All-in-one with touchscreen on a desk that changes between standing and sitting mode.

          With ergonomic workstations for illustrators/drafters that include modes for standing as well as sitting at intervals, touch is becoming a much more relevant input mode. With that in mind the Surface Studio was designed to lie no flatter than 20 degrees angled towards the user similar to drafting/illustration desks.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple followed suit in the next few years if they decide they want to continue to be relevant to the creative professionals that are still desk bound due to size of their display workspace.

    2. I’m a designer and I don’t think it’s a better option. An iPad (even a Pro) can’t do everything from start to finish that most designers require… so that means file transferrals, and that solution as it is now is a tremendous kludge.

      And the screen, while way nicer and responsive than any Wacom, is small. The Surface Studio is “art board” size, the iPad Pro… a post-it note by comparison.

      1. I certainly wouldn’t recommend an iPad for a designer.

        Photographers have specialized devices for image generation. I think the iPad serves a similar role for illustrators.

        Personally, I can’t imagine a desktop-mounted device would ever feel as right for drawing on as a “pad of paper”.

        1. I would think a desktop computer like the Surface Studio would be like a paint canvas on an easel or large illustration board if you’re going to say the iPad is like a ‘pad of paper’.

  5. I think the Surface Studio presentation was too shitty. Its felt like the guy had no clue what to talk about the product. In such presentation s, one should be precise and sure of what the product is and what the product can do and what the customers benefits are etc etc. Not blabber around the magnificence of the product. The fact of the matter was that it was really a glorious cintiq.

  6. The main is they are both VERY OVERPRICED! Many of my coworkers couldn’t wait for the new Mac’s.

    Now, none of them are planning to purchase what Apple delivered. Why? Way overpriced!

    Is this Apple’s new strategy to boost iPad sales? Raise the prices on Macs? I certainly hope not!

    1. The MacBook pro looks nice and the touch bar is interesting if not quite compelling. But I certainly can’t justify spending £2700 for a 15inch MacBook pro. Sure some people will just pay to get the latest and greatest, but I fear the MacBook pro just became a very niche product, certainly in the UK at least.

  7. MS introduced something exciting and dynamic. Something Apple used to do when Jobs was alive.

    Thank goodness MS came out with the Surface Studio. Now Apple has something to copy.

    1. If Apple ever did anything like this the design and execution would be light years better, and have the advantage of running Mac OS. Microsoft gets no points for a premature mediocre design and a less than optimum product.

      Personally it I were an Illustrator I wouldn’t touch it but buy a powerful workstation and a Wacom Cintiq which lies COMPLETELY flat or any angle you want. Pressure sensitivity and latency are worse in the Microsoft product as is their Surface pen operating at angles and those features would be important for this unit’s intended buyer. There are literally no improvements with this SS model that don’t already exist or have existed. Pass (I expect many will).

      1. Agreed, Had Apple decided to they would have made a much better version of the Surface Studio and their execution would have been epic. But and this is a major problem, they did not. And that my friend is the crux of the matter. Apple are going full steam in the other direction just to reinvent the wheel. I just cannot comprehend some of the decisions Apple are currently making.

        1. Not YET anyway. This is more a problem of Apple secrecy and if they were more forthcoming completely killing sales on current models if we know something better is coming. I don’t think Microsoft though leaked the details of their latest either before announcing it.

          It would seem easy to break off Mac development elsewhere in the company so it can go full steam ahead and cater to it’s markets in all fields. They shouldn’t look at it as an inevitability (the slow death of PC/Macs) that gets less of their attention but an opportunity to reinvent and stimulate sales upward. I think that’s what SJ would’ve done.

    2. Now lets be clear. The Surface copies the iPad, which had multi-touch and detachable keyboards (and even third party stylus options) before the Surface existed. So all of the existing Surface lineup is, as usual, a Microsoft copy. Fortunately for Microsoft, they licensed the IP from Apple this time rather than stealing it.

      The Surface Studio is an enlarged Surface on an overly complex articulation mechanism with way too many springs. This is exactly what SJ would have slapped down when he was CEO. Don’t get me wrong, it makes sense to provide the option to provide external support for a very large tablet – you would not want to have to hold it for long period of time. But that support should be detachable – a magnetic mount – and it should not require 28 springs. Apple could and will do it better, as it has with virtually everything else including the iPad Pro and the Apple pencil.

      Get excited about the Surface Studio if you like – it is $3000 for a core i5 computer. The only reason that it might have a limited amount of success is that other Wintel computer manufacturers are making the computers that 99+% of the people want/need.

      Microsoft will trumpet the Surface Studio as a success. But a similar type of Apple product would be limited a failure with 100x the sales. That is just life.

      1. I actually saw the Studio as a miniaturized version of the Surface Table MS developed years ago. Case in point the Dial device that uses the direct placement of HW that the Surface detects and allows interaction with.

  8. And exactly how much Mac progress has there been since that 2013 boast from Cook? Was that during the launch of the Mac Pro which has been ignored ever since? And that’s the problem it’s difficult to believe Cook anymore and sadly facts are not always far more important than perception sadly and as this commentator says, and even though the Suface Studio is a bit of dead end in itself it has generated far more mindshare out there than the new MacBook Pros. The latter may be more practical but one still has to ask where will a desktop machine of the surface studio type take us in 5 years in that category with potential development, as opposed to where the touchbar will take the laptop in the same timescale. I can’t really answer that yet, but while very useful I can’t help feeling the touchbar has a natural ceiling it can’t exceed thereafter and doesn’t compete directly anyway with a touch screen anyway or vu that’d the latters usefulness over time.

    Use it lots or not a lot of people I fear feel that it will be useful to them and pros in particular are amongst those that at the top end it just might, expecially when two different Apple devices to do the same will cost do much by comparison. One thing I know is when finally Apple gets its next IMac out hopefully in the New Year ( though who the hell knows these days) it needs to offer a new vision taking the touchbar concept or another one some way further . Sadly I see little indication those words from Cook will be any more visualised in 2017 than they have in the years between 2013 and now. I seriously hope I’m wrong, for if I’m not I will start to get seriously worried about the future.

  9. I thought Surface Studio was interesting and I’m sure it will have its fans. I wouldn’t get one because
    a) it uses Windows
    b) I have no particular use for drawing on a screen
    c) Ergonomics; the multi-touch trackpad is infinitely more comfortable than reaching across, arms hanging in space, in order to smudge up my nice clean screen. (Yes, you could use a pen, but there is no wrist support for doing so on a laptop with the keyboard exposed). Drawing requires a different configuration than a traditional keyboard/screen layout to be ergonomically workable. I think in the end it would be a limited use feature which would add significant expense to the machine. Do you spend the time to engineer it for the few? Apple chose, “No.”, and I can’t really argue with them.
    I think the Touch Bar will be quite universally useful and very flexible.
    Cost? There are other companies that are on the race to the bottom of the market. Apple and MS don’t need to join that race with its low margins, etc. So they didn’t. If cost is your ultimate determinant, then that’s fine – you have choices. Like the Note 7;) Actually, I find that the cost really hasn’t changed since I bought my first Mac Plus 30 years ago. $3200. The MBPro I just ordered was the same cost (and in a sense cheaper if you factor in inflation), and just about every high-horsepower Mac I’ve purchased since then (and including a few Alienware rigs) has been about the same.

  10. I dont’t know what are A-CEOs about with their new price vs experience status – killing the Mac, just plain stoned with the years of success, or just about fashionable richie-rich-ass-licking. Or something else (hopefully). But if they trully stood on the side of designers – all kinds – think different creatives, no matter what kind of ore is their parrents’s credit card covered with, this is the thing they could actually be jaleous about. Of course it will not work as it should, it’s still Winmare. But just the idea put into existing hardware? Apple is late. On purpouse or otherwise – time will tell. As most of the suprise driven deceptive marketers, they usually do what they deny the meaningfulness to for years before they are ready to execute. And – occasionally – yes, call me a whiner. For the first time in 12 years I can not afford the middle range MBP. Even the first one with TB&TID. But no, no crisis, or sallary drop – the oposite vs 30% price bump (in Europe). 30% in 2 years. This is something new. But not different – actually pretty familiar with high fashion strategies. I still hope for someting else. Till march? Or it’s too late, work needs to be done.

  11. Give Microsoft a little credit and some love… They introduced a “WOW” factor piece of hardware that has graceful form and function that doesn’t look like doggie poop… um, I mean a brown Zune!

    Now, we can go back to highlighting the high price, low computer specs, MS OS, targeted to certain demographic, etc., etc., etc.

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