Windows 8: The Animated Evaluation

Brian Boyko’s review of Windows 8:

[Via Cult of Mac]

Microsoft Surface: In Search of an Use Case

Sarah Perez’s OpEd on her experience with Microsoft Surface is anything but glowing:

It’s simply an awful tablet. If you remove the keyboard and try to use in portrait mode, the thing is too long and too narrow. It feels heavy because it’s too thick, despite being about on par with the iPad in weight. But if you attach the keyboard, you then have to be sitting at a desk or table where you can prop the thing up. It’s not a lap computer, which is nutty because tablet computers are for untethering you from a desk, and laptops have the word “lap” in them for a reason. Only Microsoft could come up with a way to make a tablet/laptop combo that forces you back to your desk no matter the configuration you select.

Microsoft Surface Was Reaction To Bad PC Makers’ Designs

According to Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy, Microsoft announced Surface out of a lack of faith in PC makers’ designs. From CNet:

“Microsoft looked at what the [PC makers] were doing, seeing if it could meet their Windows 8 needs and then took action based on that,” he said in a phone interview, citing conversations with senior level executives at top-tier PC makers.

Moorhead continued. “If Microsoft had seen compelling enough plans from [PC makers], they wouldn’t have needed to do this,” referring to the Surface launch.

It appears Microsoft is realizing that letting OEMs slap their software on any hardware is not helping their brand. I was happy to see how they established strict requirements for mobile handset makers looking to use Windows Phone. Maybe Microsoft is finally realizing that the best way to ensure the greatest experience is to own it from top-to-bottom.

Microsoft’s Recent Consumer Driven Year

Paul Thurrott—of SuperSite For Windows—posted an article titled “Microsoft Rising”, describing how Microsoft has shown the ability to connect with consumers rather than simply selling products:

For the past decade or more, Microsoft has been the punching bag of the technology industry, delivering strong sales and financial results but only rarely achieving any form of emotional connection with customers or reviewers. This year has been a revolution for the software giant, however, and with recent announcements and leaks centered on next generation versions of Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, and Office, Microsoft is suddenly the darling of the tech world.

I agree with Windows Phone and Xbox. Both of these products were designed for and directed at consumers, not the heads of IT departments, and it shows. The biggest issue I have with Windows Phone is traction, which I would think Microsoft is trying their best to remedy. Xbox’s next generation system is still an unknown. With more people gaming on their phones, it makes me wonder how much adoption the system will get versus previous models.

Windows 8 seems like a mixed bag, with confusion about the direction of one OS for both desktop and tablet form factors. Even after its announcement, there were still many open questions amongst the community. I pin this directly on Microsoft’s inability to set the standard up front and stay the course. Just like what we saw with the Surface announcement, there are more open questions than answers.

Office, on-the-other-hand, is just a productivity sweet of apps that helps us get the job done. Does it have an intuitive and well thought-out interface? Nope. Do I despise the ribbon interface? In many cases, I do, but it could always be worse. With the exception of professionals that rely on Office’s expert features, I can’t imagine a lot of consumers caring too much about it. In fact, many Office users could get by on competing products just fine, and may even incur less stress while doing so.

Microsoft Surface—Gruber’s Perspective

John Gruber posted his own analysis on why Microsoft decided to ditch PC making OEMs and go solo creating Surface, their latest attempt at entering a tablet market dominated by Apple. The following snippet nails it :

Microsoft Surface is not fundamentally about Microsoft needing to control the entire integrated product in order to compete with the iPad on design. It’s about Microsoft needing to sell the whole thing to sustain its current profitability.

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