At last, Microsoft may have copied Apple properly

Okay, I apologize for the shameful, troll-bait headline. I realize it’s easy to misinterpret, so let me qualify with a statement:

Microsoft didn’t get where it is by making bad products.

I’m quite sure of that. Windows has its flaws, of course it does, but so far, it’s fulfilled the needs of the consumer market better than the alternatives. Word, Excel, Outlook, and the rest of the Office cabal are popular for the same reason in the buttoned-down business world. The Xbox 360 may be infamous for red-ring-of-death failures and loud college frat parties, but it’s arguably the best current-gen console around, thanks to a combination of good, affordable hardware, great software, and excellent online services.

I’ll admit that Microsoft also employed a heavy dose of ruthless, aggressive business practices. The company mercilessly choked and outmaneuvered older and less agile competitors into oblivion. That’s why Netscape doesn’t exist anymore, and it’s why Apple almost went bankrupt in the 1990s. However, those tactics would have made little difference if Microsoft products had no merit. They did, and they still do.

The real problem with Microsoft, the issue that’s taken the company so long to address, is not lack of ability or talent. It was perhaps best summed up by Steve Jobs in a TV interview many years ago:

They just have no taste . . . They don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their product.

Call that an unfair generalization all you want, but I think it’s right on the money. I think Microsoft products have always felt like bizarro versions of other, pre-existing offerings. Windows 95 was a bizarro version of Apple’s Mac operating system at the time. The Zune was unquestionably a bizarro iPod. The Xbox was a bizarro PlayStation 2 with better software and online multiplayer. And Bing Maps is a bizarro version of Google Maps—don’t you deny it.

Microsoft has always had a wealth of perfectly decent products, but it’s never had a grand, unified vision for it all. Microsoft has always felt like a collection of parts assembled into something that kind of resembles a whole, but also kind of doesn’t. Take the Zune and the Xbox, for example. With almost nothing in common, either functionally or aesthetically, they may as well have been designed by two different companies. The same goes for Office and Windows. With its weird stylistic eccentricities, Office has, for the past few versions, looked and behaved slightly unlike the rest of the Windows operating system, as if it were made by a different firm that didn’t quite follow Microsoft’s UI guidelines.

Now look at Apple’s portfolio. Compare the Zune and the Xbox to Apple’s rounded rectangles, brushed aluminum, and candy-coated icons. When you see an Apple product or hold one in your hand, you can tell it passed through Jonathan Ive’s design studio. The design language makes it abundantly clear, and the iconic, self-assured bitten-apple logo drives it home. That’s the kind of thing that begets more than consumer loyalty; it begets the fanatical devotion Apple has engendered among its fans.

But you know what?

I think Microsoft is moving in the same direction. I think a light bulb finally went off in someone’s head somewhere in Redmond, Washington, and I think that’s why we’ve seen the company slowly coalesce around Metro and a new, unified culture that’s both visible and palpable. This past Monday’s Surface tablet launch event was perhaps the clearest manifestation so far. Rather than one of its traditionally plodding, over-long press conferences, Microsoft delivered something with the crisp, polished vibe of an Apple keynote. It didn’t just show the product; it made me want the product.

What you see above is what I think of as the new Microsoft. You see clean lines, bright colors, consistent typography, and a bold, entrepreneurial aura that a corporate juggernaut like Microsoft shouldn’t generate, yet somehow does. You see Metro, which looks unique and effective and not like a bizarro anything. You see passion and excitement for good hardware and good software, and for combining the two into something desirable. Steve Ballmer will never have the charisma or talent for communication that Steve Jobs did, but strangely, that doesn’t seem to matter. I still get a clear sense of what Microsoft is trying to be and what it’s trying to achieve. And I’m excited.

We’re not only seeing coalescence around design, either. As Microsoft made patently clear in another keynote on Wednesday, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are going to share the same software foundation and the same APIs. Without much work, apparently, Windows developers will be able to get their PC apps running on phones, and vice versa. Imagine that: whether with a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone, you’ll be running essentially the same OS with the same interface, and you’ll have access to essentially the same apps. That’s a level of integration unheard of in Microsoft’s history.

Then there’s that other piece of the puzzle: the hardware. The Surface is the first Microsoft PC built from the ground up, with software and hardware both designed in-house. You might say the Xbox deserves that distinction, but the Xbox wasn’t a full-featured Windows PC; the Surface, especially in its x86 incarnation, absolutely is. Word from the rumor mill (via Bloomberg) now suggests Microsoft is working on its own Windows Phone 8 smartphone, as well. It seems the new Microsoft has learned that, to achieve the best pairings of software and hardware, a company must control both ingredients in the recipe.

But most of all, I think Microsoft may have finally copied Apple’s greatest innovation. After spending decades pilfering ideas from Apple products, Microsoft may have distilled the spark, the singular mindset that brought those products into the world and made them great. The new Microsoft is more than the sum of its parts. The new Microsoft has, dare I say it, a soul.

I don’t know if this is a fluke or merely the sign of things to come. I hope it’s the latter, though. I hope the Microsoft of tomorrow won’t need to ape others, because its own people will be leading the way. I hope Microsoft will refine and perfect Metro and eventually scrap it and replace it with something even better, because sacrifices in the name of innovation are sacrifices worth making. Lastly, I hope other companies will look at Microsoft and see that they, too, can be bold and innovative and uncompromising—and that they, too, can lead by example instead of following.

Because that’s how you make truly great products.

Comments closed
    • brucethemoose
    • 7 years ago

    They aren’t just learning from Apple, they’re trying to follow the Apple business model.

    ARM tablet/phone with the exclusive OS and hardware controlled by the same company? Check.

    Focus on an App store? Check.

    Focus on unifying the UI (Metro is in the PC, Xbox, phone, tablet…)? Check.

    Heavy consumer oriented advertising? Check.

    Microsoft’s going for the Apple model: In house hardware/OS, very controlled software, unified in a multitude of products.

    With Steve making the calls no-one else would (holding back products until they’re perfect, stopping products that may be profitable, but would tarnish the company’s image, etc.) this worked well for Apple. But Microsoft doesn’t have Steve’s mojo… I predict that this business model will only work for so long before both companies get greedy and run themselves into the ground.

    • Mumrik
    • 7 years ago

    Apple… has a soul?

    Love them or hate them – that is a pretty insane thing to say. They’re as gray as their laptops.

    • Anarchist
    • 7 years ago

    for the love of god … can we stop this non-sense of tech companies introducing their junks on live stages? specially with old guys wearing sweater and jeans? just send specs and photos to media with actual price and when it will be available and be done with it.

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 7 years ago

    I better keep reading TechReport only for the reviews.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 7 years ago

    I have always liked MS hardware. The Zune, Intellimouse Explorer 3.0, Sidewinder joystick, MS Digital Sound System 8, etc, 360, etc. It was always the software that seemed to lack anything. Why the Windows Phone and Zune are not part of the 360 ecosystem is beyond me. I wished that MS would stop designing different software for it’s devices and unify them.

    It looks like they are finally doing that.

      • Jason181
      • 7 years ago

      Ah, the Sidewinder 3d Pro was THE joystick to have unless you had several hundred to drop on a Thrustmaster setup. I had the Intellimouse too, and liked it (the first optical mouse ever as I recall).

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 7 years ago

    This is basically the only system that justifies Windows 8. Windows 8 was designed for Surface, and Surface was designed for Windows 8. Windows 8 is not an OS for regular PC’s, but hybrid tablets like Surface. Truthfully, Windows 8 should never have been called Windows 8 and pitched as our new desktop OS. That’s stupid and causes too much conflict. Microsoft may or may not have done this to force developers to program for Metro, but it was a bad thing. Desktop users are not going to like this OS at all, ignore it, jump ship, etc, while tablet users will love it. Hell, if I was looking for a tablet, this would be it. Just not for my desktop PC.

    • Yeats
    • 7 years ago

    Computers are boring.

    • WaltC
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]I'll admit that Microsoft also employed a heavy dose of ruthless, aggressive business practices. The company mercilessly choked and outmaneuvered older and less agile competitors into oblivion. That's why Netscape doesn't exist anymore, and it's why Apple almost went bankrupt in the 1990s.[/quote<] You can admit it all you like, but it just so happens not to be true in the slightest, as anyone active in this arena for the last 25 years, anyone who wasn't employed by a Microsoft competitor, that is, will tell you...;) It is 100% pure, revisionist BS. If there's one thing that trips my hot button, it is historical revisionism. The really sad part is that there's a whole generation growing up who won't know what a crock all of that actually is. What follows is the *short form*...;) Good grief--Netscape had 100% of the consumer browser market, world wide, before Microsoft wrote the first line of IE. Netscape was way ahead, and its lead would have been insurmountable by Microsoft had Netscape not quit developing and innovating, and if Barksdale had not concentrated and focused the company's efforts on *Congress* instead of browser & server software. You see, Netscape innovated long enough to capture a monopoly hold on the international browser markets, but then Jim Barksdale reasoned that Netscape won its market fair and square and it simply wasn't *fair* that Netscape should have to *hold* its market through competition with Microsoft--or anybody else, for that matter--never mind that only Microsoft had resources sufficient to allow it to compete with Netscape at the time. After all, went Barksdale's reasoning, Microsoft "owned" the desktop OS market, so why couldn't Netscape be permitted to "own" the International browser market? How was it fair that Microsoft be allowed by the government to play in both markets? As we all know, going to Congress for "help" with tech problems is like asking your dentist to do a kidney transplant--not a very good idea. But Barksdale and company were not asking Congress for help--heck no, they had far too much sense for that. They thought that they were so smart, in fact, that they could go to Congress and manipulate Congress to rid them of the necessity of having to compete with Microsoft by forcing Microsoft out of the browser business. Barksdale had repeatedly said, I thought amazingly, that Netscape was not willing to continue on in a market where the price of success was having to compete with Microsoft. Barksdale laid the fate of Netscape at Congress' feet and said, "Do what you think is right, but we aren't going to function in a market that demands that we compete with Microsoft." Congress acted and did nothing, essentially, as Congress could see nothing wrong with competition in the browser market, and Netscape just quit and walked away, and the company was no more. The sheer balls and stupidity both evidenced by Netscape during those years--by Barksdale, really--are breathtaking to behold. But there's a method to Barksdale's madness that will be explained in a moment. Anyway, one of Netscape's biggest beefs reported often to Congress was the fact that Microsoft was giving IE away while people had to pay for Navigator or Communicator, and how was that fair? Never mind that any old Joe from Maine to Moscow could go directly to the official Netscape web site and download Navigator/Communicator completely free of charge! What Netscape had been doing all along was offering free copies of Navigator or Communicator to whomever wanted to download them from Netscape.com, fully-functioning program versions with a 90-day timer. What I did for years before IE 1.0 shipped, was simply go to Netscape.com every 2-3 months and download and install the newest version of the browser--as Netscape was updating its browsers at that time on regular basis. Millions of people did that on a regular basis--all of my associates did, without exception. Ironically, at one point Barksdale was asked about giving away so many copies of Netscape browsers--I mean, you could not buy a printer or a modem or peripheral, let alone a new OEM computer, that did not include a fully functional, *free* copy of either Navigator or Communicator, I must've owned 20 licenses or more at one time in those days, all of them gratis--and Barksdale candidly explained that they were giving away the client browser in order to seed the market for their server sales--which they gave away to nobody. *That* is the environment that Microsoft found existed when it shipped its IE 1.0 client. That puts Microsoft's pricing for IE 1.0 squarely into the context of the day. But officially, Netscape was never called on the carpet about that, although that was its chief "objection" in asking for the government to relieve it of the burden of having to compete with Microsoft. It was an objection that never had one iota of merit. Update on Barksdale? Well, after taking the company down to perdition with his "brilliant" let's-manipulate-the-dummies-in-Congress strategy, and after he received his very large Golden Parachute from Netscape before the company went silent for the last time, Barksdale made headlines one last time as he wound up on both feet in a cushy director's chair on Sun's board of directors...;) The other major Microsoft hater/whiner/complainer of the day (read that as "competition hater") was Scott McNealy the CEO of Sun. It wasn't providential that Barksdale and McNealy make cush-cush in the end--they'd been working together the whole time. My own opinion is that with CEO's like Barksdale in charge, companies don't need any other enemies. One short comment about the Apple thing: Apple nearly collapsed due to mismanagement--the very same thing that did Commodore in. Steve Jobs came back and ended that problem for Apple, but if Jobs had not diversified Apple away from computers and into cell phones and MP3 players--it would not have mattered at all. It's to Jobs' credit that he was big enough to recognize that on the computer end of things it was all over, and that for Apple to make it he'd have to take the company in new directions. Apple had always liked to maintain that it was "competing" with Microsoft--this was just another RDF non-factoid originated by Jobs (RIP). In this way, Apple could elevate its perceived status to the level of Microsoft's. But while Apple makes and sells its own brand of x86 PC clone today, and sells OS X exclusively to the people who buy an Apple-branded x86 clone, Microsoft doesn't sell a Microsoft-branded computer and Microsoft sells Windows to everyone who owns an x86 clone, including Mac owners. In those days you really had to be wearing the RDF glasses to see much of any direct competition between Apple and Microsoft. It was always an Apple affectation, though.

      • heinsj24
      • 7 years ago

      agreed

      Netscape didn’t lose to MS… it lost to AOL (and Apache).

        • Horshu
        • 7 years ago

        It was Netscape’s own fault for not modularizing its HTML renderer. AOL wanted an AOL-branded browser, and Netscape wasn’t modular enough to do that; IE was, so AOL went with them.
        And as for MS doing Apple in in the 90s…BS. MS invested $500 million in Apple to keep them going (remember the Bill Gates “Big Brother” presentation? It was even in the MS-Apple movie!); hell, for ages, Office on Mac was the only decent game in town on that platform.
        Bottom line, Netscape failing and Apple nearly failing were the fault of…Netscape and Apple.

      • Pettytheft
      • 7 years ago

      Anyone who actually used Netscape 4.xx or real media, etc jumped on to Microsoft so fast it wasn’t funny. The products were terrible and buggy.

        • andrewaggb
        • 7 years ago

        agreed. I loved netscape, but version 4 crashed and crashed as was all but unusable on my computer. I gave IE 4 a try and never looked back. It was much faster and it didn’t crash.

        realplayer got so advertising crazy I think everybody switched.

      • dashbarron
      • 7 years ago

      Always a pleasure WaltC.

      • scwillia101
      • 7 years ago

      Good read sir, thanks for informative forum blog 🙂

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        You’re only going to encourage him.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          i like waltc!

      • sparkman
      • 7 years ago

      tl;dr

      …except for your first line and a few others. Which are complete bunk.

      I was there in the 90’s. I remember what a soulless evil juggernaut Microsoft was during that time. The early IE browser was utter crap, and you’re right that they never should have been able to stop Netscape, but it wasn’t just Netscape’s blunders that put IE on top, it was the bundling with Windows, something only an out-of-control monopoly corp could pull off.

        • Jason181
        • 7 years ago

        Netscape up to 3.xx was pretty good, but as waltc said, 4.0 and above were atrocious. They were so bug-ridden that Netscape’s only excuse was that MS was “sabotaging” their browser on their operating system.

        Plus, there was a time when you really did have to pay to get a browser due to the chicken and egg conundrum: No browser, so no internet; no internet so no way to download a browser (unless you count gopher, but good luck with that!)

        Netscape was supposed to be free for educational use only. Their business model was seriously flawed, and by the time MS bundled IE with windows, the war had already been won due to the craptastic 4.xx Netscape.

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 7 years ago

      Wow, it’s hard to believe anyone who was a tech enthusiast during the 90s would forget all of the anti-competitive practices Microsoft was accused of and how they had to fend off lawsuits from both the US DoJ and the EU for their monopolistic tactics. While Microsoft’s main competition made damning mistakes, that doesn’t somehow absolve MS of predatory (and illegal) behavior. Just a quick read of this wikipedia page should jog anyone’s memory:

      [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Microsoft[/url<] It's funny that only in an Apple-centric world would nerd-dom find a way to frame Microsoft as a benevolent victim of revisionist history....

        • Jason181
        • 7 years ago

        “….anti-competitive practices Microsoft was [b<]accused of[/b<]" (emphasis mine). And... I'd take any article titled "Criticism of Microsoft" with a grain of salt, especially since it's a wikipedia article. I'm not saying MS was perfect, but most of the hoopla was over the bundling of IE with Windows, which was really stupid at the time. If you didn't have a browser, how were you supposed to get one?? Sure, you could ftp if you knew how to use the ftp utility [i<]built into windows[/i<]. Sadly even this was lamented by the likes of cuteftp, et al. I firmly believe this is why Windows doesn't have better utilities; if they made windows media player too good, winamp woulda been whining to congressmen. It took them until last year or the year before to create a proper AV utility even though it was badly needed, likely due to Symantec and other AV vendors. Even now it's a separate download. I could go on; it was extremely frustrating to see this play out in the media, who had no clue that without a browser, you couldn't go get another one. At that time, you couldn't even get on the internet from AOL, so you were SOL, to turn a phrase 🙂

          • Beelzebubba9
          • 7 years ago

          Microsoft lost a lot of the lawsuits and were forced to change their behavior on numerous occasions – if you read the wiki link and looked at the footnotes, you’d know that. I’m not uniquely talking about bundling IE with WIndows – every OS does that now – but there was about a decade of Microsoft engaging in anti-competitive behavior which is well documented but seems to have been completely forgotten by now (Windows 95 OEM restrictions, Direct X API battles, etc).

          I’d actually go to the trouble to dig up information on a few of the specific instances I can remember, but it seems that well-researched posts that don’t agree with the common opinion tend to just get disregarded so everyone can go back to echoing their pre-conceived notions.

          • TakinYourPoints
          • 7 years ago

          It wasn’t just IE, it was also threatening to raise license fees on or pull licenses entirely away from companies that offered alternate operating systems or no operating system preinstalled. Compaq and several other companies went to bat against Microsoft for this reason.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      So if you had to be concise and combine everything you just wrote in 500 words or less, what would it be?

      Every one of your posts seems to include copious amounts of fluff mixed with conspiracy theory-esque rhetoric.

        • Jason181
        • 7 years ago

        I’ll do it for you: Netscape had 100% market share, but rather than meeting their competition and making their product better, Netscape ran to congress (which turned out to be a rather disastrous business plan), and their complaints were hypocritical since there were so many copies of Netscape around that pricing IE about free would’ve meant no market share. The CEO of Netscape took his golden parachute and floated to Sun (the other major anti-MS company at the time). MS actually bailed Apple out in the late 90s; without the bailout they would’ve failed.

        I (mostly) agree with waltc, but the above is just a summary of what I got out of his post, not my opinions.

          • Bensam123
          • 7 years ago

          Thank you.

          So his entire post was a rant about Netscape which has absolutely nothing to do with the blog entry?

            • yogibbear
            • 7 years ago

            No, you just scored 0 in reading comprehension. Well done.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Thanks for that helpful post explaining why what I said was wrong! You are a gentleman and a scholar. The world needs more people [i<]just[/i<] like you.

          • TakinYourPoints
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]MS actually bailed Apple out in the late 90s; without the bailout they would've failed.[/quote<] Incorrect, part of what helped Apple was Microsoft's commitment to continue developing software for the platform. The MS "investment" was pure marketing. The $150 million was restricted shares that were created by diluting existing AAPL shares. Also, even in its beleaguered state Apple had $1.5 billion in cash and $3 billion in market capitalization. If you honestly believe that $150 million in imaginary funny money was anything more than a way for both companies to save face (Apple drops lawsuits re: UI and Microsoft continues making software for Macs), then I don't know else what to say.

        • TakinYourPoints
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]So if you had to be concise and combine everything you just wrote in 500 words or less[/quote<] Oh man, that's rich [quote<]Every one of your posts seems to include copious amounts of fluff mixed with conspiracy theory-esque rhetoric.[/quote<] Everything he writes is trash. This is typical for posts on the internet and tech boards, but his wall-of-text approach makes him more annoying than most.

          • superjawes
          • 7 years ago

          I refuse to read anything on the internet longer than 500 words unless it’s in a PDF format and/or formally published (e.g. TR reviews). Without some proof of quality, I assume it’s garbage.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            I don’t strictly follow this, but WaltCs rants seem like sermons with not a lot of actual content in them. Just a lot of flowery words to get people worked up about his cause… which I still can’t quite figure out.

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 7 years ago

      It’s funny how fickle the memories of people with an agenda are:

      [url<]http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/06/microsofts-e899-million-antitrust-fine-upheld-by-european-court/[/url<]

    • Jakubgt
    • 7 years ago

    Everyone relax, just give it some time before Microsoft realizes they should have listened to their customers. They will eventually give us a hybrid setup or people will jump the bandwagon to another OS.

    If they decide to keep Metro for subsequent releases of windows, I don’t see them being too successful.

    • tejas84
    • 7 years ago

    Seriously this is the reason I come to TR…

    What an excellent piece Cyril. I agree Microsoft is definitely changing and hopefully keep it up.

    PS Has little Damage been born yet?

    • Madman
    • 7 years ago

    Washing off all the marketing hype, Win8 tablets might be an amazing product, if not now, then by Win9.

    On desktop, Win8 is PITA, though…

    I wonder if Surface tablets will be able to dual boot…

      • Madman
      • 7 years ago

      And, by the way, ultra expensive laptop is a so-so productivity tool, it’s unimaginable how a smaller factor and greater constraints can be better than that.

      • Rand
      • 7 years ago

      The ARM variant definitely can’t, MS has been pretty blatant that all hardware has to be absolutely firmly locked to the OS. No allowing other OS at all, no user modification of boot.

      The x86 variant though, nothing stopping them from opening that up. Some 3rd party tablets might allow users to disable SecureBoot and install whatever OS they like. I’d be very very surprised if MS own tablet allows it though.

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    Wow sold! First example of windows 8 being useful and first time I’ve seen a tablet interface that adds productivity that a smartphone can’t achieve

    Also this blog post is pretty lame commentary on what is impressive from a consumer point of view. I really don’t care for the cabbage throwing side of tech I just want sexy fast lightweight productive integrated useful gear and whoever sells that gets my money.

    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    I find it amusing that the culture of copying is one that we humans see as “weak” or “thoughtless.”

    We–as a species–copy all the time. It’s how we’ve evolved culturally, it’s how we learn. It’s innate in everything we pretty much do. Mimicry is vital for development from newborns through teenagers.

    Just copying a product isn’t a bad or good thing. It also won’t get you sales on its own. Implementation counts. Perception of the tertiary elements of products count, such as support, response from vendor, image, marketing, availability. All things being equal if GM and Toyota made the same car, people will most likely trust Toyota to be a better made car. Toyota and GM did exactly that (Matrix/Vibe.)

    I don’t think copying is bad in and of itself, and often those that copy do a better job, and we should respect that, as our culture thrives on the very same process. Apple follows many of the same design principles and marketing tactics that have been around for decades, they are certainly not pioneers in many areas, their implementations since the new millennium are fairly well executed, however. Microsoft’s execution in retaining the business market is also admirable. Have you ever worked with Microsoft Support? Worked with a TAM manager? In an age of free office suites and easily 2+ serious competitors on the OS front long-term, they have their work cut out for them.

    • Cannyone
    • 7 years ago

    Perhaps I’m just a born skeptic, but I don’t see any of what you see Cyril. I look at Metro, on either the phone or anything else, and I see a “Bizarro” (I wanna be cool like Apple) product. And I can’t help but suspect it will end up being only slightly more successful than the Zune. But only because Microsoft will throw vast amounts of money into marketing to make it so.

    Plus, from what I’ve seen in beta and the latest pre-release version, Windows 8 is not seamless well integrated product. Its far more like a digital collage. And it strikes me as being the product of a large committee of young geeks who have no clue what most of their customer base really wants. With the sad part being that they don’t really care!

    Windows 8, and its associated products, is what Microsoft Wants. And you have to expect them to do whatever it takes to make you think you want it as well…

      • Noigel
      • 7 years ago

      I think their success largely depends on who they target as their main market and the way things are shaping up… going after the same demographic as the iPad is a bad mistake. If MS really pushed into the business market though they could get a stronger foothold.

      The company I work for is chomping at the bit to deploy tablets everywhere but the lack of enterprise management and the lack of integration with a majority-Windows-based environment has kept us away from the iPad.

      We’re looking at 2nd rate tablets now just because they run Windows 7 and would at least be a known quantity to us. Albeit using these other tablets wouldn’t be as smooth and polished as using iPads… which in my opinion, sort of defeats the point of their usefulness if you’re looking at low battery life and small un-optimized objects on screen.

    • Rand
    • 7 years ago

    Call me crazy but I’m not nearly so convinced that treating all platforms like their identical is idealistic. I don’t want my desktop computer to be a giant smartphone.

    I rather think there is a reason desktops, tablets, smartphones and notebooks all exist, because they have different strengths and weaknesses. Treating everything like it’s a smartphone of a different size, and you do the same things on it in the same way just seems ridiculous to me.

    I’m baffled that anyone can see this as a positive.

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      I agree. I think, from what I’ve seen so far, that Windows 8 has very little business being on a desktop, or even most laptop computers. The current desktop design is just much more suitable to an honest-to-goodness fully functional PC, especially given that it’s what so many of Microsoft’s customers want.

      That said, I’m optimistic that Windows 8 could be hugely successful on products such as the Surface. Windows 8 will finally bring full PC functionality to the tablet form factor. And that is a very promising contribution to the ultra-mobile computing market. With Windows 8 and tablets designed to make the most out of it (especially the x86 versions), you will, for the first time ever, be able to do almost anything you could on a notebook or desktop.

      And while that’s all well and good, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that people actually want to use a tablet for all (or even most) of their computing needs – the proverbial Kool-Aid that MS seems so hellbent on ramming down people’s throats. The fact that MS seems to be being so obtuse about this fact has to be, in the most positive light, is at least a little concerning for most of their current users. Never mind the fact that alienating your bread n’ butter customer base is generally never a good business move…

      While having a single unified OS may be a laudable goal, its time is a bit premature. I think MS would have been better off making Windows 8 exclusively for tablets (perhaps calling it Windows Surface for this generation), and then perhaps releasing a service pack upgrade for Windows 7 (or a full fledged Windows 8 for desktops) that offers any additional features Windows 8 may add to the desktop environment. Understandably, not having a new Windows product for “regular” PCs for the fall would surely hurt their bottom line, and maybe they simply didn’t have the resources to do both at once – hence the Kool-Aid throat ramming that is Metro on a workstation PC.

        • Madman
        • 7 years ago

        Most Metro software will also come from smallest form factor, up. Especially since all businesses invest in where the majority of users are. And for desktop use, Win8 will take some years to pick up to over 25%.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      This… I think this should go without saying, but it obviously has to be said due to the direction companies are taking. A computer is a device for much more then consumption and Metro is all about consumption.

      Having a unified front looks spiffy and everything, but when you’re putting that into Windows Server? I understand admins get bored, but playing Angry Birds on their cluster isn’t exactly at the forefront of their wishes for a OS.

    • rrr
    • 7 years ago

    Question: who Apple copied from first? Make no mistake, they are NOT original either. Unless choosing white case suddenly makes you original, that is.

    • jjj
    • 7 years ago

    lol you enjoy Apple’s events?They are full of marketing BS,you must be a very weird fellow.

    “bold and innovative and uncompromising”

    I’m not Apple fanboy but seriously the Surface is full of compromises. Win 8 in itself being the biggest with it’s 2 UIs and 2 separate versions.
    For the hardware part you got:
    -the stand that makes it requires a flat surface when using the keyboard and is a waste of space(read volume,that could be used for other things,yes it is rather thin but it’s huge and,for example,one could use a much bigger battery instead or make the entire device a bit thinner)
    -the keyboards that are in no way revolutionary,the touch one is thin but how many will be ok with a keyboard lacking any kind of travel and the “normal” is ,well, just normal.
    – the materials used make the tablet rather thick and heavy for a 2013 product.
    – the x86 tablet is way too heavy for a tablet and is just a convertible,almost netbook with a much more powerful CPU

    About the bold and innovative part,well i can’t think of anything that is that. I guess the Metro UI could be bold and not a very risky and dumb idea but only if it makes it and doesn’t tank win 8 sales.

    Microsoft’s problem is that they are slow,they lack ethics and a conscience and got no courage to actually make any use of the R&D done in their labs.
    What they need is new leaders, nothing else can be enough.

      • cegras
      • 7 years ago

      Regarding the stand, I purchased a stupid targus case for my ipad that completely negated all of the thinness and lightness just so I could prop it up on my bedside table or on the desk. Besides, the stand is an integral part of the tablet and it’s not like there’s any penalty for having it there.

      The tablet is barely heavier than the ipad 1. Magnesium is one of the lightest metals around. The tablet is also specced to be something much more than the ipad. It’s being propositioned as something that is capable of content creation, and it also has an optically bonded display, something that makes a huge difference in clarity.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        Now imagine if your tablet was already thick and heavy – what would the case have done to it then? Whenever I get a new phone I put it in the case. Then inevitably I need to get back into the case so I can do something – pull out the micro SD card or whatever – and I always marvel at how thin it was prior to putting it in the case.

          • ludi
          • 7 years ago

          Err…I think what he was saying is that he only bought the case so that he could have a stand, so it makes no difference to him because either way he’s going to end up with a thick tablet with a stand.

          I have the same experience as you when pulling my Nexus One out of its Otterbox, but OTOH the Nexus One is just about too thin and definitely too slippery — without the case, I would have broken it many times before now. Personally, I would rather have the same phone and thickness with a natively-rubberized case and double the battery life.

    • entropy13
    • 7 years ago

    Hmmm…

    [url<]http://imgur.com/gallery/hXeAU[/url<]

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      A picture paints a thousand words (or three thousand in that case).

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      There are big differences in both the hardware and the software experience. There’s XP tablet edition, which was kind of kludged into something that wasn’t really meant for tablets and then there’s iOS 3.x, ICS, and Windows RT – the latter 3 all developed from the ground up for the tablet. Not to mention, XP tablets were larger, heavier, had worse displays, and required a stylus. The tech just wasn’t there yet. Apple brought it out when the tech was ready.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        sure, but apple didn’t invent tablets.

          • Beelzebubba9
          • 7 years ago

          Apple didn’t invent everything tablet-like, but they certainly pioneered the modern definition of the tablet. Microsoft’s ‘tablet’ was an x86 PC with a resistive touch screen running a desktop OS with the barest of concessions to its touch UI. They were more costly than a comparable laptop at the time, only supported touch input with a stylus, and a small portion of the UI was designed around the pen interface. They failed in the general marketplace for all of the right reasons.

          Apple’s ARM powered Newton had a lot more in common with the iPad than Microsoft’s tablet PCs ever did.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          Contrary to what the image says, nearly-nobody said they invented the concept. Even at the time, Jobs didn’t say they invented the concept – they made it “magical” (which makes me want to punch babies)

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Before its time I suppose.

    • csroc
    • 7 years ago

    Apple’s products are full of ideas ripped out of other things, even Microsoft’s products. Copying, then, doesn’t set them apart from each other. MS has as you said made a lot of solid products over the years but I think the lack of cohesive vision and consistency has really prevented them from bringing all their different specialties together. The past few years WP7, Xbox and even Zune (yes, Zune) have kind of shown they’re starting to think about tying things together more and making them more consistent. A lot of that seems to be finally culminating with Windows 8 although I’m sure there’s more to come after that.

    I remain skeptical about Win 8 as a desktop OS (having not tried it yet) but the tablet side and mobile versions do both look excellent.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      it’s a fine desktop OS. it does require some changes, but the amount of qqing over here is hyperbole, and old men that can’t handle change at all. many of the power users will find a great many positive changes.

        • Vulk
        • 7 years ago

        Here’s the thing, and the reason for my complaint about MS’s strategy. They’re changing things for change’s sake, not because it makes sense to me the end user. They’ve written a OS that seems specifically designed to make my daily job harder. That’s not how you reward me the customer or get me excited about giving you my money. It’s full of check box style improvements that do very little for me.

        I wouldn’t be upset if they’d made a separate tablet OS. They didn’t.

        Plus in all this, they’ve still got this bizarrely segmented product offering that makes absolutely no sense when you really get down to it. Win 8, WART, and WP8 all support different applications, most of which can operate on the other OS, but MS has placed marketplace restrictions on 2 of the platforms that restrict you the end user from loading your apps yourself and force you to go to MS Marketplace which has odd restrictions on what you can and cannot do as a developer… It’s very unfriendly and very Apple like.

        At the end of the day except for VS (and I could easily replace it too), I use mostly open source software for writing code. I could easily switch over to Linux and just keep VM’s of Win 7 around for when I need to do something in them at work. This is a shame. I’m very invested in their ecosystem, I pay them thousands of dollars a year for MSDN licenses, etc, and the marketing decisions they’re making have me actively questioning that investment.

        I’ve played intimately with the RC of Win8, and so far the headaches have far outweighed the benefits. Seriously the nicest feature is the VM integration, and I pretty much already have that on Win 7. Other than that the only real feature I use is the ability to directly mount ISO’s, and again I already have an app for that which doesn’t require me to loose the start menu… And before you tell me I can skin Win8, I have a LOT of dev software some of which I guarantee will NOT play nicely with skinning apps if past experience is any judge.

        F’ing with my workflow is not a small thing for me, especially when they didn’t NEED to do it and appear hellbent on not letting me control my own experience on their OS.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          i’m not going to tell you to skin win 8. that would be dumb. the ENTIRE POINT IS that you really only do one app, and deploy it everywhere. i realize it’s not there yet, but that’s the goal. i understand your frustrated, but i don’t see it as an issue for end users.

        • End User
        • 7 years ago

        The innovative side of Windows 8 (Metro) is a complete clusterf@ck for power users.

        The larger the display gets the worse Metro gets. It is embarrassing to fire up Metro apps on a 27″ 2560×1440 display.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          that doesn’t even make sense. the next post you post will say how amazing full screen ipad apps are on your retina display. YOU’VE BEEN BURNED BY THE TRUTH

            • TEAMSWITCHER
            • 7 years ago

            No…He’s right. Microsoft seems to have a refined vision for Windows 8 on Tablets, but forcing that same UI down the throats on happy desktop users (that want moveable/resizable windows) is the wrong approach.

            Windows 8 on the desktop is completely DOA. Business don’t want it and that will severely limit the amount of software that gets created for Metro. Microsoft is clearly trying, but they need to try harder – the still are lacking a cohesive vision for their entire eco-system.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            i don’t agree with your last paragraph at all. businesses might be HESITANT, but there are a lot of things they’re interested in. they are wondering how it will work in the real world, but there are a lot of businesses that are looking at it. THAT’S NOT TO SAY they’ll buy 8, many (probably most) will wait until 9, but i think it has a lot of interesting new things.

            some of them are here:
            [url<]http://www.windowsvalley.com/windows-8-enterprise-key-features/[/url<] others, like the corporate marketplaces, are not found there.

            • Metonymy
            • 7 years ago

            Sometimes when someone has an opinion vastly opposed to one’s own, it’s hard to believe that he’s not just playing the provocateur, and I try to resist this with you SSK, as maybe you really do like 8 on the desktop, and to each his own.

            But do you honestly not see the massive organizational cost to this move, for fairly small gains, even if one does like 8/Metro? Sure some people will want it, and like it, but the transition costs (forgetting software charges) will hugely outweigh this.

            I work in a small university and provide unofficial PC support for a fairly diverse group of about 40 people, from 22-year-old grad students to 92-yr-old emeritus profs, and I dread the day when we can’t order computers with 7.

            • TakinYourPoints
            • 7 years ago

            Correct. Apple is segmenting mobile and desktop and it seems to be the better approach right now. Even “iOS-like” things in OS X like Launchpad are completely optional. MS is basically forcing that UI on everyone with a desktop, which sucks.

            • andrewaggb
            • 7 years ago

            Well, I think microsoft has the right idea, but I don’t know what the end game is. Until we see ms office and visual studio done in metro without productivity taking a nose dive…. I’m not convinced we’ve seen the end of the desktop.

            OS-X isn’t a good example. Apple’s success is iOS. OS-X is fine, but it’s not enough different/better/easier than Windows 7, and it’s market share reflects that. If it wasn’t for the fantastic hardware on their laptops I don’t think they’d have much market at all.

            • TakinYourPoints
            • 7 years ago

            Its market share isn’t a reflection on quality of the OS X operating system, it is a reflection on the price. The average $1000+ cost of the hardware ensures that it won’t get anything close to a majority stake. This is completely different from the quality of the OS, and based on the number of things Windows has consistently adopted from OS X over the last decade I think it is safe to say that Microsoft is paying attention.

            It is also worth noting that Apple is the #1 seller of desktops and laptops over $1000. DIY PCs like the ones I and most of us have don’t factor into that, this is just among companies like Dell, HP, Apple, Lenovo, etc. In any case, price is the main factor when it comes to overall marketshare. Why would a call center or office waste tons of money on Macs when they can just get thousands of cheap econoboxes?

    • trackerben
    • 7 years ago

    Microsoft went through a lot of teams both in and outside the company and may have finally put together the right group. It helps that the brightest graduates from all over no longer head for the aerospace and defense industries, and are finding their way to commercial champions like Microsoft. It’s battle between global A-Teams now.

    • feek
    • 7 years ago

    you could see this coming for the past 3-5 years, especially since the launch of windows phone 7.

    • Mourmain
    • 7 years ago

    Very insightful. I think you’re right on the money. Microsoft is risking itself here, and that seems to have brought some life and youth to the old giant.

    • raddude9
    • 7 years ago

    why did Steven Sinofsky have to grab a different tablet at about 14 minutes into the video, did the tablet he was initially showing BSOD or something?

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      something like that. it’s pre-release software.

        • End User
        • 7 years ago

        That kinda sh*t does not look good during a press event no matter how you sugar coat it. It is painful to watch.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          you don’t say? it happens though. it’s even happened to your beloved apple.

            • End User
            • 7 years ago

            You had to edit that?

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            yeah. i can’t speell.

          • Pettytheft
          • 7 years ago

          Hmm, well worked out just fine for Win95. Maybe it was intentional.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      Battery died.

        • Mourmain
        • 7 years ago

        It was clearly flickering all over the place. The browser he started had locked up.

          • Arag0n
          • 7 years ago

          All I can see is he is trying to pull down the tabs of the browser and it just comes down for a second and then goes out. It looks like a touch screen responsiveness problem or as said, it run out of battery and started to shutdown. Still, neither of them should happen in a presentation since you should have worked what things work and what things don´t, so you don´t show what doesn’t work well.

          Still, from my experience with windows 8 the product is solid and stable, so I won´t be worried about stability.

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    incoming “ms sucks” posts! seriously though, I’d LOVE a windows phone made by MS. the biggest issues i’ve had with any of the windows phones (i have a focus, and wife has a quantum) is build quality thanks to OEM’s. i’d love to purchase a MS phone, and deal with their EXCELLENT support.

      • TheDarkKnight
      • 7 years ago

      To sweatshopking and everybody else,

      Yeah, probably because, as the author states in his opening paragraph, his headline was purposely fluffed up to get people to his crappy article. He wants everybody to know that he loves ‘Windows 8’ and that ‘Windows 8’ will change the world. He sounds like a 17-year old lovestruck virgin in the same manner as Chris Matthews is with Barrack Obama:

      [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no9fpKVXxCc[/url<] And his job is to convince everyone who see's the 'Windows 8' forthcoming failure, that they should love it because it's a "unifying" experience. If TechReport keeps putting out an article a week on how wonderful 'Windows 8' will be, people will start to believe it. So, its a good strategy. At least in the beginning, until people actually start buying it, and using it. The most hilarious part of this article, though, whose sole purpose is to glorify and uplift the forthcoming 'Windows 8' OS, is when the author talks about the new 'Metro' interface. He says it doesn't look 'bizarro'? Oh really? What is the definition of bizarro? Bizarro to me means, a deviation from the norm. Are you seriously trying to tell me that the 'Metro' interface isn't a deviation from the norm? LOL. And to add even more laughs to this 'Windows 8' propaganda, the author goes on to say that he himself hopes Microsoft will eventually scrap the 'Metro' interface and replace it with something better. I've never heard anyone express their heartfelt joy over an operating system that has barely just been born and in the same paragraph express hopes that the brand new interface that they are so in love with would someday be scrapped and replaced. I've never had a thought like that about anything 'Windows 7' that I can recall. Sure I could suggest small improvements here and there but I've been using Windows 7 Ultimate since the day of release and while Im sure I could do some knitpicking and find small things to complain about, overall Im very happy with it. The author of this article has me in stitches. I think TechSpot website authors are masters at creating the most ridiculous headlines to draw people to their website and generate heavy traffic. The problem is everytime I get here and actually read the articles, they are so over the top, they should be classified as science fiction. Or at the very least a propaganda machine for an operating system that has already been declared by anyone with an iq higher than 10 as being dead on arrival.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        I think bizzaro is meant to allude to the Superman pseudo-villain who was not-quite-copy of the hero.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        why did you right this book? this isn’t techspot either.

        his point about replacing it is that they’ll update and keep innovating, not that metro is horrible and sucks.

        why you bring in the obama?

          • TheDarkKnight
          • 7 years ago

          I felt the American people had a right to know the truth(*patriotic music playing in the background*).

        • jpostel
        • 7 years ago

        [list<] [*<]TR has had personal opinion blogs for a while, this is one of them. The blog name is even in French so we know not to take it seriously (just kidding). [/*<][*<]I don't think you read the same thing I read. I didn't think this was Windows propaganda at all. Cyril mentions several times that his excitement is due to the fact that Microsoft seems to have finally gotten "it", and has a clear and compelling vision. They seem to have a unified design look and feel, and that even the development process will be the same across the various Windows platforms. And to top it off, they are creating their own devices to ensure that the Windows experience is not diluted by sub-par hardware. Here's a test: substitute "Palm" and "WebOS" for "Microsoft" and "Windows". Would that article get you to write the response you did? [/*<][*<]I have not tested Windows 8 (my MSDN subscription expired and I have been procrastinating), so I can't even give an opinion on it.[/*<] [/list<] edited to correct bbcode

          • TheDarkKnight
          • 7 years ago

          Yes, I did read the same article you did. Whether Microsoft has finally gotten it yet or not is a matter of opinion and opinion alone. I guess it depends on how you measure the success of a company. In my personal opinion, which echoes that of countless others, ‘Windows 8’ will be dead on arrival because nobody wants to use a cellphone UI on a desktop. That’s the part that I believe Microsoft isn’t ‘getting’. I hate to keep repeating the same old reasons for a lot of the negativity against Windows 8 but it is what it is. Why try to make a ‘one-size-fits-all’ operating system? The ‘chimpanzee swipe’ is fine for simpletons who do nothing but consume content. If you want to use your OS to watch movies, listen to songs, and play games then Windows 8 might be a good operating system for you. Thing is we already have a Playstation 3 and an XBox 360 if that’s all you want to do with your time. Buy one of those instead. If navigating the ‘Windows 7’ operating system is too much for your brain to handle get a gaming console instead. It will require less thought on your part.
          What am I supposed to swipe when I am developing code for a website or a native Windows application? Im sorry but the realm of programming/developing web applications cannot be reduced to a group of chimpanzee swipes. And if it can’t why try to make the keyboard and mouse second rate citizens to ones index finger?

          Why would you use the same API for a countless array of ‘different’ devices which target ‘different’ audiences?

          I have no interest whatsoever in Palm or WebOS. Never used either one, don’t care if I ever do.

          No MSDN subscription is required to try Windows 8. Here’s a link for you.

          [url<]http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/iso[/url<]

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            if win 8 isn’t DOA, you going to say “i was wrong”?

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 7 years ago

            Certainly not – that would require accountability!

            (I think WIndows 8 is a good idea and all the qq’ing is just nerds and their typically terrible opinions)

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 7 years ago

        I like the way you think buddy. We should all hope to be independent minded, and not let PR brainwash us into the zombie consumer horde. No amount of propaganda or palm greasing will get me to like what Microsoft has done.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          LINUX IS THE BESTEST.

        • Jason181
        • 7 years ago

        Edited 4 times and it’s still TechSpot? It’s hard to take you seriously when you’re not even sure which website you’re on.

    • Knee Dragger
    • 7 years ago

    My cat’s breath smells like cat food…

      • danny e.
      • 7 years ago

      how about your dogs? does it smell like poop? dogs like eating poop.

    • bhtooefr
    • 7 years ago

    Actually, it’s not quite the first time Microsoft’s done a Windows machine of their own design.

    The MIPS Magnum R4000 was pretty much their design, with a MIPS R4000 dropped in, in place of the R3000 that the Microsoft Jazz system for Windows NT used.

      • jpostel
      • 7 years ago

      You have just earned yourself a thumbs up!

      Now tell me about OpenVMS and FORTRAN!

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    I think you’re looking into this waay too much. I’m pretty confident they just took copying to a whole new level. Essentially in the same way you distilled it. Having a unified interface doesn’t mean they’ve found the secret sauce, all it means is they saw Apple had it so they did it too.

    Look at all they’re throwing away between Windows 7 and Windows 8. Almost everyone doesn’t like what they’re doing with the OS. There are definitely ways they could’ve executed it with more finesse and made it seem more distinctive. The direction they went with it was more Apple then it was MS though.

    MS still doesn’t have a direction. They’re just chasing the money trail. You don’t need to understand how something works to copy it.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    Post-Gates Microsoft Era = copying from Apple since 2008.

    Windows 8 is pretty much what happens if Microsoft decided to make their version of Mountain Lion/iOS.

    Steven Sinofsky = invoking the late Steve Job’s infamous RDF.

      • cegras
      • 7 years ago

      Who cares? If microsoft comes out with a better product then as a consumer the rational choice is to buy it. Or is everyone here a hypocrite, falling to the same fanboyism (hatred?) present in GPU discussions?

      Did everyone seem to forget about apple’s ‘reinvention’ of the notification system?

    • sonofsanta
    • 7 years ago

    [i<]Sir. Sir[/i<] Jonathan Ive. We take our titles very seriously, old bean!

      • Horshu
      • 7 years ago

      It’s just Jonny Ive 🙂

    • Primitivus
    • 7 years ago

    “I hope the Microsoft of tomorrow won’t need to ape others, because its own people will be leading the way. I hope Microsoft will refine and perfect Metro and eventually scrap it and replace it with something even better, because sacrifices in the name of innovation are sacrifices worth making. Lastly, I hope other companies will look at Microsoft and see that they, too, can be bold and innovative and uncompromising—and that they, too, can lead by example instead of following.

    Because that’s how you make truly great products.”

    If you replace “Microsoft” with “Apple” in that last part… hey! your wishes have come true! A company is already making “truly great products”, leading by example and inspiring others to innovate or copy/steal from them.

      • nanoflower
      • 7 years ago

      For me it doesn’t matter if Microsoft (or any other company) is copying Apple or doing something on their own. What matters is are they building functional devices that work well and sell (because if they don’t sell then support won’t be around for long.) Focusing on style helps to sell products so it’s a good thing if Microsoft is going to do that, as well as having a unified vision for their products. This seems to be a win-win for everyone. If Microsoft has done a good job it will sell well and provide consumers with good choices for a portable Windows computer. It also provides an extra incentive for Apple to keep working hard.

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