How Microsoft REALLY reacted to iPad

Steve Jobs introduces first iPad
Steve Jobs introduces first iPad (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Today is the tenth anniversary of iPad's announcement.
  • Steven Sinofsky was head of Windows for Microsoft at the time.
  • He's been tweeting his reaction from January 27, 2010.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the very first iPad unveiling and it was a big day for Apple. But it was a big day for Microsoft, too. And that's something driven home by the company's former head of Windows, Steven Sinofsky. He's been tweeting his thoughts from this day ten years ago and they make for interesting reading.

In the weeks and months before the arrival of iPad, many had been discussing whether it would be a larger iPod touch or a touch-based Mac. Microsoft wondered that as well, but it fell heavily on the side of a Mac with a pen-based interface. After all, that's exactly what Microsoft had been trying to sell for years. Why would Apple do anything any differently?

Because it's Apple, of course.

Microsoft was big into netbooks at the time, too. Small, light, underpowered notebooks that nobody really wanted but were much cheaper than the MacBook Air. And when Jobs went after netbooks during the iPad announcement, Sinofsky amazingly thought that Apple calling netbooks "cheap computers" was a good thing. Even though Microsoft knew that they were just a stopgap.

But the longer the Apple special event went on, the more worried Microsoft became. Jobs went through everything iPad could do. And when it came time to drop the 10-hour battery life bombshell, it was clear netbooks couldn't compete.

Steve Jobs and iPad

Steve Jobs and iPad (Image credit: Apple)

Sinofsky goes on to explain how people, at the time, were hung up on iPad being a device for consuming data and content, but not creating it. To this day that remains a complaint leveled at iPad, even with the arrival of mouse support, improved windowing and multitasking, and superb creative apps.

Ultimately, Sinofsky is absolutely spot on with one of the final tweets in a long thread that has entertained us all today – Microsoft's lack of support from developers caused the company problems that Apple and iPad simply didn't have.

When iPad started at $499 and went straight up against netbooks, everything changed. Netbooks are long gone, but here we are, ten years later. And iPad continues to go from strength to strength.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.