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Microsoft once again fails to understand that, when it comes to tablets, Windows isn't a feature - It's a liability

Microsoft has been fielding some new anti-iPad commercials that, on the surface (see what I did there?) seem to take a page out of Apple's old "I'm a Mac" ads of days long gone by, or even Motorola's "Droid Does" campaign of a few years back. They show an iPad side by side against a Windows 8 tablet, and then demonstrate several areas in which they, Microsoft, think the Windows 8 tablet beats to iPad.

The ad shows Live Tiles, and contrasts them with the iPad's static Home screen. It shows multi-window computing, and contrasts it with the iPad's one-at-a-time app experience. It shows Power Point, and contrasts it with Apple's Keynote. They show the price of the cheapest Windows 8 tablet and contrast it with Apple's mid-capacity, full-sized iPad.

A second spot shows similar comparisons, but adds bullet points like built-in support for SD card support vs. requiring an adapter, and printing only to AirPrint-capable printers compared to printing to standard Windows-compatible printers.

Ads like these, comparisons like these, can work and work well. "Droid Does" helped put Android on the map. When it comes to tablets, however, they been tried before, and haven't proven successful in the least. In most cases, they've touted the advantages of a more desktop-like experience, and Windows is, perhaps, the most desktop of desktops.

And it's precisely what mainstream customers have resoundingly said is the absolute last thing they want on a tablet.

BlackBerry tried it with the Playbook. Various Android manufacturers have tried it with their Galaxy, Xoom, and other tablets. Hell, Microsoft made Tablet PC for years, based on full-on Windows XP or other releases. Nobody besides us geeks cared, not in any number, and not any more then than they do today.

For years mainstream customers have felt alienated by desktop operating systems.

For years mainstream customers have felt alienated by desktop operating systems. They've struggled with their archaic file systems and confusing windows management, their intermediated control schemes and their sheer complexity. And those frustrations are the last thing those mainstream customers want on mobile.

They want to pick up a device that they can understand. That doesn't make them feel stupid but rather makes them feel empowered. They want their apps, they want their media, and they want it without all the inhuman bullshit traditional computing platforms like Windows (and OS X for that matter) have been forcing on them for decades.

They want iPads.

Steve Jobs understood that. Even after helping launch the Apple II and bringing about the Mac, Jobs understood the need for ever simpler, ever more direct ever more mainstream computing.

Bill Gates once said what he envied most about Apple was Steve Jobs' taste. But Jobs didn't have taste in the fashionable sense of the word. He had product sense. He had the ability to look forward, past his own current product portfolio, beyond his corporate investments to date, beyond any brands he might hold dear, and see what his customers needed. He had sensibility.

With these latest commercials, Microsoft shows they're no closer to learning that lesson today than they were back with Bill Gates and the Tablet PC. They're still mired in Windows and in Office. They're so afraid of letting go of past success that they'll take future failure instead. They'll refuse to compromise on anything other than making the user experience horribly, needlessly, compromised.

The features shown in Microsoft's ad are compelling to existing Windows users who want to replace their PC and might be interested in or at least open to a tablet form factor. That's the audience Microsoft has, because it's the audience they've targeted.

To mainstream customers, tiles that change pictures seemingly at random are disorienting, multiple apps at once is stressful, Power Point is something best left locked in beige cubicles (even though Microsoft could make it, and all of Office, available for iPad any time they so choose), and the price paid up-front isn't always as important as the value obtained throughout the life of a product.

They go, they buy an iPad, they use it. They don't have to worry about RT or Pro, "Metro" mode or "Desktop" mode, and which version of the same named browser does what and when. There's no duality, no confusion, no feeling caught -- and yes, compromised -- between the OS that was and the OS that needs to be. There's just the iPad.

There's the escape of the Home button, the consistency of the Home screen, and simplicity of full screen apps, and the singularity of the experience. Those things, taken together, for the vast non-geek market, make the iPad the best personal computer they've ever owned.

it doesn't matter what something can do, it only matters what you can do with that something.

Instead of competing with that, trying to out do Apple at that, Microsoft, like almost everyone else before them, has fallen into the feature set trap. Here's the problem with that -- it doesn't matter what something can do, it only matters what you can do with that something.

These ads will help Microsoft convince some people to buy a Windows 8 tablet rather than an Android tablet or another kind of Windows PC. It won't convince the hundreds of millions of iPad customers and iPad-inclined customers to do anything other than to continue buying iPads.

To do that, Microsoft will need to find the testicular fortitude to let go of Windows. To let go of the desktop. To do on mobile what they did on gaming and create an a Xpad (or whatever) as courageously as they created an Xbox. (I'd use Windows Phone as a better, closer example, but shoehorning the name Windows into that product, good as it is, highlight the same symptoms of the same fear and creates a similar problem.)

In 2010 Apple showed everyone in the world how to sell hundreds of millions of tablets. 3 years later, there's no evidence that most competitors have paid the slightest attention. It's 2013 and Microsoft is still trying to sell a PC in a post-PC world, and a truck to a family that just wants a car to get around the suburbs.

And that's unfortunate not only for the tablet market, but for all of us.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Oh the tablet race, I bought a PlayBook full price when it was released in the states and to much disappointment was god awful. I should of purchased an iPad but even if I had I don't think i would use it all that much. My iphone does everything a tablet can except for a few things but when those problems arise my Laptop is better suited. The iPad is a nice luxury but won't replace my laptop or PC, and I think that's what MS has going for it with the Surface, it is a laptop replacement but like the article said it doesn't target the millions that consist of the iPad audience.
  • randomly looking up something, or reading something, or showing off photos on the sofa with either a laptop or a cell phone is not enjoyable.
  • Hit the nail on the head. Awesome article. This is MS we are talking about. They will never understand.
  • Alright with all respect, and I mean that, as someone that has owned an IPad, currently uses the PlayBook as well as the Galaxy Note 10.1, and Windows 7, also Ubuntu, I completely disagree with this article. The iPad is fantastic hardwear. The software is great for someone that is intimidated by a PC. But for anyone that can use a computer and gets an iPad thinking it's going to work anything like a PC or Android, or even the PlayBook is going to be in for huge disappointment. Of iOS, Android, and the PlayBook OS, the iPad is absolutely the worst PC replacement. The complete lack of a file system was the main reason that I ditched it. Tied to iTunes to use as desktop sync software or any alternative rather than the way every other device works in the world is not the way to move into the future. It is going to hold them back as time goes on. Just try moving files off and on an iAnything and you will see what I mean. It's simply unforgivable in 2013 for anything to work this way. My opinion. But if it works for you then that's great, really. It's a great work of art the way they have designed it. It does "just work" (most of the time). But for what I use a tablet for, the iPad is by far the most difficult one to use. I won't be getting a Windows tablet either because the price point for the pro is insane. And I already have a PC, so it's not needed. I suppose if I had nothing at all then I MIGHT consider it.
  • AMEN! I Have an Ipad and honestly I don't like it all that much. I use it as a glorified E-reader and to watch movies on a flight/bus/train.
    Complex desktop OS? Convoluted file structure? If you want a computer that's made idiot proof and will wipe your ass and tell you its ok when you can't figure it out get a mac. When you want something you can set up how you want it, get a PC. I will honestly NEVER buy another apple product after my last run in with mac tech support. My friend bought a mac air and couldn't get it to even find his home network (using his stock Verizon modem/router) calls me over and its showing up on our phones, and his old laptop. He had called apple and they told him you have to buy a mac router for it to work?!? Quick little firmware update on the old modem and it worked fine. But for tech support to be a SALES set up?? Sorry never going there again.
  • Both of you seem to have no idea how to work. You're both stuck in the mid 90's with Microsoft thinking. The fact that OSX is Unix based, it is and always will be a more powerful system. Even though OSX has made it the absolute best UX in a PC.
  • Sorry but you lost me at not knowing how to work.
    But I'm personally still pulling for QNX. :)
    Just to add, I do 95% of all my computing on a mobile device. Windows is very frustrating and that's why I'm relying on BBRY and Android for now to get things done.
  • You're geeks, like me. That's the problem. We buy millions of tablets. We don't buy hundreds of millions of them. Apple didn't make the iPad for us. They made it for the 4x members of our families who aren't geeks.
  • I totally agree with you, I'm a geek and I don't have an iPad because I consider it limited, but my brother isn't a geek and for him is a really beautifull device that is responsive, works perfect an completes all his entertainment needs, such as watch movies, listen music, browsing, social networks, follow sports results, etc
  • I'm trying to figure out why this makes you so *angry*. If its just silly, then why are you not laughing at Microsoft instead? To be honest, it feels like you are trying to convince yourself with this commentary, not anyone else. The level of anger and bitterness really makes it look like that, just maybe, those ads got under your skin a bit because they might be a little right on the money. If there is no threat as you keep saying, then there is no reason to get so upset as you clearly were in writing this.
  • Just as another data point ... I read the article and didn't detect even the slightest hint of either anger, fear, or any kind of "upset." Methinks it is *you* that is doing the "reading in." The two guys commenting above about how Apple is basically the devil personified clearly have some really serious bias, anger, fear and frustration going on, but not the author of the article IMO. PS - Excellent article as always Rene, I think you might be one of the better writers and have possibly the best "vision" of most tech pundits around today.
  • I think the dropping of "bullshit" in the article confirms the tone that some opus picked up. If not "upset," then "fed-up."
  • Agreed. But as a defender of Apple I understand René feeling put off by the adds.
  • Rene, I completely agree with you. Although I am an engineer, I have been in administration for quite some time and lost my geek powers :) I love Apple products for I can get them to do what I need in a blink, I owned a Galaxy SIII and had to ditch it for I could not find my way around it. And one more fact, My 2 year toodler literally throw my SIII away for she could do nothing with it, while she on her own can figure out my iPad and iPhone in seconds!
  • "He had called apple and they told him you have to buy a mac router for it to work?!?" That is entirely not true, regardless if it was what you were told. My mother has a Verizon FiOS router. Works fine with all her Apple products (Air, iMac, iPad, iPhone, iPod). On the flip side, when I (a geek who knew the issue was on my ISPs end) called my ISP once, and they walked me through everything, they told me to get a Windows PC. That was just some idiot on the phone that was, in all likelihood, not a geek. So basing a company, etc. on the experience with one phone rep, that is likely not nearly as versed in technology as we are, is not a fair assessment.
  • No offence, but I simply don't believe Apple support said that. I'll bet that what they really said was something along the lines of "if you bought an Apple router, I'd be able to help you get it to work." i.e. they can't support non-Apple stuff.
  • Please send me your ass-wiping, idiot-proof iPad if you're done with it. PS - no surprise that a Verizon router is a piece of crap that won't work unless you do a firmware update...
  • File system , file system, file system. Blah blah blah blah blah. I stopped reading your post right there. You know what file system I use. Dropbox. Why, because its all backed up, it's available to me everywhere. There's a $5 app called Goodreader. Done. There's your file system. If you think that Androids shit mess of files is anywhere near good. I can say that you have no f'ing idea what you're talking about. It's the most inefficient system out there.
  • "There's a $5 app called Goodreader. Done. There's your file system"
    Now plug your iDevice into a real PC and try to access it. I think you missed my point.
  • You just don't know what you're talking about. There are many ways to access the true file system if you want to, but you are a fool for wanting to. Your posts are also chock full of exaggerations, misdirections and misunderstandings. I'm sure you are an expert on some things and have used computers for a long time, but you simply don't know squat about this stuff. It's plainly obvious in every comment you make.
  • Okay yes I can access it. But it's useless. Everything is connected to one app or another and and the content of those apps isn't accessible with ease if at all from another device. Not sure why it's foolish to want to do this. Sorry I have apparently offended you for some reason, but I've never found a way to do this. And after 6 months of trying, I gave up. Shouldn't be that hard. I'm ready for a lesson on how it's accomplished. Educate me, I love to learn.
  • Axllebeer is right on the money here. Rene has echoed this point, which is me reason I was surprised by the content and tone of this article. I completely get the value and accessibility of simplicity. I love that my mom and grandmother and god-kids take to iOS devices so easily. BUT my mom wants to use her real laptop for some stuff her iPad can do but doesn't do well enough or comfortably enough. Sorry but file systems are useful for a reason and that reason hasn't been eliminated by Dropbox. I wanted to copy and later delete the pictures and podcasts from my iPad. I've had one since the original debuted. And I'm still experiencing hiccups trying to do simple stuff like that. My mom doesn't want to be bothered with it. And I don't blame her. She used the device in the ways best suited to her needs and then, she uses Windows. People love iOS but I have believed for some time that the simplest devices' OS'es eventually try to become full-fledged, Windows-like operating systems. Or maybe "Windows-lite" is the right word. And that's not snark. Because that's exactly what Microsoft TRIED to make. So, it's not that we don't understand. We just disagree with you, Gazoobee. And, btw, I still love my iPad, despite its limitations.
  • I would've kept the iPad because it's great at a lot of things. But that would have taken me to a total of 3 tablets and a PC. Pretty sure my wife would've killed me at that point. So away went the iPad as it had the highest resale value and the lease options for my needs. I had the Mini really liked it. But at end of the day it was the hardware and the apps that I loved. For me, I just couldn't get past the limitations of the OS.
  • Everything for me is in Dropbox. I don't have to plug anything in. I don't even have to have any hardware that I own to access it. The app I was speaking of is more of a offline utility. I can organize everything I need in it. But it's still always in Dropbox.
  • He/she didn't "miss your point"'s that the "point" you made was garbage.
  • Ok whatever. We all have different needs and different wants out of our devices. You disagree with me? Well I dissagree with you. Fair enough
  • Incorrect, you can access Goodreader's "filesystem" from within iTunes, or even wirelessly, copy files in and out just file. There are also plenty of apps that let you access the iOS filessytem without it being jailbroken, and if you've got a jailbreak you can do even more. The point of iOS is to let you forget all about having to manage files. KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid.
  • No offense, but if you are someone who knows what Ubuntu is (much less uses it regularly), then you are not in the target audience for iPad to begin with. Most people with a large degree of tech knowledge and a desire to have deep control over all aspects of an OS is always going to be put off by iOS devices.
  • No offense at all. I realize iOS is not for me. Just because I don't own an Apple product currently doesn't mean as a lover of tech I don't follow what's happening in the Apple space. And when the iPad came out its exactly what the market needed. I think comparing the PC to the tablet will evolve in opposite ways. The PC started very complicated and has become much easier to use over time. The ipad was the start of the tablet boom and was very simple to use still is. Now in order for the tablet to be successful long into the future, it needs to become more complicated to be able to be a true PC replacement. That's what Microsoft is doing here. There will still be a place for devices like the iPad, but as we change as a society so will change what we want products like these to do for us.
  • Agreed. I love my ipad. My wife loves our ipad. The ipad is not a PC. I understand this is imore and this is an article written by an apple fan, but fandom always includes some denial and a sense to 'defend' to the end. To be upset with MS for a commerical which is pretty funny is just silly. There isn't anything that will sell more than an ipad so why the need to appear upset over a commercial? Fans of the ipad should be more upset that after 3 iterations and the inclusion of the ipad mini there are still key features that should be added to the device as well as the OS.
  • I don't fully agree with you comments but I see and understand your point of view. Your only flaw (that caused me to reply) was "The software is great for someone that is intimidated by a PC". That kind of comment (kindly) discredits you. I'm a Visual Studio c#/C++ developer whom loves 3-4 linux distress and have moved from WIndows to Mac (running VMs of course to code c#). Apple's iOS is an appliance OS and not to be compared to a desktop OS. Your comment is like comparing a BBQ to a toaster. Its not that user are intimidated by a BBQ but a toaster has a niche, certain use, certain user base, different experience & different results. Those whom want a computer and are thinking of an iPad to server that purpose have certain needs (and many times unknown by them). Email, browsing, pictures, maybe camera & occasional games. I don't think those whom don't know what the difference is between a PC and iPad have high Photoshop, AutoCad needs. So that disappointment thing you talk about is off. I have 3 iPads. My iPad1 is perminately velcrowed in the kitchen and serves as our iHeartRadio & iTunes stereo. My 2 years is learning 123 & ABC. My wife reads like no other on her iPad mini. I learn how to fix my pool pump and stream Cox TV to the Garage or to watch a game out by the pool. Why would I need a PC to do that? Could I? yes. But why? Right.. Im intimidated. One final note. If I'm at a customer site and I need a "file system" I bring my Macbook Air... This was my first read of the day and a few of your lines got me started. Have fun reading that book with your WIndows 8 machine and file system. ;)
  • I appreciate what you have said and you made some great points. My saying that that iOS is great for people intimidated by a PC doesn't mean that I think it's only for those people however. I was just stating that if one is leery about a computer and wants a tablet, there is no better option than the iPad. My point is that it's straightforward and if it provides you with what you need then the straightforward approach is good.
  • Just to clarify, I hate windows. I also won't be getting surface. I have it on my lattop, I DON'T want it on my tablet.
  • Totally agree with you... perhaps Rene need's to think differently. I have a iPhone 5 that i use for work and used to have a iPad that never worked for what i wanted to do... Yes it has all the apps but they are compromise. Now i use the iPhone and Surface with windows 8 and have never been happier. Windows is not a liability ... its the best feature a tablet can have.
  • I couldn't agree more!. I too was once an apple fan, however, I realized that I did want something more portable for work. I tried the iPad and was disgusted. I couldn't run any programs I needed for work. I then bought a surface pro. I LOVED it. Now I have a SP3. I even use adobe CC on it. It's awesome. I then realized the limits my iPhone 5 had and I looked into windows phones. I bought a Lumia 1520 and I can do so much more on it than my iPhone! Who woulda thought. Once people realize this, and get off of the fan boy crap they will realize Microsoft is the apple of 07. Never thought id say this, but go windows. LOVE IT.
  • axllebeer says: "the iPad is absolutely the worst PC replacement." Tablets aren't PC replacements. They weren't designed to be.
  • Well, IMO it is. And the iPad wasn't designed as a PC replacement, but the Surface is Microsoft's answer to making that possible. Its not going to work for them, because the idea of no computer in the house at all (except the tablet) is still to scary for some people. That & the price. But still its a good attempt.
  • You say, in your opinion, tablets are designed to be PC replacements, but then say the iPad wasn't, then say the Surface is, then say it won't work, then say it's a good attempt. Not sure how to make sense of that. I think we're both almost saying the same thing...
  • I think that tablets could be what replaces the computer some day. I don't like the Surface personally, but I understand where they are going with it. When the iPad came out, its wasn't designed as a replacement for a full computer experience. And that's great because it wasn't supposed to be, that's not what it was designed for, correct. But now its success has turned others attention on how to compete with the success of the iPad. What can they do? Create a full computing environment with a great touch interface. The Surface is a full computer with touch overlay. People aren't ready to accept it because its still a newish concept. One of the things that I agree with Renè on is that Microsoft needs to get over the past and plan for the future. But, I personally think that another company, Google perhaps, will get it done before MS. Remember, the touch interface race was kicked off by the iPhone. And not too many years later, virtually all Smartphones have migrated to a full touch interface. Its only logical to extrapolate that the computer is next on the list to go all touch.
  • Gotcha. Thx for the clarification. I mostly agree. I think tablets being a replacement for a desktop depends greatly on what you do with a desktop. I think a good percentage of people never really needed the full power of a desktop, but that's all there was to buy. Then laptops came along and some people moved to those. Now tablets are here and some people are saying, "Ahh, that's all I really needed in the first place." In other words, tablets aren't a replacement, but a correction for misaligned technology. But there are still those that want and/or need desktop machines. I consider myself among that group, even though I am currently using a laptop. Sometimes we choose desktops for productivity purposes. Sometimes it's for overall power and peripheral capability. And sometimes we just like the sit-down desktop experience...keyboard in lap, mouse at the ready, and a couple of large monitors on the desk directly ahead. For us, a tablet will probably never be more than a playful accessory or expensive paperweight. I gave away my iPad last year. Having said that, I do think that tablets will continue to grow in power and capability. I don't think MS is behind the curve, but rather ahead. They have been truly innovative for the first time in their history (well, maybe the second) and have leap-frogged the competition. Now, that's not saying they got it right. Many adjustments will be required and if they listen to the crowd, they may make it work. But I think they are definitely moving (them and us) in the right direction. Tablets will continue to merge with laptops and apps will become much more productive. I predict (he-he!) that tablets will eventually become the default form factor, even for business. The choice to buy a desktop will be based solely on preference and desired experience. Eventually, even tablets will run large multiple monitor setups and multiple peripheral devices at will.
  • I completely agree with what you just said. That's pretty much what I've been trying to say in my many posts with this article. You described it much better thank you.
  • I don't know about better. Longer, perhaps. Thx!
  • You say "In other words, tablets aren't a replacement, but a correction for misaligned technology." as if it were a relatively unimportant thing. Instead, I think it's the key to the actual successes in the tablet market. Can an iPad replace my desktop/laptop? Not hardly! You're completely correct to point out the limitations. However, I think you're completely wrong to dismiss the value in those limitations. No, an iPad can't do everything a desktop can do, by any means - but what it can do, it can often do better than a desktop/laptop, precisely *because* of its limitations. It's a relatively foolproof computing appliance that requires almost no maintenance, and is flat-out simpler to use in many respects. And that has value. Even to many geeks like myself. I like having a simple, reliable machine that I don't have to worry about, thank you very much. I disagree strongly that making tablets 'more like laptops/desktops' is the proper direction, at all. Making them more complex means losing the simplicity and reliability that is their main advantage, and that I would argue has been the secret of their success. (The reduced size/weight and improved battery life from running simpler software doesn't hurt, either.) Trying to be everything to everybody results in a compromised mess; I say, let tablets be tablets, let desktops be desktops, and let each of them do what they do best. Look at the Surface. The standard iPad is already pushing the limit of something that's comfortable to hold and use, from a size/weight standpoint. The Surface is much larger, thicker and heavier, because it needs a faster processor and more screen area to run Windows software. And yet, it isn't enough, because the screen is cramped and hard to read when using non-Metro apps. In addition, to run Windows software, you have to put up with all the hassles of managing and maintaining a full desktop OS. (I won't even go into the by now well-documented schizophrenic nature of Windows 8 and the desktop/Metro split.) After doing all that, you end up with a machine that loses the advantages of a simple, limited OS; that's too heavy and clumsy to be a good tablet; and yet is too limited and compromised to be a good laptop. And this isn't just limitations of the hardware, either. Some Win8 tablet fans excuse the current size/weight by claiming that new CPU generations will let future Win8 tablets get closer to the size/weight of iPads; the thing they conveniently ignore is that the same process improvements will apply just as much to simpler tablet software - allowing even better battery life, better performance, or even smaller/lighter tablets. There are fundamental conflicts that won't go away just by throwing hardware at the issue, either; tablet portability and handheld use favor small screens, while desktop OSes favor a larger screen, keyboard, and pointing device. The Surface's Type Cover is a cute compromise, but it makes for a poor laptop (not usable on anything but a flat surface with enough room for the whole awkward stack) and a poor tablet (cover has to be a certain size to fit a typeable keyboard, and that constrains the size of the tablet). These are fundamental ergonomic issues that won't go away, short of another revolution in input that matches the way capacitive touch let phones get rid of hardware keyboards.
  • I think you misunderstand my intent. "You say "In other words, tablets aren't a replacement, but a correction for misaligned technology." as if it were a relatively unimportant thing. " I never implied that was unimportant, merely that it's what's happening. I meant exactly what I said. People are moving to tablets in droves, not because desktops are no longer important, but because the market is rebalancing to include a new form factor that people find attractive. (Misaligned technology = The technology people have doesn't match the technology they want or need.) And I wasn't dismissing the limitations of tablets, simply pointing out that some people will prefer tablets and some will prefer desktops...based on their needs. For example, I don't need a tablet, so I don't have one. But everyone's needs are different and for many a tablet is perfect. Finally, I never stated that making tablets more like laptops is the proper way to go, simply that it's what's starting to happen. Tablets and laptops are merging. That seems to be what people want. Portability and simplicity of a tablet, functionality and power of a laptop. That's why Windows 8 is indeed a good product for the current environment. It offers both mobile and desktop UI. Does it need work, yes. But it addresses the desire people have for their new mobile devices. Whether that is a good thing is not for me to decide.
  • "(Misaligned technology = The technology people have doesn't match the technology they want or need.)" Yes, exactly. And I think you're right that the tablet explosion is because of that. Which is why I think you're wrong to toss it off in passing, because I think that's a key factor in why Windows tablets have failed in the past, why they appear to be failing now, and why I think they'll continue to fail in the future. I think Windows technology - or, to be fair, desktop computer technology - is something that large numbers of customers didn't want or need, but they lacked an alternative. Now they have one that does most if not all of what they need, without the hassles of desktop computing - and they're going for it in droves. Which is why I agree with the thesis of the post. Making tablets more like desktop computers loses a - if not *the* - primary reason the current round of tablets have succeeded when so many Windows tablets failed in the past. "Finally, I never stated that making tablets more like laptops is the proper way to go, simply that it's what's starting to happen. Tablets and laptops are merging. That seems to be what people want." Why do you think so? That seems to be what *Microsoft wants to sell*, because that keeps their huge investment in Windows alive, and the Windows PC manufacturers are going along for the same reason. But I have yet to see any indication that the general public wants to buy it - or that anyone beyond a group of tech pundits, and people who hang out in the comments sections of tech websites, actually wants to use it. In fact, every bit of evidence I've seen so far points in the opposite direction. Surface sales have been anemic in the reports I've read. In anecdotal data: at local retailers, Asus' Windows tablets (RT and Clovertrail/Win8) are sitting on shelves and filling the returns section. Samsung canceled plans to release WinRT tablets. And I've yet to see any positive sales reports on any of the various hybrid models. In other words, I don't see any "desire people have for their new mobile devices" related to Windows 8, and plenty of indications that consumers do NOT in fact want them.
  • Why do you keep insisting that I am dismissing or tossing aside a point? What words of mine gives you that impression? You seem to be going out of your way to miss my point, which is odd given that we're pretty much saying the same thing.
  • One thing the add doesn't mention is the horrible amount of out of box storage you get with the windows 8 tablet. Why would I want something that only gives me about 30% of the advertised space to use?!
  • Agreed. Totally deceiving.
  • and the ability to expand with an external hard drive and Micro SD. Oh the horror.
  • There are limitations with external storage - with Windows RT tablets anyway.
  • Can you even run applications directly from the SD card? Is that one of the limitations that you are speaking of?
  • Wow did you really just say that without sarcastic intent? Or are you just so imbedded in the iJail ecosystem that you don't know better? (And FYI I am writing this on my iPad, my iPhone at my side, and in front of a TV with AppleTV.) Windows devices have UNLIMITED storage. It's called an SD slot. And you know what is just insanely neat? That you can just put any file - anything - music, video, documents - and just use it with the device! Instantly! You don't have to use a program on a PC to translate it, and then transfer it to your device. That's the biggest joke going, that its such a PITA to get anything but iTunes content on iDevices and practically impossible to do without a PC doing time consuming tasks. And documents? iPad works great as a PDF or CBX viewer but that's about it (and like the dark ages the best way to get them to your device is emailing it to yourself). I love my iPad - but it's limitations are severely apparent. It's good for web browsing, but even that is limited because of artificial, needless Apple BS (no Flash). There is no technical reason, it's just that Apple is in a perpetual peeing contest with another company. I'll never actually use my iPads full storage capability because anything but streaming is such a severe pain in the butt it's not worth it - for the times that I care about, say, watching a movie I just pack a portable DVD player. So much easier (plus I can still web browse on my iPad). I've read this site for several years now, and this is easily the most unbalanced article I have ever seen. Sure, the people who can't even use an ATM machine but can use an iPad to Skype with their grandkids aren't the audience of those commercials. I am - as much as I like my iPhone and iPad, my next tablet and phone purchases are increasingly likely to not be Apple products because the limitations are becoming far too much, and the apathy of Apple fans for them is increasingly desperate. Arguments that were mildly understandable in 2007 are laughable in 2013. But then again, this is the audience that bought a phone that couldn't send MMS until 2009 (even when crap phones from 2003 could - and for the record, I refused to buy an iPhone until this was possible, and it doesn't matter if it was because of the forced sole carrier or not - Apple allowed it). Apple may be the innovator, but everyone else is catching on to the game now and stepping it up. You get a heck of a lot more for your buck with an Android phone these days, and Apple is retaining people based on their reliance on the closed Apple ecosystem, not so much the features and abilities. Rene, I normally find you fair and even - but in this case, there is an anger clearly in your writing (so much so I won't be surprised if this article disappears by tomorrow) - but I think you might want to question why it upset you so. If its such a silly competitor ad, laugh at it - you seem so angry and bitter here, and I think it's because you may just be realizing those commercials may have had a point. Waxing about Jobs and his control-freak-in-an-elegant-design nature isn't going to distract from this inadequacy as time goes on. And I think this commentary shows that even someone who writes on an Apple fan site is starting to realize it.
  • Complexity sounds like a good selling point on paper because you can boast of having more features and people tend to equate more features with better overall value. However, the problem then comes when a consumer isn't getting more of what he wants, but instead ends up with more issues that he has to contend with. For them, complexity isn't a feature. Simplicity is. You can way lyrical about how your windows tablet laptop lets you use thumbdrives, supports mouse-input, supports multasking and so on, but for the people who bought an ipad, the Surface still fails to attract them where it counts the most - the user interface. Why was the first iphone such a success despite lacking obvious features like 3g and MMS? Exactly because it sported a revolutionary UI that allowed people to interact with their phones in ways never thought possible, so people were willing to overlook these shortcomings. Same with the ipad. These are the people who don't want a Windows interface. They like being able to activate apps with the push of an icon, how the very nature of apps lets them complete tasks more easily compared to traditional windows programs, how the app store consolidates every app out there in one central location, and so on. So the ipad can't run flash, lacks a filesystem, can't attach files in mail etc. These don't matter so much in the bigger scheme of things. For all we know, people may enjoy IOS more exactly because it doesn't support flash and has no file manager.
  • I think some of you are downplaying the ongoing development of the "mass market" that some of you folks make sound like Neanderthals making scratches on cave walls. My mom never used the Internet until this year, and just got her first computer. Yet she has fully understood for years how to take pictures with her phone, take the SD card out, and go have those pictures printed at Walmart. And she just doesn't understand why my "fancy phone" can't just do that. Just the fact that the public will always be behind the geeks in these matters does not mean that they are not growing more sophisticated. Windows 8 isn't much more difficult to use than iOS, and as time goes on the limitations that Apple gimps their products with matter more and more. And that's the kicker - it's not that they can't, it's that they won't because they can charge $100 for a lousy 16 extra GB on board instead of just giving people a microSD slot to have unlimited, convenient storage and file mobility. Sure, that little (but expensive) dongle they have (which they almost hide behind the counter) can do photos, but even there it's just a software gimp they won't let you use it for music, video, etc. Seriously guys, the general public isn't as dumb as you think, and they are getting smarter - Apple products are consistently premium priced, but other venues are offering more abilities that DO matter. Wake up guys - doesnt matter if its windows 8 or android, the numbers don't lie - the iPad needs to step up its game and get with 2013, not being stuck in Jobs paranoid 2008 mentality.
  • Your mum is the kind of non-technical user Rene is talking about but from an older generation. The same kind of user, (but not so old), wouldn't ever want to "print out her pictures" for example. There is also the issue of capability. Where I work I deal with a lot of folks who use laptops and the Internet in their daily work, but they still don't truly understand it. They *can* do all sorts of things that they've learned to do with these laptops over the years, but it still stresses them out trying to remember how to work the file system and the browser etc. They still prefer to use the iOS and find it much less stressful even though they *can* work the desktop as well. Not one of these people has anything less than a Masters Degree so they aren't dumb either.
  • You must not have read a lot of Renee's previous articles regarding anything produced by Microsoft. Because they're all shrouded in strong anti-Microsoft sentiment. This one is tame by comparison. It's his site and his opinion though, so you don't have to agree with it.
  • Shrouded, yes - but this level no, especially over a few ads about things he says no one cares about anyway. He doth protest too much, this time.
  • Worst BS I've ever read. Couldn't disagree more. I have a iPad, but it does absolutely nothing that my phone can't do. And it's horrible if you want to get work done. This is where a full windows 8 experience in tablet form is perfect. Most iPads are used by kids for gaming and Facebook. IPad is perfect for that!
  • I disagree that the iPad can only do everything that's one the iPhone. There are several apps that are only ipad -centric (idraw is a great example) there are also several apps that are way easier to use on a tablet than a phone such as garage band, iMovie, iPhoto, many 3d games ereaders cad apps office apps and more. Yes those can be done on an iPhone but its much easier on an iPad. I think this trend will continue. Now, do I agree with the article? NO! I think desktop features are very important in a tablet!! I don't think it matters windows or Mac or even android, but the market is still desperate for a good desktop experience on mobile. Microsoft didn't do what they needed to win that segment. What they don't realize is, while people do want their tablets to do more, they don't want two different environments. One integrated one done right, that's not confusing, or two seperate ones both with desktop like functionalities but different implementations is ideal. The current way has you Forced to use both, especially on a tablet. I think android and ios have the opportunity to capture the market. Give the iPad (or android tablet) file management, an ad card reader, more print options, more hardware power and push big software companies to start developing more productivity apps as well as even more good games! I would also slightly alter the iPad os similar to how android does on its larger tablets. Also, how has blackberry and android tried the desktop market and failed??? Both are mobile os's and blackberry failed due to lackluster software and android does sell some tablets well, they just need more tablet apps to compete!
  • And there are huge numbers of people who agree with you, evidenced by all the Surface tablets that are being sold, and the Tablet PCs being sold before them. You missed his point. The VAST MAJORITY of people aren't buying tablets because they want a traditional computer. They're buying it because there are many things they'd rather not do on their computer - read: almost everything that doesn't involve a full keyboard and mouse for serious work. You're a minority, and you're unaware that you are. It's surprising to me too, as I'd fall in your camp - consider myself a geek, intensely use my technology, but that's like 3-5% of the population, and the other 95% isn't trying to intensely squeeze every bit of utility out of their devices, demanding a keyboard and mouse and complexly configurable GUI at all times.
  • If you liked using desktop Windows (or OS X), you're not the main market for the iPad. (And you didn't read the article before commenting :) ) Apple didn't sell hundreds of millions of iPads by appealing to the hardcore PC user. They did it by doing the opposite. If the iPad is too limited for you, you're not the customer they were aiming for.
  • So the iPad is for Neanderthals, Neanderthals don't care about the features in the ads you aren't upset about - so why are we here talking about this?
  • Why should anyone take you seriously when you resort to calling people "Neanderthals" instead of presenting a logical argument? It's childish and you won't be taken seriously. So why are you here talking about this?
  • Follow the discussion, guy. I am not calling them Neanderthals. That's basically what Rene is doing, saying the mass market is full of people who just aren't smart enough to understand Windows. He keeps saying "iPad isn't for us (the geeks), it's for them" and about how these people are so inept they are confused by every other computing device. I disagree with both of those points, and for Apple's sake hope the future of the iPad isn't pinned on that market, because the people he is referring to who the iPad is supposedly "for" are one and done buyers who don't feel the need to get on the upgrade treadmill unless their device breaks. Why am I here? As an owner of several iDevices I feed this site for news and interesting discussion - and was bowled over by how over the top this commentary was and how I do not think it reflects reality. I have an iPad and an iPhone, and increasingly exactly for the reasons those commercials demonstrate it's more and more likely my next devices will not be iOS. But I'm being told they aren't for me, anyway, they are for people who don't know how to use a computer...the Technological Neanderthals who supposedly are the majority of the iPad market.