Microsoft struggles to the Surface
Microsoft’s woes can be summed up in its powerful but unloved line of tablets. They’re the “anti-iPad” – particularly in sales…
Truth by Duncan Bell
Microsoft has done many fine things over the years. It’s made computers omnipresent in homes and offices, it gave us Xbox and Halo, it developed Windows XP, made some quite nice mouses and, um, there was that advert where Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates journeyed to a universe beyond awkwardness… and now I’m dry.
Windows Phone 8 aside – and that’s hardly been all roses – you have to say the company has struggled to get with it in the modern era. It’s like your dad trying to twerk; its thinking is foggy and confused. It can’t remember where it left its pipe and what are those damn kids doing on its lawn, with their “tablets”? Why, they don’t even come with a stylus; how will anyone stock-take in a warehouse with this kind of new-fangled nonsense? Indeed, Microsoft’s issues are summed up by the Surface. There’s nothing wrong with the specs, but the way they’re marketed is just, well, awful.
The first one should have been presented to punters specifically as the anti-iPad, a bit like Samsung did with its Note range. “It runs Windows 8. It’s powerful. It’s got a keyboard… You can do proper work on it.”
In fact, Microsoft sort of did that, but then it all got muddied, to the point where the message was this: “It runs Windows 8… Except on the versions that don’t. It’s powerful… apart from the versions that aren’t. It’s got a keyboard… But you don’t need one and it’s not very good anyway. You can do proper work on it… But hey, it’s fun, too!”
To make these compelling points superclear they then made an ad for it with a bunch of hipster douches dancing with joy at, er… being able to do their accounts more easily, or something, on this powerful device (as long as it was the powerful one).
The first Surface – surprise surprise – was not a huge success. It did “solidly” though, and could have been a platform for a much better follow-up. One big criticism of Surface 1.0 was the less powerful, Windows 8 RT version, which combined all the fun of Windows 8 with all the processing power and pro features of an early iPad.
So how did the Big M, as nobody calls it, address this for v2.0? That’s right: it kept making them, but just stopped mentioning they used RT in their names. Genius!
The underlying problem, of course, was that with Windows 8, Microsoft had designed a version of its OS for touchscreen use, because that was the hip and groovy thing to do, without thinking, “Now why would our users want touchscreen control and how could we make it work for them?”
The result was billion-dollar losses and a change in CEO, but if Microsoft continues with its “Millennium Edition” thought process – multiple versions of its OS, gearing everything for power users rather than casual consumers, change for the sake of change – it could eventually have consequences that are terminal rather than merely embarrassing.