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The Next Microsoft - journal - minimally minimal


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Fascinating. Bold. I love it.

Let's talk about surface.

The reason why tech folks can't understand the surface is because they work from a computer all day; there is a need for something more than the iPad, but less than a traditional laptop.

I've used my iPad solely for the last two weeks to test this; no iPhone, no MacBook. The iPad is restricted in intentional ways that makes it both simple and elegant, and yet incredibly frustrating. The simplest actions from email to attaching documents online, are just not possible on an iPad. Imagine you are a single mom, a mechanic, a traveling businessperson -- you buy the iPad as your sole computing device, and it can do almost everything you need. However, the simple things it does not do will drive you crazy.

I needed to update my billing account from PayPal to a credit card, and literally it was and is impossible to do from the iPad-- I had to connect it to a computer to update my billing settings. Apple does not seem willing to completely cannabilizr Mac sales in favor of iPad.

People who think the Microsoft surface is just about the keyboard are missing the point. I'm typing this from my iPad and I'm typing, thanks to auto-correct, about 75% speed as a normal keyboard. Practice, makes perfect.

But consider email, I cannot even send an email from my mail account and attach Dropbox, iCloud, or google drive files directly via email. Literally, I open Dropbox, copy a link, go back to mail and paste the link. Rinse and repeat until all the files are "attached."

Anyone who has tried to upload documents from an iPad or send attachments via email knows this; anyone who goes from their iPhone to their MacBook air and wishes they could touch and manipulate the screen also knows this.

Not enough people in tech understand their user; how can someone who works from a computer 12-hours-a-day understand how a businessperson, who travels more than 200 days in the year, uses his iPad? They can't and they don't.

I once saw an entrepreneur I respect tweet that his iPad was worthless because he hadn't used it in a month. Dude, you work in software bro, why would you need an iPad after sitting in front of your screen for 80 hours/week plus never being away from your iPhone? If we don't even understand the use case for an iPad, how could we understand the need for the surface?

These same folks don't understand the surface.

I'm not sure microsoft will nail it, but after thinking more about it, and after using an iPad exclusively for a couple weeks, I'm more bullish than ever on this new surface device. Where they lack is their ecosystem; however, as they did with the Xbox if they are willing to build a few killer apps into their new device, allow folks to complete the 20% of things they can't do on their iPad, they might have a shot.

Bill Gates got it right when he said iPad are consumption devices and not creation devices.

If your iPad is your only computing device, or your primary device, creation becomes difficult.

And therein lies the opportunity for surface.

The opportunity for all the Android Tablets ("Tabloids"?) too.

Someone will get this right but many will get it wrong.

Some will be commercial disasters (like RIM Playbook) while others will be bought but then hated by consumers (hello Kindle Fire).

This movement is just beginning. Microsoft was too early the first time. Let's see if they can get it right this time.

Will it be a success like Xbox and Kinect?

Or will it be a disaster like Zune and Kin?

True. Given that surface and nexus 7 both were announced recently, it seems Microsoft has the leg up in the race.

Android tablets are a disaster, and unless google has a Nexus 10 that won't suck up their sleeves, it's MSFT's game to lose. The ball is in their court.

Ok, last thought. Both my mother and my sister are average tech consumers; they both recently purchased the same computer: some cheap, $350 netbook. I dislike this device with great intensity, haha. :)

However, I could not convince them to buy an iPad -- "because it's not a real computer," they told me -- and a MacBook air is much too expensive in comparison.

And that, I'm certain, is what Microsoft recognizes. The iPad doesnt really kill the netbook market; so much as it created an entirely new market. I'd love to see the statistics of how many folks own only an iPad and smartphone, or iPad-only as their computing device. I'd wager that it is not greater than 25%.

So for folks like my mother, my sister, and the myriads like them -- they really do want a $500 personal computing device that can do everything -- create and consume. The MacBook air is too expensive, the iPad is too limited.

Economically, that is where the surface comes in -- it has to be $500 or less, and it needs to be as robust as a MacBook air-lite. Also, the iPad is an inferior gaming device. It truly is. I'm not sure if it's the hardware (no physical buttons/tactile feedback) and a hardware peripheral could improve it or if it's just the games, but I find it incredibly challenging to have fun while playing 3D games on iPad. Frustration > reward, in the best iPad games I've tried. But I may need more time testing.

They bought Netbooks for $350 when they can buy full Windows laptops for less money?!

The market has gotten weird.

What's their primary use of the device? Web and email, right? Maybe a little word processing and slide decks?

That was the part of the market ChromeBook tried to go after but so far has failed.

And you're right that iPad won't get a lot better at that since that's what the Air is for.

So yes, Microsoft is very late to this game but still has a shot if the product is good.

Look how many Kindle Fires have sold and the product isn't even good.

So iPad succeeded in giving Microsoft the courage to try.

We'll see what people say about Surface once there are actually millions of users.

Microsoft just needs some additional security and that is where I (itSoftware) come in!

Very exciting and good convo

Jared, is developing for Surface's Windows 8 SDK any different from developing for other Windows 8 SDK's?

I don't actually know anyone developing for it yet.

Yes, Jared would love to hear about windows 8 development; it could be an interesting gaming platform.

Adam, I believe they purchased some Asus or Acer device. I had to borrow to upload and do some editing/creation when my iPad restricted me from getting work done. Web, email, docs and Facebook. And I say Facebook separately because folks really do consider Facebook another facet of computer use. My sister is an aspiring writer.

iPad is its own market; surface could be the "future of the PC" and so in a way, it's not late to the game, but ensuring they beat Apple there.

I used my kindle fire for a week -- ugh, I'm not a fan. I do love my regular kindle.

And yes, I believe Microsoft has correctly identified a market need -- it's anybody's guess until we get to use it to know if they can deliver.

//

and as always, a Nolan film quote. Cobb is the customer, Saito is Steve Ballmer/Sinofsky. Or is if reverse?

Cobb: [regarding Saito's job] If I were to do this, if I even could do it, I'd need a guarantee. How do I know you can deliver?

Saito: You don't. But I can. So, do you want to take a leap of faith? Or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? [Cobb says nothing] Assemble your team, Mr. Cobb. And choose your people more wisely.

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