Bill Gates foresees a future without PCs or tablets - where there are only "Surface-like devices" - he told PBS chat show host Charlie Rose last night. Evangelising about the new Microsoft tablet – Surface – Gates sketched out his vision for a world where everyone is using the Surface, saying that the device which promises to …
Is this surface something tangible or is it a virtual surface.
This may come back to haunt him, such a late arrival to the surface that they may find it hard to make inroads to an already established genre. It will have to be very very special and have an impact like the first tablet had.
This of course is doubtful.
The 'problem' with the MS tablets of 5-7 years ago were that (a) they were squeezing a desktop OS designed around mouse+keyboard into a touch form factor, and (b) the hardware still wasn't good enough at the time to support a great user experience.
(b) was hardly MS's fault, although they could have insisted on higher standards or waited for some tech to mature... but (a)??? I mean, can you imagine if Apple tried to cram OSX into an iPhone or iPad? It would have been a disaster, and I suspect that's where Windows 8 is heading. MS want to leverage their desktop dominance on mobile, and MS are well aware that their desktop dominance is based on availability of apps. If they start from scratch from a new mobile platform, a lot of code needs to be re-written before that mountain of apps can be leveraged. Hence the insistence that the mobile platform be able to run desktop software.
But I think that line of reasoning is flawed because most of the desktop apps written for MS are specifically desktop apps, developed with the idea that the user is sat at a desk, and many of them will not 'translate' well to a mobile platform. Apple on the other hand, love them or loathe them, worked it out right in the sense that they got mobile developers developing specifically mobile apps for iOS and the don't really care that their OSX software runs on iOS.
Of course this is also a rational decision made at a time when desktop computers are still significantly more powerful than tablets. Quite possibly 5 years from now when tablets are more powerful than the most powerful current desktop, the ideal form factor will be the surface MS is proposing (really pioneered by the Asus Transformer) where the tablet is the computer and the keyboard and everything else is just an accessory
Microsoft sold the first tablet form factor PC, but it was rubbish since it was about using a stylus to take notes and completely about office or academic users.
It was not pitched as a consumer device and all the uses that brings.
They still haven't really learned that it can be better to create a new device and OS just for that use case. Instead they're hobbling desktop users to keep the tablet users happy.
"Anyway tally-ho, I'm just off to the shops in my 'Carriage-like-device'."
Doesn't much matter if it were called a 'carriage-like-device', an 'automobile' or a 'car', they still sell just fine. Since when did marketing become more important than the product? Or are we no longer engineers?
"Since when did marketing become more important than the product? Or are we no longer engineers?"
Umm, ever since we lived in the real world. Yes we're engineers but non-engineer people (and also engineer people) who live in this real world select the products they buy using criteria other than a series of technical 'top trumps' scores.
"Umm, ever since we lived in the real world. Yes we're engineers but non-engineer people (and also engineer people) who live in this real world select the products they buy using criteria other than a series of technical 'top trumps' scores."
Yes, but that does not mean that when people debate these devices, they should debate them on the merits or not of the marketing techniques. We should debate them on their actual merits and faults. To read these forums these days, you'd think that clever marketing was the highest virtue of a company, rather than the art of manipulating people's opinions which is what two thirds of it is.
"Apple have proved that is the case repeatedly."
Turns out Apple can actually make some reasonably engineered products, too. With all the gloss in the world, the various iWhatevers would have floundered if they hadn't had a pretty slick UI and serious integration work.
History is littered with great inventions that failed for their time for non-technical reasons. The shining example being Betamax (readers under 35 will probably have to look that one up).
Whilst Sony were busy getting Betamax to be techincally superious to VHS, the VHS guys were quietly doing deals with Hollywood studios for exclusive VHS releases of movies. When the war of the formats hotted up VHS won hands down.
Thing is, Sony *learned* from this. Which is why they went on a massive spending spree in the 90s, buying up studios and record companies - remember the Prince/George Michael sagas ?
So, yes, sometimes it is about marketing.
he has a crap-load of shares, and Microsoft have pretty much bet the company on this vaporware.
Things are even bleaker for Microsoft now than than their "who, where did the internet come from?" moment they had back when.,
I'm pretty sure Windows8RT will fail, and "proper" Windows 8 won't far much better. Total lack of interest, and lots of laughter when people see MetroUI.
I seem to remember a sweaty gibbon leaping round telling us the same about slates:
Change "slate" for "surface" and you've pretty much got a ready made statement:
"You'll see new slates with Windows on them. You'll see them this Christmas," he told an audience of students, staff and journalists at the London School of Economics.
"Certainly we have done work around the tablet as both a productivity device and a consumption device," he said.
I think I remember Bill Gates being on stage as CEO at the Windows Vista launch... oh and the Zune too.
Both wildly successful products on the market. /s
Or the very successful (again /s) ads he made with Seinfeld in 2008?
Maybe he used so much hype it ran out? But I'm glad he regained his skills in another field.
I'm assuming you are not being ironic; others have taken you at face value too.
Gates is pathetic on stage. He just comes over as a burbling geek, or like a lowly MS employee who has suddenly been thrust in front of the cameras. The only reason people listen to him is because they know he [still, just about] has some influence so it is politic to know what he is thinking. Surely only the hardest MS fanboys listen because they actually admire him.
He is hopeless at thinking on his feet. Depart from the script and he deflates like a baloon. Look at this :-
I am not blaming him for the technical failure, but for the fact that he was completely incapable of handling the situation. Anyone in a public position like his should have come out with aplomb.
Its sad to see someone who had such an impact on the world with the software his company produced (even if a lot of it was bought in and improved) doing his best to sale something that is too late, will be too expensive compared to the opposition and doesn't have the wow factor of the ipad for many consumers.
Now Google have bought Quickoffice I forsee it being updated and included in a future update to Android ICS and Jelly Bean.
Who will want to spend maybe 3 times as much for a windows machine when then can get a nice Android one that will do everything they want out the box without having the bloatware that is windows Office.
As too the surface replacing the PC, I'll have some of what he's smoking please
Theres is this difference between:
* Consuming information/creativity.
* Producing information/creativity.
When consuming, a touch pad is more than enough, you are basically reading a book with pictures/movies.. But when I am producing information/creativity I feel like I need 6 more arms, and a lot of keyboards/input devices to keep up with me. So even a PC with fancy logitech keyboard, and mouse with 10 buttons will just not do.
I am not sure that surface can deliver, or that I will be running to my desktop as soon as I want to input something more than a few sentences, like I do now.
"Bill Gates foresees a future without PCs or tablets - where there are only "Surface-like devices"."
Gates could begin his new vision by getting his 'old' company to (a) fix up existing Windows, (b) Drop Windows 8 or fix it, (c) bring out a version of Windows that users could properly configure the way they want, and (d) get Microsoft to act like a normal non-monopolistic corporation which acts reasonably towards its customers.
Gates has never been a good futurist, let him first finish the unfinished projects that he knows something about then he can pontificate.
Err, let's see: Chairman, former CEO and founding member of the world's largest software company, who was pretty much responsible for putting a PC on every desk. Now, I know if it wasn't MS it would have been someone else, but: Hell yes, anyone who isn't stuck in an Anti-MS, "everything they do is evil" mindset cares what Bill Gates has to say about computing.
Keep in mind people were doing exactly what they were doing. It's not like MS DOS was the only DOS but MS played dirty and made software that intentionally didn't work with other versions of DOS.
And given all the competition they had killed off with unfair tactics I'd argue we'd be much better off without them.
But as well his original point stands. Gates isn't good at predicting the future. The only thing they did well is stuff people were already doing but something they gained through underhanded tactics. Even when Gates was in control and they tried going outside their safe zone, in mobiles for instance, they failed and they didn't exactly set the world on fire with PDAs. If anything they helped kill them sooner.
>> Now, I know if it wasn't MS it would have been someone else,
The PC market of the late seventies and early eighties was fractured in a dozen different ways. Incompatible hardware. Incompatible software.
The two unifying forces were MBASIC (and other Microsoft programming languages) cross-platform --- and in the business world CP/M.
What Microsoft delivered to IBM was a serviceable 16 bit CP/M clone. The Holy Grail for every hacker who wanted an entry into the 16 bit sweepstakes.
MSDOS at retail was $50. 1/5 the price of CP/M-86, It broke the tightly woven bond between OEM hardware and OEM software that is Apple's model to this day,
The MSDOS PC was a viable commercial product before the cloning of the IBM PC BIOS.
The modular design of the IBM PC and PC compatible meant that the tech would advance rapidly and that incremental upgrades of your system would be both attractive and affordable.
"Thank you for showing that there are still people here who were around before 1998.
I was beginning to think that ElReg audience now consisted only of 13-year-old fanboys of various factions."
Well for me you can multiply 13 a few times, but I still don't entirely agree with Westlake. Funny you should think that everyone who witnesses the same thing should all agree on how it was. Perhaps you will come to learn human nature better.
ElReg!comments!Pierre wrote :- "What you read in my comment does not seem to match what I actually typed"
Perhaps I was reading into it more than you meant.
Westlake's effective main point was that there was no alternative to MS in getting personal computing off the ground. You seemed to agree with him, and in saying so seemed to suggest that anyone else around before 1998 would agree with him too.
I was around before 1998 however and did not agree with his main point, and that is what I meant by commenting that different people can witness the same thing, live through the same events, but see it differently and come out of it with different opinions - even at the time let alone 30 years after. I did bridle a bit at the implication that anyone who did not accept the Westlake viewpoint must be a 13yo fanboy.
Sorry if I mis-interpreted your post; perhaps the thread had got derailed a bit.
> Perhaps I was reading into it more than you meant.
It would appear so.
I am certainly no MS apologist. I was actually not on the MS bandwagon when they were "hot" -read hacker-friendly- 20 or so years ago (at that time I was a 13-years-old fanboy dead-bent on fighting MS actually; with age -and the death of my platform of choice- I've grown out of that phase. I still don't use MS products when I have a choice: I'm that stubborn).
I was merely welcoming the outing of other dinosaurs...
I think the other company best placed at the time was DR, IBM also knew this hence their software was available for PC, but they didn't take IBM's PC efforts seriously and we know where that ended up. I also think Acorn in the UK had a good chance, had they got the US market sorted, which never happened for various reasons.
It's also nice to hear people still remember that MS was a significant company pre PC/MS DOS.
Yes DR were definitely a player back then, My first 8086 PC had DR GEM as the GUI (prior to that it was Z80's with CPM). Everyone seems to forget that one when the GUI wars are discussed. It was okay, but as you say DR never took their competition seriously and suffered because of it. Oh those were the days though, 3 months salary to buy a basic machine with no hard drive, a monochrome monitor and no real software to run on it.... I did get a hard drive eventually - it was 5mb
@CarlC - I had an Amstrad PC1512, which came with DR's GEM and IIRC MS DOS, I managed to get a 21MB 8 bit MFM hardcard, which took up the whole of the full sized card bay. I never really got on with GEM, I was interested in it, but I just didn't really "get it", I guess there was no software and it was already getting easier and easier to get MS software through the shareware market and cover disks.
Yes, mildly amusing how some people eat up on historical half truths, propaganda and the words of dodgy lawyers to construct a hate driven universe in their own, small, minds. A little tedious however to see fiction endlessly repeated as if fact.
@westlake. Indeed. In fact Microsoft were a far more satisfactory and honest company to deal with in the 80s and into the 90s compared with pretty much all the large software companies DR, IBM, Lotus, WordPerfect, Ashton-Tate etc. Around 1985 it was critical to divorce applications from vendor-specific hardware in order to turn the potential of ubiquitous personal computing into a reality. Microsoft were the only major company to full commit fully, with at least some attempt at a medium/long term vision rather than the 'my company car is bigger than yours' short term sales driven philosophy guiding their competitors.
Incidentally. I believe there is a case for saying Windows became a success despite Steve B, then leading the OS division, but to be fair the bloke was no fool and not the clown-like caricature that makes him a favourite on elReg. Hate to admit it but found him very helpful on a couple of occasions. Curious how some people get obsessed about celebrities and other people they have never met in person.
Someone rightly wrote :
>> Now, I know if it wasn't MS it would have been someone else, <<
Westlake replied :
>Who? .. MSDOS at retail was $50. 1/5 the price of CP/M-86, <
That was because CP/M 86 was a minority OS, sold as an alternative to the default MSDOS. If Digital Research had got the IBM contract, you do not seriously think that IBM would have tolerated it being such a price? In exchange for the huge default markert IBM were offering (and MS got instead) DR would have been only too happy to reduce the price, given that it costs very little to make further copies of software. Like the 8-bit CP/M on my home computer at the time was a "free" accessory.
I remember the excitement and relief when IBM came into the PC market. It legitimised PCs for normal office work (as opposed to being for games or highly technical work). Where I worked in an engineering department, before the IBM PC our directors looked askance at my group having a mini-computer (PDP-11) as they considered it a toy and suspected we played games on it (at lunch time we did); the IBM PC changed that attitude.
And we (I am talking about me and the other techies) knew that *whatever* OS and other software IBM chose would become a unifying standard - whether it had been written by MS, DR , DEC or any other company.
What MS did and IBM didn't do was to slash the price of operating systems and walk into the big iron market and give it a damn hard kick up the arse. The likes of IBM, HP, Compaq, DEC, UNISYS, Honeywell, etc, etc all sold exorbitantly expensive hardware and software linked together. There were few, if any, truly independent software companies, except for MS. Compaq reverse engineered the IBM PC and started producing clones, IBM didn't really care because they didn't think the PC would take off, the common element is MS-DOS and it's ability to run on multiple machines from different manufacturers. CP/M was the de-facto non mainframe/mini hosted business OS, you can protest that MS are/were irreverent all you want, but this is simply not true.
There were few, if any, truly independent software companies, except for MS.
Come again? I don't know what a "truly independent software company" might be in this context, but this statement certainly looks like a load of nonsense to me.
We're talking circa 1981, yes? So for microcomputer software there was VisiCorp (named "Personal Software" until 1982), Digital Research (already mentioned numerous times in the comments, of course), Ashton-Tate, and others. I don't know if you're excluding companies that also sold hardware (for some unguessable reason), but if not there were also the various microcomputer hardware/software firms, including SCP, who wrote the original QDOS / 86-DOS.
At the mainframe end there were such software firms as Cullinet, the rather important Applied Data Research (said to be the first ISV, first recipient of a software patent, sued IBM for monopolistic activity, etc), and of course the rapacious CA.
Between them you had the minicomputer software market, which was mostly served by specialty software firms for vertical markets. American Business Software is one example; ASK Group is another (though they broadened their product portfolio over the course of the '80s). There were also some companies making more general-purpose software for minis, such as Access Technology and its spreadsheet product.
Mainframe and Mini are irrelevant in terms of what we're talking about, which is putting a PC on every desk. In those terms, there were very few companies who were producing Operating Systems which were affordable and functional. Of those companies the main contenders were MS and DR, as discussed earlier DR blew it.
> Hell yes, anyone who isn't stuck in an Anti-MS, "everything they do is evil" mindset
You mean people who are either have no knowledge of the facts or morals ?
I simply will not fund a company that it having such a malign influence of our daily lives, who are damaging innovation for everyone and who use their position to make sure competition cannot exist on an anywhere fair playing field (hence why they owe the EU 1 billion US dollars)
Want an example of how MS are damaging us ?
How about their support for such laws as PIPA and ACTA (if we didn't fund these shits they wouldn't be able to lobby in support of such bad laws), and how abouts the fact they have lobbied our government to abandon the principle of using open standards - this is far worse when you consider that MS are jacking up the cost of the licenses (which if were not using open standards means being dependent on MS.)
It angers me so much that as a tax payer I HAVE to fund this hideous company when there is no reason at all - when they gained their monopoly in the 90's you could argue that there was really no competition, that is just not the case now.
NO government dept 'needs' to run any Microsoft products.
@Yossarianuk: "...I simply will not fund a company that it having such a malign influence of our daily lives, who are damaging innovation for everyone and who use their position to make sure competition cannot exist on an anywhere fair playing field ..."
You mean you don't use Google?
No Gates was not responsible for "putting a PC on every desk". Zylog, Alan Sugar, and Gary Kildall were maybe responsible for mine, for example. The idea of a personal computer for everyone was already well established before Gates happened to get a contract to supply software for a particular IBM project.
I was around at that time and most guys I knew already had some type of home computer. Those other types did fall by the wayside because of Wintel PCs, but there is no question that the market for desktop computers was going ballistic with or without Gates, IBM or any other individual or company.
I maintain that Gates retarded the development of desktop PCs with his buggy software. Most people accepted it as they had never seen any better, but those who had regarded DOS and Wintel with contempt; but for a time there was little or no alternative.
a) What in particular needs fixing in Windows, personally I find Windows 7 a far more stable and faster OS then MacOsx.
b) Why would he drop Windows8 when it will unify all devices mobile and desktop. Kind of what Apple are also trying to do by the way.
c) Are you joking Windows is far more configurable than MacOsx, including that thing that makes it practical for Business, group policy.
d)Again, are you being serious, Apple are far nastier than Microsoft these days with their endless lawsuits and monopolistic practices.
I think you'll find that the pc boom was more or less instigated by Gates, something which has made microsoft the massive and powerful company it is today. Apple will not be around for ever, as soon as something cooler comes on the market they'll fade away, it's happened before and will happen again. Microsoft have been far shrewder branching into the business world and also the gaming world and creating a solid base for itself, so that it's immune to passing fads and fashion.
you hate w8 which hasn't been released? Hmm. I don't have hardware to try the latest release but most of the cries on the internet seem to be from folks who've heard it's crap not actually sat down and used it for more than a minute.
Like the unity rage most of the noise is from people who haven't tried it.
w8 HAS been released. Twice.
First the Developer Preview
Then the Consumer Preview
It just hasn't gon on sale yet.
As someone who has used both releases of Windows 8 thus far, I can tell you that yes, unless they change it so completely between now and when it goes on sale that it really bears no resemblance to what is currently known as "Windows 8", it is and will be crap.
Steve Jobs recognized the difference between tablets and PCs and likened it to the difference between cars and trucks. Extending that metaphor, Bill Gates just told us that we won't need cars and trucks, Windows minivans for everyone is the future.
Sorry Bill, you could not be more wrong.
"Extending that metaphor, Bill Gates just told us that we won't need cars and trucks, Windows minivans for everyone is the future."
Argument by metaphor is only good for rhetoric and explaining things who can't understand the facts. Tablets have a use. Laptops have a use. This is a device that appears to do both very well. Your metaphor breaks down in that minivans have disadvantages relative to those things you propose they replace. There appears to be no disadvantage that the Surface has over a laptop or over a tablet - it is both. The only question is cost. And as the WindowsRT version is to be priced competitively with the iPad apparently, and the Pro version to be priced competitively with Ultrabooks, both tablets and ultrathin laptops are likely to be at a competitive disadvantage to this product. Avoid argument by analogy - it is too often inadequate and just used to try and convince people of what you want them to think by substituting elements that better suit ones conclusion.
You: "So you've been using a MS Surface then? Otherwise saying it does both well without having actually used it would be pretty stupid."
Me: "This is a device that appears to do both very well"
I've watched the demonstration. It seems to be a near complete product awaiting only mass production (which presumably is in process now as they're talking about release dates before the end of the year for the ARM version). So yes, I stand by my comment. From what I've seen and what I can conclude, it looks like it will do both very well. Also, you might look up 'inductive reasoning' at some point.
"There appears to be no disadvantage that the Surface has over a laptop or over a tablet - it is both"
Or it is neither, depending on your point of view.
Can I plug it into my 28 inch monitor and firewire audio interface so I can run Logic Audio on it in my studio? Thought not. That's what my laptop's for. I'm a creator of content, I need devices to get that content into the digital world. Poking at shiny things with my stubby fingers is of no interest to me.
the Surface will feature a mini-HDMI and the Surface Pro will feature a Mini DisplayPort which should I guess) enable you to connect a 28 inch monitor to the device.
As for Firewire - I guess not. Seems Surface will rely on USB (3 on pro, 2 on regular)
That being said though - I don't see much standing in the way of "surface-like devices" arriving that do have firewire or other differences. Much like my laptop does not support Firewire, whilst yours do.
How do you square the circle of powerful CPU + tiny form factor + battery life? Not to mention touch vs keyboard & mouse.
Oooh, it's a magic surface that uses alien battery technology
Anyone who's used an iPad and is a power user of Macs/PCs would know this.
Gates is blowing smoke -- and he must be well aware that he's attempting to get a legless donkey walking.
Docking stations? The bulk of heavy duty work is likely to be conducted at a desk so you could dock the tablet to a large screen/better keyboard/mouse etc but it still becomes very portable for use on trains or on the move etc. Also, can simply remove from the dock to do some of the lighter work (eg emails, consume content etc) on the sofa. From a business point of view this allows a massive peripherals market to spring up around the device (which if is using USB rather than specific proprietary connection ports would allow many players into this market) as well as native windows products to be used on it (excel, word etc) which are still used by most businesses. Obviously CPU vs battery life vs heat will be an issue and will not suit the more intensive 'power users' but what % of the market does that really make? Apple have proved there is a market for tablet devices so if M$ can make them more of an enterprise product (eg what the Blackberry Playbook should have been without failing monumentally) then there exists a market for it - potentially even beside leisure tablets (eg Ipad...)
@Horned-Devil - I tend to agree, until this announcement I was seriously thinking about getting a Samsung Series Seven slate - i5 processor, 4gigs of RAM, 128GB of solid state storage. The device itself is not too bulky and has a dock to connect up the second monitor, ethernet, USB and keyboard/mouse/etc. The general consensus is that you get about four hours battery life, which is fine by me. It's no supercomputer but would replace three separate devices more than adequately for my requirements.
This device would be to replace my workstation and laptop and give me a tablet-like device. I am now waiting for the Surface pro to see what the competition is like.
> until this announcement I was seriously thinking about getting a Samsung Series Seven slate
> I am now waiting for the Surface pro
In the 80s and 90s Microsoft used vapourware to stop people buying the competition and wait while MS wrote their own product.
Now they use the same tactic to stop people buying Windows machines. They did this to Nokia as well. With each new version of WP7 products they announced 'wait for the next version'. The most recent is 'Wait for Apollo/WP8 (and don't buy current Nokias because they won't get this)'.
Obviously MS announced Surface to take the heat from iPad3, iPad7.8 and Google's tablet. It is failing.
"Obviously MS announced Surface to take the heat from iPad3, iPad7.8 and Google's tablet. It is failing."
Isn't the title of your post "VapourWare working" and a response to someone saying they were holding off until the Surface became available? And I am too, incidentally. They said available this autumn with the Pro version three months after the RT version. It's been in development for three years, They've demo'd working prototypes. What evidence do you have that this isn't going to appear? I am willing to bet that when it comes out you will move seamlessly from saying it never will to saying why it will fail without the slightest acknowlegement that you were ever wrong.
> a response to someone saying they were holding off until the Surface became available?
Exactly. The post said they were not going to buy a Windows 7 slate and would wait for Surface. That is what vapourware announcements are intended to do - stop people buying. However, not buying Windows 7 will hurt MS. This vapourware will not stop people buying iThings or Android.
> What evidence do you have that this isn't going to appear?
I never said it _won't_ appear. In fact I said it will be 2 or 3 quarters, exactly as MS said and you repeated. Vapourware is not applied to stuff that will never appear, but to stuff that is announced and will not appear for several months (which may drag out to years).
As I said, the announcement was made just prior to Google's and before the likely announcement by Apple of a speculated 7.8" iPad specifically to try to grab some press and stop people buying them and to wait 'just a few more months'. Exactly what is called vapourware.
You may note that while some Surface was demoed the keyboards weren't and they were quickly passed before too much could be done with them - because they aren't finished yet.
There are two modes of operation; touch and Keyboard+mouse. These are mutually exclusive; anyone who's used an iPad and Mac (or Windows or Linux) will know this.
When I'm using my iPad on the train, I need a lightweight system that is easy to use and biased towards large fingers. I need built-in 3G mobile. I don't want size. I need to be able to use the thing in portrait (less space) and use my thumbs for typing. The applications need to be optimised for this mode of operation. I MUST have massive battery life; if I'm flying I want the thing to work for a good 10 hours or a lot more if it's just music.
When I'm using my Mac as a laptop, or as at the moment as a desktop, I need a large screen (or two), a keyboard and a mouse. I need the user interface to be optimised for this. I generally need lots of CPU to run various virtual machines, development environments, Adobe Fireworks, full on Office applications, a proper email client and shit loads of browser windows and tabs. I need lots of expansion; several USB's as a minimum. Generally I will plug the said lappie into the mains, or can accept a 4 hour life -- I'm prepared to go easy on the machine if I need to extend the battery life.
Back to my point... How the hell can you square this circle? A tablet needs to be LIGHT, supreme battery life, and optimised for touch. A lappie is the opposite.
That's why there's two completely different products; an iPad lookalike (that's WinRTSurfaceSlate) and a normal OS (that's Win8). The smoke that's currently being emitted from Ballmer's & Gates' jacksies is just FUD -- it's right out of their wrinkly old playbook.
"Or it is neither, depending on your point of view."
Not really a matter of point of view. It looks like it has a superset of the functionality of both tablets and ultrabooks (at least the Pro version fully does, the ARM is a bit more of a mix) without corresponding losses. That's the point of why the minivan analogy was such a poor one. You don't give up any tablet functionality by having a detachable keyboard - detach it and it is a tablet, for example. Even the stated weight is comfortably within range for tablet usage.
"Can I plug it into my 28 inch monitor"
Unless your monitor is old and lacks modern interfaces, then presumably yes. The RT version has built in HDMI and the Pro version has Display Port if I recall correctly. In the event that your monitor is legacy hardware only, you can get adaptors between these interfaces.
" and firewire audio interface so I can run Logic Audio on it in my studio?"
This argument would be germaine if Firewire were a standard thing on laptops. But it isn't. Aside from most laptop users probably not wanting or needing to run Logic Audio on it in their studio, the Surface does come with USB 3.0, so with an adaptor (typically a few quid from Amazon), yes, you can.
"Poking at shiny things with my stubby fingers is of no interest to me."
But your stubby fingers are a constant whether discussing laptops, tablets or hybrids. Therefore we can remove this as a factor from consideration.
"There appears to be no disadvantage that the Surface has over a laptop or over a tablet - it is both"
I think there are real disadvantages, but of course there are two separate products we are talking about.
"The only question is cost. And as the WindowsRT version is to be priced competitively with the iPad apparently, and the Pro version to be priced competitively with Ultrabooks"
Its not just cost, though I think that might be a real defining issue. There are a lot of subtle factors that people don't pick up on until after something fails/succeeds. You own a WP7 device, so you know that even having decent enough hardware and software is not enough to succeed against Apple and Google.
I think I am a typical user, I have a iPad (Gen3) for home use (plus a bunch of various generations of iPod Touches floating around at home) and a boring HP 15" ProBook running Win7 for work. Given the iPad is the most popular tablet by far, and Win7 the most popular OS in the workplace, I must be one of millions set up like this.
Surface RT; doesn't run any of the Windows apps that I own, doesn't run my iPad apps. Given a choice of a iPad with a vast 'ecosystem' of apps and accessories I can't see much point in getting the Surface unless it was much cheaper. I already have a choice of Android tablets like the Transformer at a similar price, but perceive them as a little more clunky and not worth the effort of moving all the stuff I have set up in iTunes. (The Nexus 7 does appeal as a smaller/cheaper tablet for e-reading though)
When I brought the iPad I looked at cases with keyboards, but decided it was pointless - if I need a keyboard for a lot of typing, I use the family computer (good old XP) or my laptop.
Surface Pro. More expensive, less connectivity and much smaller screen than my 15" notebook.
Main advantage of the Pro is portability, (touch is not great when doing actual work), but if I wanted that, could buy an Ultrabook right now (<cough> like a Macbook Air) running Win7 that I am familiar with.
But I (like most people currently not buying Ultrabooks) don't want that trade off with a little extra portability for a lot more price, for doing actual work. Most of the time the notebook 15" screen is running as a 2nd screen to the 23" on the desktop when I am working, but when unplugged and on battery I still want to be able to work with as much screen real-estate as possible .
> And as the WindowsRT version is to be priced competitively with the iPad apparently,
It was implied that the Surface RT was to be priced the same as an existing tablet, possibly the same as an iPad3 or top Samsung. Given that OEMs were reluctant to make these because of the cost, it is likely that MS may be subsidizing these, or at least not charging themselves the $80 licence fee.
The surface RT is the first ARM product with 'full' Windows and this is the first of the rewritten kernel. The app store is unproven. This means that even if it is the same price as an iPad3 it is nowhere near 'competitive'.
Anyway Apple can easily drop iPad2 prices and still be profitable.
> and the Pro version to be priced competitively with Ultrabooks,
It may be the same price but that does not make it 'competitive'. Ultrabooks are a style item, Surface is not.
Anyway, Surface will not be out for 2 or 3 quarters, other companies will not sit on their hands waiting for MS to take [some of] the market. That is in fact what Nokia complained about: "We could have sold more if the competition shut down development".
"Anyway, Surface will not be out for 2 or 3 quarters, other companies will not sit on their hands waiting for MS to take [some of] the market."
Sounds like it will be out sooner than that and as far as MS are concerned, if the Surface causes other manufacturers to up their game as you say and produce better Win8 products, then that's still a win for both MS and for the public.
> if the Surface causes other manufacturers to up their game as you say and produce better Win8 products
The reason that MS will produce their own 'Surface' tablets is that 'other manufacturers', ie the MS OEMs, did not want to, or indeed could not because the cost of components plus MS's $80 fee for licences made it completely uneconomical. MS's spec limits what components can be used, just as for WP7, and this makes them a huge risk because they could be obsoleted quite quickly, just as every WP7 has been now.
The 'other manufacturers' that I referred to will be upping their game to make better and/or cheaper iPad, Android and Linux tablets. Now that they know what MS will have _next_year_ they have ample time to plan and implement.
Nokia complained that their sales were ruined by the competition not staying still until they had their products developed fully and out in the market. Well, vapourware Surface and WP8 won't stop iThings and Android, but it will affect current MS products, especially WP7 and Windows 7 slates.
Anybody with a clue who wants a "Redhat workstation" and doesn't want to pay a subscription will use CentOS.
(Why anybody would actually choose to use a Redhat based distro is another question altogether)
However, if for some reason you do want to inflict the pain of Yum/RPM on yourself and you don't like Redhat's subscription model then DON'T BUY IT. It really is that simple.
Now, try to get a (non-apple) laptop without buying Windows . . . . . .
@Goat Jam - Not in business, I use CentOS at home, but /have to/ use RedHat at work because we need support for our workstations and the software we write for RHEL must be 100% compatible with RHEL. If we tell a customer that we're using CentOS for testing they will rightly tell us that we can't be 100% sure that it works like the corresponding RedHat because there are differences.
The reason that people require RedHat is that it is the de-facto Linux for business. You may not like that, but it is the case. You seem to be another of the "Linux/FOSS is great! But that Linux/FOSS over there is shit" people, which holds the movement as a whole back.
In the end there will be two Windows tablets. One the same price as an iPad and incompatible with any existing software, and hooked to a marketplace "A fact most of the first wave of buyers won't realize till its out of the box, "when they realize it won't run their software the first wave of returns will be epic" and one running (semi)compatible Windows for twice the price, twice the weight and half or less of the battery life.
Even if the cheaper one sells, its too late to the game to get near the competition. And considering how Metro has failed to move phones, this seems unlikely.
This promises to be to tablets what the Edsel was to the automobile. The wrong product at the wrong time.
"Do ipad users think that they can run MacOS software on their device?"
No. Perhaps this is because they were never led to believe that they could? Do you think?
Microsoft are shooting themselves in the foot by allowing their cretinous users to infer that they will be able to run "Windows software" on their "Windows tablet"
There is a reason that apple's phone/tablet OS is called IOS as opposed to MacOS you know.
> Now MS users are "cretinous." I sense a No True Scotsman lurking in the depths of your argument.
And you have a 'Straw Man' in yours.
The statement clearly has 'cretinous users' as a subset of all users. 'cretinous users' will believe that Windows RT should run all Windows software. If you do not believe that then you may be a 'non-cretinous user' (but still confused about logic fallacies).
Sounds spot on to me. The best chance for a non-Apple tablet has to be something free software based. The world of FLOSS is no stranger to ARM & there's no consumer prejudice in the same way as PCs - look at Android for example - the average smartphone user doesn't know or care that Android is Linux-based, & the new non-Apple tablets could just be morphed smartphones.
Price versus battery life will be a huge factor for the non-fanboi majority.
The 'tablet' as envisioned by Apple is a classic concept: sleek, elegant and fun. The Surface seems way too gimmicky and complex to have that kind of appeal. It will probably be seen by consumers as just another ultralight PC, and will certainly never achieve the kind of meteoric uptake seen by the iPad.
@AC: "What are the gimmicks?"
The word 'gimmicky' springs to mind because MS seem to have attempted to take every conceivable idea and tried to stuff it into one box. That's a common trait of gimmicky devices - "the multi-function kitchen whizz!!!" kind of thing. Look at the input, for example - we have onscreen touch, stylus, keyboard, mouse, and trackpad.
Design is as much deciding what stays out as it is deciding what goes in. When you toss competing ideas and strategies into one item, you end up with something awkward. An iPad is clearly for touch, and everything is designed around touch - it's easy to use and everything works harmoniously. But have you ever tried using an emulated iPad app on the Mac? It's a dog - everything feels wrong. And everything on the Surface is going to feel like that. Developers have no clear target.
BTW - I think the kickstand and ZX81-style keyboard are gimmicky in the own right.
One of the biggest single problems with the iPad is the lack of a stand, one of the most common additions to it is a cover that makes a stand, therefore stand for tablet, essential, not gimmick.
A big problem with all other tablets is the amount of screen space taken up by the keyboard, putting a keyboard external to the screen is therefore not a gimmick. If you don't like a membrane keyboard, they make one with proper keys. Not a gimmick.
Another common addition to an iPad, particularly the iPad 3 with its higher resolution touch screen is, a stylus, not a gimmick.
Picking on everything that's different about a new product and saying it's a gimmick is not analysis.
@AC: "One of the biggest single problems with the iPad is the lack of a stand"
Which leads me to believe you've never used one. These things are usually held, often in portrait mode, often in the lap. How does the Surface fixed landscape kickstand achieve that? And any attachment of that kind will be the first thing to break.
The iPad gives you choice - if you want a stand, or a cover, or a (non-ZX81) keyboard, there are a plethora of choices out there. And using a stylus on the iPad is like swimming in a dinner suit - it's a real possibility, but not often seen in practice. The stylus was one of the reasons many earlier tablet devices were impractical and annoying to use.
A tablet suggest a 3D object with substance, so is a better name for this type of product; calling a product Surface is plain pretentious Whale Song.
On the surface Bill Gate may appear to know what he is talking about, but dig a little deeper and he looks like an idiot, bluffer or scammer, or all three! Some of the nonsense he comes out with is such in-your-face blatant drivel, it makes me want to punish him for being so damned retarded or cheeky!
The 'Surface' is way overpriced, a confused product line or ARM and i5 CPUs, late vapourware, it is still surface and no substance.
I will never pay high end prices for admittedly fun toys like tablets, I will only pay serious money for my big computing gear, like a PC and NAS because they are still best suited for the real work.
Win RT will ship with a full version of MS Office Home & Student. The best selling software package in the OSX and PC markets.
That is not a bad place to begin.
The x86 Surface has both keyboard and stylus. That means it can function as a generously sized graphics tablet with 600 dpi resolution.
I can think of a lot of people who would like that combination in an ultralight mobile device,
I can think of a lot of people who would like that combination in an ultralight mobile device.
I can think of ooh, half a dozen, if I really try hard.
On the other hand, I can think of, in fact I know, a LOT of people that are more than happy with an iPad, or are seriously interested in getting a Nexus 7. None of these people though are interested by a Microsoft Surface (either version, the uncool but consumer oriented ARM version, or the premium-priced overweight x86 version).
I still don't get what is really special about the Microsoft Surface, it's just a regular looking tablet (that runs an incompatible version of Windows) and for which a silly keyboard will be made available - has nobody heard of Bluetooth keyboards? Is this keyboard really going to make the difference between the tablet between, at best, adequate and mind blowing? I don't think so! For many users it nothing more than a gimmick.
Microsoft - always behind the technology curve, always late to the technology cusp party. They've gotten away with it by the skin of their teeth over the last 20 years (thanks largely to underhand tactics), but now I think their luck has run out (though they'll still try the underhand tactics, that's part of their DNA).
Just when Apple and Google are making pretty impressive strides in online and offline voice recognition and dictation, Microsoft's major technological advance and USP for their tablet is a cheap (and probably nasty) fold-up keyboard - lol, that's just farking genius!
And the Microsoft tablet also comes with a pen, which is pretty good indication (if not outright admission) that driving the Windows desktop on a tablet with a fat finger is going to be a frustrating (if not horrible) experience.
There is nothing special about the Surface. What you claim to be special is only there because Microsoft are so behind the times having not invested a dime in any truly ground breaking, radical, original research and product development - all they have ever cared about is keeping Windows and Office going, on PCs, everything else has been considered irrelevant. That's about to change.
> Win RT will ship with a full version of MS Office Home & Student.
Win RT will ship with a
full preview version of MS Office RT Home & Student.
The features, or lack of them, in 'Office RT' have not been disclosed. It is also not explained what the 'preview' indicates. Will this merely be a beta to be later updated, or is it like a 'trial' version which will expire and require purchasing to keep it working ?
There were some 'dual boot Windows 7/Android' tablets on sale here a year or so ago at iPad prices. The small print stated that Windows and Office were trial versions that required licence purchase. So after a couple of months one would shell out again, doubling the price.
I have to give credit to Big Bad Bill. He just keeps going & going & going.
Can we get back to some figment of reality?
No price. No idea about battery life. No availability date. No one has used that Surface keyboard.
The wild thing about long-unchecked monopolies is that they have unlimited resources. As Microsoft did in decades past (while this Surface is Tablet v2.0), they'll likely need to do another iteration to Tablet v3.0 until it becomes "good enough."
Yes, it will be nice for someone to push Apple on tablets, but they don't really seem to be getting fat & lazy like some other companies did, since about 1998 (i.e., XP, Vista, IE, no auto-backup, no auto-restore, no save state, no window management, etc... I mean comparing what the last few releases of OSX have improved and Windows is laughable).
If anyone is straight about what's happened since 1998-ish, the waste of time & resources that Microsoft has caused is catastrophic. Yes, great for millions of tech support minions, but look how much every regular user HATES their computers. This is one of the reasons, iOS appliance-like devices with a child-like touch UI are booming.
So, we'll wait until someone can actually use this Surface device. (And let's hope this time, Ballmer isn't dumb enough to not direct an Office for WinRT to be released concurrently.)
There's a *reason* the iPad became successful - in a word, CONTENT.
I put that in caps because it's damn hard to type on a tablet.
What Apple did is create a marketplace with a delivery mechanism.
A very simple delivery mechanism and a very simple (to use) market place.
They started this Market place on the back of iTunes when the iPhone came out.
That was 5 years ago and 5 years is a *long* time in the tech industry.
By the time the iPad was released, 3 years after the iPhone, this market was mature. The iPhone had done phenomenally well, as had the iPod touch.
And, in a nutshell, that's it.
The iPad worked because the content was there. Apps, Music, Books.
Right, so onto Surface ...
Supposedly, it'll have two flavours. The bigger more expensive flavour, supposedly, will be able to run pretty much all the applications that Desktop windows can currently run.
So what software is best on Windows ?
Well, there's a *huge* amount of it, but mostly, it's all geared around the creation of content.
Therein lies the problem. It's clear that tablet devices are best for consuming content.
To get around that, Microsoft propose slapping a keyboard onto the tablet, to create a hybrid device.
Thing is, that's been done before - there's nothing new here.
It's fiddly - it's really, well, 90's - shunting peripherals onto a device, especially a mobile device, is a pain in the arse. Unplugging, plugging, unplugging, plugging - trying to shift between two different methodologies, keyboard and touch.
Sorry Bill, but nobody and I mean NOBODY is going to bet on the success of 'Surface' - you've got it, at least in the current market, all wrong.
An iPhone is an iPod with a sim card. An iPad is an iPod with a bigger screen. The one thing it is not is a cut down Mac. Looking backwards it is easy to see the evolution. Music downloads led to game downloads which led to app downloads which gives you an internet based consumption device. There is no connection to the PC world beyond the fact they are both computers. The fact the their uses now overlap in some areas does not make them the same thing. The Microsoft stranglehold on consumer computing is broken. Businesses might still worry about compatibility of documents and 'must work' legacy spreadsheets but consumers don't. They text, they tweet, they email, they facebook: works everywhere so let's who is the cheapest and who is the coolest.
Which they could do by releasing a new version of their OS and their hardware every year, but they don't. Could it be that it's actually another company who cynically exploit their customers' "need" for the most up to date?
Only if the software is at little or no cost?
or maybe that wouldn't suit the worlds biggest SOFTWARE company.
Surface is just vapourware for PC diehards who can't bear the thought of iPad
If you REALLY want to know what Bilge is up to with his Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, just look up his dad and see what HE was up to. He wasn't related to a little man with a strange moustache (AFAIK) but they had the same ideas!
Surface? Remember Zune and Kin? Microsoft are desperately trying the Apple model with their stores and manufacturing and every now and again they drag Bilge out to counteract the Monkey Man.
I have no axe to grind whatever company produces the next useful tool. Apple, MS , whoever.
Many companies worldwide have produced the "cutting edge" gizmo's which are now forgotten.
We need to have these changes to promote the next "really useful" gizmo.
The emergence of Apple and MS were almost identical...small upstart companies with no track record.
The problem now is that small innovative companies have to battle with the "giants" in courtrooms
rather than in research labs. The legal departments are dragging the thrust of development backwards.
The "Surface" will just be a blip in the evolution of the next gizmo..welcome it.
With my computer history back into the punch card era ( yes before keyboards kids ) ,the ride of
technology is a never ending source of amazement..... and amusement to me sometimes.
Ride the wave and enjoy it.
OK; if they have to wheel out Gates to market it, they are effectively telling the world:
a - we have trouble selling the idea, so we need someone well known who can talk positively about it (and who has experience in selling vapourware)
b - the guy that runs the shop evidently isn't good enough to flog this stuff.
As I said before, Microsoft is sending the Titanic back to ram that iceberg for the second time. It still takes long to sink, but it sure as hell is taking on water fast.
I'm still perfectly happy with my EEE PC 1018 which cost me around £210 with 2GB ram and a cheap 80GB SSD.
Battery lasts on average 11hours. it boots in 4sec from hibernation, instant from suspend.
I can have it in suspend for weeks.
And it runs IMHO the best OS in the world OpenSuse 11.4. (not 12.1)
The screen is not good compared to the IPAD3 though, but it browses much faster, maybe
because the 2GB mem is much faster than whats in the ipad.
it runs citrix and vmware so I've access to all corporate software and everything I need to do my job developing software and do presentations in case of emergency.
I'm also wondering if this is an attempt to sink the PC boat and offer a tablet life raft. No one in MS is stupid enough to honestly believe that a gimped OS that is windows 8 on a tablet can replace the multi-tasking work-horse OS that is Windows 7 or Vista or XP running on hardware with the power of a PC. No way in heck. There has to be another a reason for this.
Perhaps the corporations in general are unhappy with the people of the world using the power of a PC to empower themselves and inform others of what's happening in the world around us. Also the average user goes from consumer to content creator that can compete against the big entertainment corporations now producing their own news, entertainment and movies. People are beginning to do it themselves. I would not be surprised if that's behind this via other outside corporate pressures been put on MS to squash or limit this activity some how. Moving to a gimped OS on the PC and then a version of the tablet that could run some PC software marketed as a PC replacement might be part of a strategy to do this.
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